Solutions, the good, the bad and the ugly – the 9th EU Roma Platform

18 Mar

Solutions*

These solutions were inspired by previous documents, experiences and discussions before, during and after the meeting of the EU Roma Platform.

  1. Thematic permanent -EU Roma Platform Working groups

Rationale

Permanent working groups will make the meetings of the Platform more efficient as they will be tasked to help the implementation and review of the National Roma Inclusion Strategies. During the preparation of the EU Platform meetings the working groups will deal with some of the recurrent problems of EU Roma meetings.  Frustrations can be vented and solved prior to each of the two yearly meetings. Those involved will have the expertise, interest and discipline to work towards achieving concrete goals. The working groups will also have a fundamental role in capacity building as bureaucrats need to learn about grassroots experiences and Roma activists about available international, national and local mechanisms.  It will ensure the much needed stakeholders cooperation and accountability.

What

Start with some 5-6 thematic groups. Anti-Gypsyism, Employment, Education-Culture-Sport-Citizenship, Health, Housing and Crises ( Humanitarian Aid, Trafficking…)

How it should work

Example Anti-Gypsyism working group/task force

Stakeholders : Anti-Discrimination ( DG Justice), Fundamental Rights Agency ( FRA), Council of Europe (Roma Unit, ECRI, Commissioner for Human Rights), EU High Representative for Human Rights, DG Enlargement, OHCHR , NGOs ( Amnesty, ERRC, ENAR, OSI, ERGO…), governments ( Equality Bodies) and Roma experts.

Goal: Prepare action plans for each of the stakeholders involved based on a realistic analysis of their strengths , weaknesses and complementarities. Such action plans need to include clear responsibilities and accountability for achieving the targets. The end goal is to achieve equality for Roma ( in terms of both rights and responsibilities)

Needs : Each of the institutional stakeholders appoints a person in charge of this task and introduce indicators to stimulate his/her work in its performance review. One part time employed independent expert to deal with the secretariat of the working group.

What :  The working –group will feed –in  the meeting of each platform with updates on the situation and recommendations of needed steps forward.

  1. National Roma Platforms

Rationale

In the past we witnessed a rather limited pool of people and ideas that played a role at the national level. There is a strong need of building hands-on expertise on available national and international instruments among the Roma NGOs and Roma grassroots experience and challenges for the national structures. These platforms need to be built on the same principles as the EU Roma Platform – a similar working groups structure is needed together with a very clear mandate for helping the implementation and the review process of the Roma National Strategies.

How it should work: Based on similar working groups as the example above

Needs :  Budget for an independent expert  secretariat  ( some of those employed at the national level could be the same that ensure the secretariat of the EU Roma Platform working groups in order to reduce the budgets).

  1. Replicate the exceptional success of the EU Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification (MCV) in Romanian and Bulgaria for the case of Roma Social Inclusion.

Rationale

Despite being opposed, strongly criticized and often hated by a good majority of the Romanian politicians and media moguls the MCV has led to an extraordinary clean up within the Romanian society in regard to corruption. There is a possibility for a pilot project (based on the good practice of the European Semester ) covering some of the most important countries for the social inclusion of Roma to create a much stronger mechanism for helping the successful implementation of the Roma National Strategies.

How to do it : Together with EC Representations in these countries the European Commission need to appoint an expert on Roma issues capable to help the governments , NGOs and other stakeholders to transform the existing strategies in actions with effect at the grassroots. Such officers should also play a fundamental role in the success of the first 2 solutions proposed here.

Needs : One of the Commissioners dealing with Roma issues should propose such a pilot project to the vice-president in charge of Fundamental Rights. Once approved by the very senior management the bureaucracy in Brussels should be able to come up with a technical solution.

  1. Analyze the efficiency of existing structures, mechanism and practices

Rationale

During the meeting of the platform the participants made clear that we need to address the issue of accountability.  A clear recommendation for such an analysis was the conclusion of one of the two working groups. There are many mechanisms available – some of them are good and need to be much better used, some of them are mediocre and need to be reformed/improved and some are useless and need to be scrapped. The public money saved from giving –up on some existing  mechanisms and practices will surely cover not only the needs from this document but many others.

How to do it : Task an independent expert to conduct a critical evaluation focused on the effectiveness of existing mechanisms to reach equality for Roma. The evaluation should also include recommendations on structural methods meant to put in practice equality duties in order to achieve the goal that Roma have a key role in both setting up the agendas and assuming responsibilities for achieving the goals of those agendas.

The good

Most of the participants openly acknowledged that this was the best EU Roma Platform meeting they could remember.

The Commission was clearly focused on listening and facilitating – in a very strident and very much welcomed opposition to the preaching style of the last EU Roma Platforms I attended ( some 3-4 years ago).

Unexpectedly humble and emotional speech of Commissioner in charge of Roma issues very much different (in a very positive way) from the style of previous Commissioner.

Two Roma MEPs that put lots of time and heart in the meeting – discrepantly different from the previous Roma MEPs that rarely if ever  bothered to stay for anything else besides their own speeches. Some remarkable speeches and interventions of activists (Roma and non-Roma) my age and  younger.

More and higher position (ministers and deputy ministers) representative of governments were present that in any of the Roma Platform meetings I attended or covered. Good intervention from the ministers from Sweden and Luxembourg.

The bad

Discussions were at times very much unfocused and the opportunity offered by the organisers to come up with concrete solutions was partially missed. Some of the speeches and interventions were remarkably dull or unsuitable for the purpose of the meeting.

A weak show up of intergovernmental institutions and the sensation that a good part of stakeholders  see the European Commission as a pile of money and not much else. Local authorities presence was also remarkably weak and the speeches of the government representatives from countries with significant Roma population lacked anything concrete( Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria).

The ugly

Despite a very limited experience with the Roma issues ( according to her own words – only “participation to a few seminars”) the Romanian Contact Point for Roma issues had no problems to show publicly her support for the statement ;”the situation of Roma is improving”. She happened to be the only one among the many Romanians present that had such an opinion.

The Platform also provided a good opportunity for too many to exercise for hours their Facebook and shopping skills. It seems that we Roma also need to find ways to hold accountable some of our own that misunderstand or misuse their positions and waste not just public money but some good opportunities.

*Solutions focused on the role and functioning of the EU Roma Platform.

PS. Open Democracy decided also to publish my previous post – it can be found at

https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/valeriu-nicolae/no-accountability-%E2%80%93-case-of-roma-social-inclusion-in-europe

No accountability* – article published by Eurozine

10 Mar

For most politicians and bureaucrats, social inclusion of Roma is a terrifying and complex issue impossible to solve during their short terms in office.[1] Despite a few years of small efforts, and decades of very strong but mainly empty rhetoric, Roma remain the most discriminated-against ethnic group in Europe and the most unrepresented within the decision-making structures. Due to a chronic lack of expertise among senior management at the level of governments and inter-governmental institutions, tackling the situation of Roma is seen as a professional quagmire. The needed incentives to tackle this issue – opportunity for fast, impressive results, or electoral gains – are very difficult to envision.

Paying lip-service, preserving the status quo, and avoiding controversy are, pragmatically, the best career moves for many in relevant decision-making positions. For the past two decades, most of the new appointments in high positions dealing with Roma have led to long periods of non-action followed sometimes by reinventing, rediscovery and repetition. Such appointments point towards the existence of structural racism within those institutions and the very poor standards of professionalism required for occupying these positions. Not rarely, catastrophic approaches disguised as positive practices in sycophantic reports make their way back on the table of the new Roma tsars.

Accountability for failures or lack of progress in addressing Roma social inclusion is exceptionally rare for many reasons. Disinterest, or professional inability on the part of Member States and inter-governmental institutions to create systems that can hold people and institutions accountable are the main problems. Those in charge instead develop the ability to shift or avoid responsibility. Poor civic and political involvement of Roma within the European societies results in the inability of Roma to exert sufficient, or any political or social pressure to make structures and people accountable.

The outcome is that all main stakeholders struggle to define clear and distinct responsibilities, or simply avoid them. Creating dedicated, professional, transparent and accountable institutional mechanisms focused not on producing well-wishing papers but implementing actions based on strategies might help. With explicit budgets, targets, indicators, and timeframes, such strategies could ensure the success of the EU Framework of National Roma Social Inclusion Strategies.

At the moment, the existing strategies can barely be called strategies. The existing governmental Roma structures are at best irrelevant. In some cases they are in fact detrimental to the social inclusion of Roma.

Roma politicians are, in general, an embarrassment. The Roma civil society remains small, weak in terms of influence and pressure, dependent on EU and foreign aid, opportunistic, and inexperienced in dealing with the obstacles and complexities of efficiently influencing the Member States and European agendas.

The economic crisis also has had a significant negative effect. Lack of funding radicalised or silenced much needed critical voices within the Roma civil society. International organisations started to compete with Roma civil society organisations for the available EU funding, and in most of the cases won. As a result, we saw a dramatic decline in the opportunities available for young Roma professionals. The small progress made in the previous years regarding cooperation and coordination among stakeholders was replaced by suspicion and tensions generated by the lack of money.

Long-term strategic thinking was replaced with opportunistic approaches meant to ensure survival of programmes, jobs, and organisations. Senior, well-connected people without a job or in danger of losing their jobs were appointed once again in high-level positions dealing with Roma issues, waiting for retirement or a change of fortune.

There are no easy or short-term solutions to change the situation of Roma in Europe. In fact, it will probably get worse before it starts to get better. However, we need to take some basic steps in order to avoid painful and costly crises in the future.

Accountability

Not only governments, but all stakeholders need to come up with explicit Minimal Action Plans (MAPs) that can be monitored and evaluated easily and transparently. People in positions of power need to be held responsible and monitored based not on ambiguous rhetoric but clear indicators. That should include EU Commissioners, Ministers, top-level bureaucrats, and mayors, but also directors of NGOs paid from public money. The process of selection for top jobs in governments and inter-governmental institutions but also within Roma NGOs must become a lot better and fully transparent. Participation of Roma experts needs to evolve from pompous speeches and documents to every-day jobs.

Institutional mechanisms

The pre-accession mechanisms as well as the existing Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification for Justice brought about progress that nobody would have expected in Romania. A similar mechanism focused on Roma social inclusion, aimed to stimulate difficult and sometimes otherwise impossible decisions at the national level, might be a solution. There are enough precedents to make piloting of such a mechanism possible in countries with a significant Roma population. It would make a huge difference in the implementing countries.

Funding reform

Up until now, funding targeting the social inclusion of Roma failed to produce systemic and sustainable results. It is exceptional and mainly accidental when existing priorities in the strategies for Roma social inclusion match the available funding priorities. It is even more exceptional when needs, resources (financial and human), and strategies are correlated and implemented successfully. In fact, I was unable to find even one example of such a success. One solution might be a European fund for the social inclusion of Roma based on member state contributions and administrated by the European Commission/Council of Europe and a panel of independent experts.

To improve the existing situation we need systemic change. The first steps must be accountability, effective institutional mechanisms, and reform of the way social inclusion of Roma is funded. Addressing widespread European anti-Gypsyism and the role of each of the many stakeholders in addressing the overall exclusion faced by Roma within all societal spheres in Europe are also vital issues.

The EU Roma Platform taking place in Brussels on 16-17 March is in this regard a very pleasant surprise. It puts two fundamental topics high on the agenda: addressing anti-Gypsyism, and multi-stakeholder cooperation. Both require much better coordination, the attention and help of everybody involved. Unfortunately, without first achieving accountability, institutional mechanisms, and funding reform, progress on anti-Gypsyism and multi-stakeholder cooperation maybe prove unrealistic if not impossible.

* Examples to support my conclusions in this article can be found in my previous postings.

[1] Just exceptionally are their mandates longer than 5 years.

Despre Di(h)or, Cambodgia si Cretuleasca

23 Feb

Sunt iarăși în avion. De data asta pe ruta  Istanbul – Bangkok . Stau între doi domni: cel din dreapta pare că ar fi fost rezultatul unei povești minunate de dragoste dintre o dihoriță miloasă care a fericit un cioban nespălat  și- logic- neiubit de câteva deceniii. Îl blestem în gând și îi dau numele meritat : Di(h)or (h-ul din mijloc e tăcut). Și-a decojit hoiturile din picioare și s-a încălțat în papucii oferiti  în mod sadic (din punctul meu de vedere) de Turkish Airlines.  Aerul dimprejur s-a îngălbenit instantaneu și sistemul video a cedat și el. Pe bune.  Cum avionul era plin ochi m-am hotărât că o să călătoresc fericit în budă. Până să decolăm însă, mirosul m-a anesteziat și visam că mă plimbam printre butoaie de brânză împuțită. Plictisitor tare. Norocul a fost însă că celalalt domn  de langa mine sforăia tare și creativ, așa că din când în când apăreau în vis tot felul de animale care răgeau în moduri tare interesante, dar care făceau somnul imposibil. Am stat în budă cât s-a putut de mult și în rest m-am plimbat prin avion. 8 ore. Că sistemul video nu și-a revenit până când s-a reîncălțat Di(h)oru . Dacă aveți vreodată nevoie de un ghid pentru Boeing 747, vă stau la dispoziție.

Am ajuns frânt în Phnom Penh, după o escală scurtă în Bangkok.  Traficul din capitala Cambodgiei face ca Bucureștiul să pară un oraș în care circulația e o minunăție de ordine și civilizație.

TrafickCambodia1Traffick Cambodia

Am descoperit că trecerea de pietoni, semaforul, linia continuă și sensul interzis sunt un fel de decorațiuni care indică o speranță, în mare nejustificată , de a separa drumul de câmp și vacile de mașini.  Alte semne nu am mai vazut, dar după cum se circulă nici nu ar avea vreun rost.

Trafic2Cam

Pe stradă am fost întrebat de cel putin 20 de ori dacă vreau droguri. Dacă  doriți o experiență îndelungată și magnifică în închisoarile din  Cambodgia, atunci acceptați oferta. Închisoarea de lângă capitală oferă în mod generos  spatiul de 45 cm pe 1.60 m pe detinut și pentru doi români. . Nu pare o problemă de nerezolvat să mai apară și alții. Se plătește pentru a dormi întins.Nu am îndrăznit să întreb care sunt formele de plată.1361 din cei 3305 de detinuti sunt închiși în așteptarea sentinței. Primirea sentinței poate dura între 8 luni și sfârșitul lumii,  dacă e să te iei după felul în care sunt ținute dosarele. Dosarele sunt claie peste gramada, in camere umede unde accesul e cam la liber pentru oricine care e cu partidul cel bun . Faptul că nu există calculatoare care să fie folosite în sistemul justiției, că marea majoritate a judecatorilor nu au studii superioare ( însă sunt membri ai partidului care trebuie) și că în medie sunt cam 600.000 de locuitori pentru fiecare  tribunal ar trebui sa fie parte din informarea obligatorie a turistului care intra in Cambodgia cu chef de distractii la limita legii. Tribunalul pe care l-am vizitat avea pe rol 1087 de cazuri si judeca maxim 10 pe saptamana. Timpul de asteptare cam de doi ani si opt luni este in mod placut petrecut in inchisoare, asta daca nu se pierde dosarul ceea ce duce la o prelungire pe perioada nedeterminata a detentiei . In plus mai au si o lipsă de vreo 500 de judecatori  si 400 de procurori, lipsa pe care ministerul justitiei planuieste eficient sa o rezolve cam in 10-12 ani.

Desigur, dacă aveți un surplus de câteva zeci de mii de Euro pe care doriți să îi faceți cadou unui funcționar al partidului comunist cambodgian, atunci Phnom Penh e locul ideal pentru a accepta ofertele de distracție ilegală și de a explora felul în care funcționează corupția locală.

Am întalnit trei secretari de stat în timpul vizitei mele acolo. Toți aveau câteva caracteristici comune:  bărbat, inel mare cu diamante, ochelari cu rame de aur, ceas de aur, Lexus 4X4 ( mașinoi de lux de vreo 1000 de salarii medii pe economie în Cambodgia sau vreo 83 de ani de muncă cinstită).  Desigur,  nu puteau să scrie decât cu pixuri/stilouri Mont Blanc -brand de super-fițe- purtate în general de bogătași. Un pix Mont Blanc  costă o poală de bani, brandul având ca semn distinctiv un fulg de nea la capăt. Părul ielegant întins peste chelie ( de la stânga la dreapta) și vopsit într-un negru-corb la fel de verosimil ca discursurile lor despre cât de democratică e Cambodgia, este un alt semn caracteristic.

MontBlanc

Niro, Micky Spaga și Hrebenciuc sunt din acelasi film, numai un pic mai stilati- în Cambodgia se poartă unghie lungă la degetul mic. Habar nu am la ce folosește, dar ăsta este încă un lucru pe care nu am dorit cu tot dinadinsul să-l aflu.

UnghieCambodia

Săracia din zonele rurale este greu de imaginat, mai ales dacă nu ieșiți din capitala care e plină de Lexusuri și jipane. Salariul mediu pe lună este undeva în jur de 60 de dolari.

SaracieCambodia

Zecile de miliarde din ajutor extern trebuiau să ajungă undeva.  În Cambodgia te scoți fie dacă ești politician, ori funcționar în sistemul de stat, fie funcționar al instituțiilor internaționale sau unul dintre șmecherii care administrează o bună parte a celor peste 4000 de ONG-uri .

Regimul lui Pol Pot a omorât undeva între 1.4 si 2.2 milioane de oameni și a distrus orice tip de elită. La sfârșitul regimului – în 1979- nu mai exista nici măcar un singur psihiatru.  O estimare oficială spune că aproximativ 40% dintre cei care au trecut prin perioada Khmerilor Roși suferă de boli mentale. În 1991 era un singur psihiatru la 1 milion de oameni. Acum sunt 54 pentru 14 milioane de cambodgieni. În zonele rurale  majoritatea populatiei nu știe să scrie sau să citească. Statul alocă în fiecare an suma de 30.000 de dolari ( o treime de Lexus) pentru bugetul menit să trateze oamenii cu probleme de sănătate mentală. Situația copiilor este dezastruoasă.Vremea blanda permite pustilor sa doarma pe strada. Traficul de copii e in floare asa cum sunt si casatoriile fortate in marea lor majoritate cu chinezi sau vietnamezi.

Clima este o minunăție mai ales în ianuarie, februarie sau martie.  Țara are niște locuri incredibil de frumoase, iar mâncarea este absolut senzațională. Piețele sunt fabuloase, se vinde și se cumpără aproape orice. Fructele proaspete sunt de zece ori mai ieftine decât în magazinele pentru străini din capitală, iar mancarea de pe marginea drumului este o experiență care merită încercată deși există un risc de cufureală.

PiataCambodia

Niște băieți au șparlit  anul trecut rămășitele lui Buda, dar templul de unde au fost furate, care e la o oră și jumătate de capitală merită vizitat.

templuCambodia

Cambodgia este o monarhie condusă de un partid comunist. Țara este varză, varză și în mod oarecum firesc regele este balerin și stă mai mult prin Paris. Au un prim-ministru Hun Sen super corupt, care e la putere de 30 de ani și care recent a spus ca planifică să se retragă din funcție la vârsta de 94 de ani. Are 64 si cred ca Adrian Nastase si-ar baga unghia in gat, binenteles prin fularul Burberry, daca ar vedea felul minunat in care coruptia este politica de stat.

La întoarcere am zburat la fereastră. Lângă mine, un israelian cu PTS ( stress post traumatic) care a vorbit cu mine în mare parte in ebraică. Am gesticulat cu entuziasm  tot drumul, nu de alta, dar din când în când băiatul își dorea să iasă din avion.In timpul zborului ca sa fim clari.

Când am ajuns în București am fost fericit să văd că încă avem un președinte neamț, un premier mincinos și  majoritatea elitei politice în închisoare sau pe drumul spre închisoare. Comparativ cu ultimele țări pe care le-am vizitat noi locuim într-un paradis al normalității. Ca să îmi revin complet am încercat o porție televizată cu Andreea Crețulescu și Lavinia Șandru . Mi s-au părut niște doamne înțelepte, calme și echilibrate.Mi-am planificat o portie de Rares Bogdan si Ciutacu ca sa imi revin treptat. As fi putut sa rezolv imediat cu un calup de Antena 3 dar am si eu limitele mele.

Broken and unholy

28 Jan

Abraham’s tomb. The bullet proof window that separates the Jews and Palestinians praying in the same place built around a tomb both people consider sacred. Praying to the same God . In a place where 29 Palestinians were massacred by a Jewish settler.

Abraham

The amazing landscape.

BeduinSetlement

Huge discrepancies. Bedouins living in appalling conditions. All Bedouins’ houses can be demolished at any time. Some were demolished. There are far too many Palestinians in the same situation.

BedouinsDemolition

Jewish settlers on the Bedouins ‘ land living in a comparatively strident comfort. Palestinian Authority that seem they couldn’t care less.

Too many children/youth carrying with them heavy weapons. A paralyzing sensation that there is no solution.  Angry people. Racist  bureaucratic policies that almost nobody in the international community dares to talk about. Money wasted by international aid that makes no sense. Blabla and useless reports that costs millions and justify the good life of a few . Houses build by the UN and Norway and demolished by the Israeli government.  The world turned upside down.

Upsidedown

A street just for those that have the power in Hebron. A nearly empty street in a city that is overcrowded. Two children playing in the middle of the street.

CHildrenbaschetbalCHildrenbaschetbal2

Snipers. Palestinian children without future. Growing angry and frustrated. Risking to be put in prison at almost any time . With or without justification. With or without proof.

childrenBedouinIMG_2216

Lots of corruption and incompetence on the side of the Palestinian politicians. Ghettoes – far too many ghettoes –perfect breeding grounds for violence and radicalism.

The chilling us or them paradigm. The ugly and somehow surreal wall. The barbwire. The soldiers.Check-points. Lack of dignity.

People at war with each other living a few meters away from each other.  Some with all the power; the others more and more desperate.

Hebronsplit

But I felt eerie happy spending time with the Bedouins despite the sad stories. Felt peaceful. A moment that could have made me forgive what I really believed.  That it would be impossible to imagine a more sarcastic word for this place than how it is advertised – the Holly Land.

IMG_2150

Puie Mutin –din Georgia cu love pentru Katiusa

24 Jan

Marin, fiul Miței (sora maică-mi), după legenda familiei, a cântat cu Phoenix. Habar nu am dacă a făcut-o sau ba, dar un lucru e sigur : Marin cânta senzațional la chitară. Aproape la fel de bine cam cum pilea, dar considerând că unchii Ghica și  Gigilică Bouroșu erau la nivel de  Hendrix și Segovia, iar tata și Gogu clar superiori, asta cu pileala nu era apreciată cum se cuvine, cel puțin nu în familion.

Deși arăta potențial, ficatul lui Marin nu a fost cooperativă (vorba lui Năzdrăvan) și privat fiind în mod sadic de apă, a decis să se retragă din activitate. Împreuna cu Marin. Într-un gest firesc de solidaritate-sindicatul bețivanilor era și a rămas, cred, cea mai unită, solidă și talentată instituție– nea Ghica, tata și nea Gogu, deși mult mai batrani, l-au urmat relativ repede pe plaiurile eterne/etilene.

Gigilică pare să nu aibă ficat, căci altfel nu se poate explica sănătatea lui impecabilă.

Marin a încercat să mă invețe să cânt. Nu am înțeles nicicând chinul lui și am refuzat cu încăpățânare să mă integrez corului multi-etnic ( Bouroșu e de viță pură si cum spune și numele, ne-parte a neamului nostru superior și zburător).

Dar divaghez.

Sunt în Georgia. Țară  frumoasă tare, tare, dar și săracă rău. Nu Tbilisi, unde sunt acum, dar în jurul capitalei e jale. Sunt cazat  la hotel Diplomat – o semi-bombă care reflectă de minune starea diplomației mondiale. Dorm, frânt de oboseală, căci am prestat la greu prin ghetouri în Kutaisi și Tbilisi unde am amestecat la greu țigăneasca mea de baltă, cele 40-50 cuvinte pe care le stiu în rusă și cu “moldoveneasca” . Sunt câteva mii bune de romi născuți in Georgia, dar care încă vorbesc moldoveneasca de Chisinau și care au “bunei “ din România. Visez, oarecum logic, că mă chinuie Marin ( care avea accent de Piatra Neamț) să cânt împreună cu el , Gogu , Ghica și unii dintre “moldovenii” cu care am vorbit în timpul zilei . Trebuie să cântăm Katiușa și nu prea vreau. E o Katiușă cam ciudată și behăită mult mai rău decât sunt eu obișnuit. Cum îmi e drag să îi revăd, fie și în vis, cedez și rag și eu cu ei. Rag așa de tare încât mă trezesc .

Se cânta totuși Katiușa. Nu e Marin, deci nu e chitară de acompaniament. E o altă versiune. Cântată tare- tare de parcă ar fi la mine în cameră. Mă uit pe geam și înțeleg: la 2 metri sub mine, pe stradă, sunt patru georgieni răzbunători care schilodesc cu entuziasm perla culturii ruse.  Schilodit e de fapt un eufemism. Fiecare dintre ei muge, screme, vomită sute de blesteme toate pe o linie melodică diferită și în dușmania auzului. Dacă făceau asta la invazie , sigur lucrurile ar fi stat cu totul altfel. Dacă aș putea mi-aș sparge timpanele singur și mă simt foarte tentat de suicid pentru câteva minute.

Mă infurii. Sun la recepție. Nu apuc să zic niica. Primesc o lectură rapidă într-o engleză oribilă, că sunt străin și nu înțeleg. Că nu e nimic neobișnuit și că o să plece în câteva minute ca e frig rău afară. Și că au mai sunat și altii. Mă gândesc că dacă recepționera la Diplomat vorbește așa nu e de mirare că și-au luat-o georgienii așa rău de la cei care ar fi trebuit să îi ajute cu ursul rus de la nord. Nu îi zic asta, că la cât de furioasă e, poate vine și mă bate. E ditai dihania și decid să fiu în mod necaracteristic politicos: o înjur doar de mă-sa cu grijă și în detaliu ( desigur în română) și îi trântesc eroic telefonul. Mă închid în camera pe dinăuntru, ca să fim siguri. E 12.10. La 2.30 sunt un alt om.

Baieții au în total 6 cântece. Ok, nu sunt cântece, ci mai degrabă exorcizări ale diavolului care ne-a înzestrat pe noi, cei cu handicap alcoolic, cu auz. Katiușa revine la fiecare 10-15 minute. Nu am rezistat și am cântat și eu o dată cu ei pe geam. În mod sigur sunt cel mai iubit țigan în Georgia. Mă tot strigă să mai cânt. Mă simt răzbunat față de bestia de la receptie.

Inspirat de un drag slogan românesc îi învăț, ielegant, să strige: Muie  Putin!.  Sunt euforic toate trainingurile mele de leadership au dat in sfărșit roade.  Se aude: M……..eeeeeeeeeee Puuuuuuutiiiin! în tot cartierul.

Dorm neîntors. Până înainte de 8.30, când am intalnire cu un domn important de la Consiliul Europei din Tbilisi. Un italian scorțos.

Stau cu el la masă. Bestia (e frumușică foc dar mare rău) ne aduce mâncare și îmi aruncă un zâmbet până la urechi de cred că o să își taie singură capul dacă încearcă un pic.  Mă gândesc , cu pragmatism diplomatic, că ar trebui să îl las doar pe italian să mănânce și să bea. Oricum, ei sunt mai mulți și la felul cum arată nu ar fi din punct de vedere genetic o pierdere prea mare. Vine un nene cu niște ochi roși și cât cepele și un fizic de rugbist  care arăta vag familiar.  E bărbatul bestiei, după cum îi pune mana  pe cur. Are două pahare de pileală cu el, pe care le ține în cazmaua care funcționează ca mână stângă. Ia mâna de pe curul doamnei și trântește un pahar pe masă. Mă pupă pe obraz, încearcă- și aproape reușește- să îmi dizloce umărul, râde la mine și zice cu poftă: M……eeeee Putin !

Agreez.

Bem. Eu și el.

Ragem: M……….eeeeeeeee Putin !

Italianul se uită la mine apoplexic.

Abia aștept să mă mai duc în Georgia.

PS. Lângă Hotel Diplomat e un restaurant, în subsolul unei case – Leul Negru – absolut senzațional. Ziceți: Muie Putin ! când intrați și poate mâncați, ca și mine, gratis. De luni prestez Gaza.

Euro-Narnian* , preservatives, MSG , the Decade and toilet training

20 Jan

*Euro-Narnian is the language used within the bureaucratic heavens in Brussels.

The followings excerpts come from the latest document published on the EU Roma website. The document wishes to prove progress and indicate what needs to be done.

“Member States were Encouraged to Ensure Effective Equal access for Roma to mainstream public employment services, alongside targeted and personalised guidance and mediation for Roma jobseekers, and to support the employment of qualified Roma civil servants.”

The member states were thoroughly EEEE-ed and MSG-ed. Swiftly and powerfully Encouraged, Ensured, Effectived and Equaled in the very first sentence the Member States were trembling with fear. Then in a powerful but yet not final blow within the same paragraph they received a heavy dose of MSG (not to be confounded with the toxic chemical used for flavoring cancerously but nevertheless tastily diverse food products). The MSG – Mediation, Support and Guidance was to be the best type of it – personalized MSG. Four time E-ed, once MSG-ed and thoroughly advised might seem tranquilizing, brain killing blabla, but is in fact the most powerful criticism meant to address appalling discrimination and inequality of Roma within Member States yet.

Euro-Narnia itself is very, very far from doing what it encourages Member States to do. Rumors say that this powerful E-s and MSG package is heftily paid by the Masters that are known to be very generous with our money and happy to strongly enhance and forever preserve whatever they cook/think.  This treatment for Roma employment has been used for years and is well justified.  Hundreds of millions were spent for its design and delivery. It brought amazing results and joy for the careers and fortunes of a few Euro-Narnians. It also created a healthy dependency for the hefty fees of the Euro-Narnian projects of another few Roma experts – most of them not part of the Roma folk or with very limited interactions with those. Admirably it also provided the much needed, reports conferences and pompous and intricate rhetoric for the other millions of Roma who live in abject poverty or complete ignorance of Euro-Narnia  . Some other achievements are mentioned by the document:

“improvements in the educational participation and attainment have failed to translate into improving employment prospects among Roma. In some cases, the employment situation of Roma has even further deteriorated…”

For the feeble hearted you need not to worry. The document provides “promising practices” to make up for the slightly challenging (in vulgar English catastrophic) situation.  True, the mysterious “many positive practices” of the recent past were replaced by a few and rather doubtful “promising practices”. This is the climax of progress as in their amazing wisdom and humbleness the Masters elegantly hinted they accepted the opinion of some of the worst of folk- those that waste their time and effort in the Roma communities. We told the Masters that the level of failure of the Euro-Narnian projects is the only exceptional thing happening and they included our views and translated it into beautiful Euro-Narnian. This is how we ended up blessed with “promising practices”.

 “… quality temporary lodgings have been built with the involvement of the Roma community in France. In Germany, housing projects also include measures that promote the integration of Roma families in neighbourhoods. In Belgium, mediators work to gain trust of both Roma and non-Roma for acceptable housing interventions. In Hungary, cities are required to prepare a desegregation plan as part of city development strategies”

A pragmatic read (a cursed and thoroughly banned practice in Euro-Narnia during the previous lordship on Euro-Narnia lead by Barosolan and the mighty Viviane) will tell that in fact there is as usual nothing to write about. Let’s examine the concrete achievements :

  1. “quality temporary lodging built with the help of Roma” – blessed be their hearts as it is well know the Roma need quality temporary lodging and not old fashioned stupid solid, permanent housing.
  2. measures that promote integration in neigbourhoods” – nothing is more useful when you face hunger and freezing than reading that promoting measures for integration are taken by Euro-Narnia. The fact that nowadays integration is not done in stables or working camps but in neighborhoods is another huge step forward.
  3. “mediators work to gain trust for acceptable housing interventions” is as good of an indicator of good housing for Roma as anything else including a requirement desegregation plan as part of city development strategies.

But why stop here with achievements. The Masters of Euro-Narnia hailed a few years ago that the new anti-discrimination framework represented a quantum leap forward. At that moment it seemed irrelevant for the Gods of Euro-Narnia that quantum physics deal with the tiniest of the worlds and is considered by the experts to be very complicated to comprehend as “our brains are not wired to understand it”.  Anyway this new reports makes clear the monumental dimension of the quantum leap.

Thirteen years after the EU’s landmark anti-discrimination directives were adopted in 2000, discrimination against Roma is still widespread.

Comprehending what the Masters of Euro-Narnia think and do is not for our feeble minds. Our brains are not wired to understand it as proven by another masterful paragraph:

The Decade for Roma Inclusion has been a strong inspiration for the EU Framework.

Even the most optimistic expert will not put the number of Roma who heard about the Decade at more than 0.01 % of the entire population. If you ignore those paid to promote the Decade it is very unlikely that more than 1% will consider the Decade a success. You need to be really delusional to consider it inspiring. Having the Decade as an inspiration for the EU Framework is like saying that the main goal of your life is to master toilet training. It sounds great if you commit to it as a precocious 1-2 years old but is really pathetic and hard to be taken seriously any other time.

Worm and The projectors

13 Jan

DSC02192

Vierme ( Worm) is ten and is responsible for making money for his family. He steals scrap metal and whatever else he can whenever he can. There are 6 other siblings in his family he is the oldest and the hardest working of all. He is teaching two other brothers how to collect scrap metal. No running water in his home/shack – they steal electricity. Children caught stealing are not prosecuted. If caught he gets a beating. He has lice and scabies.

There is no work for his mother. His father is in prison – he was caught stealing scrap metal. If she steals the children will be left by themselves. No matter how much she tries it is unlikely she will get a job.

There are many families similar to Vierme’s that live on the outskirts of many villages/cities. Access to these families is hard especially during November to March and whenever else there are heavy rains as the roads turn into mud.

These children should be taken to school by a school mediator.The salary of a school mediator is around 150 EUR per month. She/he (it is a rare case when a male has this job) has little incentive to go take children like Vierme to school – it takes a long time to get there, her clothes and shoes will get filthy/destroyed and many times she will have to face  angry and frustrated parents – sometimes people that are drunk or on drugs. Vierme’s mother needs him to collect scrap metal more than he needs him in school.

Teachers do not want Vierme in their class. He started with a huge gap compared to the other children and he would need lots of extra attention to catch-up. Most of the time he stinks, he is dirty and can pass to everybody else in the class lice and scabies. Teachers’ salaries are terrible around 200 EUR per month.

People in the local administration also have poor salaries. The EU funded project is not helping them much at all; it’s just more work for very little pay. There are huge amounts of money that are supposed to be used for the communities like Vierme’s community. People in the local administration that are supposed to distribute the aid think Vierme and his family are lazy, dirty foreigners.

The guys that ran the EU projects have salaries 10 to 20 times bigger than any of the above. Those are the projectors, the people that imagine how things will work; they write the reports about the achievements.

Vierme is in school. The school mediator takes the children to school, the teacher has a full class, is skilled, trained and helps these children to get a good quality education. The local administration is helping the community as it delivers aid to the most impoverished. Funding properly spent.

Bullshit. But this is the report that is considered the truth. And every single stakeholder has an interest to say it is true. The European Commission and the governments because the money is spent and they badly need something positive to show for their overall incompetence and disregard for the poorest of the poor, the projectors because the money is good, those in public administration to keep the pretense that they work for the people, the teacher and school mediator to keep their jobs and work as little as possible.

Gulliver’s travels took him to Balnibarbi and then Lagado. The academy of Lagado was famous for its projectors. The projectors tried to do amazing things such as taking the sunbeams out of cucumbers, store them in vials and use them whenever needed, building  houses starting from the roof,  ploughing with the help of the pigs … Art, literature, mathematics, linguistics, were all concerns of many projectors attempting similarly brilliant things. The academy was thriving and extending– at least 500 rooms in a series of building in the city. The city and its surroundings were becoming a ruin due to the many failed projects but the projectors were well paid to continue their jobs.

There were some hard working and skilled people in Lagado – the lord Munodi was one of them. He was known for his eminent services, integrity and honor. He was also considered by the elites to be the most ignorant and stupid person among the ruling elites as he had an “ill ear for music”.

I know many, many nowadays Munodis. Most in the civil society but also people that work for the European Commission and governments.  Smart, honest people that did or do some amazing things but fail to conform to the lip-service directives and poor users of Eurotalk. They are perceived as stupid and ignorant by the opportunists that couldn’t care less about their jobs but are very concerned about their careers –a good number of them are or end up in senior management positions.

There is wide agreement among these people (most within the Romanian civil society) that the EU Structural Funds targeting social inclusion, poverty reduction, employment, discrimination, education and many other fields are in a far too big proportion useless. That the thinking, design, the process of application and the implementation of the projects financed by EU money are flawed, stupid and sometimes sadistic.

Sadly most of the Munodis continue to work for or apply for EU funded projects. Unwillingly and some unwittingly, they legitimize a system that produce an unacceptable number of failures, fake achievements and corruption.

At the end of the day all of us lose. We waste public money. The credibility of the European Commission – the most educated, diverse and promising bureaucracy in Europe is crumbling and makes Europeans doubt a great achievement – the European Union. The civil society looks wasteful and money oriented and risks becoming completely dependent on money distributed by governments. In this way what should be the watch-dogs of the governments – the civil society organisations- become the lap-dogs of the politicians in power.

EU Funds should make a difference in the lives of many including poverty stricken children. At this moment, unfortunately , far too many of these funds, at least in Romania, seem to be working towards enacting one of the sarcastic metaphor of Jonathan Swift – Lagado.

There are exceptions when children like Vierme are taken to school by some kind and hard-working people. It is even more exceptional when teachers do work with children like him. But those are nothing but aberrations in a system that is profoundly flawed.

The situation of girls living in poverty like Vierme is even more complicated. There are cases when prostitution looks like best possible opportunity. Sadly, sometimes it is the only opportunity to escape a hellish life. I do not describe here a Roma problem but many of the children who are facing these problems are Roma.

There are solutions. We need to start with honesty and critical evaluation of why and where we failed. Or we can continue to find excuses, pay lip-service and prepare ourselves for Gulliver’s visit.

* The picture used is not of Vierme but of a child that has his faith

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