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EU urged to act to stop anti-Roma sentiment

Murska Sobota, 10 June - An international conference in Murska Sobota on Friday heard of the worsening situation of the Roma in Europe as genocide, hate speech and anti-Roma activities spread in some countries and Roma refugees from Ukraine were mistreated. The conference sent out a message to European institutions what Roma want and propose for the situation to improve.

Murska Sobota
Jožek Horvat - Muc, the head of the Slovenian Roma Association, speaks at an international Roma conference in Murska Sobota.
Photo: Marjan Maučec/STA

Murska Sobota
An international Roma conference in Murska Sobota.
Photo: Marjan Maučec/STA

Murska Sobota
An international Roma conference in Murska Sobota.
Photo: Marjan Maučec/STA

Jožek Horvat Muc, the head of the Slovenian Roma Association and of the European Roma Union, said the EU had many declarations and levers to help threatened groups but more should be done in practice.

"There's a lot of money allocated for that in the EU, but we see that Roma do not make use of that money and then everyone says that a lot of work is put in for the Roma but there's no result," he said.

He also spoke of anti-Roma sentiment in Slovenia and said that more money from local and state government budgets should be spent to deal with Roma-related issues.

They would propose to the EU to listen to warnings about hate speech and to take action. The Union should engage in dialogue with Roma representatives because increasingly others decide about them.

Horvat Muc said they would also try to present solutions at the institutions responsible for human rights, dignity, drinking water, children's rights and Roma issues, and seek to find solutions with them.

He talked of Roma refugees from Ukraine being treated differently than other refugees, being beaten and persecuted and having to look for food in bins. It was similar to what happened in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the past.

Slovenian MEP Ljudmila Novak talked about the EU's efforts for the inclusion of the Roma. The EU has drawn up a strategy that sets out measures in several areas, in particular eduction, housing, social affairs and healthcare.

However, she said Roma should make an effort too as there were no better jobs without better education. Still, she did say that increase in discrimination had been detected, calling for equal treatment.

The conference also heard about the important role of the Romani media in education, preservation of the Romany language and keeping the Roma and the majority population up to date.

Radio Romic, which broadcasts in Murska Sobota in Romany and partly in Slovenian, has been declared second best media outlet in Europe, but it is appreciated in Europe better than in Slovenia as it does not get state funding and has to rely on funds disbursed in public calls.

"We know the topic, language, Romani life and we report on all the topics daily, not just on 8 April," said journalist Monika Sandreli in a reference to International Romani Day.

Apart from Radio Romic, there are Romani programmes aired by the public broadcaster TV Slovenija, the newspapers Romano Nevijpe (Romanis News) and Romano Them (Romani World) and the Mini Multi for children.

The conference features more than 20 speakers with participants from Roma communities from Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Turkey, Greece, Serbia and Slovenia.

© STA, 2022