Turkey and Erdoğan
The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting on 14th March in Istanbul with the Roma community in Turkey represents a historic step, as there has practically been no relationship between either to date.
In a packed auditorium of 12,000 Turkish gypsies, Erdoğan addressed them in an unusual way, with expressions such as "You are my Roma brothers", reaching out and showing a fully open attitude to the needs of their fellow gypsies, who were also surprised at his words which conveyed a message of understanding of their pain and distrust for the way they had been treated until now. There were also promises of policies which will be designed to eradicate all types of discrimination as well as tackling a number of very specific action plans to overcome existing inequalities.
One of the points for action that was announced to the audience is the construction of houses with all modern conveniences in 40 provinces. These homes would be sold at knock-down prices and be affordable for all. "Your problems are our problems, but I do not want to see my Roma brothers living in tents, I would like them to enjoy a decent standard of living, "said Erdogan at another point in his speech, promising a change in social mentality to stop discriminatory treatment.
There is no doubt that the interest of Turkey joining the European Union has led to this "gesture" as necessary and essential for its future membership, even more so being aware that the "inclusion" of the European Roma community is a priority issue for the Commission and the European Parliament who has recently requested a new political commitment to improve their integration. This commitment has also been expressed by the new Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Minorities, László Andor.
I welcome the "change of course" announced in Turkey if it really goes beyond a statement of good intentions, making the promises that have given faith and hope come true, not only to the 12,000 gypsies gathered there, but also the Roma families that live all over the country. A change of direction and commitment to the Roma community in Turkey was made before the representative of the European Council and in the presence of the international media.
We hope this is really the case and that the 500,000 gypsies who are currently living in Turkey, will now receive the treatment and support, which until very recently, they never imagined possible. We would also like to thank the government and the Turkish Minister of State, Faruk Çelik for inviting Gypsy World to participate in this event and for the opportunity to witness all this along with the international Roma community. (See news)
Translation: Dawn East
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