Roma Rights group l’Agence Européenne pour les Roms (AER) will put forward eight candidates, including in Romania, for the 2014 European parliamentary elections, said the organization’s president Stefan Rostas (in picture, left) at a press conference in Brussels yesterday (March 19 ). “The time for discrimination against Roma is over. Now we want to asset ourselves in Europe’s political plan,” said Rosta, quoted by French news group Le Figaro.
The candidates’ objectives will be to fight against discrimination and help the integration of Roma communities. There will be one candidate in France, two in Belgium, as well as candidates in Germany and Romania.
During the press conference, Stefan Rosta added his voice to the chorus of angry reaction that has followed the French interior minister Manuel Valls’ recent comments. Quoted by Le Monde and referring to the Roma communities living in camps in France, Valls said “Unfortunately, the occupants of the camps do not want to integrate in our country for cultural reasons or because they are in the hand of networks involved in begging and prostitution.” The minister’s comments, which seem to follow the old racist trick of blaming the victims of prejudice for the discrimination they suffer, has angered many involved in campaigns for Roma rights. Stefan Rosta described comments of the type made by Manuel Valls as “unacceptable.”
Lack of political representation is regularly cited by NGOs as both a symptom of marginalization and a barrier to improving the lives of the millions of people of Roma ethnicity in Europe. “With an estimated population of 10-12 million in Europe, approximately six million of whom live in the EU, Roma people are the biggest ethnic minority in Europe,” according to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.
Liam Lever, email@example.com
photo source: europa-aer.eu