Greece’s Alternate Minister of Labour, Social Insurance and Social Solidarity Theano Fotiou reiterated her government’s commitment to integrating the country’s Roma population during the launch on Thursday of the two-day European Platform for Roma inclusion (EURoma) meeting in Athens.
Fotiou conceded that integrating the Roma, commonly known as gypsies, is “a difficult and challenging task” in terms of social policies and solidarity, but insisted the Tsipras government was committed to the initiative.
“Greece’s government and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are committed to supporting Roma integration policies,” Fotiou underlined, and told EURoma’s management committee and participating European Commission representatives that this commitment stands “despite the racist rhetoric and derogatory comments we hear when Roma people are seen at our cultural gatherings,” she explained.
Fotiou stressed that it is necessary and urgent to keep the Roma issue on the agenda of the European Commission and the other EU member states, so as to support the principles of equality and social justice, “to fight racism and the bias, which, unfortunately, is still at the forefront.”
Referring to the government’s political initiatives, Fotiou noted that in 2016, the government created the Special Secretariat for Social Integration of Roma within the Ministry of Labour, Social Insurance and Social Solidarity, marking its strong commitment and addressing the issues of Roma social exclusion; their relocation from camps with inhuman conditions; and their integration through education, work, health and housing.
The EURoma platform was created to support policy developments for Roma integration and stimulate exchanges and coordination among EU member states, international organizations and Roma civil society.