“The biggest outcome of our discussion was to agree that we are talking about a problem of the travelling Roma. We will soon meet in order to find a strategy for these people”, President Basescu said about his discussion with the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, held in the context of the European Council meeting that took place today in Brussels.
The Romanian President said that the Roma issue shouldn’t be addressed in a very general way. There needs to be a distinction among the different types of Roma communities in Romania, he stated. In his opinion, the actual problem lies with that part of the Roma community constituted by the travelling Roma. These are the Roma people that need to be integrated in his country. “There are 1 million Roma people in Romania that are well integrated into society. But we also have other Roma people, mostly the travelling Roma, that still need to be integrated”, Basescu told journalists.
Access to jobs and education for the travelling Roma
In his opinion, there are two main problems regarding the integration of the travelling Roma: the access to jobs and the access of the travelling Roma children to education. He said he pleaded in front of the other heads of states and governments of the European Union in finding intelligent solutions for these two problems. “Maybe we need to guarantee them access to seasonal jobs. And maybe we need to think of a way to send teachers in these travelling Roma communities to teach the children to read and to write. We need to find intelligent solutions like these. The standard solutions used until now have not worked”, Basescu explained. He underlined that the travelling Roma also have to be cooperative and to really want to work and send their children to school. “As long as we are hypocrite about these issues, the integration of the Roma won’t happen. We all know that the travelling Roma haven’t really made a habit from working or from pursuing education for their children. These two things will have to be tackled and solved”.
Asked what his country is doing with the money received from the European Union budget for the integration of the Roma, the Romanian president explained that most of these funds are allocated to NGOs that work in the field. Even though he is not against using these organisations in the process of the Roma integration in Romania, Traian Basescu pointed out that the NGOs alone are not able to solve the problem of the nomad Roma. He advocated for a strong involvement of the national governments in a strategy to integrate the travelling Roma. The Romanian president also underlined that the funds given to Romania for the integration of its Roma citizens are some of the lowest among all the EU states.
The European Council asked the European Commission to come up with a strategy of integrating the travelling Roma. This strategy would be then adopted and implemented at national level by the EU member states.