Roma, a People

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17 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 8 μήνες)

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1






Roma, a People

Barriers to European Integration









S. Emma Eschweiler, Class of 2014






2

Introduction

The phrase ‘Social Exclusion’ is not as loaded as it should be. The English word ‘social,’
meaning, pertaining to a group interaction or system of interaction etc., and the word ‘exclusion,’
meaning, the active and intended separation of a group from inter
action mean very little in the
context they are used.
It was René Lenoir who coined the phrase during the nineteen
-
sixties in
France. He was referring to immigrants who were politically excluded, but the practice is not
new. Adam Smith defined this phrase
as, “the inability to appear in public without shame.”
However, n
o connotation of these words encompasses the walls to education, healthcare, jobs,
and housing that socially excluded peoples face, and no connotation of this phrase can reveal the
rape, murd
er and
injustice

these peoples
endure
.

The European Union itself rarely mentions exclusion without also including several other
qualifying adjectives.
‘Systemic discrimination and violence’ may be a better phrase.
‘Systemic’
meaning institutionalized and
authorized, ‘discrimination’ meaning active intolerance and
disregard for peoples considered lesser than the majority, and ‘violence’ meaning in the clearest
way the physical force driving a people
into its cyclical fear, distrust and poverty.


The Roma of Europe suffer from this systemic discrimination and violence. They
represent a group of over ten million people and make up nearly ten percent of some Eastern
European states. These people have
a
unique
belief system that

puts the Roma apart

fr
om the
majority societies in which they attempt to participate
.
However, this is not to generalize the
Roma and streamline the rich diversity of these peoples across Europe. The plethora of Romani
communities in Europe is incredibly diverse and participate
s in a multispeed Europe
, meaning
they suffer varying levels of poverty and exclusion
. Nevertheless, t
he Romani tradition
simultaneously defines

their group identity and is a driving force for western disdain by virtue of
the fact that this belief system d
oes not fit
into
the past or present structure of European societies.

3


The focus of this paper raises two simple questions: 1) How did the Roma get to this
point? 2) What institutions keep them there? After providing sufficient context, the ideas in this
paper look thematically across Europe regarding systemic treatment of the Roma

and zero
-
in on
the implications of citizenship

and minority status

in a European context
.
While looking so
broadly at these conventions has the danger of becoming too general an
d simplified, looking
thematically provides a fresh perspective in a very complicated and emotionally charged issue.
There is a common problem, and focusing thematically in an increasingly integrated Europe is a
logical center for this paper.

These ideas z
oom in on conventions of what it means to be a nation,
an autonomous people, what it means to have citizenship at the individual level, and how gaining
minority status is a strategy for gaining awareness and institutional change.

The Framework Surrounding
the Roma

Belief Systems and Identity

It is prudent

to delve into the Romani belief systems
t
o gain a better understanding of the
differences that caused and continues to cause discrimination against the Roma populations in
Europe.

Misunderstandings of t
he
value system regarding Romani
-
identified communities
and
communities that may

not are important distinctions that European stereotyping ignores.
Furthermore, the emphasis on the nuclear family excludes alternate family struct
ures and the
importance communi
ty in Romani society.


Traditionally, t
he Roma have a very particular understanding of justi
ce. Within the
Romani community, the world is divided, “into the ‘clean’ (
vujo
) and the ‘unclean’
(
marime
)…the

gaje
, the Romani term for non
-
R
oma, are almost irredeemably
marime
.”
1

This is

a very basic distinction
between
the Roma and other
people
s

that the traditional, liberal European



1

Bertram, Fred. "The Particular Problems of (the) Roma."
U.C. Davis Journal of International
Law & Policy

2 (1996): 193
. Print.


4

does not recognize
whereas

the Roma understand as an underlying quality
of humanity
present in
the world.

This

notion of division between people is only exacerbated historically. Bertram
explains the
ingrained

distrust
over history
saying, “After six hundred years of persecution,
slavery, genocide and deportation, the Roma have no reason to trust any
gajike

system
, even
ones enacted for their good.”
2

(
This distrust will be revisited later in this paper as methods of
integration and assimilation are questioned
)
.

It is this distinction between the clean and unclean which allows the Roma to justify
crime

outside of the community

but not within it
.
For example, rather than disdaining theft, it is
valued as clever.
Indeed,

c
rime within Romani communities is almost unheard of, but when
crime occurs outside the community, it is not understood to be of the sam
e gravity. That is,
stealing from
gaje

is permitted because they are not considered of the same status as the Roma
;
they are not part of the community
.
Banach c
larifies this thought with

the following idea: “To the
Roma, a crime harms society, not its imme
diate victim, and punishment often consists of
banishment from the Romani society.”
3

Since the
gaje

are not a part of the Roma society, the
society is not negatively affected by crime, and therefore things like petty theft are not
discouraged.
For majority

European societies, this kind of behavior is criminal and punishments
rendered within the Romani communities are
either unobserved or unsatisfactory
.
Without going
into too much detail on the ongoing debate between the superiority of individual rights
in
European society over

third generation group rights, it is
still
important to understand

the current

gap
regarding justice
between Europeans and Roma
.

There are many aspects
of Romani traditions

that can be criticized

from a Western
perspective
. Feminist
and other liberal
activists
often
cite the oppressive nature of husbands and



2

Bertram, 194
.

3

Banach, Edo. "The Roma and the Native Americans: Encapsulated Communities within Larger
Constitutional Regimes."
Florida Journal of International Law

(2002): 386
. Print
.

5

the early marriage of young girls (as young as 12) to older men in the community. In addition,
the
amount

of educated or even basically literate
Roma is grossly deficient. T
he
act
ivists’

argument

against Romani traditions

comes into direct conflict with European val
ues laid out by
the EU Charter,

such as Art. 24
:

rights of the child
. I
t is
, however,

important to keep in mind that
the qualms about uneducated Roma
,

at least,
are a result not of cultural differences but
rather of
consistent, institutionalized intolerance of Roma participation in the European education systems

along with many other manifestations of intolerance
, as will be demonstrated by the following
analysis
.

A Historical Review

The Roma were historically never treated with respect and were greatly misunderstood.
For example,

there have been many misconceptions about Roma origin.
A common
misconception is that because there is a large population of Roma in Rom
ania, the term Roma is
simply another name for

Romanians. This is false. I
nd
eed the Romanian government

is one of
the most notorious human rights violator
s
, not
a victim
.
Even though it is true that “[o]ther Roma
languages are Slavic…linguistic analysis of

languages in the Romani group indicates that
Gypsies originated in or around the Kashmir or the Punjab.”
4

Indeed, a common Roma dialect,
known as Romanes derives its linguistic heritage from Sanskrit. The word ‘Rom’ is the
masculine singular for ‘man’ and

‘Roma’ is the plural of ‘Rom.’ ‘Romani’ is the adjective.
5


Other misconceptions are perpetuated by the use of
the name ‘Gypsy.’ This is a
misnomer. Similar to the label of ‘Indian’ that First Nation Peoples in North America were
given
,
it is very clear
that, “The name ‘Gypsy
,
’ some version of which is used in most European



4

Appelbaum, Diana Muir. "The Rootless Roma."
The American Interest

6.4 (2011): 81. Print.

5

Tsekos, Mary Ellen. "Minority Rights: The Failure of International Law to Protect the Roma."
Human Rights Brief

9.3 (2002
): 27
. Print.

6

languages, is not a name that Gypsies ever gave themselves…”
6

Europeans
mis
perceived the
group as Egyptian
b
ased

on the darker skin of the Roma
.


The name, however important this subje
ct may be to anthropologists, is only a
manifestation of the physical justification for violence against the Roma. The less human they
seem, the more removed from what they actually are, the more
acceptable

it is to marginalize a
group.

In the centuries le
ading up to the Second World War the Roma faced incredible brutality.
The Roma were enslaved in the Moldavia and Wallachia regions
,

today Romania,

for 500 years
until they were emancipated in 1855 and 1856 respectively.
7

In western Europe, other

atrocities

include a law in England, “enacted during the reign of Elizabeth I and not repealed until 1783,
[that] made it illegal merely to be Romani

a Rom could be put to death for having been born of
Romani parents” and even more sickening was an institutionalized

practice in Switzerland where,
“Romani persons were legally hunted as game, and captured Roma were released for this
purpose.”
8

Such cruelty was not simply social practice; it was the enacted law of the land. This
institutionalized and blatant hatred towards the Roma continues to affect relations with the Roma
,

as
will be deomonstrated

later.


World War II marked one of the darkes
t moments in history for many marginalized
groups, and the Roma can easily count themselves in that number. Easily, more than one million
Roma were killed during the Holocaust and Nazi occupations of Eastern Europe. Bertram notes
that, “In some areas, the
Nazis destroyed eighty percent of the Roma.”
9

As we will see later,
Czechoslovakia
saw

nearly
all of its
original Roma
ni

inhabitants

perish in

the Holocaust
.





6

Appelbaum, Diana Muir. "The Rootless Roma."
The American Interest

6.4 (2011): 82. Print.

7

Ba
nach, Edo. "The Roma and the Native Americans: Encapsulated Communities within Larger
Constitutional Regimes."
Florida Journal of International Law

(2002): 368
. Print
.

8

Bertram, Fred. "The Particular Problems of (the) Roma."
U.C. Davis Journal of Internat
ional
Law & Policy

2 (1996): 176
-
77
. Print.

9

Bertram,
177
-
8
.

7


The ensuing Cold War began an era of mixed and contradictory practices towards the
Roma. While t
he communist regim
es in the East

theoretically maintained jobs and housing for
everyone, the conditions for most in these states were relatively poor. It seems that even though
the Ro
ma did relatively better under the communist regimes than they had before
, it was at
significant social and cultural cost and did not end discrimination against the Roma.
Under
communism, religion, class, and most markers of identity were streamlined.
Despite the
supposed equalizing of people under communism, the Roma were stil
l targeted

by majority
groups
. “Czechoslovakia, in the 1960’s and 70’s, instituted a program of forced sterilization for
Romani women, sometimes sterilizing them without their knowledge.”
10

Even this sort of action,
post
-
holocaust no less, was not found a shock in the media, nor was it given much attention.
T
he
Roma were stripped of their cultural heritage, but not of their distinction; of their label as ‘other’
or ‘non
-
human.’

After World W
ar II, discrimination of the Roma elsewhere did not diminish either. For a
large majority of the twentieth century, Switzerland instated a program called Pro Juventute,
reminiscent of the Australian practic
e with mixed Aborigine children.

The program

remov
ed
Romani children from their par
ents to be raised by non
-
Roma, and t
his program continued until
1972.
11

In Sweden, there was a practice prohibiting, “Roma from entering the country and
banish[ing] th
e Roma population already there


until 1954.
12

Recent Even
ts Influencing Current Policy

The status of Romani communities varies considerably across the European Union.
Therefore, to accurately understand the
current
dynamic between European government



10

Bertram,
179
.

11

Bertram,
178
.

12

Tsekos, Mary Ellen. "Minority Rights: The Failure of International Law to Protect the Roma."
Human Rights Brief

9.3 (2002
): 28
. Print

8

structures and the Roma, it is essential to look at
recent

eve
nts across Europe
.
Focusing on
national examples will be the focus of the following section, so the institutional deficiencies at
the most influential level can be exposed. There will be a review of several states from the East
and the West, taking an espe
cially
close

look at the post
-
Cold War situation
s

regarding the Roma.

A review across Europe
will highlight

the multispeed nature of current policy on the national
level. Some states are doing better than others, but none, as will be demonstrated, is doing well.

Expanding Eastward

E
astward
, the story of the Roma shifts, slightly and drastically.
Examining the r
est of the
East tells a relatively comparable treatment of the Roma.
In Romania, for example, Vadim Tudor,
a presidential nominee in the 2000 Romanian election said, “We are not interested in what
Gypsies want. All [Gypsies] should be put in jail. There is

no other solution.”
13

This sort of
blatant, sweeping statement may be s
hocking from a W
estern perspective, but as will be
discussed later, not even the morally self
-
righteous West is impermeable to such racism.
It is
v
ery true that

the Romani communities i
n Romania and other states like Hungary are
marginalized
as they have been for centuries;

however, this
fact
is not to belittle the progress that
as been made

there
.
S
ince the early nineties, “the organizations of marginal populations [in
Hungary and Roman
ia] receive state support,” on the other hand, “owing the large number of
Romani groups, however, the financial aid each receives is small.”
14

Therefore, progress towards
better political representation is in the making, but it is not
well organized

or implemented.
“For
example there are 240 Romani organizations registered in Hungary, yet none has any
representative in parliament.”
15

Barany goes on to comment that the only Rom that sits in the



13

Goldston, James A. "Roma Rights, Roma Wrongs."
Foreign Affairs

81.2 (2002): 155. Print.

14

Barany, Zoltan. "Ethnic Mobilization and the State: the Roma in Eastern Europe."
Ethnic and
Racial Studies

21.2 (1998): 318. Print.

15

Barany,
318
.

9

Hungarian legislature represents the Federation of Free De
mocrats (not a Roma party).

This

underrepresentation

in Hungary
, while easily critiqued, still goes further than the majority of
eastern states, the Czech Republic included.

Indeed, “Since 1989 the vast majority of the Roma
have remained politically passiv
e not believing in their power to influence political outcomes.”
16

Some new legislation in Hungary has set a positive example for the rest of Eastern Europe.
Hungary was one the first post
-
communist country to
recognize the Roma as a national minority.
Alon
g these same lines of pursuing greater inclusion, Hungary also established Roma specific
schools focusing on modern subjects

like computer science

while simultaneously emphasizing
Romani
culture, language and music.
17

On the other hand, t
hese sorts of programs still remain the exception rather than the rule.
It seems that the overall sentiment toward the Roma in Eastern Europe is simply one of distrust
and disgust no matter what the new legislation of the past fifteen years has enabled.
Th
e mayor
of a Hungarian town near Zamoly said, “The Roma of Zamoly have no place among human
beings. Just as in the animal world, parasites must be expelled.”
18

Messages like this demand the
question:
Why do the relatively progressive countries in the East l
ook so good on paper but
remain so polluted with prejudice even at the political elite’s level? Solutions to this question
will be addressed later as the issue is discussed further.

Examining the West


Despite the overwhelming presence of Roma in the East,

there is both a historical
presence and new migration of Romani

communities in Western Europe, and
, contrary to the
moral high ground of human rights
organizations
in the West,

these communities cannot



16

Barany, 317
.

17

Be
rtram, Fred. "The Particular Problems of (the) Roma."
U.C. Davis Journal of International
Law & Policy

2 (1996): 204
-
5. Print.

18

Goldston, James A. "Roma Rights, Roma Wrongs."
Foreign Affairs

81.2 (2002): 156. Print.

10

necessarily
claim a more comfortable experience than
those in the East.
Recent events include,

firebomb attacks in Italy,
pogroms

in Belfast a
nd forcible evictions in Greece,

19

and this
behavior is passively if not actively accepted by host societies.
Indeed, in the recent uproar over
unofficial camps of Romani communities
set up outside French cities, “l
ocal French authorities
refuse
d

to follow a law requiring that towns with a population of over 5,000 establish electrical
and water hookups for such [R
omani] camps.”
20

Caustically
, the French
government
justifie
d the
expulsions of Roma
in part because of

the substandard sanitation and living conditions of the
ir

camps. The
painful irony is that the Roma communities that were dispersed were punished in
part

because the French authorities failed to follow a French law.
Other unjustified expulsions
include a recent expulsion of some fifty

Roma from Sweden for begging,
even though begging is
not a crime in Sweden.
21

A less publicized but inevitably fatal action
by the German government
was the deportation of, “thousands of Roma admitted with refugee status during the Balkan
wars.”
22

This was a death sentence to many Roma who were victims of from both Serb and
Albanian hostility.

Indeed, during the Balkan Wars

the
Roma were an easy scapegoat
on

several

sides and were targeted accordingly.


Poor treatment of the Roma is not limited to newly emigrated communities. Romani
people, or Gitanos, have lived in Spain for well over five hundred years
.
Burnett clarifies,
“They

[
the
Roma] are Spanish, but they have not been well
-
integrated.”
23

However, Spain is a leader in
the West in much the same way
Hungary

is a leader in the East.
“At present, almost all Roma
children in the Basque region attend school. The majority of Roma f
amilies receive both public



19

"Hard Travelling."
Economist

396.8698

(2010): 55. Print.

20

Halinan, Conn. "Europe's Favorite Scapegoat: the Roma."
Foreign Policy in Focus

(2010).
Print.

21

Halinan.

22

Appelbaum, Diana Muir. "The Rootless Roma."
The American Interest

6.4 (2011): 86. Print.

23

Burnett, Victoria. "A Grim Picture of like for Roma in Spain; Study Finds Illiteracy and
Alienation."
The International Herald Tribune

[Madrid] 17 Apr. 2007: 3
-
4. Print
.

11

and private aid in the form of financial assistance, clothing, etc.”
24

This is a great stride in
Spanish policy
,

and
recent studies show

that
illiteracy of Romani families is nearly halving with
every new generation.
25

These figur
es, although very positive, are not the whole story. School
failure rates for Romani students are still around eighty
-
five percent
26
, and Spanish officials
shamefully admit, “You don’t see figures [literacy rates] like this in Rwanda or Burundi.”
27

This
may
be due to the fact that 47% of Spanish Roma
considers

racism and discrimination their
biggest concern, not illiteracy.
28



Agai
n, the framework for integration in Western Europe does not reflect a realistic
expectation for the Roma people. Indeed, “It’s
somewhat hypocritical to complain about people
not having money to subsist in France when you don’t offer access to the labor market at the
same time.”
29

Even more prevalent in Western Europe (especially in France) is the concern for
elevated crime rates. D
espite the fact that most crime perpetrated by Roma is petty and very
small in proportion to the size of the Romani communities, Roma are often the scapegoat in a
variety of generalized crime, justifying certain stereotyping by Western Europeans of the Rom
a.
However, Barany notes quite clearly, “It is clear that all individuals who break the law need to
face the consequences…It is equally clear that nobody should face expulsion just for being



24

Etxeberria, Felix. "Education and Roma Children in the Basque Region of Spain."
Inte
rcultural Education

13.3 (2002): 297. Print.

25

Burnett, Victoria. "A Grim Picture of like for Roma in Spain; Study Finds Illiteracy and
Alienation."
The International Herald Tribune

[Ma
drid] 17 Apr. 2007: 3. Print.

26

Etxeberria, Felix. "Education and Roma
Children in the Basque Region of Spain."
Intercultural Education

13.3 (2002): 297. Print.

27

Burnett, Victoria. "A Grim Picture of like for Roma in Spain; Study Finds Illiteracy and
Alienation."
The International Herald Tribune

[Ma
drid] 17 Apr. 2007: 4. Pri
nt.

28

Burnett,
4.

29

Halinan, Conn. "Europe's Favorite Scapegoat: the Roma."
Foreign Policy in Focus

(2010).
Print.

12

Roma.”
30

This question of racism in both western and Eastern Europ
e will be questioned
thoroughly in the following sections.


The Czech Republic

Scrutinizing the East and West broadly offer
s

good insight, and looking closely at the
Czech Republic can reveal more specifically the plight in Central Europe as well as
a
stro
ng case
study exemplifying one of the most problematic policies affecting the Roma today.

When examining the Czech Republic, several factors should be considered before any
analysis. Firstly, there are about 275,000 Roma living in the Czech Republic (abou
t two percent
of the population), but nearly all of them relocated and settled there after World War II.
31

The
Romani residents in the Czech Republic today migrated from the East in an attempt to escape
harsher policies in places like Turkey, but it is important to note that the Roma were not new to
the Czech people. The Roma from the East merely partially fil
led the gap of the Czech Roma
that

were almost completely exterminated by the Nazi regime. Secondly, the prejudice towards
Roma never shifted after World War II. Despite the extermination of several hundred thousands,
what was then Czechoslovakia did not a
cquire any level of sympathy

following this genocide
. If
anything, institutionalized discrimination continued.

One of the most pertinent examples perpetuating exclusion is a central concept and theme
in
this paper
: citizenship. In the former Czechoslovakia
, there were two levels of citizenship.
From the top down, there was federal citizenship and then there was regional citizenship. The
two regional citizenships were Slovak and Czech. The difference between the two were
negligible at first since the state w
as unified and no matter what regional citizenship one held,



30

Barany, Zoltan. "Ethnic Mobilization and the State: the Roma in Eastern Europe."
Ethnic and
Racial Studies

21.2 (1998): 320. Print.

31

Banach, Edo. "The Roma and the Native Americans: Encapsulated Communities within
Larger Constitutional Regimes."
Florida Journal of International Law

(2
002): 373. Print.

13

one could still vote, own land, etc. This changed when the country split in 1993. All the Slovak
citizens became part of Slovakia, the Czechs, of the Czech Republic. There was, however, a
catch f
or the Roma: all
of the
Roma
residing in Czech territory
were considered Slovaks since
they originally came from the East. Imagine telling third generation Americans they were
actually still Polish, and they can’t vote or qualify for government aid. Simply

put, “Roma born
in the territory of the Czech Republic enjoyed the protection of Czechoslovakia until its
disintegration in 1989 and then helped to elect, in 1992, the Parliament that denaturalized them
in 1993.”
32

Still others who rejected the idea of bei
ng classified as Slovak, “were released from
Slovak citizenship and not offered Czech citizenship.”
33

(only furthering the epidemic of
statelessness).

It wasn’t until the end of the Klaus administration (the administration that had instigated
the original
citizenship law) in 1999 that the citizenship law was changed to allow Roma to
acquire citizenship. However, these few years of discriminatory citizenship law
s and the quick
shift away from them

are telling of several factors that will be discussed later a
bout the role of
EU and NGO influence over Czech domestic policy.


An important and telling example that best embodies the cycle of poverty
affecting the
Roma in the Czech Republic
is the Czech education system. In the 1990’s, Banach notes, “the
proportion

of Romani to Czech students in special schools [in the city of Ostrova] was twenty
-
seven to one, a staggering figure considering that Romani children represented less than five
percent of the city’s school
-
age children.”
34

Romani children were immediately
siphoned

off into



32

Linde, Robyn. "Statelessness and Roma Communities in the Czech Republic: Competing
T
heories of State Compliance."
International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

13 (2006):
349. Print.

33

Linde,

352
.

34

Banach, Edo. "The Roma and the Native Americans: Encapsulated Communities within
Larger Constitutional Regimes."
Florida Journal of
International Law

(2
002): 377. Print.

14

schools for the mentally challenged. This practice not only hid institutional segregation,
reminiscent of the separate but equal system before the Brown v. Board decision, by putting a
medically legitimate seal on the matter, but also put

Romani children at an economic
disadvantage from a very early age by intentionally giving

them a lesser education

that the Roma
were
unmotivated to pursue. Cultural sen
sitivity to the Romani communities’ desire

for
education aside, this practice of racism

is appalling in the 90’s.

This, unfortunately, is not the only blatant example of discrimination towards the Czech
Roma. Banach also cites a situation where, “employment offices were marking Roma files with
the letter “R” and Czech Airlines were flagging

all Roma entering England by labeling their
flight records with a “G”.”
35

Essentially, the Roma in the Czech republic were barred from
quality education, employment, and free movement, and this is only in the 90’s. Even in the past
ten years, it seems
that

little has changed in this regard
. It is important to note that these,
“problems, constitutionally speaking, are not in the lack of constitutional norms, but at the level
of statutory implementation of nondiscriminatory norms and non
-
enforcement of consti
tutional
norms by the police and courts.”
36

Whether or not this problem of implementation is an issue that
can be addressed at the governmental level is an issue that will be discussed in the following
sections.

Policy

and Institutional Changes

An
Examination of Roma Status

and Roadblocks to Integration


The Roma are a unique group. Their situation is different from most any other
marginalized group in the world for several reasons, and comparing them to other, more familiar
groups can best illumina
te these reasons. Banach writes an interesting comparison that highlights



35

Banach, 377.

36

Banach, 378.

15

the single biggest difference while simultaneously showing the Roma’s single most important
source of common ground with other groups. In comparing the status of Native American or
F
irst Nation groups in North America to the Roma, it is simple to show that both are, “examples
of encapsulated nations within larger nations.”
37

Much like the Amish peoples in the United
States, there are specific instances of groups of people within larger

nations that have a sort of
autonomy. However, the definition of a nation for the Roma differs fundamentally from the
North American examples. A fundamental difference between the First Nations and Amish
communities in North America is that the Roma do no
t occupy a territory that they have a
historical claim over. The Amish do not have this claim either, but they have succeeded
nonetheless in attaining land
of

their own

through successful uses of the American legal system
.
Bertram
states

quite sensibly, “l
ike the concept of a ‘people,’ nationalism is intimately tied to a
land.
38

Since the Roma are often non
-
sedentary

(though not exclusively

so
), spread across dozens
of countries, and basically non
-
unified across borders, the Roma have neither the means, nor
the
same sort of justification for achieving the status of “nation.”

No Homeland

This lack of what some Roma groups would like to call a
Romanestan

is the first
roadblock to what would amount to Romani sovereignty. Some Romani groups would like to
pursue a territory of their own, reminiscent of
the
founding of Israel for the Jews. However
, the
Roma are so widely spread and culturally linked to a comm
unity rather than a hierarchical
nation
-
state that such a creation would be unthinkable
. Bertram argues that, “a ‘nation’ could
have a resurgent self
-
consciousness that desires expression in personal autonomy rather than in



37

Banach,
357.

38

Bertram, Fred. "The Particular Problems of (the) Roma."
U.C. Davis Journal of International
Law & Policy

2 (1996): 184. Print.

16

territorial autonomy or territor
ial independence.”
39

This claim for autonomy or more simply just
recognition

by larger nations of
Romani communities’ rights as
group
s

should be attainable even
without a territory.


Bertram notes quite beautifully, “If people were non
-
territorially

define
d, and ‘self
-
determination’ minimally encompassed personal, non
-
territorial autonomy, the Roma could be a
people entitled to self
-
determination.”
40

However, since the Roma do not have a sovereign group
status within European nations, what are they entitled
to? The Roma are a
community
-
based

culture, and they broadly think, as many Asian cultures do, that the welfare of the community is
superior to the rights of the individual. This is a fundamental world
-
view that directly contradicts
the Western
veneration

for the individual.
Precisely because the Roma group does not align with
a Western group structure, it is harder to integrate into European society. This inconveniency for
Eur
opean societies facilitates their ease in

political
ly

excluding the Ro
ma
.

However
,
since

the
structure of European organization honors the individual above the group, certain steps must be
taken to ensure basic welfare for every Rom.

Citizenship


Citizenship is the first of these steps. However, as the Czech example illustrates,
citizenship is not as easily attainable as one would think. The reality is, if you are a Rom, rights
are not a given, and even basic citizenship is not a given.

Broadly speaking, the typical story
behind

Romani
statelessness

goes as follows:

A Rom is born
outside of a hospital, and therefore
is not issued a birth certificate. If the parents decide to seek a birth certificate, they will either be
turned away because they are Roma, or because they cannot prove their own citizenship, which
excludes them from f
iling in many countries. As this Rom grows, he is excluded from education



39

Bertram,

184
.

40

Bertram, 183
-
4
.

17

if his family does not take him out of the education system out of sheer distrust. As an adult, he
is uneducated
and therefore
ineligible

to enter the European workforce. E
ven if he
can find a job,
since he is not a citizen he may not be entitled to benefits, social security, or the minimum wage
(as ma
ny are exploited because they do not have citizenship
, which would allow legal action
against unjust employers
). If the Roma

could acqu
ire citizenship

on the individual level
, these
basic barriers could be broken.


Minority Status


Although citizenship opens certain opportunities, it does not solve the institutionalized
discrimination of the Roma as a group. Bertram
,

among others
,

identif
ies this problem as the lack
of minority status
. Having status as a minority would allow for better representation in the
legislative process, and better opportunity to raise awareness for gross human rights violations.
B
ased on a
multitude

of factors, not the least of which is the
rampant lack of citizenship
,
minority status has been simply out of reach
.

Furthermore, a lack of the term, ‘minority,’ in a
transnationally defined way
permits

a loophole for
disr
egard
of

the Roma

at the state le
vel.


As of 1996, “Germany refuse[d] to recognize the Roma as an ethnic group…they [did]
not live in a discrete area but [were] spread across Germany and across Europe.”
41

Whether this
exclusion from minority classification
is a result of engra
ined social h
atred for the Roma,

from a
lack of will to change habitual practices,
or from both,
the German excuse for limited minority
status can be
more easily
derived from the ill
-
defined
term for

what a minority is.
While many
conventions and conferences have sough
t to determine what minorities are entitled, little
attention has been paid to how to define such a group. This allows states to agree to certain
standards for how minorities can gain a voice, putting pretty words on glossy paper, but can
effectively say t
hat there are no minorities in their states. Indeed, “Some communist states denied



41

Bertram
,

187
.

18

either that they had any minorities or that the Roma constituted a minority.”
42

T
he closest
mutually agreed upon definition is Capotori’s description that includes several elements:
“numerical inferiority, non
-
dominance, fairly non
-
changeable characteristics, the desire to
preserve one’s culture, …and
nationals of the
state,

43

t
he fift
h of these criteria being the most
unattainable of all.
However, Capotori’s definition is academic, and it is not implemented in
most national legislation.


Looking at this issue of gaining minority status also should raise an important question of
state p
riorities. Tsekos states rather bluntly, “States are often reluctant to grant rights to minority
groups because they view such an act as a relinquishment of sovereignty.”
44

Especially in post
-
communist states where corruption is rampant, disregard for minor
ity rights is strategic. Why
would a country feel the need to allow greater voice to a people if the majority can gain more by
running on its own? Is it too cynical to think that many states would want to avoid granting
minority rights or equality laws to
avoid a stretch on their welfare systems?

Probably not,
especially when the majority of the public condones it.

International Level


Moving past the level of the state, it is perhaps wise of groups to appeal to the
international scale where shaming and accountability is stressed.
Referring again to the Czech
case, it was the UNHCR and “Human Rights Watch” group that put pressure on the
Czech
Republic to change the citizenship laws in the nineties.
45

Other cross
-
national and supranational
NGO
s and institutions also played and continued
to

play a role. The Council of Europe labeled



42

Bertram, 188
.

43

Bertram, 191
.

44

Tsekos, Mary Ellen. "Minority Rights: The Failure of International Law to Protect the Roma."
Human Rights Brief

9.3 (2002): 26
. Print.

45

Linde, Robyn. "Statelessness and Roma Communities in the Czech Republic: Compet
ing
Theories of State Compliance."
International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

13 (2006):
351. Print.

19

this case as discriminatory, and, “advocates in the U.K. began to argue that the violence targeting
the Roma might classify them as ‘refugees’ and thus deserving of protection under international
law. By 1998, Ro
ma began to win cases for asylum in both the U.K. and Canada.”
46

Actions like
these by international bodies work
by

soft
influence applying
pressure. Acquiescing to such
pressures ensures credibility for
states;

indeed, Simmons states specifically, “
States

make
commitments to win credibility within a particular issue
-
area.”
47

This sort of credibility may
come at the cost of economic or strategic interests and often comes at a public’s dislike, but it is
a worthy strategy to insure future economic gains (i.e.
membership into the EU’s single market).

The European Union; Steps Toward Integration


Work at the EU level is increasing. Currently the Roma Decade of Inclusion has shed a
brighter light on the marginalization and exclusion of the Roma, and it has encoura
ged
framework strategies to be implemented at the national level. The EU framework in place for
Roma integration steps up to 2020 includes action
-
plans for many individual states that are
working in tandem with NGO’s and regional groups.
Furthermore, the g
lobe is increasingly alert
to the status of the Roma.
The International Romani Union has observer status at the United
Nations and voting status in the

Economic and Social Committee.
48

This is an incredible
achievement for the Romani community across Europe, but Tsekos does mention, “Minimal
recognition of the individual as an international actor has not expanded sufficiently to effectively
include minority groups as actors [on the inte
rnational scale].”
49

It seems that even with
incredible strides in raising the Roma to the forefront of European minds, it is not yet enough.




46

Linde, 359
.

47

Linde, 359
.

48

Bertram, Fred. "The Particular Problems of (the) Roma."
U.C. Davis Journal of International
Law & Policy

2 (1996): 203
. Print.

49

Tsekos, Mary Ellen. "Minority Rights: The Failure of International Law to Protect the Roma."
Human Rights Brief

9.3 (2002):
31
. Print.


20

Similarly, the EU Framework is not enforceable. It is a soft, influential approach to change, and
the language of t
he Framework
explicitly

states, “It is the EU’s response to the current situation
and does not replace Member States’ primary responsibility in this regard.

50


Although genuine implementation is still to be seen, the recently enacted top
-
down
approaches by

the EU have set forth impressive goals. The Roma integration goals for the
Framework up until 2020 are, “access to education, employment, healthcare and housing.”
51

While these goals are broad, the implementation strategies are surprisingly detailed. The
C
ommission is working in tandem with the European Parliament, the European Council, the
Council, the Committee of the Regions and the European Social and Economic Committee to
endorse the EU Framework. Furthermore, this Framework has a “robust monitoring sy
stem,”
which increases

accountability for member
-
states.

One of the
benefits to the Framework is its
flexibility in helping member
-
states share “best practices.”
52

Increasing the flow of
communication on what practices do and do not work can make more effic
ient policy.


There are currently a few identified problems associated with the implementation of the
Framework.

Demirovski notes, “The Roma Task Force of the European Commission was set up
to look at how to improve spending of EU funds…the study indicated that member
-
states do not
properly use EU money for the purpose of effective social and economic integration of

Roma
,

and the reasons can be tracked to the lack of know
-
how and administrative capacity to absorb EU
funds.” Demirovski plainly relates how

implementation at the national level has certain
limitations. While this manner of implementation has the benefits

of cultural relativity (to the
majority culture), shared costs, and direct enforc
ement, it also muddles what the

treatment
of the



50

European Union. European Commission.
An EU Framework for National Roma Integration
Strategies

up to 2020
. Brussels, 2011. Print.

51

European
Union
.

52

Demirovski, Martin. "Policy Assessment: EU Policies for Roma Inclusion."
Open Society
Institute
--

Brussels

(2011). Print.

21

Roma is or should be.
Moreover this delegating to the member
-
states ignores the fact that there is,
“insufficient political w
ill in some member
-
states.”
53


Again, t
hese Framework initiatives are still in the beginning stage, but many say that the
goals therein ignore the “human factor” of the Roma. Little attention, it seems, has been paid to
specific discrimination facing the Ro
ma.
Part of the EU initiatives, the Fundamental Rights and
Citizenship Program for the period of 2007
-
2013, supports specific actions

taken by the
Commission, trans
national projects presented by an authority or any other body of a Member
State, NGO and IGO

programs, and operating grants to co
-
finance permanent work programs.
54

This program is highly relevant to the community
-
level needs of Roma populations across
Europe.
Although this program works successfully, it faces many challenges. There is,
“dispropor
tionate participation of some countries (Italian applications representing over one third
of the total received under the 2009
-
2010 call for action grants)…”
55

This statistic, while good
for Italy’
s image, shows

th
at the sates in the East are
severely
wanting. Indeed, t
he most attention
is paid where there
are

relatively few communities, and the least is paid where the need is most
dire.
Furthermore, the emphasis in issue
-
areas is severely unbalanced: “The demand for funding
in the fundamental rights ar
eas (racism, children’s rights and homophobia) constitutes over 82%
of the applications received, whereas Citizenship with 12% and Data protection under 5% are far
less represented.”
56

This underrepresentation of c
itizenship in particular, is most concernin
g. It is
good that there are some funded programs improving accessibility to documents like birth
certificates and speeding up court processes to ensure citizenship, but it is not enough.
Citizenship is the first of many steps in assuring better accessibil
ity to tangible benefits, but it is



53

Demirovski.

54

European Union. European Commission.
Report on the Interim
Evaluation of the
"Fundamental Rights and Citizenship" Programme 2007
-
2013
. Brussels, 2011: 3. Print.

55

European Union, 10.

56

European Union, 8.

22

also the way to
enforce the image of the Roma to majority populations. An interesting way to put
this notion into perspective is the picture of a recently naturalized American:
is there an accent?
Is he or she white? May
be. Can this person claim any rights guaranteed by the Amer
ican
constitution? Absolutely, whether or not his or her neighbors have a skewed perception of
personal superiority
.
The idea is that citizenship offers more than tangible benefits. Citizenship
can

help to reverse dehumanization by putting Roma on the same legal level as everyone else.
They are people and should be treated as such.
While again, the question of implementation
of
citizenship
remains to be seen,
this opportunity

and all t
he benefits th
e status implies are

still the
first step.


For many Eastern states, “the prospect of being allowed to join the EU has become the
single most important catalyst for changes in individual government policies

toward the
Roma.”
57

Indeed the EU has come to represent, “a community of minorities in the most
fundamental sense,” noting that, “no state contains even close to half the population of the
EU.”
58

Goldston seems to say that the very essence of what drives the EU is starting to

infiltrate
nation
-
states’ behavior towards human rights. Even Romano Prodi said, “
Equal

treatment of
minorities is a cornerstone of the new united Europe.”
59

However, where does the EU face
limits? The EU can, “prod, push, and plead,” as much as it likes,
but it
cannot replace the
authority of individual, sovereign states.

No matter how much emphasis is

put down on paper
,
EU influence

cannot always initiate real change on the national level. Goldston remarks that,
“few domestic judges and lawyers are famili
ar with antidiscrimination laws or with human rights



57

Goldston, James A. "Roma Rights, Roma Wrongs."
Foreign Affairs

81.2 (2002): 149
. Print.

58

Goldston, 150
.

59

Goldston, 151
.

23

standards.”
60

A frustrating reality is that many programs are aimed at pleasing Brussels rather
than truly protecting minorities like the Roma.

Continuing to Fall through the Cracks


Reflecting now, it se
ems that the Roma people suffer a very specific kind of
discrimination besides their marginalization in poverty. This discrimination is the passive effect
of falling through the cracks at every level of governance in Europe.

Looking at the simple
implementation of policy at the local level, it is plain to see that there is little if any
accountability in even large Western states like France. Willingness to change standard treatment
practices on the micro
-
level need to be enf
orced from above, or through state
-
backed
organizations, and simple perceptions of Romani communities need to be contested at this same
level to change norms.


At the state level, in the East or the West, there is a certain deficit in legislation regarding

the Roma people. There needs to be an imposition of well
-
defined laws

to counteract loopholes
.
Without a clear consensus from the top of a hierarchical state
-
structure, there can be little hope
for just governance. Clear, non
-
avoidance criteria need to be

included in all rights
-
based
legislation, so the Roma are not technically excluded from aid, the justice system, or work.


At the growing supranational, European level, oversight in human rights issue
-
areas must
increase. During the present economic crisi
s, questions
have been raised as to the future of the
EU; whether it will
become

an, “ever closer union,” as Angela Merkel would say
, or

split on a
North
-
South, economic divide.

Assuming the financial crises will abate, it is crucial that the EU
continue t
o increase and diversify how it can use soft
influence

to initiate change at the national
level.
Whether it uses incentives
,

such as membership
in
to the EU was i
n the nineties and the



60

Goldston, 154
.

24

early ough
ts or

forms of shaming, or whether it transforms into a more t
ruly supranational
organization that can invoke effective oversight
, the EU must play a more active role
.

Non
-
Policy Barriers to Erasing Marginalization


All of the above information considered, there are still several barriers to implementation
of
effective policy.

The first of these is simple awareness.
There is still an underlying assumption
that the Roma choose to live to in poverty. This dangerous stereotyping trivializes the dire
situation many Roma live in, and examples of this misunderstandin
g manifest themselves in
discrimination of the worst sort.
Examples of this distrust and skepticism from majority
populations in Europe are commonplace today. For example,
when a Romani woman approached
police in her native Slovakia to report a Skinhead as
sault she and her ten
-
year
-
old daughter
endured, the police reaction was, “In my opinion, she made it up. I don’t know why she would
do it, but the Roma…”
61



It has only been since the post
-
Cold War era that significant attention has been paid to the
pligh
t of the Roma.
Whether this is because the Cold War made the world preoccupied, or
because a significant motivation for states, like the prospect of joining the EU, was never as
apparent, it is an absolute truth that the Roma were and are
actively

disregar
ded
.
As a result of
this chronic
discrimination
, “A large number of Romani intellectuals have either turned their
backs on their ethnic heritage or have become frustrated after having seen the self
-
destructive
machinations of rival Romani parties.”
62

Barany

argues that harnessing those individuals that
have escaped the cycle of poverty to take up the Romani cause is vital in creating a



61

Bertram, Fred. "The Particular Problems of (the) Roma."
U.C. Davis Journal of International
Law & Policy

2 (1996): 175. Print.

62

Barany, Zoltan. "Ethnic Mobilization and the State: the Roma in Eastern Europe."
Ethnic and
Racial Studies

21.2 (1998): 324. Print.

25

comprehensive communication across Europe, especially considering the state to Roma dialogue
gap.


Additionally, Applebaum n
otes that, “If they vote as a bloc and position themselves
effectively in the coalition politics of the countries in which they are citizens, Roma may have
the power to demand routine political concessions like increased funding for housing, jobs,
schools,

healthcare, and even cultural goods like schoolbooks and Roma language classes.”
63

These are common goals, and, while there is a deficit in representation, the
majority of the
groups working for Romani rights is

disconnected and fail
s

to act collectively.

Culturally the
Roma must take up this movement as well. There are Romani authors, scientists and others who
have refused their heritage. However, “when Roma authors publish, they do so in
other
languages.”
64



When it comes to actual change in a nation’s p
olicies, it takes more
than encouragement
from the top;

there needs to be support from the bottom, grassroots level as well.

Bertram
acknowledges that minor
ities function
only
in proportion to their power to force the
government’s hand, so working towards
greater interconnectedness across state
-
boundaries may
indeed be the best way to encourage policy within host nations.

In a world where, “We don’t
care if you discriminate against the Roma, but please don’t make it obvious,”
65

more assertion on
the part of
the Romani communities and allies are absolutely essential.


Although these above mentioned steps are necessary, there is a strong barrier inherent in
the Romani relationship with the
gaje
.
This barrier, beginning in the opposing worldviews of the
Europe

and the Romani communities, ties directly into trust between the parties, and
,

after the



63

Appelbaum, Diana Muir. "The Rootless Roma."
The American Interest

6.4 (2011): 89. Print.

64

Appelbaum, 89
.

65

Banach, Edo. "The Roma and the Native Americans: Encapsulated Communities within
Larger Constitutional Reg
imes."
Florida Journal of International Law

(2
002): 368. Print.

26

history between the parties, there needs to be a two
-
way street where trust can be established to
ensure that the grassroots approach
es

are made in
harmony with the t
op
-
down approaches of
supranational authorities. Furthermore, there needs to be an open dialogue between these two
groups, so that any action taken is both in the best interests of the Roma and feasible within the
Western structure of governance and organi
zation.


This is not an easy relat
ionship to develop. For instance, collecting basic information for
international o
r non
-
governmental groups like Human Rights Watch

can be very difficult when
the same sort of information collecting was used to take down n
ames during the Holocaust or for
the registration of women that led to obligatory sterilization practices in the former
Czechoslovakia
.
The way around
the justifiable suspicion many Roma hold for hierarchical,
outside organizations

is to investigate the Ro
mani community’s serious lack of leadership. If
more, “traditional Romani leaders (
bare, phure, voivode
),”
66

were involved in the political
process, it could increase transparency for the Roma and simultaneously increase trust.


Bar
any also notes that,
“Most Roma are traditionally suspicious of authority and
hierarchies imposed upon them or operated by the outside world. Some Romani leaders have
taken advantage of this traditional distrust to create or reinforce factionalism between Romani
groups.”
67

Agai
n, before trust can be waged bet
ween bodies like
NGO
s

and
the EU
, the Roma
communities, even the communities within one nation, must
communicate
and
unite to certain
extent. A first step to this goal could be to incorporate the community structure
of the R
oma
people
into local governance
, which

could greatly improve relations.






66

Barany, Zoltan. "Ethnic Mobilization and the State: the Roma in Eastern Europe."
Ethnic and
Racial Studies

21.2 (1998): 316. Print.

67

Barany, 315
.

27

Conclusion


The Roma people are a diverse people that vary from near complete integration to
communities living on the absolute fringe of existence. Unfortunately, the latter are t
he
overwhelming majority.
There

is
the

little to
no

social stigma attached to the poor treatment of
these people
, there is rampant poverty, and there is a history of violent exclusion across the East
and West.
Looking at policy, there is institutionalized exclusion that facilitates this poor
treatment, poverty, and violence.
Solutions to this exclusion can start by combating these
technical and legal conventions of citizenship and minority status. By claiming

th
ese tools, the
Roma can hope

to no longer fall through the governmental cracks, and they can no longer be
ignored by virtue of unjust loopholes.


However,
the decades following the Cold
-
War, which have seen the most progress for the
Roma, have

not been eno
ugh time to change the institutional exclusion of the Roma. A terrible
domino effect notably starting with a basic lack of citizenship drives the Roma into a repetitive
cycle of poverty that
has

only
been
exacerbated by the current economic crises.

Without

citizenship, Roma are not eligible in many
European

government structures for healthcare,
education,
jobs, housing, or the opportunity for political participation.


Even then, if sufficient and effective political representation could be established, as
both
recognized
minorities on the national level and interconnected networks on the
inter
national
level, the question
of comprehensive
,

cultural integration remains.

Increasing
cultural sensitivity
at the local level

and, potentially
,

giving reparations for the past and current systemic
discrimination and violence are
important for encouraging real perspective shifts of majority
populations in Europe.


Nevertheless, t
he reality
shows that

every nation is at a different stage of
Roma i
nclusion

in a comprehensive and culturally sensitive way, and some European nations are
in danger of
28

regressing from progress already made.
While it is true that s
ome states already provide simple,
user
-
friendly

ways of acquiring citizenship for potentiall
y illiterate Roma, and some states are
gearing up for elections in which there are sever
al Romani candidates,

o
ne thing remains
constant


there is still incredible violence and discrimination towards the Roma


and this is not
necessarily something that c
an be solved
exclusively
through legislation and increased
representation.
As Hallinan notes, “scapegoating the Roma is an old European tradition,”
68

and
only the willingness of society to change can begin the process of true social integration.




68

Halinan, Conn. "Europe's Favorite Scapegoat: the Roma."
Foreign Policy in Focus

(2010).
Print.