MINELRES: Romania: Bulletin DIVERS on Ethnic Minorities - 44(172)/2005

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Divers Bulletin no. 44 (172) / November 21, 2005
News

LEADERS CALL FOR TOLERANCE TOWARDS AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION OF ROMA PEOPLE

MINORITIES' COUNCIL WANTS STATUS DRAFT LAW PASSED

HUNGARIAN LEADER: “WE WILL NOT ACCEPT MORE CHANGES TO THE MINORITIES' STATUS 
LAW”

FOREIGN MINISTER: “ROMANIA AND UKRAINE MADE HUGE STEPS AHEAD IN THE ISSUE OF 
THE NATIONAL MINORITIES”

MEDICAL SERVICES FOR THE ETHNIC ROMA AT THE GARBAGE PIT IN CLUJ

ETHNIC ROMA IN HARGHITA QUALIFIED AS MASONS THROUGH PHARE PROGRAM

SCHOOLS FOR THE ETHNIC ROMA IN MARAMURES

MEDICAL UNIT FOR THE ETHNIC ROMA IN TETILA - GORJ


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News

LEADERS CALL FOR TOLERANCE TOWARDS AND SOCIAL INTEGRATION OF ROMA PEOPLE

The seventh gathering of the Decade of Roma inclusion group ended last week in 
Bucharest with political leaders and Roma representatives concluding that more 
efforts are needed to change the life of Roma communities and to monitor their 
social integration and economic development.

George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Foundation (OSF), who initiated the 
Decade of Roma inclusion program, told the 60 representatives of governments 
from eight South-East European countries that democracy cannot develop in a 
climate where there are people whose rights are violated. 
"In plain words, the situation at the moment is unacceptable; the harsh 
conditions in which many Roma live are shameful," said Soros. He added he was 
surprised by the results of a study commissioned by the OSF and the World Bank 
which showed that many European citizens have prejudices when it comes to Roma. 
According to Bucharest Daily News, Soros explained that the survey showed that 
a higher level of education does not mean more tolerance towards the Roma 
population in EU member states, or in the accession countries.
Soros said that 99 percent of Bulgarians would not want their children to marry 
a Roma and 75 percent of Romanians would not want to live near representatives 
of this minority.
In her first appearance since the head of the National Agency for Roma, took 
the presidency of the Roma Decade in July 2005, Mariea Ionescu said that up to 
the summer of 2006 when her mandate ends, she has set several top priorities, 
such as organizing meetings with the media in the eight countries which are 
partners in the Roma Decade to change the negative stereotypes connected to 
this minority. Another priority is to define the exact limits of public 
policies for ethnic Roma. "As a future member of the European Union, it's 
productive to focus on introducing Roma into public policies, but authorities 
have to take into consideration the specific needs of the minority," said 
Ionescu.
On his part, Romanian prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said that he 
expects young Roma to get jobs in public institutions, not as a consequence of 
programs and projects, but naturally.
Tariceanu added the first step members of the minority have to make in Romania 
is to take part in the decision-making process. He added that Romania is among 
the first states which will contribute to the international strategy of the 
Roma Decade. Tariceanu said that social inclusion of the Roma has to happen at 
several levels, including for education and health insurance.
Deputy President of the World Bank Shigeo Katsu, one of the supporters of the 
Roma Decade program, said that the challenge ahead is to convert the action 
plans from "to-do" lists into concrete steps, integrated into the government 
budgets, "so that resources stand behind the good intentions."
"We need to see hard and fast progress on measures to boost opportunities for 
pre-schooling, facilitate access to social services, and remove discriminatory 
practices which limit Roma access to housing and jobs," said Katsu. He also 
underlined the importance of local finance ministers in all the counties which 
are partners in the Roma Decade incorporating the initiative and the ideas into 
national budgets.
The Roma Decade, which started this year, is a political commitment by 
Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia - Montenegro, 
Slovakia, and Hungary, funded mostly by international organizations, including 
the World Bank, The OSF and the European Union. Its main purpose is to change 
the life of Roma communities in order to eliminate the gap between Roma and non 
Roma. 
Author: DIVERS


MINORITIES' COUNCIL WANTS STATUS DRAFT LAW PASSED

BUCHAREST - The National Minorities' Council has made a public appeal to all 
parliamentary parties, asking them to pass the national minorities' status law 
as it was presented by the government.
The council passed a declaration of support for the government and the ruling 
coalition's efforts to get the draft law on national minorities' status through 
Parliament after both chambers rejected the document. The declaration also 
rejects any attempts by other parties to create "false problems" and to 
introduce nationalist-extremist tendencies into the political discourse. 
Author: DIVERS


HUNGARIAN LEADER: “WE WILL NOT ACCEPT MORE CHANGES TO THE MINORITIES' STATUS 
LAW”

The Hungarian Democratic Alliance (UDMR) will not accept any other changes to 
the draft law on minorities' status unless they are in line with the Venice 
Convention, according to party leader Marko Bela. Marko explained in an 
interview with Mediafax news agency that changes were made to the draft law 
before the text was passed by the government and referred to the national 
minorities' status law as "a test of maturity" for both Romanian and Hungarian 
politicians. The controversial project is strongly endorsed by the Hungarian 
Democratic Alliance, which also developed it. Marko said the ruling coalition's 
future attitude towards the national minorities' law will confirm whether 
ruling parties are capable of isolating other groups' attempts to block 
reconciliation and to combat these kinds of radical attitudes.

Reporter: When you signed the coalition's protocol, you said it had to be based 
on the idea of consensus. What do you think of the situations when the 
coalition has instead worked on mutual conditions?
Marko Bela: Setting conditions sometimes happens in a coalition, but they are 
not very useful and, in the long run, they can destroy the cohesion in such a 
collaboration or alliance. We made a joint governing program, which includes 
the minorities' law, and I do not accept the idea that the minorities' law is a 
condition set by UDMR to support the coalition, for instance. No, the law for 
minorities is part of the joint governing program.

R: However, you noticed some of your coalition colleagues held back in 
supporting this project...
M. B.: This, I think, is a negative development after what was agreed on the 
minorities' law, meaning, it is true that we had serious disputes inside the 
government and the coalition about the initial project, but we worked them out. 
When the government passed the draft law on national minorities' status, this 
project had the support of all ministers, after, as I said, we had serious 
disputes with some of them. We had the coalition's support as well. After that, 
the opposition managed to generate certain tensions, including reluctance on 
behalf of some coalition politicians. It's a pity that the opposition managed 
to influence the opinion of coalition colleagues who do not support the draft 
law, but I can see that they are not very enthusiastic about the anti-Hungarian 
and anti-minority campaign led by the Greater Romania Party and partially by 
some members of the Social Democratic Party.
And I have to ask whether it's the opposition leading us, whether they impose 
opinions on us, whether they are the ones to tell me if the minorities' law is 
good or not. Our colleagues in the coalition must understand that, at any 
moment, the opposition is trying to tear us apart and they tried to create a 
crack here, given the delicate situation of the Hungarian issue.

R: Immediately after the Senate rejected the minorities' law, UDMR deputies 
refused to vote for the Chamber of Deputies' rules. Senator Puskas Balint said 
he had suggested to UDMR leaders that the vote to remove the chambers' 
president be conditional on the adoption of the minorities' law. Will you 
accept this request?
M.B.: If we did, that would mean that I myself would be assuming the idea that 
the coalition has no common goals, only common interests, the interest to be in 
government.
We did not become part in the government for the sake of being in the 
government, but because we wanted to achieve certain objectives. If we change 
in favor of the chamber presidents' removal, we will do it not because that is 
a way to obtain a favorable vote for the minorities' law, but because we 
reached the conclusion that Parliament would work better if its leaders were 
members of the coalition.
If we vote in favor of the rules change, we will vote based on this conviction. 
However, UDMR members' anger at the rejection of the national minorities' law 
is natural.

R: Democratic Party leader Emil Boc said he agreed to the law "in principle," 
emphasizing that amendments should be made to the text. Will you accept changes 
to the law?
M.B: No, because the Venice Commission's opinion is very pertinent. This 
institution is made up of law specialists from several European countries and, 
if we consider this opinion and change the aspects of the law that were brought 
to our attention by the Venice Commission, this law will become very European 
and very acceptable for everybody, including the Romanians in Covasna and 
Harghita. No other changes except those in line with the Venice Commission's 
opinion are needed.

R: Immediately after the Senate slammed the minorities' status, you had a 
meeting with UDMR lawmakers and some of them brought up the possibility of your 
leaving the government. If this happens, will you support a minority 
government? M.B: A minority government would not be viable in Romania. As you 
can see, even a majority government is confronted with difficulties because of 
the lack of discipline and organization inside the coalition or the inability 
to reach a compromise. I believe that, should a minority government be viable, 
anybody could be part of it. We are not threatening to leave the coalition, 
but, if there are problems about the minorities' law, this means the coalition 
does not work, because we have an agreement we will all support this law. If 
this happens, we will have to rethink everything we did and plan to do so 
together. This would mean that there was no point in agreeing, or signing 
something, because it does not work. This would not be the UDMR's problem, but 
the coalition's unilateral problem. 
I don't like threatening to leave the coalition, and it's not the case, because 
it would not work to launch threats, not for UDMR. Not only would it be a sign 
of weakness, but it would trigger a crisis and I can't see how we could solve 
that; there is no alternative at the moment except early elections.

R: What is your comment on the fact the Social Democrats, your former allies, 
and the Conservatives, who are your current allies, criticize the minorities' 
status law and hold meetings in the Hungarian majority counties of Harghita and 
Covasna?
M.B: I can't afford to give lessons to others, but I do, however, have 15 years 
of experience in politics and I don't think there are others who have more 
experience as regards inter-ethnic relations. These campaigns and their 
presence there are ridiculous to me, because there are relatively few Romanians 
there. I can see that all parties go through an image crisis, for instance the 
National Initiative Party and we find that Cozmin Gusa, after going through 
several parties, has become a great protector of national interests. It's 
ridiculous that all parties want to create their electoral capital from the 
couple of thousands or tens of thousands of Romanians from Harghita or Covasna. 
In other words, they hope that this (their campaigning) will have a positive 
impact on the votes of all Romanians in Transylvania.
First of all, we should let the Romanians in Harghita look for solutions 
together with the Romanians there and nobody should incite them to attitudes 
against the minorities' law. 
Author: DIVERS


FOREIGN MINISTER: “ROMANIA AND UKRAINE MADE HUGE STEPS AHEAD IN THE ISSUE OF 
THE NATIONAL MINORITIES”

BUCHAREST – Romania and Ukraine overcame the contractions and suspicions and 
made important steps ahead in the issue of complying with the rights of the 
national minorities, stated on Thursday, November 10, the Romanian Minister of 
Foreign Affairs Mihai Razvan-Ungureanu, at the end of the meeting with his 
Ukrainian counterpart Boris Tarasiuk.
“Now, it is a matter of complying with the principles we agree with and with 
implementing them in the field”, said Ungureanu. 
The two officials signed two joint letters to the High Commissioner of OSCE for 
Minorities, Rolf Ekeus, and the Secretary General with the Council of Europe, 
Terry Davis, asking for neutral exports for the monitoring process by the two 
ministers of foreign affairs for the Romanian minority in Ukraine and for the 
Ukrainian one in Romania. 
Altogether, it was also signed the collaboration Protocol for the period 2005-
2007 between Ministry of Education and Research (MEDC) in Bucharest and 
Ministry of Education and Science in Kiev, which regulates the framework within 
which the two minorities are to study the mother tongue. 
“I believe this protocol enables the members of the two minorities to study the 
mother tongue and to be loyal citizens of their countries. We expect that high 
schools and sections within the universities are established with teaching in 
the mother tongue, to increase the access in the mother tongue at the national 
culture, to be have no obstacle for the European education of the good 
neighbourhood”, stated minister Ungureanu. 
The chief of the Romanian diplomacy showed available to establish a Ukrainian 
cultural institute in Bucharest, asking the Romanian party the support to open 
some similar cultural centres in Kiev, Cernauti and Odessa. Ungureanu talked 
about the establishment of a consulate for the Romanians in the Ukrainian 
Maramures North of Tisa. 
On his turn, Boris Tarasiuk reassured that the authorities in Kiev will deploy 
efforts so that the rights of the Romanian minority are complied with and was 
hopeful this aspect of the bilateral relationships is no longer rendered 
political in the future. 
According to the secretary of state for minorities within MEDC, Joszef Koto, 
the setting up of the protocol for 2005-2006 between the two ministries of 
education was delayed “out of technical problems”. 
The protocol signed last week stipulated the reciprocal assignment to the 
Romanian youngsters in Ukraine and to the Ukrainian ones in Romania of five 
scholarships for the pre-academic education, six for high education, six for 
post-academic studies and 20 months – scholarship for specialization stages. 
Also, the Romanian party grants unilaterally, 15 pre-academic scholarships, 50 
academic ones, 6 post-academic ones as well as scholarships for stages, all 
these being supplemented according to the requests. 
The protocol between the two ministries of educations also settles the 
establishment during the academic year 2006-2007 of the high school education 
classes in the mother tongue of the Romanian and Ukrainian minority.
Author: DIVERS


MEDICAL SERVICES FOR THE ETHNIC ROMA AT THE GARBAGE PIT IN CLUJ

CLUJ-NAPOCA – Over 700 ethnic Roma who are living around the garbage pit in 
Pata Rit in Cluj-Napoca were provided services of medical care. They benefit 
from medical assistance following the project "Vreau sa fiu sanatos" (I want to 
be healthy), implemented by Cluj County Council and financed through Phare 
program.
"Through this project, we managed to employ two sanitary mediators, to 
establish a sanitary unit for the ethnic Roma community in Rit Piazza and to 
equip it with medical gadgets. Within this program, we registered around 179 
persons at the family medic and we made hundreds of medical tests to trace 
diseases", stated on Wednesday, November 16, the project coordinator Rodica 
Gogonea.
According to the cited source, the total value of the project rises to EUR 
46,772, EUR 44,172 of which represented non-payable financing from the European 
Union through Phare program. 


ETHNIC ROMA IN HARGHITA QUALIFIED AS MASONS THROUGH PHARE PROGRAM

MIERCUREA CIUC – The Ethno-cultural association “Concordia” in Balan, along 
with the city hall and the Communitarian Group of Initiative of the Ethnic Roma 
in the locality won a Phare project to train the ethnic Roma as masons. For 
seven months, 15 ethnic Roma between 18 and 50 years old took part in 
theoretical and practical classes. In order to better learn this profession, 
for half of the training period, the ethnic Roma worked on the construction 
sites of firms in Miercurea Ciuc and their owners want to subsequently employ 
the best. 
The students will be taken into account by Harghita County Labour Force 
Recruitment Agency and have big chances to find a job. The representative of 
the Ethno-cultural Association “Concordia”, Robert Kovacs, stated on Wednesday, 
November 16, the 15 ethnic Roma were chosen as they had no income and could not 
get employed because of the lack of qualification or of the discriminatory 
attitudes shown to potential employers. The aggregate value of the project was 
of EUR15,000 and it is aimed that more ethnic Roma in Balan are included in 
training programs to easier find a job.
Author: DIVERS


SCHOOLS FOR THE ETHNIC ROMA IN MARAMURES

BAIA MARE – Maramures county school inspectorate in collaboration with 
Maramures Councy Council benefit from Phare grant summing up to EUR 554,425 
meant for the schools for ethnic Roma people. The project targets the 
modernization and construction of units in the rural and urban localities where 
the ethnic Roma are living.
According to the spokesperson of Maramures county school inspectorate, prof. 
Pavel Filip, the local councils will each contribute with EUR 15,000 at the 
modernization or construction of a building where the ethnic Roma are going to 
study. The project is focused on reducing the school abandonment among the 
children who belong to the ethnic Roma and the re-establishment of the 
technical-material bases of the schools. 
The city hall of commune Tamaia allotted from the budget a sum of 500 million 
lei to purchase an area to subsequently be transformed into a school. The city 
hall of Tirgu Lapus is looking for adequate areas to enable an education area 
to the ethnic Roma children in Ponorita small village. Phare project along 
with “Together at school and in life” will be finished in October 2006, within 
it, at least 10 schools being built. 
Author: DIVERS


MEDICAL UNIT FOR THE ETHNIC ROMA IN TETILA - GORJ

TIRGU JIU – A medical unit meant for the ethnic Roma community in the locality 
was inaugurated on Tuesday, November 15, in village Tetila, at the outskirts of 
the city Bumbesti-Jiu in Gorj. The investment was accomplished through Phare 
Program “Support for the national strategy to improve the ethnic Roma status in 
the health field”. Its value rises to EUR 40.000, the contribution of the city 
local council Bumbesti-Jiu being of EUR 7,000. 
The target group made up of 300 members of the ethnic Roma community in Tetila, 
will benefit from the free of charge access to consultations, from the 
improvement of the health status and from consultancy on the way to register to 
the system of health insurances and patients’ rights, the medical unit having 
medical staff and medical equipments as well as specific furniture. The medical 
unit in Tetila is the second medical unit meant for the ethnic Roma and it was 
inaugurated this year in Gorj county, after ''Speranta'' Medical centre in 
Targu Jiu municipal.
Author: DIVERS


DIVERS - News bulletin about ethnic minorities living in Romania is edited 
every week by MEDIAFAX, with the financial support of King Baudouin Foundation, 
Belgium and Ethnocultural Diversity Resource Center. Partial or full 
reproduction of the information contained in DIVERS is allowed only if the 
source is mentioned. You can send messages and suggestions regarding the 
content of DIVERS bulletin at MEDIAFAX, Str. Tudor Arghezi, Nr. 3B, Sector 2 - 
Bucharest, tel: 021/ 305.31.91 or at the e-mail address: divers@mediafax.ro 



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