CoE: Fighting antiziganism needed in Serbia

Obeležen Međunarodni dan Roma
Izvor: Beta/Milan Obradović

On the eve of April 8, the International Romani Day, Tobias Flessenkemper, the head of the Council of Europe (CoE) office in Belgrade, said on Wednesday the discrimination against Roma existed both in the European Union and Serbia, but that there were efforts to recognise their culture and contribution to the European civilisations.

„Roma become much more visible, and their voice is among the loudest from minorities in Europe,“ Flessenkemper said.

However, he added that „the antiziganism (hostility to Romani people) is a specific form of racism as defined by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), and that it should be fought against.

Antiziganism (also antigypsyism, anti-Romanism, Romaphobia, or anti-Romani sentiment) is hostility, prejudice, discrimination, or racism directed at Romani people (Roma, Sinti, Iberian Kale, Welsh Kale, Finish Kale and Romanichal.

Sem Fabrizi, the head of the European Union Office in Serbia, said that „Roma community is the largest ethnic group in Europe, but is still discriminated and marginalised.“

He added that a similar problem existed in Serbia and that the EU stimulated the country to solve it by meeting conditions in several accession negotiations chapters.

„The EU is Serbia’s partner in this important process… and the bloc is the largest donor to the country for the promotion of Roma rights,“ Fabrizi said, adding that the EU had already given close to 30 million Euro for projects to empower Roma’s position.

Gordana Comic, Serbia’s Minister of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, said Roma’s education was crucial and that those educated should have secured jobs under equal conditions for all those who finished similar schools.

„You cannot ban prejudices, but you can bring laws to ban behaviour based on a prejudice,“ she said.