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ERIO takes part in BBC radio discussion

Brussels, 21.2.2007 12:13, (ERIO)

On February 19, 2007, the BBC Three counties radio broadcasted a life discussion on Roma Gypsy and Travellers issues and policies in UK and other European countries. Several politicians, academics and experts from different parts of Europe were given the opportunity in direct broadcasting to express their opinion on what would be the political impact of the newly established ultra-right wing group in the European Parliament on Roma, Gypsy and Travellers communities in Europe.

Mr. Ivan Ivanov, the Executive Director of the European Roma Information Office joined the discussion from BBC’s studio in Brussels. In regard to the new developments in the European Parliament he said:

“… It is so sad that the highest European Institution which is the European Parliament was also infected with racism, anti-Gypsysm and anti-Semitism. More than 60 years after the Second World War, racism and xenophobia reached all administrative levels from local to European. The nationalistic right- wing political group called “ Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty ” (ITS) was formed by twenty MEPs from seven EU Member States including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria Italy, France, Romania and UK. Their founding Charter was described as “broadly anti-immigration, anti-EU constitution and anti-Turkish EU membership”. They were officially recognized as group, which means they are entitled to EU funding (1 million Euros).

The leader of the group MEP Bruno Gollnisch has been fined by the French Court for remarks made in 2004 putting the Holocaust into question.

Recently Bulgarian MEP Dimitar Stoyanov from the nationalistic party Ataka, publicly made racist statements against his Hungarian colleague Livia Jaroka, adding that in his country “in every corner you can by a fifteen year old Gypsy girl, 5000 Bulgaria leva

per piece ”

Last year in February the Romanian National Council for Combating Discrimination has ruled that an anti-Romani speech was made by Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the leader of the extreme right Greater Romania Party was in breach of Romanian anti-discrimination law.

These people, with such a background are saying that -- they (the ITS) will be the EU Parliament’s conscience and will be vigilant defenders of peoples and nations Europe.

Roma from all Members States have been always treated as immigrants in their own countries, and now with the recent EU accessions those travelling to Western Europe will be even more subjected to racism and discrimination due to the growing impact of the racist, anti-Gypsy and anti-immigration policies of the “Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty” group.

The most dangerous thing, which could happen to Europe, is if ITS as formally recognized group have access to important positions in the European Parliament, something which will improve their prospects of influencing the EU draft legislation…”

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