There goes the neighbourhood: community tensions in Slovenia

15 July 1997

The Slovene daily Večer reported on May 16 that community relations had worsened in the town of Ribnica, approximately 40 kilometres southeast of Ljubljana, when a Romani man working for a local company moved his family into a fiat in the town centre. After neighbours complained about his horse and about nightly quarrels, the municipality moved the family to a former veterinary hospital on the outskirts of a neighbouring village called Mala Gora near Dolnje Lepovče. Upon the arrival of the newly settled family in Mala Gora, however, 78 inhabitants of Dolnje Lepovče signed a petition stating that "they did not need such neighbours."

Similar phenomena — ghettoisation and hostility — are in evidence elsewhere in Slovenia; the daily Dolenjski list reported on May 8 that non-Romani inhabitants living near the Roma community at Semič had asked the local municipal council not to build more houses in the Roma settlement. According to the complainants, the Roma are armed and have poor quality automobiles and a 1983 promise that they would "become more socialised" has not been realised.

Finally, another Slovene daily, Nedeljski dnevnik, reported on May 11 that sixteen Roma families living in a wood in southeastern Slovenia between the owns of Krško and Brežice face an uncertain future since their community is located on land which belonged to the village of Gazice until 1951. There are, at present, several applications for its restitution and the local villagers are hostile towards the Roma. Roma have lived in the present site in Gazice since 1978, when the municipality of Brežice built three structures for them there. At present, no further building permits are being issued and, according to the article, no development is planned for any Roma sites in the municipalities of either Krško or Brežice. Since all building permits are contingent upon the local urban planning, it seems that the municipalities intend no future for the Roma there. The ERRC has noted that in many countries that post-communist land reform is often accompanied by the expulsion of local Roma. (Institute for Ethnic Studies, Romani Union Murska Sobota)



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