It is the Czech Republic of Rome. In Great Britain. More than twenty years ago, his family fled Liberec (Reichenberg) in northern Bohemia from the attacks of Czech neo-Nazis and applied for asylum in Great Britain. Now Petr Torák is the first Czech from Rome to be appointed honorary consul in his country of origin.
Very interesting personality. Because in the Czech Republic, anti-intolerance is still widespread among the population – and politicians repeatedly express themselves contempt or racism towards Roma. Even President Milos Zeman, who said a few years ago that under communism “at least the Roma had to work.”
Czech Republic: Anti-Roma protests by a group of neo-Nazis (2013)
At 39 years old, Turak led an eventful life. After graduating from school he studied law in the Czech Republic. In 1999, his family fled to the United Kingdom due to the ongoing violent attacks. There Turk initially worked as an assistant in a fast food restaurant, after which he continued his studies in law. He now has a distinguished career in the police force. For his services as a police officer, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2015. At the start of the year he was appointed Honorary Consul in Peterborough, a city of 180,000 in the center of England, by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Türk Meets All Standards”
On the other hand, this is an admission of Torac’s services. As a police officer and employee on projects for immigrants, he has taken a great interest in the citizens of Great Britain in recent years. But there are also very practical reasons for appointing an honorary consul. The Czech Republic wants to strengthen its diplomatic missions in the UK, and solve the problems of the nearly 100,000 Czechs currently living in the UK. Like other EU citizens, they are required to apply for ‘settlement status’ on July 1 this year. By mid-January, only 50,000 Czechs had achieved this status.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said: “There are several thousand Czech citizens in the Peterborough area. I assume that Peter Turac, as the Honorary Consul, will especially help us in communicating with our citizens so that they do not face problems as a result of Britain’s exit from the European Union.” Minister Tomáš Petříček the DW.
Peter Turac aspires to serve as Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Peterborough, Great Britain
“Honorary consuls work on a voluntary basis. Most of them are people with ties to the Czech Republic, and our citizens often have local contacts. Peter Turac fulfills all the criteria mentioned,” adds the head of the Czech diplomacy. “If the United Kingdom confirms his appointment, he will be the first Roma to hold this position in the history of the Czech Republic,” said Petriccik.
Czech Roma are successful in the United Kingdom
Peter Turac himself sees his appointment as honorary consul as a confirmation of the success of the Czech Romani community in Great Britain. It is estimated that Czech Roma make up about two thirds of all Czech citizens in the United Kingdom. Unlike the Czech Republic, most Gypsies in Great Britain have found work, Turak told DW. “Roma children go to school and they have no problem with that because the teachers here are able to teach the children who do not speak English when they come to school. They are used to children from all over the world.”
The UK doesn’t just have a better social system than the Czech Republic. Above all, Roma are less likely to be discriminated against. “Gypsies are not categorized here per se, they do not hear insults or insults from politicians. In Great Britain you immediately feel that you are part of the whole. Society measures someone by their behavior, regardless of whether they are Roman or Muslim,” says Peter Turac.
Inspiration for Roma in the Czech Republic
He is looking forward to serving as an honorary consul. He knows he will have a lot to do to help the Czech citizens, including the Roma. “Many of them have expired Czech documents that they did not need in Great Britain because they did not travel,” he explains one of the problems he has to solve as a consul.
Millions of European Union citizens want to stay in the UK even after Brexit
Turk, who is successfully self-employed, will pay out of his own pocket the costs of operating the honorary consulate. “I am doing a short training course at the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I hope to be able to open the consulate this month,” he says. “I will then be the first Rome in the world to serve as an honorary consul,” he adds proudly.
Turac hopes that his example and the successes of the Czech Gypsy in Great Britain will influence the Roma in the Czech Republic. “It would be nice if the examples from Great Britain would inspire young Roma people in the Czech Republic,” he says.