Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Thorbjørn Jagland: Time For "Critical Change" Towards Roma

A ‘Berlin Wall-style’ divide in Europe separates Roma from non-Roma communities, the Council of Europe’s Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has warned.

“Europe is still divided by a wall,” he said. “A while ago, a part of this wall was actually physical – brick and mortar and concrete - but most of it is invisible, yet no less effective in maintaining a divide between Roma and the rest of our societies.”

Speaking at the opening of the 20 October Roma summit in Strasbourg, the Secretary General urged representatives from 47 member states to seize the opportunity to achieve “critical change.”

He said the Council of Europe would take the lead in training mediators in Strasbourg and Budapest to work with Roma communities.

“These are the people who can help us to make a difference,” he added. “They are the most direct link between our standards and the reality on the ground. They may be from Roma or Traveller communities, or professionals working in schools, hospitals, employment offices and police stations in communities where Roma and Travellers live.” 

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