Did you know this? Fourty years ago, on the 8th of April 1971, Roma from around the world gathered for the first time during a World Congress in London, where they elected a Roma flag and hymn. Since then, the Roma have come a long way.
Unfortunately, it took a huge political row last summer in the European Union about the expulsion of France of Roma from their territory, to really put the issue on the political agenda. Finally, the European Commission presented an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, in order improve the situation of the more than ten million Roma within the EU.
Education, employment, health and housing are usually the key words. Yes, these issues are very important. But of course we should also really fight the stereotypical images that most of us have about Roma. No, Roma are usually not travelling around and no, Roma are no thieves.
Especially in Eastern Europe, Roma still suffer from exclusion. One of the countries where Roma are facing hard times is Hungary, where currently a consevative-right government is in charge. Almost ironically, the current Presidency of the EU is in the hands of Hungary. It is in this country -where during the last years several Roma were brutally murdered for racist reasons- that many Roma leaders today are celebrating their annual Roma day. I wish our fellow Europeans –and my Roma friends!- all the best.