On November 9, 2010, the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center and the Heinrich Boll Foundation in Moscow organized the discussion “People on the road- Roma and the challenges of migration policy.”
For centuries, Roma have played an integral role in the societies of Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Western Anatolia. As a result of recent migration trends, they have also become a part of society in Western Europe and America.
Despite this, the public is still largely unaware of the history and culture of the settled and nomadic peoples of Sinti and Roma (branches of the Romani people). This is widely expressed in the ongoing harassment of the media and in the continuing discrimination against the ethnic group, which in the popular culture of most European countries and Russia is referred to as “Gypsy.”
In recent years, this lack of awareness has led to damaging political decisions such as when the French president Nicolas Sarkozy ordered the deportation of ethnic Roma from France. This prompted extensive discussions in the European community about the role and treatment of the largest ethnic minority in the European Union. After all, the decision violated the Charter of Fundamental Rights among other EU anti-discrimination laws.
The situation of the Roma underscores the urgency for open and public discussion about Roma rights, the causes of the social discrimination directed against them, as well as the obstacles to developing a coherent and universal migration policy at the international level.
Daria Alekseeva- lawyer for the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) in Budapest
Timur Khalilov- vice-president of the inter-regional public organization “Center of Roma culture in the North Caucasus”
Stephania Kulaeva- expert of the Anti-Discrimination Center “Memorial” St.Petersburg
Moderator: Jens Siegert, director of the Heinrich Boll Foundation in Russia