Council of Europe, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues
DOSTA ! Launch event, Athens, 3 February 2011
Κυρία Υπουργέ, αγαπητοί φίλοι, κυρίες και κύριοι
First of all, and on behalf of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, I should like to thank all of you who have contributed to the launch of the Dosta! Campaign in Greece, starting with the Ministry of Education and in particular you, Mrs Genimata, in your capacity as alternate Minister of Education.
Our thanks go not only to those who have prepared this round table on Roma and prejudices but also to the contributors to the cultural event that will follow, with the participation of Mr Chatzis, whose songs spread the message of tolerance and brotherhood. I should also like to express my appreciation for the work of the NGOs, Roma and non Roma, which have worked hand in hand to prepare this wonderful event
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In democratic societies, there is an important human rights principle that a person shall be presumed innocent until he or she is proven guilty. However, in our democratic European societies the Roma are most often presumed guilty and given no chance to prove themselves innocent. They are suspected and feared not for what they do but for what they are - Roma. Hence the generally perceived need to keep away from them, to retain them in distant settlements, to deny them contacts with the majority in education, housing, employment – in other words, ignore their very existence.