Recent Romnews postings

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Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998 18:04:01 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Recent Romnews postings

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Recent Romnews postings

Roma community centre vandalised by right-wing extremists.
Lodz/Poland, RNN Correspondant, July 7th 1998

On Friday July 3rd the community centre for Roma in Lodz (Poland) was
broken into and vandalised. The perpetrators have not yet been
identified; they daubed swastikas on the walls along with slogans like
"Send Gypsies to the gas chambers" and "Lynch all gypsies".

The so-called "Narodowe Odrozenie Polski" - NOP - (Polish National
Renewal) has claimed responsiblity for the attack. Although this
organistation has it headquarters barely two streets away, according
to the Lodz police P.R. rep Jadwiga Kosiak, there is no reason to
press charges against the extremist NOP.

The attack on the community centre is so far the crecendo in the
spiral of violence against Roma in Poland. Three Roma were murdered in
and around Lodz last year by as-yet "unidentified" persons; in other
Polish towns there have been similar pogrom-like attacks on Roma.
According to the chairman of Lodz’s Roma Organization, Mr. Wisniewski,
"Right-wingers attack Roma and the law shows no interest in following
up such racist-motivated crimes. One is increasingly led to believe
that the legal system, police and extremist nationalists are somehow
working together for a "Gypsy-free Poland". Given circumstances like
this, many Roma have no choice but to flee to neighbouring states for

EU negotiators caution on Czech readiness

Prague/CZECH REP. (RNN Correspondent) July 7th 1998

Top European Union negotiators said on Tuesday the Czech Republic was
insufficiently prepared to take on the mass of EU law needed to give
foreign investors confidence.

The Czech Republic is among five East European countries which began
EU membership talks earlier this year. Teams are currently assessing
how far Czech law accords with EU legislation before negotiations
proper begin. "We have given a very strong signal that we do not
believe that everything is in place in the Czech Republic to handle
that enormous job of processing all that legislation and implementing
it," chief EU negotiator Nikolaus van der Pas told reporters after
talks with Czech leaders. EU officials, and their Czech counterparts,
have long called for
improvements within the Czech public administration but van der Pas
said the judiciary also needed to speed up its work in adapting Czech
law to EU standards.

"It is only with that adaptation and continued reform that the
business world will get enough confidence to invest, that the
financial world will have enough confidencve to channel funds to the
Czech Republic," he said. Van der Pas said it had to be clear that the
Czech Republic was not moving away from convergence with EU law. He
said a proposed law on lotteries, which would have banned foreign
companies from running consumer competitions, did not conform with the
aim of EU membership. Parliament approved the law but President Vaclav
Havel vetoed it and sent it back to the chamber where it is expected
to die in the days before the
June 19-20 election.

The European Commission has expressed concern at the Czech attitude to
its Roma minority and van der Pas said EU negotiators had also drawn
attention to proposals, reported in the Czech media, for two local
authorities to segregate Roma from the rest of the population.

"I have drawn the attention of our interlocutors to some disturbing
stories concerning the Roma, fully aware that what we have read is
nothing to do with government policy but nevertheless is a negative
signal," he said. David Leigh, heading talks with the Czechs, said
there was a need for more liberalisation and deregulation, for example
in the area of telecommunications or energy policy.
"There is a direct link between the economic reforms which the country
needs in any event...and liberalisation in order to satisfy the
demands of
the internal market."

All mainstream political parties support EU membership and van der
Pas, who met party officials on Tuesday, said he did not expect the
election to interfere with the accession process.

"In the contacts we have had with the political parties this morning,
I did not have the impression that there is a moving away from the
main point - that is the political determination ot get into the EU."
The Czech Republic, among the most advanced countries in
post-communist reform despite recent economic difficulties, still lags
behind all EU members states.

"The income gap between the Czech Republic and one of our member
states is less the issue than the question of restructuring the
economy and introducing into the economy the necessary dynamism," said

Roma Soap Opera in Greece TV

Athens/GREECE (RNN Correspondent) July 13th 1998

Greeks are closely watching the Roma. And, in a notable shift, it's
not out of fear or suspicion.

A frenzy of interest in Roma, their life and traditions has been set
off by a phenomenally popular TV soap opera that chronicles the love
story of an upper-class Greek architect and a young Romni. Claiming a
viewership of more than 20 percent of Greece's 10.2 million people,
"Whispers of the Heart" has challenged some deeply entrenched
stereotypes and prejudices against Greek Roma. Roma have gone from
being scorned to celebrated. Television talk shows visit their
weddings; magazines explore their customs.

Many people in Greece, as in other countries around Europe, have long
perceived Roma  as blemishes in the social fabric. They are thought of
as petty thieves, beggars and general lawbreakers. But many Roma say
they have noticed a marked change in attitudes since "Whispers of the
Heart" began in October. "There's a huge difference in people's
perceptions of us now," said Savas Georgiadis, president of the
Macedonian Roma Union in northern Greece. "We were behind an iron gate
and we didn't have the key to see the sun." Now, he added, the show
"has given us the key and we're out."

At an anti-racism ceremony in early May, Georgiadis presented the
show's director, Manouso Manousakis, with the main honor. Manousakis
also received a request: Extend the show for at least two more years.
"We need it," said Georgiadis. But Manousakis insists the story has
run its course and will end as scheduled in June.
"The idea was to have a love story with a social kernel to it; a
series that had something to say," Manousakis said. "The prejudice
against Roma is still very strong." Physical violence aimed at the 
220,000 Roma in Greece is rare. But social discrimination is
widespread, and many episodes of the TV series portrayed
such incidents.

In one scene, Erato, the Roma character who falls in love with
architect Andonis, is turned away from a five-star hotel. In another,
she is regarded as a potential thief in a clothes store.

The show, as well, has some inequities. None of the lead actors,
including the woman who plays Erato, are Roma. "There just aren't any
Roma actors in Greece," the director said.

Broadcast on the private Mega channel, the series is one of the most
successful shows ever on Greek television. It attracts more than 60
percent of the audience in its evening time slot, the independent
ratings company AGB Hellas says. "At last Roma have a smile, where
they had a tear before," Georgiadis said. Not all Roma share that

"I don't agree that people can become sensitized to a problem simply
through a television series," said Manolis Randis, a Roma and former
deputy mayor of Agia Varvara, an Athens suburb with a large Roma
population. "If there truly is a difference, I'm happy for it. But
it's a drop in the ocean. People become sensitized through schools,
through youth programs." Anna Lydaki, a university professor and
author of a book on Roma, is also dubious about the social impact of
the show. "Everyone is talking of Erato," she said. "But I don't know
what will
follow. I fear the romantic stereotype of Roma will prevail." For the
moment, the series is an unparalleled opportunity for Roma to bask in
mainstream attention.

In the field in Ano Liosia - a neglected area on the outskirts of
Athens - a group of young Roma peered over Manousakis' shoulder as the
camera panned across a traditional Roma tent where a funeral scene was
developing. Erato's cousin, Filio, is destined to die after doctors
fail to take adequate care of her during childbirth, Manousakis
explained. The funeral shots were for one of the last shows.

"We all watch it. We have it on video; we have the music on tapes,"
said Vangelis Kyriakopoulos, an Ano Liosia resident who sometimes acts
as an extra in the series. "At the end, we'll all cry together."

(Central Committee of German Sinti and Roma)
To: News and Cultural Editorial Offices
July 1st, 1998

P R E S S    R E L E A S E

Sinti and Roma disapprove "Romani-Union-president" Rajko Djuric

On their meeting in Kassel, the board members of the Central Committee
of German Sinti and Roma criticized Rajko Djuric, the "president of
the International Roma Union", who lives in Germany since a few years.
The "Romani Union" that is described even by Djuric himself as
"disorganized", cannot be taken longer for serious. Presidency
meetings and Roma conferences with elections according to the rules
have not been reported about for 8 years.

This was stated by the chairmen of the regional unions of the Central
Committee of Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen, Northrhine-Westfalia,
Hessen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Wurttemberg, and Bavaria. They
said, that Djuric's political demands were dubious and absurd, and he
would use the worst prejudices and racist chliches of "the gypsies".

President Djuric, a former contributor to the Belgrade party newspaper
POLITIKA, had written: "The way of living of the Roma, which is
incompatible with that of the Europeans, includes stealing and
robbery, their everyday things are fighting, fraud, and insults. Their
customs are rooted in their belief in vampires." And further: "One can
acquire a wife by purchase, exchange or abduction. For an extra
charge one can get more than a dance from a Roma women. In  the
prehistoric world of the gypsies their to-day's level from the Balkans
to the USA is that of the 11th century. Any understanding of the
present time, that could give a historic view to life, is missing."

When Djuric founded the "European Roma Centre in Berlin" in April
1997, he accused the Central Committee of "snobbishness and
separatism", because in May 1995 they had reached the acceptance of
the 70.000 German Sinti and Roma as an "autochthonous national
minority". Instead of this, Djuric demanded the acceptance as "an
European folk" in an "international Romanestan". However, one year
after in April 1998, when Djuric again founded a "European Centre for
Sinti and Roma" in Berlin, he demanded due to press reports, that
Germany "should officially accept the ethnic group as a national
minority as well as confess the committed genocide of them".

Concerning this the charimen of the Central Committee declared to-day,
that Djuric does not know, that already in 1982 the Federal Government
confessed in public the genocide of 500.000 Sinti and Roma.

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