22.04.2014 - LETTER
THE BRUSSELS' RROMA SUMMIT HAS BEEN A GREAT DECEPTION
I knew it from the very first moment and my fears confirmed it when I read the contents of the program, We found ourselves, once more with a meeting of leading politicians and the "gadchés" "who love us a lot" and are ready to speak in our name snatching away from the real audience of the summit the possibility of us being our own true and irreplaceable spokespeople of our recognition and concerns.
For this reason I decided not to attend, in spite of having been personally invited. I didn't want to endorse this show with my presense only for the politicians in turn to say, during the electoral period, how concerned they were for our situation.
I let several days pass by before I wrote this down. I wanted to inform myself on the matter using honest and balanced Rroma sources to understand the intricacies of the summit and my fears have been confirmed.
However, I wish to refer to the letter which Rudko Kawczynski, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, directed to Mrs Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Justice; to mr Joao Barroso, President of the commission and mr Schulz, President of the European Parliament. I make his words my own when he said:
”…This one day meeting which consists, heavily, of a series of discussions carried out by non Rroma personalities which poses serious concerns with regards to their purpose, content and participation".
The summit has become a game of repetitive discourse. And we Rroma know a lot about this because we frequently suffer harassment from those around us with a redemptive spirit and hands full of euros which they have gained in our name. Ready to save our lives. Rudko Kawczynski has said it with great clarity:
”It is hard for us to understand what the goal is exactly of the summit and its added value in terms of what it has gained up until now. The thematic platforms- create inclusive politics for local level Rroma and make the EU finances arrive at the local and regional authorities to help with the integration of Rroma. They also make the integration of Rroma become a local reality in newly incorporated countries themes which have been debated in national and international forums and have been the object of numerous recommendations and decisions formed by the European Commission and other international bodies. It does not seem like the series of discourses from ministers and vice ministers are susceptible to creating the commitment which is so sadly lacking".
However Rudko Kawczynski identified the key issue when he affirmed:
“It is a pity, to say no less, that after years of predicting that work should be done with the Rroma and not for the Rroma, we are presented with an agenda where in a list of thirty spokespersons there are barely any Rroma (…) On the other hand, it is supposed that we should admire the people who know and follow the advice of a group of non Rroma participants, some of whom have never known a Rroma themselves, or who have never visited a Rroma settlement".
A considerable number of Rroma live in Europe who have spoken up in order to denounce the manipulation that we are subject to. For the majority of institutions and for the large part of those who live at the expense of our name,they only see in us a group of illiterate, hungry beggars who have to be saved at any cost. And in our name they organise conferences, meetings and days like this which result almost always in complete failure. And Do you all know why? Listen to Rudko Kawczynski:
“Up until now, much of the efforts of the European Commission have ended with a minimal or nonexistent result. This will follow as always when the Rroma community and their representatives are not been as involved and are not consulted in the design of the programs and initiatives".
We do not pretend to understand like Mrs Reding and the Commissioner László Andor, in charge of Social Issues, Work and integration. They have allowed themselves to be fooled by the organisers of this vulgar spectacle. Has it not been brought to their attention what the European Roma and Travellers Forum failed to see, the leading representative of the Romas in Europe, whose creation was aided by the European Council, European Commission and the OSCE?
”To make things worse, -continued Rudko Kawczynski- the European Commission has considered it opportune to invite, in the opening ceremony of the summit, nothing less than mr Traian Basescu as the speaker, President of Romania, who recently was condemned by the National Commission of Romania for the fight against discrimination by his discriminatory comments towards the Rroma population. On the other hand, they have invited, in some of the aforementioned panels, representatives of cities and regions which have in a systematic form driven out the Rroma from their territories".
To conclude I make the President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum's words my own:
“Under these circumstances, we believe that our participation in this summit has only been decorative. This is something which we cannot accept under any circumstance. We Rroma desire genuine and honest participation and do not wish to be used only as puppets in a spectacle".
This could be said louder, but not more clearly or powerfully.
Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia
ExDeputy for the European Parliment
Lawyer and journalist
President of the Spanish Romani Union
Vicepresident of the International Romani Organisation