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Roma Show Red Card to Bulgaria's Integration Effort

Date: 22.06.2011

Bulgarian Roma protested Tuesday against their isolation, the segregation and the small amount of EU funds reaching minorities in the country.

The Roma expressed their protest by waiving posters, red cards and wearing light-reflecting jackets during a forum in Sofia dedicated to the contribution of EU funding for the integration of their group in society.

Laszlo Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, who was among the participants, pointed out during his speech that in order to integrate Roma, Europe must set realistic and ambitious goals, placing education first.

Andor explained that activating the Roma workforce is a must which would contribute to economic growth in the EU, stressing EU funds alone cannot resolve the issue, and there is a need of State financing and a national policy.

During his speech, Roma, represented by college students, doctors and journalists, waived signs reading "Europe, Stop Financing Roma Exclusion."

Bulgarian Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said the last several cabinets failed to achieve results in the integration of Roma, and stated there is a need of real policies that would change Roma behavior and mentality.

While he was addressing the forum, the same group waved red cards and interrupted the Minister several times. His words that Bulgaria must showcase good practices within the Roma community, but some of its leaders are not the best example, triggered a heated reaction and chants such as "we are not criminals," while some of the Roma left the hall in sign of protest.

The Minister for the Management of EU Funds, Tomislav Donchev, took the stage in a light-reflecting jacket, prompting one of the Roma to counter "such jackets do not equal integration."

Regarding the National Roma Strategy, required for each Member State by the European Commission, Donchev pointed out Bulgaria did not need yet another document only marking good intentions, but an action plan with deadlines and strong control.

He received an applause for his statement that "a country, which does not take care of its children, has no right of a future."

Tags: Interior Minister, Tsvetan, Tsvetanov, red cards, Roma, Integration, forum, sofia, EU, funds, Minister for the Management of EU Funds, Tomislav, Donchev, Laszlo, Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.

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