Monday, 11 April 2022

International Roma Day 2022 – Unbreakable Ties with India

April 11, 2022 – To celebrate International Roma Day (April 8), a two-day conference is being held in Zagreb with the main focus on the ties between India and the Roma. 

As Večernji List writes, the two-day conference in Zagreb was organized by the Croatian Romani Union Kali Sara, with the support of the government and in partnership with the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Zagreb, the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies to celebrate the International Roma Day, which has been marked on April 8 since 1971.

Strengthening ties between the Roma community and India to improve the position of Roma in the world is the main topic of the conference titled "Roma as the Indian Diaspora - Unbreakable Ties", where Prime Minister Andrej Plenković pointed out that all its participants share the same values ​​– equality and respect for minorities. The two-day conference in Zagreb was organized by the Croatian Romani Union Kali Sara, with the support of the government and in partnership with the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Zagreb, the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences, and the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies to celebrate the International Roma Day, which has been marked on April 8 since 1971.

It aims to send a message and an invitation to India to recognize the Roma as its national minority.

Addressing the participants – representatives of the Roma population from 17 countries and representatives of Croatian political, scientific, and cultural life – Prime Minister Plenković pointed out that all share the same values ​​– equality, respect for national minorities, and joint efforts so that not only Roma but all other national minorities in Croatia feel good, equal, and free to exercise their rights. He pointed out that in the two mandates of his government, through the National Plan for Roma Inclusion and the accompanying action plan, budget funds have doubled since 2016 and amount to slightly less than 50 million kuna. The Roma Educational and Cultural Center in Zagreb was opened and the Roma Memorial Center Uštica was built as a reminder of the greatest crime against the Roma people, the genocide committed by the Nazi and Ustasha regimes (samudaripen) during World War II.

Plenković: History cannot be changed, but crimes should be reminded and condemned

It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 Roma were killed in concentration camps in Europe during this "darkest period of world history". "Unfortunately, we cannot change history, but we sincerely regret these terrible events, and we should keep reminding of these acts and condemn them unconditionally", said the prime minister. The government, he added, gives great importance to the history of the Roma, their identity and culture, while also confronting the darker sides of our common history. It is thus important that today's conference reminds us of what remembrance means – that it does not mean living in the past, but rather "tearing past experiences away from oblivion and making them a pledge of a better future". "Remembrance that does not turn into malice is healing. Such remembrance includes the present and has a clear view of the future; it is purified and nurtured through upbringing, family, and the education system," he said.

The importance of education for better integration of Roma into society

The Prime Minister also pointed out the importance of education, i.e. keeping the youngest in the education system to better integrate Roma into Croatian society. "When we succeed in that goal, then we have solved many long-term problems faced by the Roma national minority," he said.

In the context of the topic of the conference, the Prime Minister reminded us that the connections between Croatia and India, and Roma and Croatia have lasted for centuries – from the first historical evidence of Roma in Croatia in Dubrovnik in the 14th century, over Dubrovnik and other Croatian sailors in India, Burgenland Croat Filip Vesdin and his Sanskrit grammar at the end of the 18th century, and Count Ljudevit Drašković, the first Croatian romologist.

He also mentioned the 150-year-long Sanskrit university course in Zagreb, the Indology course in Zagreb which has existed for 60 years, as well as the Romology course at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb.

Kajtazi: Satisfactory cooperation with the government  -Member of Parliament for the Roma national minority Veljko Kajtazi expressed satisfaction with the cooperation with the Croatian government, saying that no government has done so much for the position of Roma in society. In Croatia, Roma are no longer “special cases”, specific policies have been introduced to improve their position through regular activities of line ministries and work is being done to equalize their living conditions with other citizens because it is important to erase the still huge differences that cause all the ugly events”.

The participants were also greeted by the Indian Ambassador Raj Kumar Srivastava, the President of the International Roma Union Normunds Rudevičs, the Slovak Member of the European Parliament (EPP) Peter Pollak, the Rector of the University of Zagreb Damir Boras, the President of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts Velimir Neidhardt, as well as the President of the Croatian Roma Association Kali Sara Suzana Krčmar.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

No Joint Ceremony to Pay Tribute to Jasenovac Victims

ZAGREB, 20 April, 2021 - There will be no joint commemoration for victims of the World War II concentration camp Jasenovac on Thursday, representatives of the victims will lay wreaths separately from the state leadership while President Zoran Milanović will do so separately from the prime minister and parliament speaker.

President Milanović's spokesman Nikola Jelić confirmed to Hina that Milanović and his delegation will lay wreaths at the Stone Flower monument at Jasenovac at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

Office of the President did not receive reply from gov't, parliament

"President Zoran Milanović and his delegation will pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims on 22 April, at 11 a.m., as agreed with the organiser, the Public Institution Jasenovac Memorial Area," Jelić said.

He added that the Office of the President had not received a reply from the government or the parliament to its invitation to pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims together.

"As early as last Friday the President of the Republic proposed to the Prime Minister and the Parliament Speaker that they all pay tribute to the Jasenovac victims together, but we have not received any reply," Jelić said.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said today that a government delegation would lay a wreath at Jasenovac at 9 a.m., again dismissing the possibility of paying tribute together with Milanović, noting that "there is no reason for us to put on an act."

"As regards any joint laying of wreaths or flowers, I said yesterday.... there will be no putting on an act," he told reporters during a visit to Rijeka.

Plenković: We were not the ones to start with insults

"The President of the Republic or his staff are now launching an initiative for the Parliament Speaker and myself to lay a wreath with him in Jasenovac. We were not the ones to start with the 'animal farm', we were not the ones to start with insults or a number of other things that are most inappropriate, so there is no reason to put on an act, let that be clear to everyone," said Plenković.

He added that the organiser of the commemoration was the Jasenovac Memorial Area, not the government or anyone else, and that this year's commemoration would be held in line with epidemiological restrictions.

The government's delegation will arrive at 9 a.m. and the parliament's delegation at 10 a.m., he said.

"This has nothing to do with representatives of the victim ethnic groups. We met with them last week, we hold meetings regularly, we respect the victims and went to Jasenovac in the past four years as well. We will go this year again, next year, in 2023, 2024. This has to do with the protocol, but putting on an act is out of the question," he said.

Reporters asked Plenković if he should ignore his relationship with Milanović, regardless of how bad it may be, in situations such as commemorations, to which he said: "No, there's no need for that. In this case it is not envisaged and is out of the question."

Representatives of Serbs, Jews, Roma and antifascists to form separate delegation

The Serb National Council (SNV) said earlier in the day that representatives of ethnic groups that were victims of the Ustasha terror would have a separate, four-member delegation in Jasenovac.

SNV president Milorad Pupovac, the leader of the Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia, Ognjen Kraus, Roma association "Kali Sara" representative Veljko Kajtazi, and the leader of the SABA association of antifascist fighters and antifascists, Franjo Habulin, will lay a joint wreath at the Stone Flower monument at noon on Thursday.

Kraus confirmed to Hina that this decision was made yesterday, after it became evident that there would be no joint delegation comprising top state officials.

"After we realised that there would be separate delegations, we decided on a separate delegation as well. As you can see, a single delegation does not depend on us. We cannot support the use of commemorations for political one-upmanship," said Kraus.

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