Cunek's comments on Romanies xenophobic, says Topolanek

31-03-2007

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has described comments made about Romanies by Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek as xenophobic. Speaking at a meeting of the leadership of his Civic Democrats, Mr Topolanek said the party distanced themselves from Mr Cunek's words. Asked by a newpaper whether other people should receive state subsidies like Romanies, Mr Cunek said non-Roma would need to get a suntan - an allusion to the colour of Romanies' skin - cause chaos with 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.