Zagreb/Vilnius - Roma need to be integrated into society and given access to education, employment, health care and housing, according to a joint declaration adopted in Vilnius on Tuesday at a conference of the European Union's 28 parliament speakers, including Josip Leko of Croatia.
The declaration, adopted on the occasion of International Roma Day, which is celebrated on April 8, says 10-12 million Roma live in Europe, half of them European Union citizens. Roma inclusion into society is a joint interest of the EU and the member states, but the responsibility to implement measures is up to the member states given the different circumstances in each, the declaration says, adding that the Roma minority is not a homogeneous group.
Each member state's strategy must have the acceptance of Roma and their integration into society as its goal, providing access to education, employment, health care and housing, says the document adopted at Austria's initiative. It voices concern about the fact that Roma face prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and social isolation on a daily basis and that they live as a marginalised group in extreme social and economic conditions.
Austrian Parliament Speaker Barbara Prammer said the status of Roma had deteriorated in many EU countries since the beginning of the economic crisis. She underlined the difficult position of women and young Roma, and said the solution to the problems was in education. (Hina)