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Overcoming Antigypsyism in Europe – International Roma Day 2021 marked in Serbia

Antigypsyism is a particularly persistent, violent, recurring, and everyday form of racism. A deeper understanding and appreciation and appreciation of the impact of antigypsyism on the situation of Roma in Europe today is necessary in order to take effective action to combat this phenomenon.

This was underlined today by the participants in the conference, organized ahead of International Roma Day on April 8th, by the Office of the Council of Europe in Belgrade in collaboration with the Serbian Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, the Embassies of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Portugal and with the support of the joint ROMACTED program between the European Union and the Council of Europe.

Tobias Flessenkemper, Head of the Office of the Council of Europe in Belgrade, emphasized the importance of the First World Roma Congress, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. “Prejudice-based generalizations about Roma and travelers, as well as hate speech, fuel xenophobia and reflect the sometimes brutal history of Roma oppression in Europe that goes back centuries,” he said. “When we celebrate International Roma Day, we want to commit ourselves to recognizing the facts of history and addressing current issues. In this way we can contribute to a better future for the Roma and travelers in Europe and thus for Europe as a whole, ”added Flessenkemper.

SE Ambassador Sem Fabrizi, Head of the European Union Delegation in Serbia, pointed out that the Roma community is the largest ethnic minority in Europe, but is still the most discriminated and marginalized. “The question of the social inclusion of the Roma is of particular importance for Serbia’s accession process to the EU. It is a topic that overlaps several chapters – from human rights to employment to social protection. The European Union will continue to be an important partner for the Roma community in all initiatives to ensure their social inclusion, ”he said.

“Progress in integrating the Roma can be seen in almost every segment – from education, housing and employment to health and social care. However, discrimination, stereotypes and prejudice against Roma persist, ”said Pava Čabrilovski, President of the Executive Council of the Roma National Council in Serbia. “I believe that culture and education are the best mechanisms to counteract these negative phenomena,” she said.

Gordana Čomić, Serbia’s Minister of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, stated that prejudice cannot be forbidden, but laws can be passed that prohibit prejudice-free behavior. “This is where Roma inclusion begins,” she added. “This ministry serves all national councils, including the Roma National Council. We will actively participate in all projects related to Roma inclusion will be open to suggestions, comments, criticism, ideas on how to do something better“Said Minister Comic.

On behalf of the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the German Ambassador SE, Thomas Schieb said: “It is worrying that antigypsyism, discrimination against Roma and Sinti, is still an issue today. Germany is making every effort to combat this phenomenon in all of its forms. We have made combating hate speech and discrimination one of the priorities of our presidency in the Council of Europe. “He stressed:” This struggle requires continued vigilance and commitment, but also better training and a concerted effort to combat the spread of fake news and populist propaganda. State and non-state actors must do their part. “

“The European Union’s strategic framework contained a Council recommendation on equality, inclusion and participation of the Roma, the negotiations of which were steered by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union and which resulted in its unanimous adoption in March last year,” he said HE Virginia Pina, Ambassador of Portugal, on behalf of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. “It is the responsibility of each country to take stock of the achievements of the past 50 years, but it is everyone’s duty to support the continuous assessment of the progress made to improve the conditions of the Roma,” she added.

Timea Junghaus, Executive Director of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC), gave a keynote address at the event. “Roma have been present for over 600 years and are an integral part of society in Europe. During this time the Roma have made an immense contribution to national cultures and managed to develop strategies to preserve the resilient Roma cultural heritage as a survival strategy amid a history of continuous persecution, discrimination and violence, “she said.

“Many large institutions need to make more efforts to educate people about Roma creativity. They are not only ethnic, immaterial, spiritual or naive, but form an integral and constructive part of what we call Europe today. ERIAC must continue to take full advantage of these opportunities to support the process of diversity and inclusion and reflection in most cultural institutions, in employment, programming and cultural participation. Above all, this can create further opportunities for generating income and recognition for Roma cultural producers, ”said Junghaus.

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Joint ROMACTED program of the European Union and the Council of Europe “Promoting good governance and the empowerment of Roma at the local level” Phase II (2021-2024) is a continuation of the implementation of Phase I of the ROMACTED program in the Western Balkans and in the Turkey (2017) -2020), which will serve to consolidate and expand efforts to improve the integration of the Roma population into local communities through increased participation in local policy-making and the implementation of local measures.

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