Ministry for Foreign Affairs releases the handbook “The Objectives of Finland for Advancing the European Policy on Roma”
The working group on Finnish Roma policy issued its report on Thursday, 24 March. “The weak position of the Roma is a Europe-wide human rights and development problem,” stated Minister Astrid Thors at the event to launch the report. In the form of a handbook, the report offers concrete proposals for developing a Europe-wide Roma policy.
The difficult living conditions of Europe’s Roma population have aroused discussion in Finland and other EU Member States. Attitudes towards the problems of the Roma population differ from one country to another, nor has a Common European Roma policy been worked out yet. Practices found to be good in Finland and development proposals for improving the position of the Roma were recorded in the handbook compiled by the working group led by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The initiative for drafting a strategy to influence international Roma policy was presented by the working group, led by MP Pekka Haavisto, that compiled the national policy on Roma in Finland in autumn 2009. A year later, in autumn 2010, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs appointed a working group that included representatives of the central administrative branches dealing with Roma affairs, the National Advisory Board on Romani Affairs and the largest Romani organisations.
“The working group has acted effectively and on a broad front,” said Ambassador for Romani Affairs Kaija Ilander, who represented the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in the working group. She thanked the group for intensive and productive cooperation.
Groundwork for a Common European Roma policy
Speaking at the press conference of the report launch, Minister Thors, MP Haavisto and Ambassador Ilander, who chaired the working group, said that Finland wants to take an active role in building a Common Roma policy for Europe. The report includes both development proposals and a review of the situation of the Roma.
“Aside from national programmes, there is a need for closer cooperation between the EU, the Council of Europe and the OSCE,” Minister Thors stated. Minister Thors, who had recently visited Romania and Bulgaria, also emphasised the importance of bilateral discussion.
According to Pekka Haavisto, consulting the Roma and their participation in decision-making on issues affecting them are deficient in many countries of Europe.
A clear handbook of Finland’s views and proposals
The working group’s report has been compiled in the form of a handbook. The first part presents Finland’s views and proposals for action to promote Romani participation and equality. The second part of the handbook contains background information about the position of the Roma in Europe as well as the Roma policy implemented by the EU, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and a few other international organisations. The handbook is easy to use as a concrete tool in European cooperation.
“The end result is an achievement,” Pekka Haavisto said, characterising the report.
The handbook is a clear guide for Finnish representatives, civil servants and other bodies. By means of the handbook, Finland wants to exert concrete influence promoting the affairs of the Roma. In addition, the aim is to learn about the experiences and practices of other countries.
The Objectives of Finland for Advancing the European Policy on Roma: työryhmäraportti 24 March 2011 (PDF 549 kt) (in Finnish with an English summary)