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ERIO fully supports Commissioner Vladimír Špidla's condemnation yesterday of the "atrocities against the Roma"
22-05-2008  Press release

Vladimír Špidla The European Roma Informaiton Office (ERIO) fully supports Commissioner Vladimír Špidla's condemnation yesterday of the "atrocities against the Roma" committed in Italy over the past weeks and confirms Mr Špidla's remark that this is not "an isolated case". ERIO also supports Mr. Špidla’s call on all Member States to guarantee the safety of Roma and the respect of human rights.

Mr. Ivan Ivanov, ERIO executive director, calls on the Italian and other Member States’ governments to make every effort to enforce the European legislation against discrimination and to made full use of the funds that the EU provides for a better integration of Roma people in the society, notably for decent housing and access to health services, education and employment.

ERIO therefore endorses Commissioner Leonard Obran’s recent call on Italy to fully use the social funds available for this purpose. Italy has only used 3.2 million Euro on integration projects, compared to the 4.4 Euro spent in the Czech Republic and the 7.5 Euro million used in Poland, two countries where the Roma situation has not reached the alarming seriousness that it has in Italy.

Hungarian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Lívia Járóka's stated that "the situation of the Roma is terrible everywhere in Europe, not just in Italy. All governments are to blame, of right and left, because they have not succeeded in promoting the integration of the Roma in society".

In this regard, ERIO hopes that the discussion on Roma at the European level will go on beyond the extraordinary debate that took place yesterday during the European Parliament plenary session. Mr Ivanov hopes that awareness on the dramatic situation of Roma people, raised by last weeks’ violence against them, will encourage European and national decision makers to adopt long term policies to fully integrate Roma.

Recalling the responsibilities of politicians from all levels and all countries to counter the alarming growth of right-wing extremism and racism, those responsible for anti-Roma violence must be prosecuted. Such violent acts are strongly encouraged by the dangerous populist attitude of some politicians and government representatives, particularly in Italy.

Finally, ERIO expresses extreme dismay and concern at the suggestion of far right Italian MEP Luca Romagnoli to "create a Roma state in the East, where Roma could govern themselves autonomously". Such proposals are reminiscent of those made by the Nazis and can not be accepted in a democratic Europe.

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