Strategy to address problems facing Turkish Roma is well-received
The project has been established for almost two years and started to incorporate action aimed at Roma a year ago. This was the result of a meeting between the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Roma representatives.
Inroads have been made when it comes to legal terminology, with the removal of discriminatory phrases in older Turkish laws.
Meanwhile, there has been extensive focus on housing, a major concern for the Roma community. As such, the state-owned Housing Development Administration of Turkey plans to provide them with 6,884 apartments, some of which are already being built.
Attention is also being paid to the education and public employment of Roma.
Faruk Çelik, State Minister and the creator of the initiative feels that ‘the process of integration is working well.’ This is echoed by several Roma associations, who have responded well to the steps the government is taking to remedy the problems they face.
The head of the Bursa Association to Promote Roma Culture Efkan Özçimen says that ‘they [Roma] were excluded from the country’s social life, for the most part…But now the government is listening.’
Secretary-General of the Union of Istanbul Roma Associations, Adnan Demirez, adds that in the past, it was hard to the get the state to listen to them. The situation is different now and Demirez believes that collaborative government workshops between members of the government and Roma have greatly contributed to this change.
These are welcomed developments for improving social and economic conditions for Roma. Hopefully, Turkey will continue to build upon this progress.
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