Jagland urges unity, courage and empowerment at Roma forum

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has urged the European Roma and Travellers Forum to be a “driving force for change,” at the start of the organisation’s annual conference.

Thorbjørn Jagland’s speech to the ERTF

The situation of Roma people in Europe, he told delegates earlier today, meant that “eyes were turning to the forum.” it was expected to “rise to the occasion.”

In his speech, which laid emphasis on Roma community empowerment and set out the successes of Council of Europe measures to help Roma over the past two years, the Secretary General said the forum should be “proactive” and should seek to mobilse the “experience of Roma organisations to propose and encourage measures and policies that are effective and make a real difference.”

Jagland said European institutions and national governments had agreed to work towards changing attitudes and reinforcing skills but the “challenge” was to implement these accords.

He urged Roma communities to play their due role. “It takes courage to take steps to an uncertain better future and leave behind the certainty of continued misery or dependency.”

The Secretary General also confirmed that he was awaiting the results of a review of the Council of Europe’s partnership agreement with the ERTF.

The Essential

Speech: Keynote address by Thorbjørn Jagland at opening ceremony of 2012 Plenary Assembly of the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF)

Podcast: European institutions should be “partners for progress” with Roma communities

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