Roma Rights 2-3, 2001: Government programmes on Roma

15 August 2001

This issue’s special theme is governmental policy programmes related to Roma. We offer critical comments on the existing programmes and the policy-making processes in several countries: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. However, I should note several ERRC assumptions that may have remained only very implicit in this issue.

Most importantly, the main target of our concerns in the area of governmental policies is missing here: the governments which have not developed any Roma-related programmes at all. It may be argued that a bad programme is worse than no programme. The articles in this issue suggest rather that the contrary is true. Policy making everywhere has turned out to be a long and unfinished process: it goes through stages, overcomes resistance from various actors, is prone to regress, followed by seemingly sudden leaps forward, and in some cases produces quite good results, at least on paper. The process is, in other words, markedly political. It is all about power and empowerment, opposition of group interests and negotiated agreements. Roma in Italy, Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine – to name just a few places where no comprehensive, specifically-targeted governmental policy programmes have been adopted – may gain from looking at the experience of those Roma who have been involved in this complex undertaking: getting the government do its job of complying with international and constitutional obligations, and even working together with the government to ensure that Roma rights are protected and Romani interests are promoted.


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