Roma Rights in the European Parliament
In Europe Roma people are one of the largest minority groups and now also the fastest growing. The European Parliament has a Roma member to speak on their behalf and fight for their rights.
Roma Rights in the European Parliament
Female: In an expanding Europe, Roma are now one of the largest minority
groups and the fastest growing. In Hungary, one of the European
Unions newest members, Roma make up 6% of the population.
The country has produced the first Roma member of the European
parliament, 30-year-old Livia Jaroka. She’s one of the new
generation of leaders.
Livia Jaroka: Now there is a Roma person in the parliament, so there is of course
a great push and also because it’s much easier now to locate all the
energies of the different civil right organizations that are working
on Roma. She's in Europe into this one building basically into my
office. We have in a way, political -- Roma have a voice now in
the parliament. So I rather see this period of Roma history as a
time of opportunities.
Female: In 2003, leaders from eight central and eastern European countries
with support from international donors acknowledged they must
recognized Romani people as equal citizens of their countries.
They declared a decade of Roma inclusion.
But translating promises into practical solutions for ordinary
Roma, Roma who have never heard of the decade needs long term
Veteran activist Nicolae Gheorghe says governments need to
change their attitude and realize they are the ones responsible for
Nicolae Gheorghe: The Roma, first of all, the citizens of the state in which they live,
its obligation of the state to deal that and also the support coming
from outside is rather to build capacity of the state institutions.
Filiz Husmenova: There are a lot of programs. We cancel them with the magic wand.
To find the solution we need the support of the Romani people. We
must try to open up this community and we must work within the
Roma society. If partners and organizations cooperate, the result
would be better international level.
Female: But the Roma’s problems aren't just national. Stanislaw
Stankiewicz believes change has to happen not just inside
countries but across borders.
Stanislaw: Roma in the globalization process are at the forefront as a
European nation because we know how to live within other
cultures and among other nations. Why? Because we don’t have a
problem with the religions and cultures will land this, but there is a
problem. There is no acceptance of us as Roma as a nation. We
don’t have a state. We are trans-national nation. We are something
new in the globalization process. This noble concept should be
accepted by politicians.
Female: Roma make up nearly a tenth of the populations of Romania and
Bulgaria and both countries hoped to join the European Union in
2007. But becoming a member state means they have to agree to
EU regulations guarantying equal treatment for all their citizens in
education, employment, housing and health. But how much clout
does the EU really have?
Vladimir: Most policies are still governed by nations, states, so they cannot
be directed by the European Union. What we can do within the EU
is coordinate them and present examples of good practice as well
as use the anti-discriminatory policies and I will apply them very
consistently whenever necessary.
Livia Jaroka: The monitoring is something that cannot be done by the national
government and they don’t really like unfortunately the Roma
institutions or the Roma civil right organizations to take
responsibility in monitoring. So as far as I see now is definitely the
commission who would have to take on this role.
Female: The Roma media play a unique part in this process representing
their communities’ views, reflecting their culture and showing the
benefits of being part of what they called the Gadjo or non-Roma
In Bulgaria, TV Roma’s director, Petar Stevanof says the media
are the eyes and ears of local Romani communities.
Female: We are unemployed and we get 36 lira a month. How can we pay
electricity, water? How can we feed and dress our kids so that they
can go to school? I would like to ask these gentlemen in the
government, how will they do that?
Male: As you know, we will be entering Europe. Do you know about
this? Are you ready to enter Europe?
Female: No, we are not ready to enter Europe. In our settlement, we live in
misery. The authority should understand this. This is the worst
place in and member over here.
Petar Stevanof: Integration is a very long process that has to be made on both
sights, from one sight, the Romani community and from the other,
the mainstream society. Both sights have to be prepared to work
together. My opinion is that there is a barrier that divides both
sights, Bulgarians and Roma living in Bulgaria. This means the
majority and the minority. So there is this barrier and we have to
build cultural bridges to cross it, so that people can understand
each other better.
Roma Rights in the European Parliament
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