Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
Secretary General stresses need to ''bridge the gap between Roma and rest of society''
One week after the Council of Europe hosted a conference on Roma rights, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland elaborated on practical steps the Council of Europe will take to help Roma communities.
“What we have in mind is people working in the local employment office, or utility company, or hospital, court or police station who come in daily contact with Roma,” he told over 300 assembled delegates from local and regional governments across Europe.
The Roma conference agreed to train up to 450 Roma mediators and 100 lawyers next year. “Mediators are a direct and most effective way to translate Council of Europe standards and policy recommendations into practice,” the Secretary General said. “This is why we are ambitious. We will train mediators, but also trainers for mediators, on a scale not yet seen.”
The Secretary General urged local authorities to be a “main partner in this endeavour” which will “bridge the gap between Roma and the rest of society; contribute to higher attendance and better results for Roma children in school; encourage and assist Roma in seeking access to public services; facilitate dialogue, interaction and above all, establish trust.”