The Open Society Foundation and the Decade of Roma Inclusion, in collaboration with the European Parliament's political groups, have organized a high-level conference to ensure that Roma remain a priority for national authorities. They will meet in the European Parliament on November 8.

All this seems very well and we thank you. Especially since the Foundation in cooperation with the World Bank has promoted the Decade (2005-2015) to improve the conditions and treatment of Roma, and promote social inclusion, an operation on which more than US$ 120 million have been spent.

However, once again, the Roma themselves are notably absent. It is true that the only Roma member in the European Parliament was invited, but the majority of the guests are servants of various public administrations: the disproportion is so great that it becomes evident that the Roma do not count at all to the organizers. We do not know, therefore, how the announced "broadening the dialogue between EU institutions and Roma citizens on policies of mutual concern” will happen. If the Roma themselves are not attending the Conference, its outcome will be just like making bread without flour.

And Spain is not unaware of this nonsense. They have sent, yes, Doña Dolores Ruiz Bautista, who is a respectable person, non-Roma, an official of the Ministry of Health and Social Policy, who serves as secretary of the State Council of the Roma. The question remains: was this Council informed of this meeting? Aren’t there in Spain, among the members of the Council and its experts, enough Roma individuals of both sexes, able to participate in this conference with a perfect knowledge about their own Roma qualities?

And if this happens in Spain, considered by all Europeans as the most advanced country concerning the treatment of its Roma community, what role is played by the rest of the Roma in their respective countries when it comes to designing policies that directly affect them? Lets us not fool ourselves. The Gadje consider us less and less every day. The big decisions are made by them. After that they just give us notice. And this will go on in the same way, unless we decide to raise our voice to say: Enough! And claim the place we deserve when the subject is the survival and maintenance of our community.


Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia