EC: In Romania, there is political commitment for Roma issue

The presence of President Traian Basescu and Minister Rovana Plumb at the recent EU summit meeting devoted to Roma shows that there is political commitment from Romania to solve the problems faced by this community, reads a letter sent to Swedish Minister Birgitta Ohlsson by three European commissioners, quoted by Mediafax.
The letter, signed by Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn and Laszlo Andor, Labour, Social Affairs and Inclusion Commissioner, was recently sent to Swedish Minister for European Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson, after she voiced her dissatisfaction with Romania’s refusal to accept foreign aid to spend European funds devoted to Roma integration.
“The commission is about to conclude its observations on the investment priorities of Romania over the next seven years. In this context, a special attention will be paid to the way the Romanian authorities intend to promote Roma inclusion in society,’ reads the letter of the European commissioners.
On the other hand, Romanian Minister of European Funds Eugen Teodorovici told the Swedish Minister for European Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson that Romania has not refused and will never refuse a proposal for bilateral cooperation received from a EU member state, reads a press statement released by the Romanian minister.
“I note with concern that Swedish Minister Birgitta Ohlsson is maintaining her totally unfair approach towards Romania and is giving serious signals that, in fact, she is the one who needs advice on this issue. I tell her again, very patiently and with the seriousness that the Roma community deserves, that Romania has not refused and will never refuse a proposal for bilateral cooperation received from a EU member state”, underscores Teodorovici.
Swedish Minister for European Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson expressed her disappointment in an interview published on Tuesday in the Austrian daily newspaper ‘Der Standard’ regarding the fact that the Romanian Government is not showing the will to cooperate on the Roma issue at European level.
Asked why, in her opinion, Romania is blocking the creation of a ‘task force’ on the Roma issue, Brigitta Ohlsson listed several reasons: lack of political will, weak administrative capacity for effective use of EU funds, the fact that Romania is one of the poorest states in the Union. Last but not least, she mentioned ‘the ego’ because of which Romanians do not allow foreign observers for this field into the country.
The minister highlighted that she would not renounce the idea to set up the respective task force and work and voiced hope that the Romanian Government would change its opinion on this subject. Birgitta Ohlsson mentioned that she saw ‘too many’ Roma camps in poor conditions in different countries, and argued that ‘it is unacceptable in a modern society that some children have to look for food in the garbage.’
Birgitta Ohlsson also said in the interview that Roma discrimination is not a Romanian phenomenon and it is met in several EU countries, including France and Hungary. ‘Even in Sweden, we have a bleak history in this sense,’ admitted the minister.

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