On bouncing balls, week-ends and the end of a long year

8 Dec

Saturday

Pisica(Cat) is happy with his new winter shoes, he tells everybody, individually, how cool he is as his boots are the only ones that are not black or white. Most of the boys ignore him – he is unfazed, his grin dangerously close to his ears.

Silviu is in a completely different class. He runs like a headless chicken all around the gym and yells that he has new boots. He couldn’t care less that there is a football game going on. He came again without socks – outside temperature is around 0 Celsius. He is the only child that regardless of how many socks we gave him he never has any. I put his new socks on – he is 10 but has problems to put his socks on. Mada helps me. Mada is a big shot and one of my main heroes; just a couple of weeks ago she organized an event full of national and international celebrities including the first dude that jumped from the space and his new and somewhat old parachute. We are lucky, this time Ionut- his cousin- made sure he washed his feet before coming. We didn’t have the same luck last week.

Everybody from the smaller children group eats fruit or cake but Dario and Gabi. Dario is happy. She has 2 bananas and sings to them.

Dario

Gabi doesn’t sing well – he is more into fashion -busy wearing his bananas as horns.

Gabi

The older boys are playing football. There are around 60 children in the gym. Most of them I know them  for 4-5 years now. Feels weird that they are so well behaved. Just two years ago would have been impossible to have more than 20 children at the same time in the gym.

One of the boys’ mothers came to see me. She will go to prison together with his older brother. Drugs related felony. She wanted to make sure that we know in order to pay more attention to him as she wants him to stay and do well in school. Is not the first case and  as weird as that might sound I think this is a much better indicator of success than most EU reports about the awesome feats of heroic social inclusion that happen in the Roma communities, on Mars and in Euro-Narnia.

Sunday

Bibi, the girl that can’t hear, is happy with her gifts – she is 8 today. Mitica (another Mitica) is almost 11 he doesn’t know how to read. He is smart, he learned fast what I showed him. I asked Dario and Alex to compete in a math test – multiplication tables- they did great. Stefan is ok with his math he is in the 7 grade despite the fact he is almost 15 y.o. Denisa is lazy but she did fine with her Romanian homework. Mario and Esmeralda worked with numbers. Their language skills are not that great.

IMG_0739

The new trend among the boys at the center is rubber balls. I do not know what is wrong with boys/men but rubber balls seem to touch instantly our pleasure center. Only if you say rubber ball and we start drooling.  Give us one and our cognitive processes go into :

Rubberrrr Baaaaaall !!!

Let’s see does it bounce?

Yes it does! It bounces, it bounces, it bounces!

Let’s try again, let’s see maybe will bounce again !

It does it does, it does !

How about now, will it bounce now ?

Yeees it bounceeees !

How about now ? Can it bounce again ?

Yes it does, it does, it does !

Will it bounce against the door ? Yeeeey it does !

Does it still bounce the same against the floor ? Maybe it doesn’t ! Let’s check !

Yeeey it does, it bounces, it bounces !…

We can starve ourselves to death if we do not lose the ball or break something.

I think this explains also the process through which we become utter idiots when watching football, basketball and anything involving bouncing things. Women seem not to understand this at all. Their world must be terribly boring.

We cooked together – healthy cookies. Everybody loved them. Washing the dishes afterwards was fun as everybody wanted to help with it.

Washing

I talked to Alex’s grandmother – Alex’s story is even worst than I knew. Esmeralda ( she is the smallest at the center) didn’t want to let us go. It sucks whenever this happens – and it happened enough times to know there is no good way to deal with it.

I will be 44 this week.

There have been lots of struggles this year. I had my good share of frustrations. I still made lots more mistakes than I think reasonable. Still unhappy with my own discipline. Had my share of meeting crappy and stupid people and I behaved like a crappy and stupid one a number of times. I saw lots of unfair and painful things not just in the ghetto or at the centers for institutionalized children.

I met some great people. Experienced some pretty amazing things. I am very thankful for lots of things that happened to me and for the fact that I was able to help as much as I did. I think I am a better person than last year. Wish to be able to say the same next year.

What do I want for my birthday ? Everything that could help these children.  And I need advice about a tutorship scheme that could work for them and make the school better.

And Happy Holidays – no more posts at least until after the Christmas !

About funding, moderates and realities

1 Dec

Notes for a speech

My uncle Gogu was smart, funny and for a few years rich. At the end of his life he became bitter and a bit crazy. He suffered an incredible amount of prejudice and he never managed to escape his condition – a smart but somehow odd “gypsy”.

He disliked one type of people only. He called them “guristi”. You can call them moderates. The moderates Marthin Luther King was talking about in its Letter from the Birmingham jail if you need a more precise definition. A translation in Seinfeld -English is the blabla people.

I am scared to be the blabla guy. I was the blabla guy. I know how appealing and comfortable that position can be. I also know how hard and disappointing it is to acknowledge it to yourself and how difficult to change.

To stop being one of the many Roma “guristi” was hard. To work with children that are the poorest of the poor and not just talk about them has been my greatest challenge. And as one that grew dirt poor and a “gypsy” in Romania I think I do not underestimate challenges.

There is lots of lip service being paid to the situation of Roma children.  Many (sometimes feels like everybody) make recommendations about how the situation can be improved. Almost nobody (I do not know anybody) in decision making positions spends or has spent quality time with the Roma children that are the targets of their policies or funding.

I believe that money spent on recommendations are, generally speaking, a waste. That the way the structural funds are designed nowadays is stupid and of little help for those that live in poverty. I also think that us, the moderates, that know all these and shut up in order to keep our jobs, our comfortable way of life, to be able to be part of the circus of conferencing are hypocritical and irresponsible in the long term. I think focusing on the very few and mostly accidental good effects of the EU funding is intellectually dishonest and toxic as legitimizes and preserves approaches that are overall wasteful and many times damaging.

As a blabla guy I talked with passion about the awful effect of anti-Gypsyism. About how different people where racist against us. About the hidden racism of the press. About appalling statements that if about any other people would have lead to an world uproar. About positive practices that I knew where not really positive. I presented things in a much better light that they were because I thought it will help in the long run. I did talk about this in front of audiences that did not need to or did not want to hear it. To people that were bored out of their minds with my speech.  To people that where there because of their jobs, per-diems, or simply, like I was, just part of the conference circus. To people that found conferences a good place to eat, sleep and relax while pretending they were working.

I needed to learn the hard way that I was wrong. That using a jargon that says nothing to normal people is not the way to prove that you know what you are talking about. That visiting places where really poor people struggle to make ends meet doesn’t make you an expert. Neither does reading about poverty and Roma give you the right to decide what to be done in these communities. That darker skin color, growing up as a Roma or pompous titles do not suffice either.

I did speak against anti-Gypsyism and I was severely punished. In 2004 I spoke up against the anti-Gypsyism of an EU Ambassador and requested his resignation. I was right – it was, from a moral and ethical point exactly what I should have done. The Commission was furious with me (embarrassing a bureaucracy I learned will always come with a punishment of some sorts) – despite acknowledging that the Ambassador was wrong. They found an euphemism that avoided calling him a racist and “retired” him for a period of time. He was later on recycled in another important position. My board went mad against me as they felt I was putting their careers in danger. There were some Roma activists in my board. None of them stood up for me. I was told I needed to be more “strategic”.

A few year after I attended a meeting with the Romanian president that told us that he had the perfect method to identify Roma – he thought that our palms are yellower than the “normal Romanians”. Then he made a racist statement about one of his main political enemies. At that moment I did nothing about it. I thought it was too risky and I hoped somebody else would have done it. It took some years to have the courage to acknowledge to myself that it was cowardice and not “strategic” thinking what I did.

I heard since Ambassadors, Commissioners, high level bureaucrats, MEPs, ministers, priests, leaders of big organisations, friends saying stupid or appalling things about the Roma. Many times I “strategized” that is better for me not to be too strident about it as that will not solve anything and will just make my life harder.

I have collected during the years a large amount of incredibly racist speeches against Roma. Do I still consider that anti-Gypsyism is the main problem at this moment when it comes to Roma social inclusion ?

I do . But it is not the anti-Gypsyism that you expect. Is not the Vadim Tudors, Le Pens, Fidesz, Neo-Nazis that worries me.

It is the “guristi” , the blabla people that worry me the most. Those that talk a lot about how good and how important Roma are for the society while making sure we remain as excluded as we were in the past. The worst institutional racism when it comes to Roma can be found among the intergovernmental  organisations that spend the most money on Roma.

The Special Representative on Roma of the Council of Europe was never Roma. That is the only thing that made them in fact Special. The last two -none of them at the moment of appointment had any experience on Roma issues. The justification for their appointments was that they knew the “system”. For those of you that are fast to rationalize that this is fine just think what your reaction will be if in the position of the principal of your child school will be appointed the janitor on the argument that  he knows the best the “system”.

At the last EU Roma conference  – a conference that discussed abject poverty – the speakers received Emanuel Ungaro scarfs and ties. Luxury items for those of you that are not familiar with the brand. One of those cost more than the average monthly salary of a Roma mediator in Romania.

Conferences that make no sense, that are a waste of public money  and help nothing but justify bloated budgets, abysmal lack of ideas and often crass incompetence are also an expression of anti-Gypsyism or its effects.

Anti-Gypsyism is also expressed in the form of the token Roma guys that are pushed in front to legitimize failed policies, practices and sometimes racism.

The only Roma MEP in the previous European Parliament was the representative of Fidesz. She was invited by everybody everywhere and presented as representing the Roma in Europe. Including me.

I do not think the danger is with the lunatics. I think the danger is with us. The delusional us that think our papers, our speeches, conferencing and our facebooking is enough to make a difference. It is with us the well-intended blabla guys. Us, that rationalize our cowardice and continue to pay lip service to people and policies that are useless. Us, that think politeness and not courage can change the situation.

At this moment(at least when it comes to Roma issues) is not real life in communities, expertise at the grassroots, solid results or hard work that lead to the design of policies and funding or to the appointments in positions of power. It is the other way around. Well “connected” dignitaries and funding create policies and “realities”. Reporting imagined good results at the grassroots level are often main/only part of the “hard work”.  We created an almost perfect but delusional paradigm of Roma social inclusion that justifies a broken and often profoundly corrupt and hypocritical system.

I thought for years that the maximum  that I could reach would be to match my uncle Gogu’s success. I am better than him. The reason why he  hated the “guristi” so much was the same why he ended up bitter and slightly mad. He was a “gurist” and wasn’t able to recognize it to himself and change in time.

In the audience are some people that I respect and some that inspire me. I need you to be aware of how dangerous  “guristi”, moderates or blabla people are . And to check ourselves/yourselves regularly for the symptoms avoiding to relapse or become one of the many blabla-ers. That alone would be much more important than anything else I could say or do today.

Schizoid week-end(s)

24 Nov

I found out Mielu(Lamb) is in Spain. He is tiny for his 10 years old. Did not go much to school until this year when he became addicted to the football on Saturdays. Parents in prison for a different type of addiction : drugs. His uncles are linked to some of the strongest criminal gangs in Ferentari. They took him abroad. In the best case scenario he is begging there. He used to go to school and came regularly to the football on Saturdays. The scary part is that I can’t be sure if it is better or worse for him being there than living in the ghetto here. The picture down here is from this week-end. Garbage Bogdan’s mother was taken to prison – trafficking drugs from Spain to Romania is the word in the ghetto. His father is dying and his brother is on his way to prison too. He is a great kid. Football is the main reason why he is fine. He plays for a football club. Discipline and hard work that comes with being in a team helps him a lot.

I went to see Siminica- Toto’s mother. Sile- Toto’s uncle was fixing some broken headphones. Crammed in Siminica’s room of a flat (20 squares meters that include a bathroom , a kitchen) live now 5 people including a baby. The baby is seriously sick as she used drugs while pregnant. She charges money from people that come and shoot safely drugs in her flat. There is not state facility  in Ferentari for the swelling number of drug addicted anywhere despite the huge health risk. The stairways of the apartment buildings are always full of drugs. Here an example from this week-end.Drugsonthestairs Ilie, the other uncle is back from prison and works wherever he can. He is trying to find money to buy a bus ticket for Spain. He is off drugs but his health is not good. Ion, the last of Siminca’s brothers is in prison. Drug trafficking.

Ionut was back to the training and is back to school. He is almost 15 .The jacket for 10 years old fitted him well. He promised he will bring Silviu back to training on Saturdays. In this way  we can make sure he is ok and get for him the most basic things he needs like we did in the past.

At the “Adapost”( the center for partially abandoned children) the numbers shoot up due to the cold weather. Some of the last winter children are back. A 12 years old that never went to school is new there. Hopefully from February he will go for the first time to school. It is very unlikely he will stay in school but it is worth to try. Nobody gave Mitica or Toto a chance and they are doing great.

At the “Adapost” things are ten times better than in the center for abandoned children next by. Extreme violence, abuse and over-medication are some things that do not happen here. Still the children have little chances to make it. There are too many reasons why their chances to be successful are significantly lower to fit in here. We did homework with some of them. Nobody seemed to bother to do homework with Bianca – she is deaf and nobody is trained to work with here. She was very happy to do homework. Denisa is taking care of her. She is a child herself but she is amazingly gentle with Bianca.

Then there are the people that help. That know how hellish some of the lives of these children are. Know that some and sometimes many have lice. That their clothes smell bad and their feet might stink. That real help takes years and results might not be that great. That some if not most are Roma. That I am also Roma. And they still come.  It feels great to see them every week-end. I asked for help and we received enough money to cover the needs for shoes for this winter and probably the entire year need for sport shoes is covered. It was enough even to buy some of the much needed winter jackets.

We have now a washing machine in the ghetto which might make socks and clothes last a lot longer than before. Monica face when I brought it up was the best reward one could get for a gift. Monica has nothing, is seriously sick but she never shies away of helping. As are some of the other people in the ghetto that do amazing acts of kindness despite living in what many of us will think is a hell. I know a policeman that arrests youth on bogus charges. He does it because he cares. Prison is the only chance most of those arrested will survive the winter or their spiraling addiction.

I hope what I write helps. I failed enough times to think that the situation of ghettoes in Europe could change fast to the better. But it is possible to change some lives. And it feels great to be among some of you, those that are trying to do it.

Cum saracii o tara si ma fericii o gramada/ How I got poorer and much, much happier

20 Nov

 English version at the end – slightly different than the Romanian one

Ultimele zile au fost senzatie cum ar zice Mitica. Si nu e (numai) din cauza neamtului care a castigat dreptul sa fie sef peste Romanica incluzand si cardul din care fac eu parte.  Nici pentru ca Romania a batut Danemarca si Mitica s-a dat mare la juma’ de Ferentari ca a stat la VIP si ca vorbeste acum cu “barosane” cu seful FRF-ului.

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Motivul principal nu e nici ca m-am intalnit cu niste oameni super buni  incercand sa fac o moderare ( probabil ultima) pentru Aspen Fellows si ca m-am simtit senzational vazand fetele celor de la Antena 3/RTV din noaptea alegerilor la protestele si apoi bucuria de pe strazi.

Motivul e ca m-ati cam saracit. Am pus si eu cu cele mai bune intentii un anunt pe facebook si pe blog ca incerc sa adun incaltaminte de sport si iarna pentru pustii din Ferentari si am zis/scris ca dublez ce primesc. Eu ma asteptam sa strangem de vreo 10, hai 20 de perechi de adidasi. De unde frate !

Am cumparat deja 50 de perechi de adidasi. 15 geci . 25 de incaltari de iarna. Luni sau marti primim inca 30 de perechi de incaltaminte si 50 de cizme de cauciuc.Cumparat 150 de perechi de ciorapi,  majoritatea pentru iarna.  Plus 14 perechi de pantofi folositi dar foarte buni si multe alte haine de iarna care vor tine de cald pustilor iarna asta.

cumparaturi

Am saracit un pic dar ma simt “senzatie”. Habar nu am cum as putea sa va multumesc . Va doresc insa sa simtiti ce simt eu acum. Nu se poate mai bine de asa. E lunga lista celor care ar trebui sa va multumesc pentru ca ne ajutati . Voi va stiti. Si eu ma bucur tare mult ca va stiu – nu de alta dar ma faceti pe mine sa fiu mult mai bun.Multumesc. Si la multi ani Vlad – esti o inspiratie pentru mine!

The last days have been “ a sensation” as Mitica will say. And is not only that a German/Romanian became the president of Romania proving that we, Romanians,  are neither extremist nationalists or cretins as some of those who ruled us thought . Not because Romania beat Denmark and Mitica was on the stadium enjoying VIP status and spent time with a very kind and patient president of the Romanian Federation. The main reason is neither that I moderated (probably for the last time) some of the people I like the most from the Aspen Fellows Romania nor that I enjoyed a lot seeing the long faces of some of the worst propagandists ( can’t call them journalists) from Antena 3 and RTV ( TV stations controlled by corrupt moguls supporting the PM) as they saw the result of elections and the explosion of happiness in the streets.

The reason was that you made me poorer. I thought it was a good idea to ask for donations from people and match them in order to get much needed shoes and winter boots for the children I work with in the week-ends. I thought I will get 10 maximum 20 pairs.

So I ended up buying lots of shoes. And jackets. And socks. I am a bit poorer but I feel incredible. I have no idea how could I thank you. The best thing I could wish for you is to feel the same like I feel. There is nothing better. There are too many of you to list in order to thank to all of you that helped now and in the past. But you know who you are. And I know you and that makes me a much better man than I thought I could be. Thanks. And Vlad – happy birthday – you are an inspiration to me.

Despre nasu Thor, vara-mea Arianca si Gogu in greva foamei

13 Nov

Vară-mea Karina s-a ajuns: stă pe lângă Frankfurt și se poartă ca și cum a fost rebotezată direct de Thor si tac-su la primăria  din Valhalla. E  Arianca- salvatoarea brunetă a Jărmaniei. Se dă nemțoaică get-beget: după trei ani de Nemția urăște cu spume imigranții și mai ales țiganii. Nu contează că tac-su e amestecătură de evreu cu șvab și că mă-sa Geta e cam cea mai cunoscută țigancă din Caransebeș care ghicește. A hotărât fata că e ariancă, e ariancă. Îi trimite ,ce e drept, medicamente maică-mi și scoate ochii la juma’ din neam ( mie și vară-mii Nuța în special) că suntem proști și ne-educați. Cum mama are nevoie de medicamentele germane care costă cam cît salariul meu, înghit în sec și înjur în gând.

Geta, în schimb, o cam spurcă de fiecare data când o bârfește cu maică-mea. Karina e subiectul numărul trei de bârfă după taică-meu și Gogu.

Gogu a fost bogătașul familiei . Curăța cazane de termoficare și făcea o avere. Nu a plătit taxe și a cheltuit banii pe o grămadă de tâmpenii. Kentane, curve și coniac în baruri procopsite erau visurile lui în timpul lui Ceașcă. Visurile astea i-au mâncat averea după Revoluție . Acum fumează chiștoace și are datorii la dughenele de pe lângă gară care vând alcool contrafăcut. Îl mai sponsorizez din când în când cu bani de un pachet de tigari sau o cafea. Oricum, nu se mai duce la Cățeaua Leșinată – locul în care se matolește cu sfințenie taică-meu. E o chestiune de principiu : după ce te-ai pilit ca porcul la barul de fițe de la Hotel Jiul acum nu mai merge sa borăști oriunde, că râde țigănia de tine.

Gogu a avut două apartamente și eu am avut cheia de la unul dintre ele pentru o bună perioadă de timp. Înainte de a avea cheia de la apartament, Gogu îmi lăsa  Oltcit-ul lui pe mână. I-am spurcat (vorba maică-mii) mașina de multe ori, din lipsă de bani și exces de hormoni și am și bușit-o o dată. Gogu a fost întotdeauna un domn și nu a pomenit nimănui nesimțirile mele.

Acum Gogu stă într-o cocioabă pe care și-a construit-o pe un teren pe care l-a cumpărat când avea bani. Nu l-am mai văzut de câteva săptămâni.

Am o  prietena frumoasă tare, care tocmai a devenit avocată. Mă-sa e din neam de aristocrați, iar tac-su face afaceri. Nu le convine deloc ca umblă cu mine, dar cumva s-au obișnuit, căci relația noastră durează de câțiva ani. Se decide că ieșim împreună- eu cu fata și părinții ei- la un film, la Cinema Central. Faptul că am o verișoară în Germania și o soră blondă sunt cam singurele lucruri bune pe care le pot zice despre familionul meu. Maică-mea e o minunăție de femeie, dar mult prea neagră pentru standardele elitelor oltenești. În concluzie, mă dau practic orfan.

Sunt anunțat că trebuie să mă înțolesc bine pentru ocaziune. E prima oară când se întâmplă un astfel de eveniment și mă înțolesc cu ce a adus mama de la nemțoaica pentru care face curat. Nemțoaica e o mică șefă la fabrica de confecții din Craiova și poartă aceeași măsură ca a mea. Își aruncă țoalele vechi, mama le ia, așa că am un pardesiu ielegant rău: maro cu catifea neagră la guler. E de gagici, e drept, dar nu știu diferența. Mi-am pus și pantofi de lac negri, așa că sunt asortat și frumușel.

Merg țanțos în față cu blonda avocată și în urma noastră familia de fițe. Trecem prin fața primăriei din Craiova – e un nene acolo: murdar, brunet rău, cu barbă și cu un afiș mare cu greva foamei.  Trecem pe lângă el fără să îl bag in seama și când ajung și viitoarele rude aristocrate lângă el începe să urle:

-Băăăăăăăăăăăiii nesimțiților , v-ați ajuns!!! Nu mă mai salutați!!!!! Băăăăăăă ați uitat când v-o puneați ca iepurii la mine în apartament, nemernicilor !!!!

Mă întorc : e nea Gogu care e în greva foamei pentru că e convins că romanii i-au omorât cățeaua lup numita bineînțeles, Lady . Desigur  aici am pus traducerea diplomatică a celor 3 minute de spurcare temeinică.  Gogu injura impecabil.

Îmi cer scuze, râd, îl pup și dau să mă duc la film. Văd fețele foștilor mei viitori socrii care par să fii fost loviți de ciocanul lu’ nașu Thor care a rebotezat-o pe vară-mea. Au o privire de ucigași naziști.

Lady era în călduri și a revenit după vreo 3 zile.

PS. Pusti din Ferentari pe care incerc sa ii ajut au nevoie cam de 70 de perechi de adidasi pe an si cam 40-50 de perechi de incaltaminte de iarna. Marimile de care avem nevoie sunt intre 31 si 38. Daca doriti sa ne ajutati contactati-ma la v.nicolae@diplomacy.edu.Eu voi dubla orice pereche donata.

The unspecials

7 Nov

In the last years there were a good number of people appointed in “special” or “high” decision making positions dealing with Roma issues.

The only “special”  things about all of them were their incredible lack of expertise to deal with Roma issues at the moment of their employment and the very “high” level of delusional, contradictory and empty  rhetoric they all seemed very capable of delivering .Ex- commissioner Reading is the embodiment of such “specials”.

The fact that none of them were Roma is nowadays a banality as it is the profound structural racism within the intergovernmental and governmental institutions when it comes to the representation and participation of Roma at the decision making level. International NGOs are not doing much better.

The hypocrisy of most of the appointments as senior managers within intergovernmental institutions and national governments when it comes to Roma ( and more often nowadays human rights issues and social inclusion in general) is strident if one cares to examine the discrepancy between glorious lip-service and pathetic concrete actions.

Bureaucracies are famous in being exceptionally risk adverse and conservative the very opposite of innovation. Ironically most of the intergovernmental ones are very keen on innovation at the level of discourse. The “specials” were/are a perfect reflection of the institutions that employed them. Their words are revolutionary while their actions were practically same as previous ones. In this way we ended up with most of the Roma budgets being spent on what is most familiar to bureaucrats –conferences, papers and word production. Rationalising  giving away Ungaro scarfs and bringing Roma musicians for entertainment at luxurious and at the same time ridiculous and useless events seemed to be the only “innovations”.

None of the “specials” proved to be capable to think, find or implement focused, easy, cheap and fast to medium term (4 years maximum) solutions that could lead to a break of the vicious cycle of exclusion facing a majority of Roma. None of them quit during their mandates despite of many catastrophic failures or embarrassments. Being hugely overpaid seemed to be the only sanction they had to put up with.

What could make a “special” truly special.

Genial ideas, courage, capacity to adapt fast and legitimacy based on concrete results, inspirational should do it. Considering the overall situation nowadays even a normal spine, a minimal common sense, some basic concepts about ethics, basic understanding of racism and empowerment and an energy level above comatose might make a huge difference.

A few things the “specials ” should do.

  1. Prepare one or more of the many very smart and courageous Roma to became the next “specials”. Not only that will give a hint of credibility to his/her position but could be a concrete action to prove that the rhetoric about “Roma empowerment” is not an empty one.
  2. Promote and fight for the idea of an independently administered European fund for watch-dog organisations fighting racism and corruption.  A good part of that funding should focus on fighting anti-Gypsyism. Such a fund can solve the problems we have nowadays with Hungary, Russia or Azerbaijan some of the countries that seem to prefer to have no such watch-dogs. It should be based on contributions from Member States , administered by some of the real specials we do have in Europe and distributed to some of the brave but dying watch-dog organisations in the countries we need them the most.
  3. Revive and improve some of the good previous initiatives that were left to die by incompetent “specials” before. European Roma Platform, The Road Map of the Spanish Presidency, OSCE Action Plan for Roma and Sinti are just some of those.
  4. Come up with a working plan that make sense and that has clear time-frames and nexuses ( meaning strategic goals that can lead to a cascading change). Such a plan should be based on real life niches, incentives and opportunities and not on delusional fantasies based on virtual interaction with Roma . Such plans should have clear indicators for failure and the “specials” jobs should depend on it. Points a, b and c could be part of this type of plans.

All the “specials” before were incapable to focus or did not want to expose their own uselessness. They talked about everything and achieved almost nothing. None of them were accountable to anybody. The coordination among the different “specials” remains a mess.

This archetype of “specials” is unfortunately very present within the elites of the civil society in general including Roma movement.

It is not hard to change the status quo. But changing it, means indeed to be special. The title ,only, doesn’t suffice. The unspecials need to go or be retired.

PS. We all make mistakes. The Ungaro scarfs is a huge one. The fact there is no recognition of it within the European Commission is a lot more worrisome than the mistake itself.

PPS. The idea that people appointed in these senior positions can learn whatever they need to learn and more important is for them to know the system of the institutions they work for is simply inept. Learning how an institution works is much easier than having expertise in Roma issues.

To make it clearer : nobody employs a janitor with 30 years experience in cleaning an University as the professor of nuclear physics regardless of how well he/she knows the University, how connected she/he is or how many years she/he has until reaching the retiring age.

Eurotalk vs poverty

21 Oct

Business as usual no longer an option” writes the latest European Union’ s draft document about its commitment to eradication poverty and achieve global progress.

I took a big breath – the end of poverty and “sustainable development” is in sightI was assured that this was no joke; the mighty Council of the European Union is dead serious about it. The highest-level body of the European Union is dealing with it.

To be fair I imagined immediately hordes of rich or well off bureaucrats and politicians getting off their limousines, eco-friendly cars or bikes with EU flags in their arms and going in the worst slums all over Europe and start doing stuff. It is true I thought mainly of them going conferencing in these places. Even that might help as the tones of pens and papers wasted could be of use for some of the children. The conferences’ food will also be a great help. But I decided: no joking. This is serious.

I expected the document to be about the reform of an inept system of funding that sees the majority of EU funds being wasted on everything else but eradicating poverty or changing the lives of the poorest of the poor. I hoped to read about the structural reforms within the European Commission (the bureaucracy supervised by the Council) that will address the huge lack of hands-on experience within as well as the institutional racism when it comes to the most excluded ethnic groups. I wanted to read about ways to address the Syrian and Iraq refugees mess for which we, Europeans, are in some ways responsible. I expected concrete actions, as “business as usual was no longer an option”.

The second paragraph made explicit what was all about: “the EU and its Member States stand ready to engage in an open and constructive dialogue with all stakeholders”.

Oooohhhh you stinky poverty and you tricky tricky development be aaafraaaaid. They stand reaaaady to engage in Diaaalogue ! They are sooo reaaadyyy for DIAAALOGUE that you can not believe it ! They will stand ready for it like they never ever stood before!

Poverty is almost gone as the only thing they have to do it is   “an ambitious and transformative Post-2015 agenda which is truly global and universal, with all countries playing their full part”.

For the untrained eye this is the exact thing they did 14 years ago. There is a major difference. This is not anymore European, is not just GLOBAL – this iiiissss TRULYYY UNIIIIVERSAAAL you bloody aliens, space-dust, black-holes, dark energy and whatever else is up there that affects poor people down here !

The new framework should aim to eradicate poverty in all its dimensions and to achieve sustainable development. It must steel our determination to end extreme poverty once and for all, building on and completing the unfinished business of the MDGs. It must also recognise that environmental sustainability is key to ensuring the sustainable prosperity and well-being of all people within planetary boundaries. The new framework must be people-centred and adopt a human rights-based approach in addressing the structural causes of poverty and inequality including violence, weak governance and the absence of the rule of law. Only by addressing these elements will the new framework be transformative.

They will kill poverty in ALL DIMENSIONS including the fifth one! Their determination is STEELED! Their recognition is PLANETARY and probably in 14 years INTER-PLANETARY! Their framework is TRANSFORMATIVE !

Everything is in the framework, the oceans, the air, the forests, RIO, reports, experts and people . But there is even more:

Migration and human mobility should also be fully recognised in the agenda as development enablers. The framework should also tackle other cross-cutting issues such as disaster risk reduction, resilience and culture, which should be mainstreamed throughout.

OOOOHHHH be AAAFRAAAIDDD they have development ENABLERS ! And they will CROSS- CUT ! They will MAINSTREAM … and not any MAINSTREAM but they will MAINSTREAM THROUGHOUT !

And at the end of the fight the EU will do the hardest thing of all it will  “remain committed to ensuring policy coherence for development”

Oooohhhh Mighty Lords of Eurotalk – they will REMAIN COMMITTED to ensure POLICY COHERENCE !

And to seal it all; to make poverty history :

“Member States will continue to develop and update common positions on all matters covered by the upcoming intergovernmental negotiations in a unified manner, and prepare the EU to play a full role in these negotiations.”

OOOOHHHH YEEEAAAHHH , OHHHHH BAAAABYYYYYY , OOOOHHHH YOU GREAT GREAT THINKERS this is it. You nailed it. You got it. You are prepared. We are virtually winners

Now please, please go enjoy yourselves !

We know we cannot shut down the doors of negotiation and sustainable dialogue while standing committed to more talks and we know we should suggest to design a multifaceted matrix for universal stakeholders blabla but , seriously  just go, enjoy yourselves !

We (those that pay taxes for your bloated salaries) just wasted a few hundred thousands Euros paying you to produce a document that is a perfect proof why there are so many people that vote with anti-European parties. Europe needs you to go have a break. If possible make it a permanent one.

Here the EU document :

With a view to the discussion at the joint WPIEI (Global)/CONUN/CODEV meeting on 14 October 2014 (agenda item 2), delegations will find attached draft Council conclusions as prepared by the three Co-Chairs.

ANNEX

The Overarching Post-2015 Agenda

- draft Council conclusions -

 The world has undergone enormous change in recent years and is facing numerous interrelated global challenges. Foremost are the eradication of poverty and achievement of sustainable development in all its three dimensions (environmental, social and economic). To address these challenges in a coordinated manner, we need an ambitious and transformative Post-2015 agenda which is truly global and universal, with all countries playing their full part.

  1. Achieving such an agenda is a key priority and the EU and its Member States stand ready to engage in an open and constructive dialogue with all stakeholders in order to respond to these global challenges.
  1. The EU and its Member States remain strongly committed to the Millennium Declaration, to accelerating efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to ensuring that the post-2015 framework provides a comprehensive follow-up to Rio+20 to address the structural causes of poverty, inequality and environmental degradation.
  1. The Council welcomes the range of inputs into the international process, including the Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the outcome document from the MDGs Special Event, the report from the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF). The Council also welcomes the many contributions from stakeholders which have also helped engage an increasing number of people across the world in the process.
  1. [The Council particularly welcomes the Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report, which brings these inputs together and provides a solid basis for further work in the intergovernmental negotiations – to be elaborated as the draft becomes available].
  1. The Council recalls previous conclusions [1] and welcomes the Commission Communication “A Decent Life for All: From Vision to Collective Action” [2] as a key input to developing an EU position in the run-up to the summit in 2015.

Guiding principles

  1. The Council reaffirms the EU’s vision and priorities as set out in the June 2013 Council Conclusions, including the need to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development in a balanced way, ensure consistency and synergies, and address inter-linkages between goals and targets.
  1. There need to be clear goals in addressing the fundamental global challenges. These goals should be ambitious, achievable, evidence-based, and action-oriented. While the Post-2015 agenda must reflect the complexity of sustainable development, a clear and concise framework is essential for ownership by all governments, stakeholders and civil society. Communicating with the public and gaining its wide support will also be crucial for success.
  1. The universality of the agenda is fundamental. The framework should be global in aspirations and coverage and universally applicable, while still being based on national ownership and taking into account different national circumstances. It should overcome traditional divides and recognise that all countries have common challenges and a common future.
  1. The Post-2015 framework should be guided by the principle of accountability, of which the fundamental requirements are transparency and effective review of progress. It should also significantly increase people’s ability to participate in policy choices affecting them and to hold governments and other actors accountable for progress.
  1. Business as usual is no longer an option, whether in terms of human dignity, equity, equality or sustainability. The new framework should aim to eradicate poverty in all its dimensions and to achieve sustainable development. It must steel our determination to end extreme poverty once and for all, building on and completing the unfinished business of the MDGs. It must also recognise that environmental sustainability is key to ensuring the sustainable prosperity and well-being of all people within planetary boundaries. The new framework must be people-centred and adopt a human rights-based approach in addressing the structural causes of poverty and inequality including violence, weak governance and the absence of the rule of law. Only by addressing these elements will the new framework be transformative.

Achieving a transformative agenda

  1. The EU considers that the framework should address the following challenges: poverty; inequality; food security and nutrition; sustainable agriculture; health; education; gender equality and women’s empowerment; water and sanitation; sustainable energy; inclusive and sustainable growth; full and productive employment and decent work for all; sustainable cities and human settlements; sustainable consumption and production; oceans and seas; biodiversity and forests, land degradation including desertification and drought; human rights, the rule of law, good governance and effective institutions; and peaceful societies. The new framework also needs to respond to climate change in a way that supports and complements the outcome of negotiations under the UNFCCC.
  1. Migration and human mobility should also be fully recognised in the agenda as development enablers. The framework should also tackle other cross-cutting issues such as disaster risk reduction, resilience and culture, which should be mainstreamed throughout.
  1. The Council welcomes the overall balance of the OWG report, which includes the key elements for a transformative agenda. The report makes significant progress in designing a transformative agenda. It is an important step towards establishing a single set of universal sustainable development goals.
  1. [Consider adding a paragraph on the UNSG Synthesis Report when available]
  1. The EU takes the following views on the progress so far:
  1. We particularly welcome the strong focus on a number of key areas including poverty eradication, inequality, inclusive growth, sustainable consumption and production, and gender equality, as well as the environmental dimensions of sustainability. We reiterate that the empowerment and rights of women and girls must be at the core of the

Post-2015 agenda.

  1. The EU and its Member States highlight in particular the need for further progress on peaceful societies and the rule of law. These areas need to be strengthened in the upcoming process as tackling them successfully is a key part of making the Post-2015 framework transformative. We need to ensure that people feel safe, that their human rights are respected, and that security and justice institutions are legitimate and efficient and act in accordance with the rule of law. We need to tackle issues of good governance effectively and address the drivers of violence
  1. Another important area for further work will be targets. The EU and its Member States welcome the overall orientation in the OWG proposal, but also note that the choice of targets will have to be balanced against the need for effective implementation, measurability and monitoring.

A new global partnership

  1. The challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development are both common – since they are of universal concern and relevance to all people – and global, since in an interdependent world many challenges call for collective action and global solutions. We need to develop an inclusive global partnership to mobilise action by all countries and stakeholders at all levels. This partnership must include the private sector, civil society, scientific and academic institutions, parliaments and local authorities. It is essential to have a more comprehensive, constructive and effective approach, enabling the implementation of the agenda through various means while taking into account the needs of the least developed countries.
  2. The EU recognises that universality will require commitment from all. In this context, the SDGs should inform the EU’s internal policies, including the forthcoming review of the EU 2020 Strategy and related policies. In all aspects of the means of implementation, the EU commits to playing its full part, but will also expect other development partners -including new and emerging actors- to contribute their fair share. We need to frame appropriate but ambitious commitments for all under the targets accompanied by well-designed indicators, taking account of national contexts, capacities and levels of development. It is important to develop a shared understanding in order to set national targets guided by the global level of ambition.
  1. We must ensure an environment conducive to the success of these policies. All countries should promote policy coherence and review their policies, as appropriate, in order to support the successful implementation of the framework. The EU remains committed to ensuring policy coherence for development. We note in particular the importance of trade, science, technology and innovation, knowledge and expertise sharing.
  1. In a changing global context, the financial needs of poverty eradication and sustainable development remain significant. We welcome the ICESDF report, which highlights the importance of mobilisation and effective use of domestic resources, international public finance, and private finance from domestic and international sources. We also welcome the important ongoing discussions in the OECD-DAC regarding the definition of Official Development Assistance (ODA). Preparations for the Financing for Development Conference in July 2015 and the September 2015 Summit should feed into each other and avoid a duplication of effort. [update reference as required]
  1. A solid and effective approach to the review, monitoring and accountability of the Post-2015 framework will be crucial in order to assess progress towards the achievement of goals and targets. The review process should be based on openness and transparency, including peer review approaches, benefit from the necessary support from the UN system, and involve civil society, stakeholders and the private sector. Existing mechanisms and processes should be used wherever possible to avoid duplication, while enhancing their coordination. The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) should play an important oversight role in the overall monitoring and accountability scheme.
  1. Robust measurable indicators will be essential for reporting and should be developed taking account of experience, best practice and expert knowledge. It will be crucial to strengthen the use of existing data and ensure that more and better data are collected, and to capitalise on new information technologies. In this regard the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for sustainable development could make a useful contribution. [Update if report is available] Disaggregation of data will be essential to ensure that no one is left behind. We must recognise the need to look beyond GDP to broader measures of progress, including social and natural capital, to address a more comprehensive idea of quality of life and well-being.
  1. The Council invites the Commission to develop a concrete way forward on the global partnership, including the various elements addressed above, to allow the EU and its Member States to play a constructive role in international discussions.

Next steps

  1. The EU and its Member States commit to playing an active and constructive role in all ongoing processes and support their convergence in order to achieve a single overarching post 2015 framework. For this purpose, the EU and its Member States will continue to develop and update common positions on all matters covered by the upcoming intergovernmental negotiations in a unified manner, and prepare the EU to play a full role in these negotiations.
  1. The EU and its Member States will continue to work constructively and inclusively with all partners and with stakeholders, including civil society, parliaments, scientific and academic institutions, local authorities, the private sector and social partners.
  1. The EU and its Member States, including EU Delegations in third countries, will continue to engage in regular dialogue and outreach on these issues. In particular, we will build on joint initiatives and declarations (for example the EU-ASEAN declaration), and work with regional partners, including under the ACP-EU declaration and Africa-EU Summit Declaration. The EU is committed to playing an active role in building the necessary consensus to establish and implement an ambitious and inclusive Post-2015 agenda.

[1]        Council conclusions on The Overarching Post 2015 Agenda of 25 June 2013 (doc. 11559/13) and Council Conclusions on Financing poverty eradication and sustainable development beyond 2015 of 12 December 2013 (doc. 17553/13).

[2]        Doc. 10412/14 + ADD 1 – COM(2014) 335 final.

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