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British Prime Minister Tony Blair calls upon the Prague government to resolve the mass exodus of Romanies
Radio Prague, September 23rd - British Prime Minister Tony Blair called on his Czech counterpart Milos Zeman on Wednesday to introduce measures which would deal with the migration of Romanies to Britain.

Although the Czech Government has indicated in the past, that Romanies are leaving for Britain because of economic reasons, it declared its intentions on Wednesday through a spokesman to do all it can to alleviate the situation. There has been much controversy in the media recently over the number of Romanies who have arrived in Britain seeking asylum on grounds that they feel racially threatened in the Czech Republic.

Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky told ministers and reporters on Wednesday that one way of resolving the problem could be the project to build a village in Ostrava, where Czechs and Romanies could live together without any tension. He added that he intends to indicate to parliament that the erection of the infamous Maticni Street wall, in the town of Usti nad Labem could be interpreted as a lack of desire to resolve problematic Czech-Romany relations. The wall is intended to separate two neighbouring communities, one Romany, the other Czech.

This comes after United Nations Special Envoy for human rights Maurice Glele- Ahanhanzo spent Wednesday holding talks in Prague with the deputy Ministers of the Interior and Justice, Jaroslav Kopriva and Alois Cihlar. Top of the agenda was the issue of steps the Czech government is taking to combat the threat of racism in the Czech Republic.

Speaking later to Czech Radio, Mr Kopriva said the discussion had centred on answering questions asked by the visiting United Nations official. According to the deputy Interior Minister, Romanies who feel they are being discriminated against may contact a government commission to lodge a complaint. As far as equal opportunities are concerned, he added that the state is aiming to employ a greater number of Romanies in the police force.

The Deputy Justice Minister said that his talks focused on the Czech legal system and its provision for people who are victims of racism. He explained to Maurice Glele-Ahanhanzo that while there is no single Czech law on racism, there is an enactment containing laws which deal with racially motivated crimes. The conclusions of Maurice Glele-Ahanhanzo's visit to the Czech Republic will be published in a report on the country's relationship with its ethnic Romany community.

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