MINELRES: European Roma and Travellers Forum: Kosovo status talks democratic disguise

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Mon Jan 29 19:16:43 2007

Original sender: ERTF <ertf@coe.int>

Press Release 
European Roma and Travellers Forum 

Press Release 

Kosovo status talks democratic disguise 

Strasbourg, 24 January 2007: On the occasion of the visit of UN Special
for the Kosovo status negotiations process, Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, to the
Council of Europe’s Plenary Assembly, the European Roma and Travellers
Forum reiterated its request for the Roma to be included in the talks
over the future of the Serbian province under UN-mandate.

In a letter to Mr. Ahtisaari, Forum’s president, Mr. Rudko Kawczynski,
reminded that despite the recommendations of high level international
representatives Roma have not been included in the status negotiations

“If the international community continues to ignore the specific claims
and concerns of the Kosovo Roma the status negotiations process turns
into a democratic disguise,” Mr. Kawczynski said in Strasbourg reminding
that the European Roma and Travellers Forum has been unsuccessfully
trying to obtain a meeting with the UN Special Envoy for almost a year. 

“No fair and democratic decision over Kosovo’s future can be reached
without a fair and democratic participation of Kosovo’s Roma including
the Diaspora.”, Mr. Kawczynski said in his letter reiterating his
request for an urgent meeting with the UN Special Envoy before any
official statement over the future of the province. He also warned the
governments of the host countries not to create a “Palestinian refugee
problem” in Europe.

Kosovo before the war had a population of more than 200,000 Roma.
Further to their forcible expulsion from Kosovo many have become
refugees and IDPs in Serbia, neighboring countries and Western Europe.
In spite of the unstable security situation in Kosovo which is fueled by
the talks over Kosovo’s future, Western countries continue to deport
Roma to Kosovo and Serbia. 

Mr. Ahtisaari is expected to reveal his plan for the future of Kosovo to
the members of the International Contact Group on Friday. The status
negotiations process has been going on since February last year. Roma
participation has been reduced to a merely consultative role in the
committee on minorities. 

Established in 2004, the European Roma and Travellers Forum is the
European Roma and Travellers umbrella organisation which represents
Romani interests and concerns throughout Europe. The organisation enjoys
the support and recognition of the Council of Europe with which it has
signed a partnership agreement.

For further information and interviews please contact: 

European Roma and Travellers Forum 
c/o Council of Europe 
F – 67 075 Strasbourg 
Tel.: 00 33 3 90 21 53 50 

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