Mayors in southeast Slovenia and Posavje urge systemic Roma measures

Novo Mesto, 21 June - Mayors of municipalities in southeast Slovenia and the Posavje region met in Novo Mesto on Friday to discuss Roma-related issues. At the meeting, which came after an incident where a Roma student attacked his schoolmate, the mayors noted that the situation continues to deteriorate and called for systemic measures.

Novo Mesto
Meeting of mayors from southeast Slovenia and Posavje region dedicated to Roma-related issues.
Photo: Aleš Kocjan/STA

Novo Mesto
Novo Mesto Gregor Macedoni talks to the press after a meeting of mayors from southeast Slovenia and Posavje region dedicated to Roma-related issues.
Photo: Aleš Kocjan/STA

The government does too little to curb the violence and crime perpetrated by some members of the Roma community, they said.

The meeting was mostly convened because of the recent developments but also due to the fact that there has been no systemic measures to tackle the issues, Novo Mesto Mayor Gregor Macedoni said.

After their bill addressing the issues was rejected last year, the municipalities were promised the government would prepare its own proposal by the end of 2023, which did not happen, he said.

"Instead we are seeing that there are no proposals, that the issues are not being addressed and that the situation keeps getting worse," he told the press after the meeting.

He called for a proposal that would make sure the government would no longer turn a blind eye to those members of the Roma community that do not send their children to school, as this would be "the only way to raise the level of education for the Roma" and ensure the same sanctions apply to all.

"The ball's in the government's court, they've committed themselves to tackling the issues. And we will not stop pointing out that the situation is truly problematic," Macedoni added.

Seeing no progress in this area, Krško Mayor Janez Kerin also said systemic measures were urgently necessary.

Šentjernej Mayor Jože Simončič pointed to a large increase in crime rates among Roma youngsters, who are putting others at risk in public spaces such as parking lots, churches, cultural venues or parks.

People feel unease amid a number of traffic and security threats, he said, adding that the police were doing their job but did not have enough powers.

The same goes for mayors, while the government lacks the will to do what it should do, according to Simončič. "Action will have to be taken, otherwise we will all be tired, disappointed and angry, and things will fall into the hands of some groups we don't want," he said, referring to what seems to be a renewed trend of self-styled militias.

Škocjan Mayor Jože Kapler and Metlika Mayor Martina Legan Janžekovič listed several violent incidents involving alleged Roma perpetrators, with the latter saying that it was unacceptable the majority was a hostage to the minority, "whose income and rights are not in proportion to their duties".

The school violence incident, which prompted the mayors to double down on criticism against the government, took place at one of the primary schools in the Brežice municipality.

After physically attacking his schoolmate, a 14-year-old Romani boy was removed from the school grounds and banned from entry, but the incident has caused a scare, with the local mayor Ivan Molan asking for additional police officers to be sent to the municipality, an area busy dealing with security challenges posed by illegal migration.

Peter Dirnbek Vatovec, a state secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunity, said that systemic solutions were in the works and that legislation would be tabled in the autumn.

© STA, 2024