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Cunek apologies over Romany comments
01-04-2007  Ian Willoughby

Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek has apologised for remarks he made about Romanies. But, speaking on a TV debate programme, he also said Romanies who were offended by his comments had not understood what he was trying to say. Asked last week by a newspaper whether other people should receive state subsidies like Romanies, Mr Cunek said non-Roma would need to get a suntan, cause chaos in their families and light fires on town squares before politicians would regard them as badly off.

Jiri Cunek rose to national prominence last year after expelling Romany rent-defaulters from the centre of the town of Vsetin, where he was then mayor.

Mr Cunek, who is leader of the Christian Democrats and regional development minister, is currently under police investigation for alleged bribe-taking when he was mayor of Vsetin. He has resisted calls to resign from the government.

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