Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* ERIO at the Round-table meeting with European Commission
On 15th May ERIO participated at a meeting in the main building of the  European Commission initiated by Vice-President Viviane and Commissioner on Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights and Laszlo Andor Commissioner on Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. The meeting was attended by other  key European level networks and  media. The meeting was aiming at consultation with civil society on the process of the implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) before the adoption of the Commission progress report later this year.
The two Commissioners presented the implementation of their commitments and their work with Member States and invited civil society organizations to provide them with feedback on NRIS implementation. Vice-President Reding stated: “
“…we have the impression sometimes that paper is nice, but the reality grass-roods is looking different. That is why we are grateful to you that you have come, because we need to know from you, who have the experience of  NGOs caring for Roma to tell us what are the discrepancies, what are the proposal which the Member states put into their NRIS and the real actions on the ground…”.

Further Ms. Reding  said: “…Why the EU funds are not used to make this integration work…it is not only about to put fingers into what does not work, I think we should also put on the very many positive actions which are taken. I always believe of what Ministers can do something which students must  not do, Minister can copy. If something has been invented and integrated in the Member state which is working, why it couldn’t be taken up in the other Member states in order to make it work…”.

Commissioner Andor  stated: “… the European Framework strategy of two years ago I believe is an important one and has the advantage to create a link with the European 2020 Strategy… through which we were able to clarify what we want to exactly achieve in the economic and social development of Roma communities but because  subsequently the Commission developed a long term budget to be implemented in Member states on the 2020 strategy, so we also gain some instruments . And of course how these instruments , the governance from one side with the recommendations to the Member states and from the other side the financial instruments , how all this works. It  needs  to be perfected through the process and your constant feedback is very important for us to  make the further steps…”.
Civil society representatives expressed their concerns regarding the high level discrimination Roma face in Europe and the need of urgent consultations of the Commission and Member states.

ERIO’s Director Ivan Ivanov in his intervention stressed that “…Member states which demonstrate political will they mainly consider Roma as poor people and marginals and all their efforts are in direction to improve the material condition of Roma. It is true that Roma are the largest group among the poorest communities in Europe but  not all Roma are marginals, and  all Roma face discrimination regardless of their socio-economic status. This is why Member states should make sure that Race Directive is part of different policy fields such as education, employment, health and housing. Focusing on improvement the socio-economic situation of Roma requires funding and now in a situation of crises is easy for Member states to justify of why they don’t do anything on Roma’s real integration. Commission should make sure that Member states use effectively all available instruments including EU funds…”.


OTHER news

* Better integration at home could solve Western problem
By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest
22/05/2013 - More concerted efforts to socially integrate Roma ethnics into home societies in Romania and Bulgaria would solve the rising social tourism phenomenon, experts told SETimes, amid a debate in Germany and Great Britain on the practice.
Bulgarian and Romanian Roma have stirred much frustration by living illegally in makeshift settlements in the Western European countries and relying on social benefits.
Stronger co-operation between social services and law enforcement bodies of the two Balkan countries, and those of the host nation, could help resolve the issue, according to Lubov Panayotova, director of the European Institute in Sofia.
Panayotova said Bulgaria and Romania "need to make stronger efforts to integrate their Roma communities into their societies in order to improve their countries' image," among their Western European partners.

Read more here
* Nationalists cash in on Bulgarians' unhappiness
by Sam Cage, Reuters, May 13, 2013

Sofia, 13/05/2013 - A Bulgarian nationalist party which has protested against the Roma minority and wants to nationalize foreign-owned firms has emerged as a kingmaker from an election on Sunday by tapping into voters' disillusionment with mainstream politicians.

Volen Siderov, leader of Attack, stepped up rhetoric and populist pledges to improve the lives of poor Bulgarians after the previous government resigned in February in the face of demonstrations and self-immolations.

Read more here
* Andrzej Mirga: We should be cautious about making empty claims
by Adéla Gálová, Adam Bartosz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Andrzej Mirga was born in 1954 in the small Roma hamlet of Czarna Gora, Poland. He was the first Roma student ever to study at Jagellon University in Krakow, specializing in ethnography. He also taught there from 1980 – 1992.
Another ethnology student at the university remembers first meeting Mirga as follows:  "As a student of ethnology I initiated research into the Romani settlement in Czarna Gora. I was interested in the Mirga family (Andrzej's parents) there. I slept in their home and ate every meal with them whenever I went to the Polská Spiš area. At the time Andrzej was attending high school in Nowy Targ. His father worked during the week in Czechoslovakia and commuted home every Friday evening. He also served the function of the settlement chief. During the era of the separate Slovak state he had fought in the war and been a member of the Slovak National Uprising. He wanted Andrzej to become a lawyer. After Andrzej, graduated from high school they sent him to take the entrance exams at the law faculty. On that day the Bialka Tatrzanska river flooded, the bridge collapsed, and Andrzej's father carried him across the river on his back to the bus so he could make it to the exam on time. He didn't get in, so he decided to try the ethnology department the next year, as he personally knew the professors who came to the Spiš area to do research. Andrzej was a good student and also a brilliant mountain climber. He had an only one accident, in the Alps, where he broke his jaw. His graduate thesis was on the topic of 'Spiš Highlander Perceptions of Gypsies'. Later he became an assistant professor in the ethnology department, where he worked until about 1990 or so. He was writing his doctorate on the topic of state policy on Roma, but he was overwhelmed with work in the Roma Association and never finished it. After the 1989 revolution he was very active in the Roma Association at Auschwitz."

Read more here
* Big gaps in EU human rights protection
by Amnesty International

Brussels, 23 May 2013 - Today sees the launch of Amnesty International’s global annual report which charts the state of human rights worldwide. It reveals a range of policies in EU countries which expose migrants and minorities to human rights violations. 
 “There were some EU wins last year. It adopted a new human rights package and appointed a special representative for human rights. The challenge now is implementing it and ensuring human rights play a central part in all areas of policy,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. 

Read more here
Download the “SPSS file” here
For further technical information on the survey, please refer to Integrated household survey among Roma populations publication or contact jaroslav.kling@undp.org
* Bulgarian 'Ataka' Party Follows Neo-Nazi Global Trends
by Arutz Sheva staff

16/05/2013 - A Bulgarian far-right party has emerged victorious following the country’s parliamentary elections last Sunday, securing 7% of the popular vote.
The Ataka party, meaning “Attack” in Bulgarian currently holds a key position to dictate terms for the formation of Bulgaria’s next ruling coalition, after the winning GERB party did not gain enough seats in the Parliament to form a government on its own.
Ataka’s success is attributed largely to the vote of the poor and disenfranchised, who are frustrated with the country’s weak economy.
“Espousing a mix of populist and fiery nationalistic policies, Ataka has branded foreign companies operating in Bulgaria ‘robbers’, called for the re-nationalization of some sectors of the economy and has vilified Bulgaria’s sizeable Romany community,” reported Scotsman.com.

Read more here


* Call for proposals for small grant projects targeting Roma communities in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
14/05/2013 - The OSCE/ODIHR project “Best Practices for Roma Integration” will award grants to four projects in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for improving the living conditions for Roma communities.
This small grants programme is designed to improve the quality of life and access to rights of Roma communities in the Western Balkans. Municipalities and NGOs from Kumanovo, Gostivar, Stip, Tetovo, Prilep and Suto Orizari are eligible to apply. For more information, please see the Call for Proposals.
The deadline for submission of project proposals is 30 May 2013. Any proposal submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
BPRI is a regional project funded by the European Union, supported by OSCE participating States and implemented by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The project supports innovative programmes to promote greater Roma participation in political and public life and decision-making, help to combat discrimination and contribute to better living conditions.

Read more here
* OSCE  High-Level Conference on Tolerance and Non-Discrimination (including Human Rights Youth Education on Tolerance and Non-Discrimination) in Tirana from 21st to 22nd May 2013.
The Conference will have two parts – one part will focus on comprehensive approach to combat intolerance and discrimination, while the second one will be a forward-looking focusing on prevention and responses to intolerance and discrimination, including hate crimes and promotion of mutual respect and understanding.
The format of the conference will be similar to the 2007 and 2010 high-level conferences held in Bucharest and in Astana, but without an additional preparatory meeting for civil society. For more information about the conference and its format, please refer to the agenda (http://www.osce.org/cio/101271) and the information package for participants (http://www.osce.org/cio/101274).
We encourage you to attend the conference and contribute to the sessions although we are aware that it may be difficult to organize travel at such a short notice. Unfortunately, due to the limited time, it was not possible for ODIHR to reserve funds for civil society representatives to participate in the conference.
All information related to the conference is available on the OSCE website at http://www.osce.org/event/hltnd_2013. We will also inform you once the annotated agenda is posted online.
*  ERIO is currently looking for interns
We are looking for interns to start their internship from September 2013. If you are interested in an unpaid internship, please send your CV and a motivation letter stating your interest for this internship as well as your availability to:  office@erionet.eu.
You can find out more here:  http://www.erionet.eu/internship.htm
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