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Since its founding in 1991, the Project on Ethnic Relations (PER) has playeda leading role in focusing public attention on the situation of the Roma(Gypsies) in eastern Europe. In April and May 1992, in cooperation with thegovernments of the Czechoslovak Federal Republic and of the Czech and SlovakRepublics, PER conducted a meeting in Stupava, Slovakia, entitled "TheRomanies in Central and Eastern Europe: Illusions and Reality." (A report ofthe meeting has been published under the same title.) The meeting broughttogether for the first time leaders of the Roma communities of Bulgaria,Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation,and Yugoslavia; government officials from the region responsible for socialand minority problems; and academic specialists on interethnic relationsfrom the United States and Europe.

On April 29-May 2, 1993, PER organized a follow-up conference at Lake Snagov(near Bucharest), Romania, in cooperation with the Romanian Ministry ofForeign Affairs, the Federation of Roma in Romania, the Romanian CulturalFoundation, the Romani Center for Romani Studies and Social Action (RomaniCRISS), and the International Romani Union. This conference was entitled"Social Policies and Daily Life: An Evaluation of Current Action-OrientedPrograms in Roma Communities." Its main purpose was to examine currentmethods and programs and to formulate further recommendations.

Part One of the present report is a summary of the Snagov conference. PartTwo is a description of further activities, based on the deliberations ofthe two meetings and the practical experience that PER has accumulated inworking with Roma groups and in field missions since 1991 (the summary ofone of these field missions is included). Both parts were written by LarryWatts, PER senior consultant. The report also includes an appendix, "TheSnagov Declaration," which was adopted by the participants at thatconference. Robert A. Feldmesser, PER senior editorial consultant, editedthe report.

This document was prepared as a contribution to the seminar on the Roma inthe CSCE region, held in September 1994 in Warsaw, Poland, under theauspices of the CSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights andof the CSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities, in cooperation withthe Council of Europe. The seminar emerged in part from the request of PER'sRoma Advisory Council, which participated in the preparatory session held inStrasbourg, France, in July 1994.

Allen H. Kassof, Director
Livia B. Plaks, Associate Director

Princeton, New Jersey
July l994



The Roma are the most disadvantaged population in Europe by all importantindicators: education, opportunity, income, and employment. In addition,they are often scapegoats for society's ills and the object of violentattacks. The problem is especially acute in the former Communist states ofcentral Europe and the Balkans, where governments had sought to homogenizetheir populations rather than to pursue awareness and tolerance ofdiversity. For the first several years following the collapse of Communismin 1989, the new governments in the region failed to treat the problem withthe seriousness it deserved or to devote sufficient resources to itsresolution. The problem was exacerbated by a lack of organization among theRoma communities themselves; their competing and contradictory demands bothadded to the confusion and permitted governments to continue to ignore theproblem.

Although governments in the region are now more willing to view thissituation seriously, and although some progress has been made by the Roma intheir internal political organization and project development, it isnevertheless true that little progress has been made in addressing andresolving the basic issues facing the Roma. In a number of cases, thesituation has, in fact, worsened.

In April 1993, a conference was held at Lake Snagov, Romania, to considerthe problems of the Roma and possible solutions. This conference was afollow-up to a meeting of Roma community leaders in eastern and centralEurope and the Russian Federation, which had taken place a year earlier inStupava, Slovakia. The aims of the Snagov conference were to evaluate thecurrent methods of addressing the issues involving the Roma populations thathad been identified at Stupava and to formulate further recommendations onthese matters. The Snagov conference took up three main issues of concern tothe Roma community in eastern and central Europe: education and equality ofopportunity; the transnational status of the Roma minority; and provision ofbasic human and civil rights, particularly protection against violentattack. Working groups examined each of these issues.

Among the outcomes of the Snagov conference were the creation of a PER RomaAdvisory Council, consisting of specialists on Roma ethnicity drawn fromfive countries of the region; a PER mission on the prevention of mobviolence; a series of sessions for the exchange of information amonggovernmental, police, and justice authorities and Roma leaders in Romania;the creation of a Department of Prevention within the Romanian police; aPER-sponsored series of U.S. Department of Justice mediation seminars inBucharest and Tirgu Mures, Romania; and a projected series of seminars to beheld in Romania by the Southern Police Institute (U.S.) on effectiveintervention and neutral policing in ethnically diverse communities.

Finally, in April 1994, members of the Roma Advisory Council testified onthe Roma in eastern Europe before the Subcommittee on InternationalSecurity, International Organizations, and Human Rights of the Committee onForeign Affairs of the U. S. House of Representatives. This testimony waspreceded by a memorial ceremony at the U. S. Holocaust Museum for the Romawho died in the Holocaust.

At the conclusion of the conference, the participants approved "The SnagovDeclaration," which expresses their support for the adoption at nationallevels of all necessary policies and measures to promote equal opportunityand full participation for the Roma in the political, economic, and socialrealms. The declaration also called for individual states to respect thehuman rights of all citizens including the Roma.


The transition to democratic forms of government in eastern and centralEurope has led to changes in policies that directly affect the traditionallivelihoods of the Roma people and in some cases, has also reduced theiraccess to educational and other opportunities. For example, as thesesocieties continue applying the principles of merit and open competition tothe sphere of employment, the Roma suffer a greater degree of de factoexclusion than they had under the former Communist regimes. Formerly, theRoma were not only permitted to enter secondary schools, but they were evenforcibly pressured to do so. Under current conditions, most officials feelthat guarantees of equality and the equitable distribution of resourcesamong ethnic groups are sufficient to deal with the problem and should markthe limits of their efforts. However, this approach neglects the handicapsthat the Roma have traditionally suffered in competing with more favoredgroups or in taking advantage of existing possibilities without some outsideassistance.

The problem of making an economic livelihood in rural areas is particularlyacute in this regard. Under the Communist regime in Romania, Roma in ruralareas were given jobs in cooperative agricultural production enterprises(CAPs). The pay was minimal, but it provided for basic requirements, and thejob allowed for the possibility, characteristic of Communist societies, ofthe theft of chickens or corn to raise their standard of living. Since thecollapse of Communism, priority has been given to the return of propertyconfiscated by the Communists. This has resulted in the dissolution of theCAPs and the division of property among the former owners. In almost nocases were Roma former land owners and consequently, the rural Roma losttheir employment but did not qualify for land. (Law No.18 allows for thegranting of land to persons who are not former owners, but only if there island remaining after former owners have reclaimed theirs, though this isseldom the case. When land has been available, it has sometimes been in alocation that would require the Roma families to be resettled in order to beable to cultivate it.) Thus, desperate economic straits have compelled ruralRoma to resort to theft more frequently than before. Now, however, thevictims of such theft are no longer an impersonal and negligent state, butfellow villagers who react negatively and, on occasion, violently.Government authorities have recognized the need to deal with this problem assoon as possible.


The working group on education and opportunity noted the strongrelationships between education and economic possibilities and betweeneducation and the development of trained manpower. The working grouprecommended:

  1. Establishment of an international school for young Roma teachers thatwould enable them to return to their home countries and train other Romateachers.
  2. The provision of additional instruction in the Romani language in alreadyexisting schools. In Romania, for example, such additional instruction wouldbe provided in both Romanian-language and Hungarian-language schools.
  3. Establishment of schools specifically for the study of the Romanilanguage.
  4. Establishment of schools in which instruction, aside from majoritylanguage and literature courses, would be in the Romani language.
  5. Establishment of mobile schools for nomadic and seminomadic Romacommunities .
  6. Establishment of vocational and trade schools for the Roma.
  7. Revival of the traditional trades of the Roma.
  8. Creation of small Roma-owned and Roma-operated factories--for example,brick-making factories.

The working group also noted that creating opportunities for education wasonly half the battle; incentives and other measures would be needed topersuade some Roma communities to send their children to educationalinstitutions. It was therefore recommended that governments providesubsidies for children to encourage attendance.


As a people in diaspora without a claimed homeland, the Roma are unique inEurope. This lack of a territorial base has had a significant effect on theway in which majority populations perceive the Roma, since territory isclosely associated with ideas of permanence, stability, and reliability. Asa transnational group, the Roma are perceived as both unstable anduntrustworthy. Moreover, they have no single "mother country" to championtheir cause. The disadvantage this causes can be seen in the negotiationspresently taking place in the former Yugoslavia--the sizable Roma communityis completely excluded from these negotiations because it does not controlany territory although the community will be directly affected by theoutcome.


The working group on transnational status emphasized that it will beexceedingly difficult to resolve the problems of the Roma in any one stateif they are not dealt with in an integrated European approach.

Recently, it has become increasingly obvious that a de facto effort is underway, particularly in the international media, to identify the problems asprimarily Romanian and, to a lesser extent, Slovakian. In this connection,it was noted that the majority of government representatives at theconference were border-guard, migration, and internal-affairs officials,rather than justice, education, or social-policy specialists. Acknowledgmentof the problem as transnational one requiring more cooperative andcoordinated approaches by states and international organizations, isnecessary if real progress is to be made.

Representatives of the Roma Federation and the Romanian Ministry of ForeignAffairs jointly drafted a declaration that was adopted by the participantsat the meeting and sent to governments and other organizations concernedwith human rights, minority rights, and the rights of the Roma population.This "Snagov Declaration," as it was named, is an appendix to this report.

Immediately after the Snagov conference, participating officials from theGerman, Polish, Macedonian, and Moldovan governments met in Bucharest withViorel Hrebenciuc, Secretary General of the Romanian government andCoordinator of the Council for National Minorities. At this meeting, aprogram was agreed upon to institutionalize Roma input into policiesaffecting their community and to provide a body of expertise on relevantissues to other governments of the region. Hrebenciuc suggested, forexample, that his government determine what Roma organizations exist inRomania, then ask these organizations to describe the problems that confrontthem, and finally consider, together with other governments, the means ofsolving these problems. In addition, the Romanian government offered tosponsor, perhaps with the cooperation of various bodies in central andeastern Europe, a Roma policy center that would address the issues andproblems of the daily life of the Roma in the region.


For centuries, the Roma in a number of European countries have beensubjected to capital punishment merely for being Roma. The Roma were alsoamong the main victims of the Holocaust. Police and judicial authorities,when they have not lacked the will, have often lacked the capability,resources, and methods for dealing effectively with local incidents of mobviolence directed against the Roma.

Much of this violence can be traced to a combination of anti-Roma prejudiceand a generalized perception among local populations that police authoritieshave been ineffectual in combating crimes committed by individuals belongingto the Roma minority. In most cases, the target of the violence is broadenedfrom the Roma protagonist in the precipitating incident to the Roma ingeneral. The problem is exacerbated when, as a result of poor communicationsor deficient procedures, the central authorities are ill-informed, oraltogether uninformed, about the developing tensions. Central authorities,therefore, fail to provide the necessary material support or to exertpressure for the implementation of state policies and the enforcement oflaws at the local level. As a result, the local authorities are left totheir own devices and their behavior has ranged anywhere from very effectiveto totally lacking. In a few cases, there has even been possible criminalcomplicity in the violence.

In the first few years of post-Communist governments, judicial authoritiesuniformly failed to prosecute anyone other than Roma individuals themselvesfollowing mob violence against Roma persons and property. There are signsthat this situation is now improving, and more and more cases againstnon-Roma instigators of mob violence are beginning to appear in the courts.Nevertheless, there is still a widespread feeling that the law is beingapplied unfairly and that perpetrators of violence against the Roma are"safe" from effective prosecution. The failure of central authorities topublicly and persistently condemn ethnic violence in general carriesambiguous significance to populations already permeated with negative imagesof the Roma. One sign of change for the better was the prompt and decisivereaction of the Polish authorities when Roma houses were burned down inMlawa in 1991. Since then, no other such incidents have occurred in Poland.

In contrast, in the first six months after the revolution m Romania when thepolice had virtually ceased to exist and a new legal framework had yet to beconstructed, a number of attempts at the forcible expulsion of Roma weremade. In the towns of Bolentin Deal and Ograzeni in 1991, the local Romacommunity was threatened with the burning of their homes and was pressuredto sell their homes and leave the village. Neither the police nor any otheragency took action. This precedent is often referred to in the Romanianmedia when tensions between the Roma and non-Roma communities appear andsince 1989, there have been several other incidents. However, some progresshas been made. Recently, in the village of Racsa, police moved quickly toarrest the instigators of violence against local Roma, as a result ofchanges in policing policies.

Violence against Roma, except in Romania, has become primarily an urbanphenomenon since 1989, usually engaged in by "skinheads" and neofascistgroups (and often widely televised). In these cases, the expulsion of Romahas taken a more organized and legalistic form.

A significant number of Roma have responded to hardships by attempting tomigrate to western Europe. The governments of western Europe, however, havesought ways of keeping Roma out of their countries. They have made effortsto conclude intergovernmental or interministerial agreements for thetransport of Roma back to Romania, as in the German case, and to reachcontractual agreements directly with the Roma concerned, as in the Frenchgovernment's payments to Roma families to leave France. Meanwhile, verylittle assistance, material or otherwise, has been rendered by thesegovernments for dealing more constructively with the migration problem.Instead of recognizing Roma migration as a problem affecting all of Europe,there is a tendency to think of it as primarily a Romanian problem, due tothe current demography of the Roma in the region. Romania, however, hasneither the economic resources nor the expertise needed to cope with theproblem.

Similarly, eastern European governments are trying to control the internalmigration of the Roma. For example, in 1993 in some Czech towns such asJirkov, the authorities approved regulations that drastically limited Romamigration into urban centers and expelled Roma who could not meetrestrictive residency requirements. Citizens were required to report visitsthat lasted more than three days, including those of immediate familymembers. Moreover, without any legal standing to initiate legislation, theprosecutor general of the Czech Republic introduced an antimigration bill inthe parliament stipulating that visits (again, including those of familymembers) could not exceed five days every six months and granting the policeauthority to enter dwellings to check occupancy.

Although this bill and several local anti-Roma regulations were declaredunlawful, they have nevertheless had concrete effects, such as the expulsionto Slovakia of Roma families from the Czech town of Usti nad Labem.Moreover, the new Czech citizenship law, which requires permanent registeredresidence for the past two years and an absence of convictions for crimesfor the past five years, in effect discriminates against Roma who lived inwhat had been company housing, lived unregistered with friends and family,or who could not meet the absence-of-convictions criterion. These Roma aresubject to expulsion to Slovakia.

The phenomena of institutional prejudice and anti-Roma violence are alsoevident in other parts of Europe. In 1988, the Spanish Supreme Court citedthe Madrid mayoralty for racism toward the Roma, and in 1992, the prefectfor a town near Madrid expelled Roma families and destroyed their homes.


The Human and Civil Rights working group noted in its conclusions thatsevere inequalities continue to exist between Roma and local and nationalmajority populations. Often the Roma, who are generally at the lowest levelon the social scale, are blamed for the decline of living standards andother hardships of the current difficult transition.

The situation is not the same in all the countries of central and easternEurope. In Slovakia, Macedonia, and Romania, the constitutions and lawsprovide a favorable basis for the development of the Roma community. Inother countries, such as Bulgaria, the juridical framework needsimprovement. Even where the laws and constitutional provisions arefavorable, however, implementation continues to be a major problem. Thegovernments of the region should work with those of western Europe and withinternational organizations, such as the Council for Security andCooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe, in order to ensure a moreequitable juridical status for Roma populations.

The working group recommended:

  1. Efforts to revive the moral authority of the law and confidence in thejudicial system. This is necessary to discourage and prevent furtheroccurrences of mob violence and "street justice." In addition, effortsshould be made to educate the Roma as to their rights, so that they canbetter resist illegal pressures to leave their homes. The working groupproposed the organization of consultations for the Roma with legalauthorities.
  2. More constructive action on the part of international organizations toimplement mechanisms for the Protection of individual and human rights.
  3. Swift and unequivocal condemnation by governments of any ethnic or racialviolence. While there are as yet no "skinheads" in Romania, as there are inthe Czech Republic and Hungary, the ambiguous behavior of local authoritiesand the lack of central government response send unintended signals thatencourage the spread of ethnic violence. The Romanian governmentrepresentatives also underlined the fact that the population is in need ofmore serious education against racism.
  4. Closer monitoring of the extreme right press is necessary. Effectiveprocedures must be developed that would permit groups and individuals tocall the media to account. Additionally, programs must be implemented totrain eastern and central European journalists in nonpoliticalprofessionalism and unbiased reporting of ethnic issues.
  5. Development of projects to remedy the inequality of economicopportunities that exists in all the countries of the region. In Romania,the Council for National Minorities is an institution in which the Roma canpresent their own proposals for improving their economic situation to thevarious ministries. So far, however, only a small portion of its potentialhas been developed. Governments should ensure an amount from the budget forRoma-directed projects.
  6. Active measures to assure consultation with the Roma on all problemsconcerning their community. At present, all the national and localgovernments of the region provide an "open door" through which the Roma canenter to speak with authorities. However, the Roma do not have a traditionof such activity, nor have the authorities been able to gain their trustsufficiently to encourage them to change. Authorities, especially at thelocal level, should undertake supplementary efforts to reach out and atleast meet the Roma halfway. The Roma deputies have an important role toplay in the establishment of such lines of communication.

In addition, the encouragement of books, radio programs, and televisionbroadcasts that portray Romani culture, history, and problems in other thana negative light was requested, as part of an effort to combat thewidespread and profound anti-Roma prejudice in central Europe and theBalkans and, evidently, in the West as well. Concurrently, a very seriousprogram to explain the nature of prejudice and discrimination, theirprevalence and destructiveness, and the necessity of guarding against themshould be directed at the international and local majority populations.


Efforts to raise the level of civil and human rights have both political andtechnical aspects. The political aspect aims first at drawing the attentionof governments, institutions, and populations to problems that primarilyaffect minority populations or individuals and are therefore, often ignored.Once attention has been drawn to the problems, the goal of politicalactivity is to persuade elites to dedicate material and human resources totheir resolution.

The technical aspects involve the allocation of resources, provision ofexpertise, and assistance with reform. These come into play only afterpolitical activity has been successful, since elites generally must first bemade aware that the problems exist and then convinced of their seriousnessbefore they will be willing to commit resources.

Once their attention has been drawn to a problem and they have beenpersuaded as to its seriousness, government elites normally undertake suchprocedures as examining the hierarchical levels of authority to determinewhere direct responsibility lies and evaluating the effectiveness andreliability of communications between central and local authorities.However, when governmental structures are relatively fluid or are in a stageof massive transition, expectations of normal organizational behavior may beunrealistic. In such circumstances, which characterize all of eastern andcentral Europe to some degree and southeastern Europe to a much greaterdegree, continued political actions without technical assistance may welllead to politicization of the problems and decrease the likelihood of theirbeing addressed in a constructive manner.

When governmental authorities have expressed a willingness to deal withissues connected with the improvement of human and civil rights, butinstitutional frameworks, organizations, and practices are not yet adequateto the task, the need is to find ways of engaging the authorities ratherthan merely to denounce them. Continual condemnation, particularly at theinternational level, for failure to prevent mob violence or to bring tojustice those guilty of provoking it politicizes both the problems and thepersonalities involved, making it less rather than more likely that outsideadvice will be taken seriously and increasing the probability of the leastdesired reaction.

In this respect, the case of Hadareni, a mixed Romanian-Roma-Hungarianvillage in the Transylvania portion of Romania which experienced anti-Romaviolence four months after the Snagov conference, is instructive. Followinga period of rising tensions among Roma families in the village and aconcomitant rise in tensions between its Roma and non-Roma inhabitants, aRomanian resident was killed by a Rom, provoking retaliatory killings ofthree Roma and the burning of fourteen homes belonging to the Romacommunity. The event was heavily covered in the media, with more than 160articles appearing in the Romanian press. Many politicians and more than ascore of humanrights groups visited the Roma in the village immediatelyafter the violence, and significant amounts of aid were publicly dedicatedto the rebuilding of the Roma homes both by the government and bynongovernmental organizations.

The result, however, was a severe cleavage between the populations, seriouslevels of hostility to outsiders, and a deliberately cultivated solidaritywith the local officials who were implicated in the instigation of the mobviolence. Clearly, this had not been the aim of the activists. Rather, theyhad attempted to draw attention to the event by holding the centralauthorities responsible for the incident and attributing to them a "lack ofpolitical will" for allowing it to happen in the first place. The emphasison laying blame backfired in such a way as to impede the legal process andto make further progress toward improving intercommunity relations inHadareni exceedingly difficult. Authorities were able to identify theprincipal instigators and bring them in for questioning only after ninemonths, when the bulk of the population was occupied by the harvests. Eventhen, the instigators were released almost immediately upon orders from theprosecutor general's office in Bucharest.


The technical approach generally avoids the question of blame altogether,focusing instead on the development of policies and the encouragement ofactions that would prevent violence from occurring. In the case of mobviolence against the Roma in Romania, such policies and actions would bedirected at effective and neutral policing at the local level and ateffective and timely prosecution by the justice system.

The problems in local policing are due to a number of factors. (I) After thefall of Ceausescu, there was a reluctance--lasting from 1987 until late in1993--to become involved in any but the most straightforward situations thatrequired police intervention. This had the effect of often excluding localpolice as an element of informal social intervention to prevent the buildupof social tension and to actively assist in the establishment of socialpeace and order on a daily basis. (2) The local police have continued thepractice of treating all problems as purely local phenomena and of onlylocal concern, thereby failing to report tendencies and tensions that mightbe beyond the capacity of local authorities to handle. This practice beganwhen problems reported by local authorities to the central authorities wereinterpreted as a failure on the part of the local authorities to contain thesituation and often resulted in centrally mandated sanctions against them.(3) The local police lack adequate transport facilities and reliablecommunications. Often two or three junior officers are responsible forpolicing a community of dispersed villages with as many as 7,000inhabitants--on foot and with only an unreliable phone system to link themwith regional centers. (4) In addition, local policing authorities generallyshare the prejudices and preconceptions of the local population and usuallylack special training and instruction in procedures for neutral policing.All of these problems seem readily remediable with appropriate expertise andtechnical assistance.

At the level of the justice system, the problem is more intractable andpotentially more damaging. Romania has proclaimed the independence of itsjustice system and its courts and has established a constitutional and legalframework to ensure this independence, particularly from the executiveauthority which under Communism had often intervened to determine theoutcome of investigations and prosecutions. Unfortunately, however, thischange was made at a pace and in a manner that did not allow for thereplacement or retraining of Justice Ministry personnel or of judges andmagistrates to bring them closer to western standards of neutral,nonpartisan, timely, and effective conduct of investigations and judgments.

The result has been a highly politicized justice and court system, which hasfrequently refused to hand down judgments that might not be popular or thatare believed to run counter to the desires of central authorities. Thesystem is also subject to delays, some that are politically motivated andothers that are attributable to the difficulties of institutional rebuildingand redesigning. These delays are sometimes used as an excuse to initiatevigilante justice, and to the degree that this is seen as acceptable andeffective, progress toward the rule of law and a state of social peace andstability is impeded.

To complicate matters, even many self-professed "democratically oriented"members of civil society have retained a mind-set that assumes that centralauthorities still control all of the actions of government personnel at boththe central and the local levels. The lack of effective policing or oftimely prosecution is therefore, often interpreted as an indicator of anabsence of political will on the part of central authorities. For instance,human-rights activists hold central authorities responsible for the failingsof a legal process even when intervention by these authorities would giverise to charges of recentralization and dictatorial authority and wouldundermine the very concept of an independent justice system. Such habitstend to produce a cycle of condemnation and frustration. Furthermore, theattempt to blame individuals or specific agencies or organizations in thegovernment and to place them "in the dock" and punish them, howeversymbolically, interferes with an understanding of the nature of the problemand the assumption of responsibility for redressing it. Here again. there isan important role for technical assistance and expertise.

Often, the nature of the problems facing the Roma have less to do withaspects of Romani culture, education, and rights than with the obstacles tothe institutionalization of basic democratic institutions and civil andindividual rights. This is not to say that there are no problems specific tothe Roma, nor that the Roma do not suffer directly and especially severelyfrom these broader problems. However, until the more basic problems ofinstitution building and development of respect for civil and individualrights are resolved, it will be extremely difficult to separate outethnically specific problems or to address them effectively.

Currently, the situation is made even worse by the fact that most of thosedealing with the problems of the Roma are experts on Roma culture andsociety rather than specialists in the areas of democraticinstitution-building, police and justice reform, and arbitration andmediation. As such, they tend to perceive the problems facing the Roma asbeing specific to the Roma or to the relationships between the Roma and themajority population or government rather than as shortcomings in themovement toward democratic institutions in general.


Although international attention and pressure and condemnation bygovernments can play a vital role in bringing an end to ethnic prejudice anddiscrimination, PER believes that the provision of technical and expertassistance to governmental authorities is no less vital. When thegovernments are willing to accept such assistance, and particularly whenthey request it, the international community, nongovernmental organizations,and concerned individuals have a moral obligation to take them at their wordand extend it whenever possible.

In February 1994, PER sent a mission to Romania to study the problem ofviolence against the Roma and to formulate recommendations for combating it.The mission was organized by PER's associate director, Livia B. Plaks,together with senior consultant, Larry Watts. The mission's participantsincluded a specialist on police and police management, Robert Wasserman ofHarvard University, Donald Horowitz, Valery Tishkov, and Nicolae Gheorghe,members of PER's Council on Ethnic Accord, and Andrzej Mirga, representingPER's Roma Advisory Council. The visit was coordinated by PER's Bucharestoffice, with the cooperation of Romania's Ministry of the Interior, GeneralInspectorate of the Police, and Council for National Minorities. Over thecourse of a week, the team visited eleven localities in Romania where therewas a serious potential for violence or where violence had already occurredin the past four years.

The team's report covered a broad range of issues of both a general and aRoma-specific nature. It dealt with the improvement of the technicalcapability for responding to incidents, the development of policies andprocedures for effective intervention, and the development of a centralizedcapacity for data collection and response oversight. In a series ofmeetings, the mission's findings were presented to Romanian police andgovernmental authorities and to President Ion Iliescu. Following is asummary of the findings and recommendations contained in the report.

Police at the local level bear an enormous burden when faced with difficultsituations in conditions of poor mobility and primitive communications. Itis often the case that those with the least experience are charged with thegreatest responsibility and receive very little regular supervision fromsuperiors. When social tensions result in mob violence, the ability andexperience of these police officers have often proven insufficient,resulting directly in the loss of lives and property, and indirectly in theloss of prestige and moral authority, weakened morale, decreasedeffectiveness, and political scapegoating of the police. Immediate measuresare necessary to enhance the capacity of local police officers, though itcannot be expected that they will become sophisticated conflict managers inthe near future. In the current period of economic transition and severebudget constraints, it has become doubly important to marshal resourcescarefully and allocate them intelligently. Careful consideration shouldtherefore be given to the sequence in which technical improvements are made.The general rule should be that resources are directed first toward thoseregions and localities where tensions are most acute.

Once violence has occurred, it can easily expand and is likely to do so forseveral reasons. Among them are: (1) the potentially provocative role playedby the media in describing each incident involving the Roma as a "newBolentin" or a "new Hadareni"; (2) the low threshold of mob violence,whereby an individual mugging, rape, or knife fight may trigger the burningof many or even all houses belonging to members of the Roma community,regardless of whether or not they were implicated in the initial event; and(3) the slowness of the criminal justice system in prosecuting andsentencing those involved in past mob violence.

Although the police obviously cannot put an end to profound social tensions,it is also true that the police must control the violent outcomes of suchtensions and prevent their spread. Moreover, the belief, accurate or not,that the police as well as other political authorities are supportive of, orindifferent to, violence against a minority is itself a contributor toethnic tensions. It is therefore important that there be no ambiguity aboutthe attitude of the authorities. To this end, clear guidelines for adecisive approach to interethnic violence must be developed and promulgated,directed both to the policing institutions and to the general public. Thereshould also be frank and open discussions within the police organizationregarding the evolving standards and strategies; the development of trainingmanuals and materials on the management of intergroup tensions and violence,based on case studies that explicitly identify appropriate procedures; andan effective exchange with the international police community ondevelopments in this domain.

Serious acts of violence tend to follow a period of rising tensions, andduring that period, various sorts of intervention--such as discussions withcommunity leaders and implicit and explicit warnings that those whoinstigate violence will be promptly and firmly punished--can be effective inaverting violent outcomes. (Further discussion of these opportunities can befound in the recent PER publication, Managing Ethnic Conflict: The KonaStatement.) Moreover, there are often regional, demographic, and seasonalpatterns that can be identified, enabling capabilities and expertise to beconcentrated at the right place and the right time. It would therefore beuseful to establish a central office to collect and analyze the level,dynamics, and status of violence throughout the country. Within this office,there should be a small group of experts on community relations and socialintervention, who would act as a quick-response team and would also providethe central office with information needed to keep the database onintergroup violence up to date.


At least in part as a result of the PER mission's recommendations, theRomanian General Inspectorate of the Police established a central Departmentof Prevention with branch offices in the provinces, staffed bycriminologists and sociologists. Intensive courses in English and Frenchhave been held, in order to facilitate interchanges between Romanian policeand their foreign counterparts. Although the police were already seeking toimprove mobility and communications in the field, the mission'srecommendations were also useful in stimulating a systematic approach tothese efforts.

Further benefits of the mission could be seen in local police response fourmonths after the PER mission, when an incident of mob violence broke out inthe village of Racsa, in the county of Satu Mare in northwestern Romania.The police responded quickly and effectively, arresting eleven of theinstigators immediately and several more after a short period of furtherinvestigation. The number of arrests in Racsa exceeded the number of arrestsmade in all previous incidents of mob violence in Romania since 1989. It isdoubtful that this one instance will be powerful enough to deter furtheroutbreaks of violence, but it may be the beginning of a new period in theprotection of human and civil rights in Romania.

Subsequently, in an effort to increase the possibility of meaningfuldialogue between local majority populations and Roma communities, PERsponsored a series of seminars on mediation in the Romanian city of TirguMures, designed primarily to train Roma mediators. The seminars wereconducted by Miguel Hernandez of the Community Relations Service of the U.S. Department of Justice. Following the week-long series of seminarsHernandez consulted with Romanian police authorities on the development ofpolice mediators as well. The testimony by members of PER's Roma AdvisoryCouncil before a subcommittee of the U. S. House of Representatives,mentioned in the introduction, was also an outgrowth of the PF.R mission toRomania

In mid-October of 1994, PER will sponsor a series of two-and-a-half-dayseminars on effective community intervention and neutral policing inethnically diverse communities. These seminars will be offered to Romanianpolice officers stationed in regions that have experienced ethnic tensionsand to members of the Department of Prevention. They will be organized bythe University of Louisville (Kentucky) and the Southern Police Institute.

There are still many formidable obstacles to the realization of basic humanand civil rights for the Roma community. Even though Roma housing destroyedin mob violence is being reconstructed with government aid, the greatmajority of Roma forced from their homes have not yet been able to return.The mass media rarely devote much attention to efforts by authorities toprosecute and punish offenses against the Roma, even though they routinelydescribe any crimes committed by individuals of Roma ethnicity as "Gypsy"crimes. The government is not consistent in its attention to the problems ofthe Roma, nor does it coordinate its programs with those sponsored by theRoma community. And there is still the problem of the politicization ofethnic tensions on the part of political parties and ethnopoliticalentrepreneurs.

On the positive side of the ledger, active engagement with governmental andpolice authorities, despite initial resistance, has produced significantgains in coping with violence against Roma persons and property. Thetraining of local police officers in preventive and ethnically neutralpractices and effective social intervention promises to provide a basis onwhich future programs on the awareness and tolerance of diversity can build.The sooner that general issues affecting all members of society, such as theestablishment and implementation of the rule of law and basic human andcivil rights, are dealt with, the sooner the problems specific to the Romacan be addressed and the necessary resources and expertise can be focused onthe goal of achieving full equality for the Roma people.



(Translated from the Romanian)

  1. The participants in the conference entitled "Social Policies and DailyLife: An Evaluation of Current Action-Oriented Programs in RomaCommunities," which was held at Lake Snagov, Bucharest, from April 29 to May2, 1993, examined different aspects of the situation of the Roma in theirrespective countries, expressed their concern with issues related to them,and effected an exchange of experience regarding possible methods ofaddressing their common problems.In order to assure that policies followed at the national and internationallevels take into account, as much as possible, the actual situation andpreoccupations of the Roma as minorities in their respective countries, allparticipants agreed to bring to the attention of their states and ofpertinent international organizations the following recommendations.
  2. The participants expressed the conviction that the Roma can and shouldlive as members with full rights in every country of the world, "togetherand equal" with all other citizens--the motto under which the conferenceproceeded.The participants believe that states should take all necessary measures toassure respect for constitutional provisions and national laws regardingequality of rights and nondiscrimination--in short. respect for the humanrights of all citizens, including the Roma.The participants declared their support for the adoption, at the nationallevel, of policies and measures necessary for developing an adequate programwith the purpose of providing equal opportunity and full participation ofRoma in the political, economic, and social realms, together with andalongside all other citizens of their respective countries.The participants also consider it necessary to act at the governmental leveland in the framework of Roma organizations and associations to stimulate theparticipation of Roma in democratic institutions, especially at the locallevel.
  3. The participants expressed their concern regarding acts of intoleranceand xenophobia and manifestations of violence against the Roma and theircommunities. Although they are aware that such acts are of a social andlocal character, they believe that the risk that such acts will be repeatedcontinues to exist.They expressed their desire that state bodies, as well as nongovernmentalorganizations, including those of the Roma, should act within theirrespective domains, as well as in cooperation with each other wherepossible, for the prevention of such acts and manifestations, which violatehuman rights and provoke human suffering. They also believe in the necessityof adopting national legislation that would punish the use of the mass mediato incite intolerance. xenophobia, violence, and racial discrimination.It is necessary to take action to develop juridical procedures much morerapidly and much more objectively, so that all persons, including those whobelong to the Roma minority, may have faith in the justice system.The participants emphasized the Importance of education for all people andof the need for a spirit of peaceful human relations in local communities,irrespective of ethnic origins. and the rejection of xenophobia and racism,which violate this spirit.
  4. The participants pointed to the specific economic and social problems ofthe Roma and of their communities, such as unemployment, lack of housing,and illiteracy. The necessity that state bodies devote full attention to thesolution of these problems, with consideration for the full equality ofrights and the specific conditions of each community. was emphasized.They also underlined the need for the solution of general problems of socialsecurity (unemployment assistance, social assistance, family allocations,medical assistance, etc.), especially for the most disadvantaged categoriesof the population, in whose ranks the Roma are often found. Similarly,importance was attached to the organization of vocational and professionaltraining programs in order to attract the greatest possible number of Romato productive activities. The participants consider especially necessary thepromotion of a number of projects that would facilitate the development ofRoma communities in the domains of housing, education, and health care, aswell as the expression and development of their cultural identities.The participants stressed the importance of vigorously supporting actions atthe local level, in the framework of municipalities and communes, for thedevelopment of programs and projects designed to address the problems of theRoma in the exercise of their rights as equal citizens.The participants appeal to all intergovernmental and nongovernmentalorganizations, to institutions and academic circles, and to bodies concernedwith human rights to accord human and material support for the realizationof such projects in as many countries and localities as possible. Romaassociations and organizations are called upon to mobilize the members ofthe Roma communities to participate and cooperate in the realization of suchprojects in accordance with their respect for human rights and theiracceptance of the corresponding civic responsibilities, and in the contextof their specific culture and their need for equal access to decent livingconditions in the localities in which they live
  5. The participants underlined the necessity for states that have returnedRoma living there illegally to examine, together with the states to whichthese persons are returned, the initiation of certain projects andassistance programs for the vocational and professional training of thesepersons.Likewise, the participants believe that all states of Europe that decide toexpel persons coming from other countries or that take other legal measuresregarding such persons must assure the integral respect of these persons'rights, including their property rights and the return of personal goods.International organizations and nongovernmental organizations in therespective countries should be involved as much as possible in theestablishment and realization of projects and programs in furtherance ofthis goal
  6. The participants declare their support for the extension of lines ofcommunication and cooperation between localities and territorial units inall parts of Europe where stable communities of Roma live. Improvedcommunication could lead to the promotion of cultural and artistic exchangesand to a reciprocal familiarity and understanding of their experiences.The participants call upon the territorial and local councils of Europe, aswell as governmental and nongovernmental organizations, to establish regularcontacts for the exchange of information and experience regarding the socialintegration and participation of Roma in the civic, economic, and culturallife of their respective localities and territorial units. In this way, anetwork of those councils and organizations that are interested in thisdomain can be created.The participants maintained the necessity of adopting and implementing aEuropean program that would achieve a better understanding of the Romaniculture and a better reflection of the situation of this minority in themass median in order to eliminate anti-Roma prejudice.It was noted that the relationship that must be established between theschool and the social medium of the Roma, in the sense of adapting theeducational system so that the number of absentees and dropouts belonging tothis minority is steadily decreased, was highly relevant.Taking note with interest of the activities of the Permanent Conference ofLocal and Regional Authorities of Europe, the participants address andappeal to the Secretary of the Conference to support initiatives for thecreation of such networks for exchanging information and experience byaccording the special and logistical technical assistance necessary toinclude, on a step-by-step basis, as many localities within Europeancountries as possible.During the conference, the participants took the initiative of organizingsuch networks, starting with the experiences of Romanian localities andcounties in which such proiects have been applied over the past two years
  7. The participants underlined the necessity of international organizations,both those in the domain of human rights and those that deal with financialand economic problems, to include Roma issues in their activities and tosupport projects and programs of social and economic cooperation anddevelopment that would take into account the interests of the entirepopulation, including the Roma.
  8. The participants examined a series of concrete proposals and ideas invarious domains concerning the methods of acting at the local level, inlocalities and communities, to address the economic and social concerns ofthe Roma, as well as the problems of cooperation with other segments of thepopulation in each country.They recommend that governmental and international organizations examinethese proposals and ideas within the context of current possibilities andconcrete conditions in order to incorporate and implement them as part oftheir short-term and long-term policies.
  9. Many participants referred to international documents that establishstandard norms regarding fundamental human rights and liberties and therights of persons belonging to minorities, including the Roma: the UniversalDeclaration on Human Rights; the International Agreement on Civil andPolitical Rights; the International Agreement on Economic, Social, andCultural Rights; the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of RacialDiscrimination; the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperationin Europe (CSCE); the Final Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the CSCE;the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages; and the DeclarationConcerning the Rights of Persons Belonging to Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic,or National Minorities in 1992.They underlined the necessity that the European states take into account theprovisions of these documents in the policies that they adopt and in theimplementation of these policies.
  10. The participants in the Lake Snagov conference believe in the necessityof organizing similar meetings in the near future, and they express the hopethat other countries and organizations will join in this initiative andsupport the organization of such meetings.The participants in the conference request the appropriate internationalorganizations to distribute and present this declaration as a workingdocument at those meetings that have themes related to our conference.

Lake Snagov


May 1, 1993



Marcel Cortiade,  International Romani Union

Guraliu Mejdani,  Armorodives


Ievremovici Dragan,  Roma Center

Meissner Paul,  Roma Center


Vasil Chaprasov

Yasia Ivanov Danev

Manush Romanov Demirev,  Roma Union

Dimitar Georgiev,  Helsinki Citizens Assembly

Ivo Todorov,  Bulgarian Embassy


Ladislav Body,  Czech Parliament

Ladislav Goral,  Government of the Czech Republic

Maria Reizmerova


Peter Mercer,  Romani Union


Claire Auzias,  Institute for Children & Family

Bernard Barbereau,  French Embassy

Laurence Duchenede Barras,  Doctors without Borders

Fabienne Rousso-Lenoir

Anne Wasmer,  Friends of Roma


Godehard Flener,  Home Office


Bela Bogdan,  Roma Parliament

Agnes Daroozi,  Hungarian Institute of Culture

Florian Farkas,  Lungo Drom

Aladar Horvath,  Roma Parliament

Tamas Peci,  Hungarian Parliament


Pavel Andreychoko

Stefan Bozbei


Galjus Orhan,  Patrin


Pawet Kazaneck,  Ministry of Culture

Andrzej Mirga,  Roma Association of Poland

Jacek Radomsky,  Council of Ministers

Stanislav Stankiewicz,  Romani Union

Wieslaw Adamczyk,  Ministry of Interior


Dumitru Ion-Bidia,  Romani Ethnic Community

Vasile Burtea,  Ministry of Labor

George Botescu,  Home Office

Augustin Buzura,  Romanian Cultural Foundation

Ion Cioaba,  King of the Roma in Romania

Gabriela Ciubuc

Gabriela Coman

Constantin Constantinescu,  Home Office

Nadia Constantinescu,  Ministry of Justice

Atanasiu Corolan,  Ministry of Labor

Josif Covaci

Radu Demetrescu

Ion Diaconu,  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Corneliu Dorot

Ioan Dragan,  Institute of Sociology

Alexandru Dumitru

Sorel Farcas

Carmen Firan,  Romanian Cultural Foundation

Ilie-Vasile Fonta,  Romanian Presidency

Petru Gavrilescu,  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Nicolae Gheorghe,  Rromani CRISS

Mihai Giugariu,  Romanian Cultural Foundation

Vasile Ionescu,  Ministry of Culture

Nikolaus Kleininger,  Ministry of Education

Angela Martin,  Ministry of Culture

Ion Maxim,  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Elena Muresan

Rodica Nitulescu,  Ministry of Labor

Geza Otvos,  Doctors without Borders

Ion Peleanu

Valeriu Petrovici

Angelica Popa,  Romanian Cultural Foundation

Mariana Popa,  Institute of Sociology

Gherorghe Sarau,  Ministry of Education

Carmen Seuleanu,  Romanian Academy

Matache Stan,  Romani Ethnic Community


Adam Gejza

Erika Godlova,  Slovak Radio Broadcasting

Karol Horvath,  Roma Civic Initiative

Jan Kompus,  Roma Civic Initiative

Anna Koptova,  Romathan Theatre

Klara Orgovanova,  Government of Slovakia


Manuel Martin Ramirez


Kristina Kruck,  Soros Foundation


Fedor Andras,  Roma


Egbertha Greve,  UN High Commissioner for Refugees


Rudolph Aggrey,  Howard University Press

Dorothy Atkinson,  American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies

David Binder,  The New York Times

William Duna,  U.S. Holocaust Council

Isabel Fonseca,  Kaplan Fund

Ian Hancock,  International Romani Union

Allen H. Kassof,  Project on Ethnic Relations

Kay Atkinson King,  Office of U.S. Congressman Swett

Jeff Kuster,  Doctors without Borders

Geeta Pasi,  U.S. Embassy, Romania

Livia B. Plaks, Project on Ethnic Relations

Larry Watts,  Project on Ethnic Relations