Weekly news

ERIO'S WEEKLY E-NEWS 10-10-2014

ERIO news and activities

* ERIO’s workshop “Protecting Roma Against Discrimination: the Role of Equality Bodies”
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO), in close cooperation with EQUINET (European Network of Equality Bodies) invites you to attend a workshop with Equality bodies which will be held on 21st October in Brussels.
 
Within the framework of the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) and the Race Equality Directive 2000/43 (RED), this workshop will foster discussion between different Equality Bodies and experts on effective practices and challenges to be overcomed when dealing with Roma integration. The workshop will provide a platform for participants to exchange information and ideas about anti-discrimination issues in their own country and discuss challenges and opportunities when it comes to the NRIS and RED implementation.

OTHER news

* Thanks to civil society mobilization and to some responsible MEPs, Tibor Navracsics will not be the Commissioner for Education, Youth, Culture and Citizenship!
Our collective campaign against Tibor Navracscis designation to take over the portfolio of Education, Youth, Culture and Citizenship has paid thanks to a handful of MEPs in the Education and Culture Committee who stood against this nomination.
 
During his initial hearing, Mr. Navracsics was questioned several times by members of the European Parliament about controversial reforms in Hungary, which he – then Viktor Orban’s Justice Minister – directly implemented and executed. He faced difficulties in distancing himself from the decisions made during his mandate between 2010 and 2014.
 
After additional cross-examination by members of the CULT committee in the European Parliament, Tibor Navracsics’ candidature was finally rejected yesterday, with 14 votes against, 12 for and 1 abstention.
 
We hope this fragile majority will pave the way for a European Commission more open and receptive to citizens’ concerns, more committed to take heed of its role and defend the European values in the spirit of the treaties.
 
We now expect Mr. Juncker and the European Parliament to take good account of this democratic vote and hope the reshuffling of portfolios will result into acceptable proposals in line with the concerns and aspirations widely expressed by civil society organisations who massively stood against this nomination!

Vladimir Sestovic
Project officer
European Civic Forum

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* Roma MEP: We need trust before we can truly belong
By Ecaterina Casinge, Euractiv

Soraya Post says she wants to create an intergroup on Roma in the European Parliament, and that Member States which do not respect the anti-discrimination directive should be sanctioned.
Euractiv: You are one of two Roma MEPs in the European Parliament. What is your political strategy regarding Roma? Do you intend to propose new initiatives on Roma issues? And what would those be?
Soraya Post: Firstly, I already put forward a proposal to create an intergroup on Roma in the European Parliament that will aim to acknowledge the discrimination against Romani people. This intergroup will serve as a good basis for all interested MEPs and civil society representatives to regularly exchange views and establish contacts.
Needless to say that as a Roma MEP, I will work on having strong language on Roma issues in every piece of legislation the Parliament will be adopting.
Secondly, I will make a suggestion to include Roma history and culture in the EU countries’ national curriculum. Apart from that, it is important to ensure that every event about Roma in Europe should offer interpretation into Romani. It often happens at conferences and meetings that Roma people cannot contribute to discussions because of a lack of translation services.
Lastly, my two main goals during this parliamentary term are to work towards appointing an EU Special Representative for Roma, and creating a Roma Platform.
The EU Special Representative for Roma should coordinate the work that is done in the EU institutions on this issue. The person in charge should serve as a bridge between the Romani, civil society and politicians.

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* How the Roma Are Becoming Europe’s New Moral Army
In early June, every year, for many generations, Gypsies and Travellers have travelled to the Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria in their thousands, crossing the moors and fells on their journey in old painted wagons or modern trailers, on roads that their ancestors travelled before them. This journey is what sherar rom (or elder) Billy Welch, the organiser of the fair, and a Romani Gypsy, calls, “our Mecca, our pilgrimage”.
His choice of words is telling. In recent years there has been a revival of a fervent Christian faith that first stirred amongst the Gypsy people in England in the 19th century. Now it has taken root once again, and is spreading fast, across Europe and as far as afield as Latin America and India. That faith, and the principal church that sustains it – known as Life and Light in the UK – has meant that Romani identity, both in the UK and abroad, is starting to change.

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* Philanthropy NYU: Interview with George Soros
Chandler: The Open Society Foundations which support human rights in over 100 nations have changed the lives of millions of people in America and abroad. Where do you feel you have had the greatest impact, and what are you most proud of accomplishing?
Soros: My foundations have been instrumental in bringing the plight of the Roma--an ethnic minority of 10 to 12 million people scattered across Europe--to the attention of policymakers in Brussels. Roma everywhere face discrimination and persecution on a daily basis. Some years ago, I visited a village in Romania, and saw the seeds of a crisis at hand. In this village, the Roma were scavenging on a garbage dump. Without help, I realized, sons would join their fathers on the dump; daughters could only hope to be married off. There was no clear way to escape their fate. My foundations began working on the Roma problem in Hungary and other Communist countries 30 years ago. In those countries, the living conditions of the Roma have actually deteriorated since the Berlin Wall came down. So while progress has been made, there is much more to be done.

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* The young Roma women who are changing their communities
Eleni wants to go to school. She can read and write already and says emphatically: “I don’t want to be given to get married. I want to learn my letters, learn to speak Greek properly and be a hairdresser”.
For two hours every day, 12-year-old Magdalini is the most powerful person in her neighbourhood. In a settlement that officially 'doesn’t exist', located just outside Thessaloniki in Northern Greece, people gather at her grandmother’s house to watch their favorite soap operas. It isn’t because they don’t have their own televisions. Most of the families have large screens at home, but in this impoverished, isolated and marginalised Roma community, where there is no rubbish collection, no school, no street lights and no bus, the neighbours are not here for the TV, but for Magdalini. They are watching Turkish soaps. Magdalini is the only person who can read the Greek subtitles.

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* Trafficking humans still a problem in Balkans
By Marina Stojanovska

Regional co-operation between NGOs and the police can help stop the growing phenomenon, experts said.
Skopje. Smuggled children, including those who end up in prostitution channels in EU countries, are still an issue for southeastern Europe, according to the National Commission for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings.
"Forced or arranged marriages of juveniles of Roma origin are continuously present as a result of the visa regime abuse that affects the number of victims in trafficking of human beings. Female juvenile victims between the ages of 13 to 17 are exploited, they are recruited for the purpose of entering into marriages in the countries of the EU," according to the 2013 report by the National Commission for Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings.
"Children are trafficked for sexual exploitation, but more often for forced marriages," Mitar Duraskovic, chief of the Serbian Border Police Service for the fight against Trans-border Crime, told SETimes. "The most common are cases of local trafficking within Serbia. Children traders are the parents and closest relatives. We noted cases where children are sold in exchange for appliances such as a TV or washing machine."

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* Europe should “discover” Roma as potential, Hungarian minister says
“Discovering” the Roma community as a potential would be a proper response to the demographic challenges faced by Europe and tension generated by immigration, Zoltan Balog, Hungary’s human resources minister, said in Bonn on Friday.
Addressing an event marking the anniversary of Germany’s re-unification, Balog focussed on the concept of freedom. He raised the question whether one should speak about the freedom of European citizens, the freedom of refugees who had been oppressed by a dictatorial regime in their homeland or the freedom of those who are simply attracted to Europe by a higher standard of living.
The minister stressed the need to reconsider whether “letting immigrants from third, non-EU countries in” would be a proper answer to the aging of European societies or “we should discover the European Roma” as a potential workforce. Once trained, the Roma could remedy the shortage of cheap labour and ease tension in social integration, he said.

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* Greece's Roma gypsies fight state eviction order
Stelios Kalamiotis, Chief of Roma CampRoma gypsies in the Greek capital of Athens have temporarily blocked the eviction and relocation order issued against their community by government, Press TV reports.
 A group of the gypsies set up road blocks on Tuesday for twelve hours, keeping police forces away, although their fate remains highly uncertain. These young Roma gypsies, some of them underage, barricade themselves from midnight to midday behind roadblocks, protecting their slum compound from being demolished by bulldozers and the police. The state wants to kick them out for illegal occupation of a land they have lived on for decades, despite Greek law granting ownership rights to anyone who repossesses it for longer than 20 years.
“After 43 years the government wants to knock down our camp. Fifty-four children go to school in this area. We all work nearby. They want to relocate to a remote mountain outside Athens where the nearest road is 15 kilometers far; there are no schools… or jobs nearby,” said Chief of the Roma Camp Stelios Kalamiotis.

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