By the end of 2011, European member states are expected to have demonstrated their fulfilment of the requirements of the EU Framework Programme for the integration of Roma. But what are the chances of the programme succeeding if structural anti-Roma racism exists within European institutions themselves? Valeriu Nicolae is founder and president of the Policy Centre for Roma and Minorities in Bucharest, an NGO that works directly with young Roma. At a conference in Berlin in November, he talked about the discrepancy between European rhetoric and institutional reality.
The alarmist reaction from parts of the German media to a recent spate of violent assaults by migrant youths on “native” Germans – talk has been of a cultural clash – bore striking similarities to last year’s controversy over the release from prison of two former members of the Red Army Faction. In both cases, media sympathy for the “victims” of violence fed directly into political campaigns targeting the majority’s sense of embattlement.
The continuing repression of the independent media exposes the Belarusian government’s concessions to “European standards” for what they are: window dressing on a regime that has no intention of releasing its stranglehold on society any time soon.