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PM Fico says sending Roma children to boarding schools is “the only solution” for educating Gypsy children and defusing age-old conflicts with the non-Roma majority. Leaders of Slovakia’s towns and villages are asking the government for such a radical solution, Fico says. Amnesty International denounced the prime minister’s idea, saying such measures would not contribute to resolving Roma education problems and will only deepen anti-Gypsy segregation.

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk

 

The fact that few Slovaks (beyond Amnesty International) condemned Fico’s statement proves that anti-Roma sentiments are broadly accepted, both in Slovakia and the region.

 

The ultra-right SNS is in decline and many radical voters are looking for a new party to support. Fico would like nothing better than to add them to Smer’s camp, Since Smer may need support from ethnic Hungarians, Fico needs to lay off the anti-Hungarian rhetoric. So he has turned the only tool available to him for poaching radical voters: the anti-Roma card. This is a dangerous tactic. The US State Department’s 2009 Human Rights Report sharply criticized Slovakia for “discrimination and violence against Roma and other minorities.”