The world community honored the International Roma Day, on 8 April, a tradition inherited from to the First World Romani Congress held in Orpington, in 1971, where Roma representatives from different countries came together to discuss cultural and social issues. “For me it is a strong symbol, that after almost half a decade we still hold regular meetings and conferences on how to improve the living conditions of Roma” stated John WARMISHAM (United Kingdom, SOC), Congress Thematic Spokesperson on Roma and Travellers, addressing the Conference “Strengthening Roma networks at local and regional levels”, on 12 April 2018.
He presented an overview of the Congress activities to promote Roma Inclusion at local level, notably the “European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion” which aims to unify the efforts of Congress members supporting Roma inclusion. Today, the Alliance has 130 participating cities and regions from 29 different countries, because we strongly believe that national Roma networks provide the best platforms for the exchange of views and best practice..
Mr WARMISHAM noted that the European Alliance “also promotes Roma Inclusion through other activities: the Dosta! Congress prize for example, which is awarded every two years to municipalities that have implemented innovative projects to ensure diversity in community life and combat racism towards Roma”.
He also mentioned the anniversary of the “Declaration of Mayors and Elected Local and Regional Representatives of Council of Europe Member States against anti-Gypsyism”, adopted in 2017 by the Congress. “By signing this document, mayors and regional authorities are given the opportunity to clearly and publically position themselves against anti-Gypsyism” he said, adding that 83 representatives from 32 member states had already signed the Declaration, of which only four were Greek municipalities: Volos, Paranesti, Avia Varvara and Samos.
Co-organised by the Congress and the Association of Greek municipalities (KEDE), the conference gathered 69 participants from 22 municipalities. The Congress Spokesperson encouraged them to take a stand against anti-Gypsyism and sign the Declaration during the signing ceremony scheduled at the end of the conference.