Roma genocide recognition key to integration

'Roma citizens are EU citizens' and integration is impossiblewithout community involvement, writes Tomáš Zdechovský.

By Tomáš Zdechovský

Tomáš Zdechovský is a vice-chair of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee

17 Apr 2015

International Roma day, celebrated widely in the EU, is a day to remember not only the Roma genocide during world war II but to address hostility that exists towards this community in Europe today.

Recognition of the Roma genocide is an important step in fighting anti-Roma hostility and will lead to wider knowledge of Roma history in Europe.

"Recognition of the Roma genocide is an important step in fighting anti-Roma hostility and will lead to wider knowledge of Roma history"

Everyday we can see growing intolerance against the Roma community. This has a direct impact on the anti-Roma tendencies in Europe that have enormously increased in recent years. The EU needs to fight this hatred and animosity because Roma citizens are EU citizens.

Is the European Union not built on the idea of diversity and respect for other traditions? The fact is that the Roma are part of European history and culture and we have to accept them. Of course, integration is needed but not simply by pointing to problems.

The best way is to focus on positive examples of Roma integration in member states and to share best practices among the EU. There are plenty of cases where the integration of Roma in society has succeeded. These examples are just not heard often enough or some don't want them to be heard.

Examples can be found in my own country, the Czech Republic. You will find many communities, such as Luže - Košumberk, where the Roma are part of daily life in the town. Education and the willingness to participate on the part of the Roma were very important to this success.

That is why another very crucial step must be to involve Roma communities and non-governmental organisations more in the implementation of integration strategies.

This discussion cannot be about them, without them. Their participation is needed and in an ideal situation it would be the Roma themselves taking the initiative on how to change perceptions of their community.


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