"Roma have to go vote to counter rise of xenophobic and racist parties"

Brussels, 02 June 2009 - ERIO, the European Roma Information Office, on the eve of the European Parliament elections, invites Roma from all EU Member States to participate and use their vote in defence of their human rights.

ERIO’s Executive Director, Ivan Ivanov, stated: “In the last couple of years, Europe has seen a dramatic surge of extreme-right, racist and xenophobic parties. The European Parliament election offers us the opportunity to counter this alarming phenomenon with our votes. If Roma people don’t participate in this very important exercise of democracy, they will leave a larger share of xenophobic and racist politicians to access the European Union political arena. This can severely impair the Roma advocacy activity at the EU level: if xenophobic political forces can gather a significant number of representatives in the EP ( it could actually happen), the Roma question will be reduced to the far end of the EU political agenda.”

Moreover, Roma should take advantage of the EP elections to reinforce their political participation. If everyone of the over 10 million Roma in Europe vote, their political influence will be a lot more relevant to the eyes of mainstream parties.Therefore ERIO encourages Roma to go out and vote, giving their preference to parties that champion the defence of human and minority rights in their political program.

For further inquiries, please contact ERIO’s Executive Director: Ivan Ivanov, +32 473 82 38 87