January 17, 2011
Mr.Kurt Vollebaek the High Commissioner on National Minorities from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – participated at a round table with representatives of the civil society sector dealing with Roma issues. The discussion took place at the Alternative Education Club within School no. 136 in Ferentari (Bucharest) and focused on the Situation of Roma in Romania: Challenges to Integration.
The round table was an opportunity to discuss on how to improve Roma integration in Romania and Europe wide. Despite the existence of a legislation covering anti-discrimination, experience reveals multiple failures of the national governments to actually combat anti-Gypsyism and to genuinely improve the situation of the poor Roma community.
The High Commissioner emphasized the essential role of education in facilitating Roma social inclusion. The participants insisted on issues that induce a stalemate in the process of Roma integration – lack of political representation and civic participation of Roma and negative side effects of a structurally corrupted electoral system, the failure of public administration to access structural funds and the extremely low rate of absorption, lack of assessment of the real conditions Roma are facing, the pseudo-image of high national and European investment in Roma issues. Participants: Nicolae Gheorghe (Consultant, former Senior Advisor to the OSCE), Iulian Stoian (Roma Civic Alliance), Florin Manole (Roma Studies Centre), Marian Mandache (Romani Criss), Cristi Mihalache (Roma Education Fund Romania), representatives of Partida Romilor and of local Sector 5 organizations.
The round table was followed by a meeting of the High Commissioner with representatives of the public sector in Romania. The guests described the activity of their institutions and presented how they try to tackle anti-Gypsyism, segregation and Roma marginalization/discrimination within the Romanian society. Participants: Csaba Asztalos (President, National Council Against Discrimination), Oana Badea (Secretary of State, Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport), Oana Mizil (Sector 5 MP) and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of School no. 136.
You can view a media-gallery slide-show with photos from both of the meetings, here: