As Večernji List writes, the two-day conference in Zagreb was organized by the Croatian Romani Union Kali Sara, with the support of the government and in partnership with the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Zagreb, the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies to celebrate the International Roma Day, which has been marked on April 8 since 1971.
Strengthening ties between the Roma community and India to improve the position of Roma in the world is the main topic of the conference titled “Roma as the Indian Diaspora – Unbreakable Ties”, where Prime Minister Andrej Plenković pointed out that all its participants share the same values – equality and respect for minorities. The two-day conference in Zagreb was organized by the Croatian Romani Union Kali Sara, with the support of the government and in partnership with the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Zagreb, the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies to celebrate the International Roma Day, which has been marked on April 8 since 1971.
It aims to send a message and an invitation to India to recognize the Roma as its national minority.
Addressing the participants – representatives of the Roma population from 17 countries and representatives of Croatian political, scientific, and cultural life – Prime Minister Plenković pointed out that all share the same values – equality, respect for national minorities, and joint efforts so that not only Roma but all other national minorities in Croatia feel good, equal, and free to exercise their rights. He pointed out that in the two mandates of his government, through the National Plan for Roma Inclusion and the accompanying action plan, budget funds have doubled since 2016 and amount to slightly less than 50 million kuna. The Roma Educational and Cultural Center in Zagreb was opened and the Roma Memorial Center Uštica was built as a reminder of the greatest crime against the Roma people, the genocide committed by the Nazi and Ustasha regimes (samudaripen) during World War II.
Plenković: History cannot be changed, but crimes should be reminded and condemned
It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 Roma were killed in concentration camps in Europe during this “darkest period of world history”. “Unfortunately, we cannot change history, but we sincerely regret these terrible events, and we should keep reminding of these acts and condemn them unconditionally”, said the prime minister. The government, he added, gives great importance to the history of the Roma, their identity and culture, while also confronting the darker sides of our common history. It is thus important that today’s conference reminds us of what remembrance means – that it does not mean living in the past, but rather “tearing past experiences away from oblivion and making them a pledge of a better future”. “Remembrance that does not turn into malice is healing. Such remembrance includes the present and has a clear view of the future; it is purified and nurtured through upbringing, family, and the education system,” he said.
The importance of education for better integration of Roma into society
The Prime Minister also pointed out the importance of education, i.e. keeping the youngest in the education system to better integrate Roma into Croatian society. “When we succeed in that goal, then we have solved many long-term problems faced by the Roma national minority,” he said.
In the context of the topic of the conference, the Prime Minister reminded us that the connections between Croatia and India, and Roma and Croatia have lasted for centuries – from the first historical evidence of Roma in Croatia in Dubrovnik in the 14th century, over Dubrovnik and other Croatian sailors in India, Burgenland Croat Filip Vesdin and his Sanskrit grammar at the end of the 18th century, and Count Ljudevit Drašković, the first Croatian romologist.
He also mentioned the 150-year-long Sanskrit university course in Zagreb, the Indology course in Zagreb which has existed for 60 years, as well as the Romology course at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb.
Kajtazi: Satisfactory cooperation with the government –Member of Parliament for the Roma national minority Veljko Kajtazi expressed satisfaction with the cooperation with the Croatian government, saying that no government has done so much for the position of Roma in society. In Croatia, Roma are no longer “special cases”, specific policies have been introduced to improve their position through regular activities of line ministries and work is being done to equalize their living conditions with other citizens because it is important to erase the still huge differences that cause all the ugly events”.
The participants were also greeted by the Indian Ambassador Raj Kumar Srivastava, the President of the International Roma Union Normunds Rudevičs, the Slovak Member of the European Parliament (EPP) Peter Pollak, the Rector of the University of Zagreb Damir Boras, the President of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts Velimir Neidhardt, as well as the President of the Croatian Roma Association Kali Sara Suzana Krčmar.
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