The heads of 13 European Union embassies in the Bulgarian capital city Sofia have issued a declaration of support for the Roma Pride 2012 event to be held in more than 15 cities in Bulgaria and more than 20 countries elsewhere in Europe on October 7.
Roma Pride is an international initiative by the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM) which encourages Roma people in Europe to organise initiatives, to show that they are proud of their origin and to attract public attention regarding the problems of the largest minority in Europe.
It was first held in Bulgaria in 2011, involving a series of cultural events, for example traditional crafts displays, in various cities.
The declaration of support was signed by the ambassadors of Belgium, Romania, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and the chargé d’affaires of Lithuania.
“We support the objectives of the event, namely the celebration of cultural diversity, promotion, according to the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the values of tolerance and equality, the fight against racism and against xenophobic and discriminatory behaviour, and finally, to help citizens to better their mutual acquaintance.”
“We hope that the public and local leaders will take part in the many activities initiated by civil society organisations in the cities participating in the event,” the diplomats said.
From June 28 to July 1 2012, an international meeting of EGAM, based in Paris, France was held in Sofia.
More than 20 participants from Denmark, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, France, Italy, Romania and Bulgaria participated in the preparation of Roma Pride 2012 and presented the activities of their organisations to combat racism and discrimination, a media statement at the time said.
Bulgaria was represented at the meeting by the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and the Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance – Amalipe, Veliko Turnovo.
At the meeting, EGAM president Benjamin Abtan presented what happened in Europe during the Roma Pride 2011, which was held simultaneously in many countries inEuropeon October 1 2011. He emphasised the success of the campaigns conducted in Bulgaria and Romania by Amalipe, Bulgaria and Romani Criss, Romania.
Atanas Stoyanov from Center Amalipe presented the work of the centers for community development during the Roma Pride 2011. (More information about Roma Pride 2011 can be found here) Later on he held a presentation about Roma history. Krasimir Kanev of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Rumyan Rusinov and Josif Nunev were also guests at the meeting and presented the life of the Roma during socialism, as well as their personal stories as Roma leaders.
Maria Metodieva of the Open Society Institute Sofia presented the National Strategy for Roma Integration of the Republic of Bulgaria 2012-2020. Representatives of organisations that are members of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues at the Council of Ministers presented their experience in projects geared to Roma in Bulgaria.
As a sign of tolerance the participants of the meeting held in Sofia participated in the Sofia Pride on June 30, a media statement after the meeting said.
Numerous initiatives are expected to be organized this year for the Roma Pride 2012 which will take place on October 7. This includes exhibitions of paintings and works related to the Roma issue (Poland, Bulgaria), political petitions (Denmark), children’s concerts (Italy), demonstrations (Romania) and many others activities. As a common European initiative there is Roma Film Week , during which various films on Roma issues will be screened.
For Bulgaria, Center Amalipe has planned numerous events at local level through its centres for community development. In addition, the organisation will launch special research this year with the aim to find people in the Roma community who are successful in different spheres, proud of their origin and not afraid to show it. Amalipe will invite the selected Roma to the general national meeting in October.