Italian Embassy in Bulgaria in Favor of Roma Integration
Article by Ambassador Stefano Benazzo on the activity of the Embassy of Italy in Bulgaria in favor of Roma integration for the "International Survey: Bulgaria-Italy" of Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency)
I strongly believe that it is a common European duty and honor to act to raise public awareness on the need to better integrate Roma in our countries. Italy is on the forefront of that endeavor. I thought that appropriate action should be taken, limited to my field of action, in Bulgaria.
I am well aware of the need to act in a decisive manner to implement the recommendations of the "Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015".
Since 2009, the Embassy of Italy in Sofia has supported the efforts of specific Bulgarian Roma organizations in promoting and popularizing ethnic diversity, multicultural values and integration. In May 2009, the Embassy helped present to the media a unique performance showing Roma women fashion from all over the world, "The World is Colorful".
A similar event took place in May 2010, combining dance with fashion. Other events took place in that period, organized, among others, with the active participation of the Embassy of France, including an extremely interesting round table. Again the Embassy of Italy helped - in cooperation with the EU rotating Presidency and the Embassies of Hungary, Finland, and others - to finalize the events, informing the Bulgarian Authorities, contacting the Council of Europe, the European Union and UN Agencies operating in Bulgaria and helping to obtain their support, inviting Italian Government experts, inviting Roma personalities from abroad, prompting the Bulgarian media to cover the related events, facilitating the gathering of funds, obtaining the assistance of the Italian business community and of an Italian Organization operating in Bulgaria to assist young people with special needs.
Also, I went to Sliven to get a first-hand knowledge of one of the biggest Roma boroughs in Bulgaria. An article was published on an English language weekly newspaper in Sofia to specify the initiatives we had taken.
I was pleased to receive the appreciation of the Bulgarian Authorities - which assured us that our final factual comments on what we had noticed would be brought to the attention of the relevant Bulgaria Authorities - , the media, the International Organizations, the Rom Organizations. The Bulgarian Minister of Work and Social Policy was kind enough to offer clear and specific comments to us on the matter.
I wish to note that, in addition to the above-mentioned initiatives, Italian firms operating in Bulgaria are well aware of the need to include Roma work force among their human resources, and some of them aggressively pursue such policy.
The Embassy of Italy has of course shown strong support for the common EU initiatives undertaken under the Hungarian rotating Presidency during the first semester of 2011: trips to Pazardzik and Peshtera, organization of a conference on health care and vaccination in Russe. A round table will take place in June 2011 on Roma issues, also organized by the Hungarian Embassy, in co-operation with the Roma Bulgarian Organizations.
The Embassy of Italy will follow with continuing interest and attention the efforts undertaken by the Bulgarian Government and Organizations on Roma matters.