On the occasion of April 8th, which marks International Roma Day, seven ambassadors to the Czech Republic signed the attached joint statement supporting the Roma community in the Czech Republic. The ambassadors stress that it is a day for celebrating Romani culture and heritage; it is, however, also a day to remember that Roma, a group of people that are often relegated to the fringes of society, still face discrimination throughout the continent.
International Roma Day on 8 April is an opportunity to reflect on the position of Roma in society. There are many examples of Roma achievement. But there are still too many examples of discrimination across Europe.
Although major challenges persist, we remain optimistic. The Czech government has taken a number of important steps to improve the quality of life for its most disadvantaged citizens, including many Roma. Measures include housing subsidy reform, tackling debt, and a new approach to education. Civil society has played a key role in shaping these changes.
Focusing on education, we are encouraged by the recent amendment to the law. It has the potential to make schools more inclusive for all, including Roma. With adequate funding to implement the legislation, the Ministry of Education has the chance to address the current injustice that sees Roma children occupying a quarter of places in special schools, despite forming only 3% of the population.
There are some very good examples of inclusive education in primary schools in regions facing economic hardship. We have personally met some inspiring teachers working in these difficult conditions to educate children inclusively and help all to reach their true potential. We encourage others to follow their lead.
Our embassies are prepared to assist the Czech Republic in its efforts to provide equal opportunity for all.
H.E. Andrew H. Schapiro, Ambassador of the United States of America
H.E. Jan Thompson, Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
H.E. Arndt Freiherr Freytag von Loringhoven, Ambassador of Germany
H.E. Siri Ellen Sletner, Ambassador of Norway
H.E. Otto Jelinek, Ambassador of Canada
H.E. Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff, Ambassador of Austria
H.E. Annika Jagander, Ambassador of Sweden