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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 110 (Suppl.), August 2009




Roma-related Policy Making and Romani Politics:  prospects, national and international,  for occupational roles and for personal fulfillment



Mr. Nicolae Gheorghe

Director of Romani CRISS- The Roma Center

for Social Intervention and Studies, Romania


Contents or a “shopping list” of points to be selected and elaborated during the debate. 

Part A.  Elements of a European Institutional Framework for Roma Policies

  1. Slides; Roma – related institutional arrangements and activities: the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the European Union, agencies of the UN. Personal contribution, as the Contact Point  for the  Roma and Sinti Issues   of the OSCE ODIHR,  May 1999-2006; 

Part. B. Personal opinions on some frequent   Roma-related issues and questions  

I. Trying to interpret the Romani movement

I.1. an analogy with the Sociological concepts of “Churches” and Sects”.

I. 2. the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) 

II. Representation of Roma in various bodies.

II.1.Roma politics

II.2. Roma  employees in policy making on Roma-related services and affairs.

II.3. Why the international, intergovernmental organizations still lack Roma staff members? Who is responsible for that?

II.4. When we talk about Romani politics, can we  see political philosophies and ideologies behind Romani parties and political groups?

II.5. “Old” and “new”  members of the EU and their attitudes on Roma policimaking.

III. Sharing Responsibilities, including the financial ones, in “organizing the Roma” 

III. 1. An uncommplished task: setting  up a Rotating Fund for self-financing of Income-generating activities for Roma associatins and communities in Romania, 1994-1999.

IV. Final remarks: Some suggestions for a  possible “European Roma policy”;  soon-coming debates of the  the EU/ European Commission’s Roma Summit, Brussles, 16 September 2008.  

Annex/ Supporting document:  Some examples of  Roma-related activities /projects of the Churches and of the Faith-based organziations-ilustrations from Romania, (including some  activities as director of Romani CRISS-the Roma Center for Social Intervention and Studies, 1993-1999 ). 

Part I. Elements of a European Institutional Framework for Roma Policies

1. Slides ; Roma –related instituional arrangements and activities: the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the European  Union, agencies of the UN)







ODIHR Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues (Since 1994)

  • Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues since 1998


OSCE Action Plan for the Improvement of Situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE Area (OSCE PC Decision 566/2003, and  Maastricht  MC Decision 3/03)


Supplementary Human Dimension Meetings on Roma and Sinti 1999, 2003 - 2008. 

Debates on Roma during regular HDIM and ODIHR Seminars 1994 – 2003. 

High Commissioner for National Minorities  Reports on the situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE 1993 ,2000, forth coming 2008 


OSCE Field Missions

Roma consultants in Kosovo, FYROM and in Bosnia and Herzegovina;


ODIHR/ Council of Europe /European Commission’s Informal Contact Group on Roma ( since 1999)  Joint Projects on “Roma and Stability Pact in SEE”, 2001 –2003 and 2003-2005

Coordinator of activities on Roma/ Gypsies/ Travelers


Specialist Group on Roma/ Gypsies (MG-S-ROM) since 1996


European Roma and Travelers  Forum (2004)


DG III Social Cohesion

DG Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection on National Minorities


European Commission against Racism  and Intolerance 


Expert Committee of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;  


Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights

  • Information and Assessments on situation R/G/T in Opinion about state reports;  

Parliamentary Assembly  (PACE)

  • Reports and Recommendation on the situation of Roma/Gypsies: 1203/1993, 1557/2002


Congress for Local and Regional Authorities of Europe  

  • Recommendation 243/1993, 11/1995,

  • Recommendation 44/1997 "Towards a tolerant Europe: the contribution of Roma"

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)

Law cases related to Roma


Programs and projects on Roma/Gypsies/Travelers and joint projects with IGOs ;Ex.  Project “Education of Roma/ Gypsy children in Europe, 2003 on going 

EU Council  Instruction on Roma,  Dec 2008


European Commission /EC

  • Informal Roma Action Group, 2008

  • EC Informal Inter-Service  Group on Roma

  • EC PHARE projects on Roma

  • EC Report on  Activities on Roma 2008

  • EC High Level Meeting , or the  Roma Summit, 16 September 2008

EU Parliament

Roma members of the EU P

  • Resolutions on the Situation of the Gypsies/Roma, since 1984; the most recent one, July 2008. Resolutions on Situation of Roma (2005) and Romani women (2006) 

  •  EU “Race Directive” 43/2000

  • EU Guiding Principles to improve the living conditions of Roma, 1999 Roma issues included in the EC regular progress reports on the Candidate countries, since 1998 Report: EC PHARE Support for Roma Communities in Central and Eastern Europe, May 2002 Projects on Roma/Gypsies of EU member countries

  • EU Fundamental Rights Agency/FRA (former EU Center against Racism and Xenophobia- Vienna )

Roma issues included in the Declaration of the World Conference against Racism, Dublin 2001; follow –ups by the OHCHR


UN Comm. on Human Rights

  •  • Resolution 69/ 1993 Protection of Roma / Gypsies


General Recommendation no 27 “Discriminations against Roma”


Launching of the Decade of Roma Inclusion, 2005-2015 and of the Roma Education Fund.



  •  Reports on situation of Roma in Czech Rep., Slovakia (1997) and on Roma Ashkalie, Egyptians from Kosovo (1999-2003) in cooperation with OSCE and COE 

  •  Focal Point on Roma within

UNCHR  (office in Belgrade)



  •  Report: The Roma in Central and Eastern Europe. Avoiding the Dependency Trap, 2002

  •  Project of the country offices

Roma issues addressed in current Reports/ Activities/ Projects of  UN  various bodies: CHR, CERD, UNICEF,UNESCO,  etc


2. Personal contribution, as the Contact Point  for the  Roma and Sinti Inssues   of the OSCE ODIHR,  May 1999-2006; 

I would mention just the contribution as officer  of the OSCE Office for Democratic Instituions and Human Rights  to the negotiation of the OSCE Action Plan for Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area, adopted by the OSCE Ministerial Council in December 2003.

  • It is a complex document, too comprehensive I may say, focused on the pledge of the participating States to “eradicate the discrimination” against the Roma and Sinti and to implement effective policies “for Roma, with Roma”. For sure, not enough results can be reported after almost three years since its adoption; there are too many words in this Plan (out of its ten chapters and 6030 words) which are poorly or not at all  matched by the actions recommended to the participating States or/and tasked to the OSCE institutions. Some senior diplomats have said that the OSCE Action Plan is a “living document”, susceptible to be altered (eventually by being shortened and better focusing its wording), strengthened, better matched by institutional and financial tools, better staffed, etc.
  • Currently, in 2006-2008, there is a review of the implementation of the OSCE Action Plan. A discussion of a ODIHR drafted will take place during the forthcoming OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM), Warsaw, 28th September-10th October, more precisely in the Working session on Roma and Sinti, on the 2nd October. I hope to see some of the people here as participants and as  contributors to this debate, in particular there aer wellcomed  informed criticism of particular participating States as well as of the strengths and weaknesses of the OSCE institutions’ current actions for the Roma and Sinti.

3. Some examples of  Roma-related activities /projects of the Churches and of the Faiths-based organziations-ilustrations from Romania, 1990-2000 (during my activities as director of Romani CRISS-the Roma Center for Social Intervention and Studies)

Working document, in very initial form, to be better documented and completed during the Munich Sixth Pastoral Care Congress on Roma/Gypsies.  

Part. II. Personal opinions on some frequent Roma-related issues and questions  

I. Trying to interpret the Romani movement

The “point”: while  we speak about a population of 8-10-15 million Roma Europe-wide, and reffer to the Roma as a “political people” or/ and “nation” (without territory), most of the Roma and Sint organizations behave, institutionally, like “Sects” rather than “Churches”.  

I.1.  an  analogy  with the Sociological concepts of  “Churches” and  “Sects”

This is a way of inciting a debate with my fellow activists using meanings borrowed from the sociological analysis of the “Sects” and “Churches”. An established Church is a mass organization which has hundred of thousands or millions of followers. The Sect is a small group which goes after the fundamental beliefs of a religion in a sort of break-away from an established church. Do not forget that Christianity first appeared as a sect among the Jewish ideas and beliefs too.

  • All Sects start with a few people only, organized usually around a charismatic leader, and grow bigger through supporters who make such initiatives become a church.
  • In the case of the established Churches, you have enduring beliefs, passed through generations, large meetings and pilgrimages; there are also codified rules and church courts to enforce such rules.
  • There is an institutional structure where you have Church boards, administrators and a hierarchical leadership, just like in the context of Catholics: priests, bishops, and the Pope. In a sect, there is a strong and exclusive control over the people who join, as it is a small group.
  • In a Church (like in a business or in a public corporation of the present days), you have to cope with diverse personalities:  there are idealists, opportunists, good and bad guys, genuine believers and hypocrites, and the leaders have to find solutions for all these characters and overcome the endless challenges of keeping them together.
  • Think about how the Pope deals with homosexual priests for example. The church cannot just expel them but it has to accommodate what is controversial.
  • A Church is an institution which has to attract, include and keep a large constituency of believers; and this is the very reason they incite the breakaway of charismatic leaders who establish their sects in order to recall the original, “incorrupt”, the “true credo” of the founding beliefs. If successful, a Sect is an early stage of a Church; alternatively, its challenge could be accepted and “absorbed” by the establishment of the mainstream Church which may react by implementing the change brought to the front stage by the sectarian dissidence.

b) What do we mean by that? Some insights from within the Roma Movement

Mutatis mutandis this is the way I understand

  • the breakaway of Rudko Kawczinsky with his followers from the International Romani Union (IRU)’s establishment, in the mid-1980s. Rudko openly confronted the IRU leadership during the IV International Roma Congress in Serock-Warsaw in May 1990; and he initiated the Roma National Congress (RNC) in autumn, the same year. It was, somehow, like a “sectarian” departure of the RNC group from an ailing IRU of those times.
  • The RNC “radical” discourse and actions (street protests and sit-ins, as those organized with the Roma asylum-seekers in Germany) served, during the 1990s, as reminders of the original Roma movement‘s   rights-oriented, militant agenda of the Romani self-organization, as illustrated by the spirit and the “manifesto” of the First World Romani Congress in London, in April 1971.
  • The provocation launched by the RNC (whose merit, during the years of 1990s among others, was to remain a rather small-scale but well-articulated body of committed activists, devoted to their leader) has been a catalyser for political in-fighting, for partisan realignments of various national organizations and for their renewed activism in the 1990s and early into the new millennium, including the efforts to politically reform and revitalize the IRU.
  •  See, for example, the complex, even complicated re-organisation of the IRU leadership during the IRU 5th Congress in Prague, June 2000; or the Declaration of a Nation, launched at that Congress
  •  or the renewed political symbolism of the Roma flag ,anthem and of the Romani language  launched by that Prague meeting and by the IRU 6th Congress in Lanciano (Italy) in October 2004.
  • What will be the next the 7th IRU Congress,  to be held in in Zagreb Croatia, 22nd-24th October 2008?

c) All these reforms aimed to reach the souls of millions of Roma world-wide. The “dissidence”  of the RNC has been also productive in stimulating the successive series of compromises among various factions of the Roma  structures.

In  the year 2000, we established the International Roma Contact Group, which included the leadership of IRU, the board of RNC, and a couple of independent Roma activists and experts. This structure worked rather well for about one and a half years. The first discussions in August 2001 between the Finnish diplomacy and the Roma representatives, about the creation of a pan-European Roma body, were facilitated by this Roma Contact Group. The conjunction between the Finnish diplomacy, the institutional mechanisms of the Council of Europe and the group of Roma representatives led to the establishment of the European Roma and Traveller Forum (ERTF), in 2003-2005. This brought the Romani movement to a different stage. And I look at this as an achievement. 

I. 2. The European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) is  a more inclusive organizational framework for both  the IRU and RNC, as well as for other  international networks, such as the International Roma Women Network, Forum of European Roma Young People, Gypsies and Travellers International Evangelical Fellowship), for national Roma political parties and NGOs, etc.

  • I would  just mention here the contribution of the Churches, including of the Vatican, to the  creation of the European Roma and Travellers Forum /ERTF. 
  • It remains to  see if the ERTF is able to promote organizational growth and change by its own dynamic within the established institutional frameworks (including those provided by the Council of Europe) or, alternatively, the need for political creativity and effectiveness will require a new challenger, or “dissenting”, break away political grouping.
  •  I think that it is too early to evaluate the merits of the Forum and we still have to maintain both supportive and friendly critical approaches. I was (amonmg many others) part of creating the Forum, and I was actively involved in the discussions until mid-2003, when I took a little bit of distance. I believe that the Forum is the best arrangement that we could achieve for the time being in the process of the Roma self-organisation. But this is exactly the problem: the current Forum is an “arrangement” and not yet an elected body. It is created by consensus after taking into account the realities of different structures and stages of Romani organizations Europe-wide and in the represented countries. In some countries, Romani organizations are mature, whereas in some others, they are still embryonic. In the future, the Forum will have to reach a higher level of democracy in electing the national delegates through transparent democratic rules, based on which the European elections can be organized. In 2008/2009 there will be new elections for the Forum. Constituent delegations have to take steps in advance to better prepare for the elections of national representatives.
  • My first hope from the Forum is that it will manage to create standards, precedents for the national Roma organizations with its actions and that it will serve as a role model. My second hope is that the Forum will create a vision for addressing the various issues that Roma are confronted with. For instance, it might take a stand on issues and dilemmas such as assimilation, integration, cultural separation. Or it might form an opinion on whether we should advocate for general human and citizenship rights being applied in a non-discriminatory way for Roma, or do we need a stronger minority status in each particular State, or should we have something trans-national, like the European Roma Rights Charter that the Roma National Congress has proposed in mid-1990s. The Forum should also voice an opinion about the Kosovo Roma during the talks on political status of Kosovo and use its credibility, its mandate and legitimacy to express a clear vision about what should be done for Roma in Kosovo, in Serbia or in other countries where they have fled and are being expelled from as refugees and IDPs, and how these measures should be put into effect.

What could be a “prospect”, or a” calling” for some young Roma activists, oriented dedicated to work for the Roma movement as a mass-movement?   

Coming back to the  questions pointing to the current Roma politics of self-organization, I may say that Romani organizations are (mutatis mutandis, I repeat) rather like “Sects”, not “Churches”, not yet part of a social, mass movement.  We don’t have enough followers because the discussion about Roma issues takes place among ourselves, small & closed, inner- groupsof fervent   Roma activists. Fotr the time being,  I see a serious, even widening disconnection between us, the “clubs” of Romani (national and international) political elite and the Romani communities in each country and in the world Romani Diaspora. It is a reminder that we may generate a movement only if we manage to find ideological tools and messages to capture the feelings, the interests and the social imagination of the population in the grass-roots Roma communities or/and in the general public (as, for example, various groups of mainstream human rights activists).

Said another way, I don’t think we are at the stage to call the current course a “Romani movement”. We are not there yet, because we are still capsulated in our small NGOs (sometimes rather exclusivist, rigid and intolerant among ourselves); in our families; in clan-based political parties (with modest electoral success); in Roma-labelled governmental offices (with minuscule budgets); or in our E(mail)-groups (frequently jammed by real or alleged technical inconveniences); some of them are, I woud say, rather Ego-groups.  We have to focus and upgrade the effectiveness of fighting the racism and discrimination against Roma Europe-wide; but we also have to discuss several sensitive issues like the inequality of women with men in the Roma affairs, early marriages in some traditional groups, use and misuse of child labour by some families,-including misuse of children, of old personans and/or of the disabled in the “begging bussiness” -  freedom of sexual orientation in contemporary societies, etc.

II. Representation of Roma in various bodies.

The “point“: Some years ago, during the mid-1990s, the occupational prospects of the Romani activists (in particular of the young ones) have been quite limited, as the bright ones have been  drawn mainly  into the work in NGOs. One way to visualise (or to propose a “vision”) has been  to call  for a re-launching of Romani politics (Roma in the politics) as well as  of the  public policy making on Roma issues/affairs (more professional Romani administrators – officers and experts – in ministries and governmental offices). 

II.1. Roma politics. Currently, since the beginning of the year 2000, there is a slow but constant increase in the number of the Roma elected to the local and national parliaments of some countries, such as in Bulgaria, Hungary, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovakia, and Romania. But Roma continue to be underrepresented on the voters’ lists and in the elected offices, compared to their number and visibility in the public debates of many states throughout Europe.

II.2. Roma employees in policy making on Roma affairs. In what concerns the governmental and administrative offices, yes, I see also some modest developments.

  • There is a Plenipotentiary and a Commission for Roma Affairs in Slovakia, where there are some tens of staff members hired, not only in Bratislava but in the regional offices as well.
  •  In Romania, there is the National Agency for Roma, where are about 80 persons hired, leaded dye a Roma activist with the position of a State Secretary (two of them, in 2005-2008 came from the NGO world). All in all there are about 5000 persons (most of them of Roma ethnic origin) active on regular basis in Roma-related activities, such as Elected members of Local Councils (about 400), employed in Roma-related public services such as the Health Mediators (500-600), Roma experts in Offices of Public administration, Teachers of Romani language and School Mediators (large number), the staff members in the numerous fuul-time active NGOs;  including some of them in the Faith-based NGOs, etc. (information from Ms. Maria Ionescu, former President of the National Agency for Roma, 2005-2007);    
  • Currently, many young people work in the administration of Roma policies, like those who are the Hungarian  Ministerial Commissioner for Roma and Disadvantaged Children in the Ministry of Education and Culture; or those working for the  Roma Integration Department in the Hungarian Ministry of Social and Labour Affairs. There are an increasing number of Roma officers/adminstratirs hired by  the line-ministries of the 9-10 States which are involved in the Decade for Roma Inclusion, 2005-2015, an inter-governemnhtal initiative launched with the support of the World Banck and of the Open Society Institute /OSI.
  • I could mention other examples. What I would like to stress is that we don’t see enough similar development in other countries, for instance in Bulgaria or in some “old member countries” of the EU,  Finland being  an exception.

The reasons for this situation 

  1. there is  NOT a large number of educated Roma,
  2. are they  still more interested in the NGO work?
  3. Other reasons, which ?
  • So, I see some positive changes, although of course I would be happier to see thousands of Roma in governments and involved in politics, but this could sound like a” revolutionary slogan”. My hope is that initiatives of the Decade of Roma Inclusion will manage to generate awareness among the Roma NGOs so that they can move into key and influential positions in the public administration in the field of education, housing, health care, employment, etc.

II.3. Why do the international, intergovernmental organizations still lack Roma staff members? Who is responsible for that?

This is a sensitive and painful issue. In the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, in which I had been hired, - through an open competition-, in 1999-2006- I recruited twice Romani colleagues. This generated complaints from some of other competitors who perceived that they were disadvantaged in this decision. The difference at the Council of Europe or at  the European Commission is that they always recruit in open competition, as different to governmental bodies where people are many times appointed based on their ethnic origin and/or political affiliation. So affirmative actions have to combine the main criteria for the job and the elements of policies related to sex, gender, ethnic origin, etc. If we talk about legitimacy of people in positions, I see sometimes contradictions between two dimensions: political legitimacy and competence. They both are needed to a successful and legitimate work. The Council of Europe is currently recruiting officers for the secretariat of the ERTF; and the OSCE recruits staff on continuing basis for the ODIHR CPRSI, for the Focal Points in the OSCE Field Missions, for the OSCE mainstream vacancies many of them being relevant for the Roma and Sinti policies. From my modest experience in staff recruiting I may say that the Roma and Sinti themselves, those individuals, women and men, with the required skills have to take the time to complete the application forms and the trouble of entering in competitions for given job vacancies. The success is not 100% assured, but it is worth trying and there is always someone who wins. Like in the Olympic Games: it is as important to participate in a sport competition as in dreaming to win it.    

II.4. When we talk about Romani politics, can we see political philosophies and ideologies behind Romani parties and political groups?

I think we are still in a premature phase as regards the political philosophies and ideologies elaborated by Roma for Roma.

  • What I see is that some main lead political parties opened their doors to Romani politicians. See, for example, the case of Alliance of Young Democrats (FIDESZ) or the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) parties in Hungary, which provided seats for two Romani women – Lívia Járóka and Viktória Mohácsi – in the European Parliament. So Romani people join mainstream parties more frequently instead of creating one on their own. Romania is another example, where the Romani party decided to join the Social Democratic Party in the 2000 and in the 2004 elections, without elaborating a coherent social democratic platform, so it was rather a personal coalition by political arrangement.
  • These are stages in a process of political confrontations and clarifications. Roma are still taking a rather comfortable approach to politics and this is a criticism not only to my generation, but also to the next generation as well. International organizations, like the Council of Europe, European Parliament, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, invite Roma participants to their meetings usually to draft texts – or rather to comment/revise already-drafted texts – where we frequently behave in a “take-it-easy” way and do not use these occasions for political debates and confrontation. We still tend to believe that rights are granted somehow mechanically by laws and policy documents and the adoption of such documents is far from being enough.
  • After 15-20 years of such a “resolution-driven” Romani activism we could learn that the adoption of  such documents, while useful, is  far from being enough; neither are the “small-projects driven” approach. In this context, I have to acknowledge my whole responsibility for keeping myself and others in the “trap” of these approaches, in the limbo of the gap between the illusions of the activists and the realities of the every day life of the grass-roots people
  • The lack of confrontation is also due to the fact that we who are educated and took the responsibility to portray ourselves as leaders – in the sense of influencing perceptions of Roma and about Roma – are clients or employees of foundations and international organizations, sometimes beneficiaries of affirmative action policies, so we are not political fighters. I see a clear need for confrontation among ourselves and I think we are not urging enough for such possibilities.

II.5. “Old” and “new” members of the EU and their attitudes on Roma policimaking.

The point: Whereas the Roma-related topics seem to appear regularly in the political discussion in the Central-Eastern Europe-Western Balkans (the “Roma Decade” countries, many Western countries rather ignore Roma rights issues. Similarities and differences among Roma & Sinti and the Muslims and the Immigrants in  the “old” EU countries.

In international politics, you always have fashionable items which occupy the attention of politicians, and appear regularly in the international and national media. If you want to maintain the Roma issue, you have to fight for that. There was a little bit of awareness in the Western-European countries before the accession of the new countries to the European Union, which were ringing the issues of Roma. But then, interest vanished after the accession took place.  

There are similitudes between Roma and the Muslims and the  Immigrants in Western Europa?

  • After the riots in Paris suburban neighbourhoods, Autumn, 2005, I heard opinions that the situation of Roma Europe (in particular in some centraland southern countries) could be similar with the situation of young Muslims in EU countries. Indeed, both Roma and Muslims of Europe are confronted with similar challenges generated by racism, discrimination, social exclusion and, in some cases, poverty. There are commonalities  which deserve to be better analyzed and there is room for more intense coalition building among groups and associations fighting the same or/and similar  effects rooted in racism and exclusion.
  • There are also differences among these very same groups , the Roma and Sinti/or the "Gypsies" and one basic one comes, in my opinion, that Roma of Europe are settled in many countries as a sedentary populations since centuries, being a de facto constituent population of the respective states. While the groups of Muslims that we talk about in present days media are issued from more recent, post WWII migration (there are differences among Muslim groups themselves in this respect, but we can not enter in details here) I recall here, for example, the position of the Zentralrat Deutscher Sinti und Roma which insist that the Sinti and Roma are a “Deustcshevolksguppe”, a German population, in the historic, legal and political meanings of the concepts related to “nationality” in the German society. Also, the Sinti and Roma have been explicitly targeted for persecution on racist grounds by the German Nazi and the nationalist regimes of many of the European states during the WWII (By the way, this is one of the reasons why we speak in the OSCE  documents, institutions and events about the Roma and Sinti).
  • These historic and political differences  generate effects for the type of policies recommended to the States to adopt when dealing with the particularized tools of action aiming to curb the racism and to eradicate discrimination faced by various particular groups within the common racism and anti-discrimination legal and institutional framework of given States.
  • In this respect, I may say that the policies addressed by States to the racism against the Roma are not as clear and as strong as the ones which are addressed to other groups of population experiencing both cultural distinctiveness and social exclusion, including the Muslims of Europe. Take the case of France: while the French state accepts some forms of “positive discrimination” for the French Muslims (for example, there is a member of French government in charge with the issues of this population), there is not yet a clear, public recognition by the French authorities of a political status for the Roma of Franc- there is only the administrative category of the Gens du voyage, a rough equivalent of the English Travelers - although France is the co-sponsor, together with Finland, of the initiative for the European Roma and Travellers Forum within the Council of Europe.
  • The same is in Italy, where the autochtonous Sinti and Roma continue to be categorized in public life as Nomads, altoug the majoritgy of them are settled and are living in regular houses.     
  • I would like to remind here that there is a large segment of the Roma populations in the world who are Muslims, mainly in the Balkans and in  the Middle East, but also among the Roma Diaspora in EU countries and in the Americas. We can hardly discuss the prospects of the Roma in post-crises situations without tacking into account the church affiliation and the religious beliefs of particular Roma groups; this is the case,  for example, of the Muslim Roma groups and persons  who are living among Christian populations, be they (the Christians as various denominations) as majority or minorities populations in various countries, regions, “cantons” or “enclaves” of the current Balkans. 

III. Sharing Responsibilities, including the financial ones, in “organizing the Roma” 

The “points” Talking about how to keep the Roma identity:

  • what are the enduring “markers” of our ethnicity and what should be changed if we wish to achieve wider political mobilization?
  • Or, what is the impact of the religious/spiritual leaders on particular Roma groups; why and how are they more “successful” than the Roma political leaders or civil rights activists?
  • Some people have to take the responsibility to discuss such issues “for Roma, with Roma, by Roma” so that we can have a debate (including controversies), but also common points and agreed steps on how to move the Romani self-organization to a next, more inclusive, more mature stage of the process; and how to reach and mobilize the Romani people, not only and not mainly the self-appointed representatives.
  • And one more point: both “Churches” and “Sects” (or the “clubs”) can function properly only thanks to the financial contributions and donations from their own followers, especially from the rich ones!

III.1. An uncommplished task: setting  up a Rotating Fund for self-financing of Income-genrating activities for Roma associatins and communities in Romania, 1994-1999.

  • Details about the support of the Diakonische Werke, Germany for the Income generating activities for Roma associations in Romania, a project managed in partnership by AIDRom and Romani CRISS, 1994-1999.
  • Some reason for the failure of the project;  my personal role and responsibility in this venture.
  • A renewed hope, in 2008: starting to collect voluntary contributions of Roma associations and activists to honour the “moral  debt” tio the Churches; and re-start  the idea of the Rotating Fund for income-generating activities with the Roma, for the Roma.

Final remarks: Some suggestions for a  possible “European Roma policy”; soon-coming debates of the EU/ European Commission’s Roma Summit, Brussles, 16 September 2008.


The Catholic Church World Council of Churches/ The European Conference of Churches Churches in    particular  countries activities on Roma Mission Evangelique  pour les Tsiganes(France) Faith Based

Roma associations; including their contribution to the ERTF

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People


 World Congresses for Pastoral Care of Gypsies


Activities of the Catholic-based associations world-wide and in national countries:

- International CARITAS

- Support of the German CARITAS  for the FER project reconstruction of Roma destroyed Houses in M Kogalniceanu, Romania (1991 – 1994)- Support of the Commite Catolique contre la Faim et pour Development (CCFD), France for the Romani CRISS program on Roma Health Mediators, 1997-2009, Romania.

WCC Program to Combat Racism/PCR involving Roma, 1990-1994


WCC/EEC “The Chantilly Declaration” on the Anti-Gypsy-ism as a form of Racism, May 1990.  


EEC Seminar on Situation  of Roma inEurope,Bucuresti,Romania,  1996


Roma –related Projects of the Diaconal  Offices of the member Churches AIDROM projects and activities  with Roma in Romania, through the   years


Roma –related Projects of the

Diaconal  Offices of the member Churches and of the ECC Offices

Ex. the support of the Diakonische Werke, Germany for the Income generating activities for Roma associations in Romania (project managed in partnership by AIDRom and Romani CRISS , 1994 – 1999)


Orthodox Church

- Translation in Romani Language of the Prayers books and bible texts

Activities  of the ANSAT and GATIEF, France

 Foundation for Roma Nevi Speranta, Piatra Neamt, Romania:

Dilabas le Devleka Romanes ( Gypsy language Hymns, DVD, CD) 2004


Faith-Based   Associations as members of the European Roma and  Travellers Forum /ERTF, 2004 on