Improving the conditions of the Roma people in Europe: challenges and open questions

PRESS RELEASE No. 14/15
8 May 2014
Joint CCEE- CEC Press Release after the meeting

Improving the conditions of the Roma people in Europe: challenges and open questions.

The Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) held a joint consultation on the theme “Improving the Situation of Roma People in Europe: Challenges and open questions” under the auspices of the Greek Presidency of the European Union. This consultation took place in Athens from 5-7 May 2014 on the gracious invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

During the meeting, the Deputy foreign minister of Greece Mr Kyriakos Gerontopoulos greeted the conference and emphasised the importance of “social integration of Roma while preserving the Roma cultural traditions and lifestyle”.

At the end of their meeting, participants adopted a communiqué in which, among all their considerations, they highlight their concerns regarding anti-zyganism speech across Europe and “exclusion from societies, particularly with regard to education, employment, housing and health”. They remind that “Roma people are citizens of European countries with rights and duties”. Therefore, “freedom of movement and the choice to settle in different parts, taking up employment where it is available, are rights of all EU citizens which have to be respected for Roma minorities, too”. Participants call for a better understanding of what integration of Roma in our societies means which “should not be mistaken as assimilation”. At the same time, they stress the important role of churches in improving the situation of Roma in many parts of Europe: “local parishes provide the space for intercultural encounters between the different communities, fostering acceptance and trust”. Now, “churches could promote a culture of education and learning among marginalized communities”.

The Council of European Bishops’ Conference in Europe and the Conference of European Churches, following Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all, reaffirm their commitment and will consider effective follow-up measures of churches to improve the situation of Roma people in Europe.

The final communiqué is attached.

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches, partner organisations and national councils of churches from all over Europe. Its vision: Ahumane, socially just and sustainable Europe at peace with itself and its neighbours. Its mission: To promote and empower its members, sharing their spiritual life, strengthening their common witness and service, seeking reconciliation and fostering the unity of the Church.  CEC was founded in 1959 and has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg. www.ceceurope.org

The Council of the Bishops’ Conferences  of  Europe (CCEE) encompasses the current 33 European Bishops’ Conferences, represented by their Presidents, the Archbishops of Luxembourg, of the Principality of Monaco, the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus and the Bishop of Chişinău (Moldova Rep.), the Eparchial Bishop of Mukachevo and the Apostolic Administrator of Estonia. The current President is Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Primate of Hungary; the Vice-Presidents are Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, and Mgr Józef Michalik, Archbishop of Przemyśl (Poland). The General Secretary is Mgr Duarte da Cunha. The Secretariat is based at St Gallen (Switzerland).www.ccee.eu

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