01.06.2009International Conference “Roma migration – a European Challenge”

Conference “Roma migration – a European Challenge” brought together Roma and human rights activists from all over Europe, officials and policy-makers from the European Commission. It was organized by European Roma Information Office and International Society for Sustainable Development. The conference took place in Brussels on May 27.
In his opening speech Mario Sepi, President of the European Social Committee outlined that there are serious violations of the rights of Roma as European citizens: in education, employment, etc. The inclusion of Roma should be discussed from social inclusion perspective instead of the security perspective. Preserving Roma culture is part of the process of enriching Europe; Roma integration is not assimilation, Mr. Sepi stressed.
Joachim Ott, Nicolae Gheorghe, Stanislav Stankevich, Saimir Mile and many other participants made interventions and remarks. Deyan Kolev presented a report about the case of Roma migrants from Bulgaria. He argued that Roma migration is not just an economic migration. The lack of jobs and income in Bulgaria, the backward social, employment and economic situation of Roma in Bulgaria make them migrate in searching job and better life. At the same time other important reasons seem to be deeper and to define the economic one: discrimination (especially in the field of employment), lack of visible perspective for incorporating in the higher levels of the society and so on, Kolev stressed. According to him effective policy for integration would create preconditions for significant decrease of Roma migration abroad.

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