ROMA ASK FOR A CHAIR IN THE UNITED NATIONS
Wishing to openly speak about the burden of troubles with which Roma people enters in the third millennium, we have searched for Mr. Bajram Haliti, the General Secretary of the International Roma Union, a journalist with a grate experience, a man who speaks about the past and the present of Roma with heart, knowledge and experience.
NIRA: Mr. Haliti, could it be said that the Roma are historic, language and cultural national Indian minority?
Bajram Haliti: Based on previous knowledge, it could be said that the Roma community emerged from uniting of different tribes, different dialects and even races.
The Roma are Indian people, autochtonous in the areas of eastern and western
Wrongly and maliciously understood, victims of prejudices, even persecution, the Roma are one of Indian minorities who’s character, during their long and hard history, has been most rudely twisted.
NIRA: When, where and how did begin the wakening of the national awareness of Roma, and since when April 8 is being marked as the World day of Roma?
Bajram Haliti: The wakening of the national awareness of Roma has begun firstly in the territory of
However, all this ended with just a try, all these processes were of short breath and, unfortunately, they didn't come to conclusion of, as it's said in history and politics, collective identification. Mostly, everything remained on a local level or inside a certain group of Roma that has lived in this or that country, in this or that place, etc.
When it comes to political process or awakening of national awareness, that is of a much later date, somewhere in the 60's of last century, because then, at least implicitly, emerged, if I can say it like that, the first scheme of the national program of Roma. One of the most important leaders of this our national project was Slobodan Berberski, the man who had political experience and who set grounds for significant national organizing of Roma in and out of
So, since 1960 till today this process of national awakening has took roots and I think that, regardless of all the problems that exist, this Idea will never again be extinguished, it can not die, it will continue to spread, it attracts right now, as we can witness, a grater number of young people and, very importantly, young educated people.
For the first time in our history we have Roma institutions everywhere, starting from Roma schools, Roma high schools, we have six departments for Roma language, a project has been done to form Roma academy of science and art, etc. So, all these institutions that other nations had when they created their national renascence or when they realized their national programs. Besides that, the Roma are now trying to act also on the political plan - they are forming or they have already formed their political parties, which is yet another quality.
Considering the awakening of the national awareness of Roma on a wider level, first of all in
So, the First World Congress of Roma took place April 8 1971 in
NIRA: What could you tell us about principles and goals of the International Roma Union?
Bajram Haliti: The principles of the International Roma Union are: Cooperation of work with the UN and with it’s bodies, European institutions and all the countries, as also with many other institutions and organizations that are in charge of solving problems of the Roma population. Work on recognition of the Roma nation as a non-territorial nation with the member status in the UN and all it’s bodies and with representatives in bodies and organizations of UN and EU, according to their higher legal acts. To fortify for Roma in South-Eastern and central
Aims of the International Roma Union are: Maintaining of international peace and safety and, in that purpose: taking efficient collective measures in order to prevent and remove threats to the peace and prevention of acts of aggression or other violations of peace, as also accomplishment of solving international disputes or situations that could lead to violation of peace, by peaceful means; development of friendly relations between nations, based on respect of principles, equality and taking of other actions in order to consolidate general peace.
NIRA: You visited
Bajram Haliti: I spoke with eminent persons – academics, historians, sociologists, political scientists, public social-political workers and writers, from who I asked for significant results to be accomplished, through cooperation of habitat and diaspora, in the area of science, culture, religion, informing, sport and in the humanitarian area, which would make possible for diaspora to continue the affirmation of values of Indian identity in the states in which they live;
To continue with the same energy to accomplish long term program determinations and concrete tasks through activities of the diaspora in all the areas of cooperation of habitat and diaspora:
I proposed that a conference should be held in our habitat
NIRA: What could you tell us about the Roma issue today?
Bajram Haliti: The Roma issue is a democratic issue. There is not a single human right that is in conflict with life interest of Roma people as an entity. The Roma issue is an issue of civilisation. It may be the most important in
To perform a modern reform of schools and education all together. To create an unique educational program for whole Roma people with the purpose of it’s spiritual integration, but with full respect of historic, civilization an regional characteristics.
I know that the national issue is a very complex phenomena and that it is very difficult to solve, especially permanently. But I also know that our national characteristics, even though have been constantly demolished, are not really demolished, because that simply can not be done with a nation that had and has historic memory about it’s national self- conscience, it’s tradition, culture, ideal values and high morality as the wisdom of living.
NIRA: In a public debate three are the Bill of the Charter, the Action plan and the Strategy of the International Roma Union. What do you expect from these documents?
Bajram Haliti: With the Bill of the new Charter of the International Roma Union we have set the basic aims and principles by adjusting them with the strategy of OUN and with suggested politics of EU from the summit on the integration of Roma in
The Action plan of Florina Zoltan, the director of the REISAR institute in London, that has been presented, underlines high-priority interests of the world’s greatest Roma organization – the International Roma Union – searching for EU and it’s member states, and from other non EU countries and international instruments to fulfill their duties regarding proclaimed universal individual and collective and national human rights, in connection with the integration of Roma people, guaranteeing suitable socio-economic capacity.
The Action plan for integration of the Roma nation exists as an Action plan of the International Roma Union, calling immediately all international, European and national instruments to give their support in this joined attempt to establish and realize the highest standards of implementation of human rights regarding the integration of Roma nation.
I personally expect the Action plan and the Strategy to bring new hope that has to be nursed, because conditions in which most of Roma live in today are simply incredible. We have to fight for better understanding of Roma by other members of society and work with Roma leaders in order to understand their aspirations. That is a community with grate possibilities and we are all responsible to ensure that this nation has the opportunity to realize it’s contribute to the European society.
NIRA: How do you see the economic strengthening of Roma all around
Bajram Haliti: For the sake of economic strengthening of Roma nation, IRU will establish special advisory body the UNION OF ROMA EMPLOYERS, that will be authorized to act for Roma employers with MMF, bodies of OUN and EU and agencies in charge in the areas of custom, tax and other areas, by discharging them of custom and tax duties, especially in cases when they hire a large number of representatives of Roma nation.
This body will be authorized to negotiate and establish better conditions for Roma employers with Chambers of Commerce of the member states and all other states, especially in areas of crediting small and medium companies, and to negotiate so called Grace period of at least one year, than custom and tax relieves with possibilities of even deliberating from paying taxes and realization of rights according to inner law system on the occasion of opening new work places and hiring, until than, unemployed persons.
NIRA: What do you suggest to members-participants of the “Roma decade”
Bajram Haliti: In accordance with millennium development goals of the United Nations, countries of South-Eastern and central
Raising the educational level and inclusion in the educational system should contribute to general emancipation and better standard of Roma and their integration in society, with keeping the authenticity of Roma language, culture and tradition. All actions and projects will be in accordance with goals of offered initiative of the Fond for education of Roma.
At the same time, the International Roma Union, within it’s reform strategy, gives priority to stimulation of businesses and creating of a stimulating environment - for development of small and medium business. Within these plans, branches of agriculture, services and crafts will be especially significant for Roma population also. Creation of performable projects that could widen the space for opening work places and promoting these branches of economy will be stimulated
NIRA: Haw would you define the Roma issue today?
Bajram Haliti: The Roma issue is a democratic issue. There is not a single human right that is in conflict with life interest of Roma people as an entity. The Roma issue is liberation and affirmation of national identity. The Roma issue is an issue of civilisation. It may be the most important in
NIRA: Today in
Bajram Haliti: Yes, that can give only good opportunities for solving their position. Especially should be emphasized the activities of
NIRA: What would Roma get by recognition of the status of national minority?
Bajram Haliti: Well, besides basic rights of national minorities, like the right to declare as a member of a national minority, we would get also the right for equality with representatives of the majority of people, the right to use our language in private and public life; there are also rights which are being shown for the first time within OSCE as the rights that could conditionally be called collective rights, but not rights that ethnic communities use as groups, i.e. develop freely their national identity. First of all, there’s the right for expression, keeping and developing the identity, the right to nurse and develop culture, the right to form and keep educational, cultural and religious institutions, the right to practice own religion, school institutions, etc.
NIRA: It is well known that the
Bajram Haliti: So far, as we know, the Roma has been recognized in the constitutions of several countries:
Really, all the countries that wish to become, or they already became members of the Europe Council, and that should in the future become members of the EU, have to fulfill these demands, Europe Council orders this, with which we cooperate more than 25 years. Many of these requests were initiated by our Roma organizations, including, off course, the IRU. We participated in formulation of many of these resolutions, declarations, and even laws, including the Europe Map of languages of national and regional minorities in
Generally speaking, it could be said that the individual and minority rights of Roma have been normatively protected on a relatively high level, especially in member countries of the
NIRA: Tell us something about functions of the General Secretary of the International Roma Union?
Bajram Haliti: The function of the General Secretary is to speak and act as a leader and as a middle man. The General Secretary discusses global issues and problems in the name of the Organization and uses his position to interfere in disputes, to participate in peace missions of OUN and other international organizations, to intervene between the IRU and all international bodies and organizations, to intervene between IRU and bodies of member states and states interested in expansion, to intervene between IRU and Roma NGOs on the occasion of considering a situation, to evaluate in the earliest stage a role of directly included parts, the nature of tension and recent development of events in that region and, where possible, potential repercussions for peace and stability in the area of KEBS, to visit every member state and personally communicate with directly involved parties in the purpose of getting first hand information about the situation regarding the Roma nation.
As the general secretary I will plead that Roma, Sinti and Kala, which are about 15.000.000 million, get their own chair in the United Nations and never again to be exposed to suffering and pain, to save our future generations from terror of war, that twice in our lifetime inflicted enormous sufferings to man kind; to reconfirm our faith in basic rights of man, in dignity and value of human personality, in equality of men and women and small and grate nations.
NIRA: From 1979 the International Roma
Bajram Haliti: Status B means that we are only observers in the mentioned agency of the UN. As the General Secretary of the International Roma Union I will plead that in the UN agency ECOSOC Roma get status A, so that Roma in this agency should no longer be only observers, but also active participants regarding all issues.