Archive | November, 2012

A Short History of the Roma Ministry and its Magnificent works -2004 to 2011

26 Nov

*Euro-Narnia is a parallel world ruled over by the mighty Baroslan (Aslan is the ruler on Narnia) whose inhabitants discuss in strange and wonderful terms remedies for the Roma problem and not only. Any resemblance between Euro-Narnia and European Commission is certainly, purely accidental. Seniors can be seen similar to heads of units or directors. Royals are same level as Commissioners. Ministries are similar with Directorates Generals (DGs) at the European Commission.

 In 2004, swiftly (just a brief 20 years) after a forgotten and probably accidentally Euro-Narnian Report wrote that – the Roma peasants – faced serious hardships[1] in the Kingdom, an All Powerful Director of Seniors decided that something should be done. She took mighty risks and bravely came and spoke at a conference about Roma- a highly dangerous and unsafe place as some of us Roma peasants and our germs were present. Her words of wisdom are left eternally inscribed in the Holy Books of Euro-Narnia:

Yet the social exclusion and discrimination of Roma communities are well documented and despite all available legislative and financial instruments remain often extreme… While the protection and advancement of minorities are primarily the responsibility of Member States, it is an urgent issue that also demands a response from Euro-Narnia.

We were dazed. We did not understand much of what she said, but in our arrogant foolishness we thought the Euro-Narnians would start ‘urgently’ talking and working with us. Over eight years after we still wonder what “urgently” means in Euro-Narnian.

It is true the Ministry in charge of us announced with royal splendor same year that the strongest of all mechanisms had been put in place to fix our problems. It was called the ‘Informal Euro-Narnian Interservice Group on Roma Social Inclusion’.

Some full of malice traitors called this measure a window dressing measure. The Seniors decided to prove them wrong and appropriately decreed to dedicate a full working day each year to find for us the Path out of Exclusion. We were informed that thirteen Ministries would be part of the Group; meaning that each Ministry would dedicate at maximum half an hour per year to share and in some cases to work on appropriate solutions for us – the 12 million peasants. The levels of exhaustion following such strenuous work cannot even be imagined by mortals like us. The Seniors in their wisdom decided preventively that the full working day to be split in 2 meetings per year. Long resting periods in secluded locations were planned to be strongly enforced following the meetings in order to keep Seniors and Royals healthy. Fortunately (Baroslan be blessed) most Seniors were extremely professional and managed to avoid exhaustion through a brilliant method called non-attendance.

A few times the Group met (7 times in 5 years), they invited peasants (including me) or experts on peasants to speak for an hour at the beginning of the meeting. I remember that blessed day when I was invited to speak like it was a minute ago. I washed well and brushed my teeth and even used perfume to hide away our proverbial stench. I memorised some of the Mighty Words as recommended by a good Euro-Narnian. I did not understand them then, and I still do not understand them now, but here you have them: ‘Integrated approach in synergy with the anti-discrimination framework’.

The Director of Seniors felt that we might feel too threatened to be near her, and in her incredible wisdom and kindness she decided not to come and embarrass us with her wit and indescribable beauty. The majority of the Seniors who should have attended similarly made the kind decision to stay away. These Seniors (forever be their names blessed) decided that the Purest Reasoning (the only state in which decisions are made in Euro-Narnia) could not be reached if they risked exhaustion or contamination from our ideas, and those of the few low-level (rightly so) Euro-Narnians who had talked to peasants in the past.

So, they did not come to the meetings but they sent resistant to our germs non-Euro-Narnian interns (the lowest ranking humans with leave to walk freely in Euro-Narnia) to represent their glorious names. A very tiny minority of Seniors (mainly a mad Irish one) persisted in their ignorance and stubbornly came to the meetings.

The other Seniors considered the process completely compromised because of this minority (with whom they shared the same Holy Corridors), and as a result, they were not able to achieve the Purest Reasoning. The reasonable decision following from this was not to act in any way for several years, in order to avoid the risk that any impure and foolish outside ideas might make their way into the Green Pastures of Meditation and Brilliancy where Seniors and Royals ponder before taking decisions. At the end of a long period, the Enlightened Idea of a Report on Employment came out of the Purest Reasoning process. A carefully chosen Group of Aspiring Seniors was put in charge, led by a German Royal.

As with most Euro-Narnian Reports, this one reiterated most of what previous Holy Reports have said (repetition is the only way we peasants can learn). Several carefully crafted new words were introduced and bestowed entirely new Celestial Meanings to our understanding of the issues. Here is a short but beautiful example…

Discrimination in employment and occupation often exacerbates or perpetuates poverty, while poverty furthers discrimination at work in a vicious cycle. A lack of employment opportunities as well as work that is unproductive, insecure and unprotected are the main causes of the material deprivation and vulnerability that ethnic minority and migrants women experience. (Euro-Narnian Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Opinion on the Gender Dimension of the Inclusion of Ethnic Minorities (2007), p. 5f.)

You might remark on the fact that it is very similar to this text, created for another report:

Discrimination in employment and occupation often exacerbates or perpetuates poverty, while poverty furthers discrimination at work in a vicious cycle. Lack of work and work that is unproductive, insecure and unprotected are the main causes of the material deprivation and vulnerability that poor people experience. (ILO conference 2003

This is not ‘copy and paste’ or laziness as some vulgar peasants and vermin non-Euro-Narnian intellectuals call it, but rather Consistency with the Holy Path (Euro-Narnians call it the Consistent Method). One of our Roma was included in the Group – he was at that moment almost a Senior within another Kingdom (the high Organisation for the Secluded and Contemporary Enlightened – hOSCE). Most likely wishing to demonstrate to other Aspiring Seniors how Consistent he was, he contributed two papers that he had presented years before to peasant meetings that seemingly had nothing to do with Employment – the topic of the Report.

We questioned the almost-Senior peasant about this. He proved his Mastery by quickly reciting some of the Sacred Words: digital divide, Lisbon Strategy, acquis  communautaire, joint inclusion memorandum, reform action plan, and interconnectivity of the interdisciplinary approach. We agreed and respectfully applauded. He is clearly on his way to Senior Holiness.

Many of our peasants elites are indeed becoming more and more proficient with the Consistent Method – let’s hope that soon we will also have our well-deserved Seniors. We have already our own Royals that are much beyond the dreams and needs of the peasants but about them in another chapter.

As you might know, the Consistent Method is largely used nowadays not only by the best of us peasants but also by the Royals and Seniors of the Member States of the Kingdom. Our Romanian Prime-Senior recently joined the ranks of the Defense and Education Seniors of Germany, the King of Hungary and some of the Royals of the Euro-Narnian Parliament as he proved his Consistency.

But enough about the Consistent Method.

Back to the history of the Magnificent Work.

After three years a Royal Czech, a visiting Senior helped by a Deputy–Senior Slovak, cowardly and cunningly introduced an ‘Agenda of Action’ within Euro-Narnia. Some Holy Rules changed in a way that was transparent for us peasants, and the Interservice Group was replaced by the Euro-Narnian Platform for Roma Inclusion. This brought incredible shame upon the Kingdom and Seniors. Some Royals reacted swiftly and carefully extracted almost any chance for such action to happen again. All the culprits (Baroslan curse their names) ended up leaving the Holy Kingdom and joined competing Kingdoms that we are sure they will shame!

Roma issues were split between two Ministries and one of them was placed in charge (praised be its name and the Queen leading it). This split ensures that no peasant can clearly understand which ministry is responsible for what. The Euro-Narnian Seniors are rightly left to decide about it.

They also transformed what we wrongly thought was a good mechanism for action, the European Roma Platform, into the Holiest of all structures. It was defined accordingly as:

… an open and flexible mechanism of governance organised by Euro-Narnia … [it] aims at making existing policy processes more coherent and prepares the ground for synergies… is not a formal body but rather a process driven by participants.

Now, again, we have no idea what it means or what it does. But we have faith that the Seniors will reveal the meaning to us as soon as they emerge from what seems to be a Second Process of the Purest Reasoning (we have only been waiting for three years so far). Most likely this process was necessitated by the exhaustion resulting from such exacting work defining the Platform.

To ensure there will be no bickering peasants to disturb the Second Process of the Purest Reasoning, the Queen announced another Magnificent Initiative: a Task Force on Roma Inclusion. The middle Senior and the Senior in charge of the Task Force were carefully chosen from the Euro-Narnians. They had to have as little political clout as possible (and this was achieved by selecting them from the poorest and second smallest of the Member States of Euro-Narnia). They also had to prove they were completely untainted and never did anything even remotely linked to us peasants.

The history of the Euro-Narnian Policy for Roma will be told in a separate chapter.

[1] ‘exclusion and discrimination’ in Euro-Narnian

The Queen of Gypsies

19 Nov

Praised be the Mastery of Diplomacy of our beloved Queen! She is our Beacon of Professionalism and Talking Skills – she can get fish out of the water, pigs flying in the sky, and action out of Member States just by Being and Speaking (BS[1]).

Her Mastery of Diplomacy remains unchallenged in the history of Euro-Narnia. Here is an example of how tactfully she managed to cooperate with the Sarkozian State (the second strongest State of Euro-Narnian Empire) in 2010 on the Roma issues.

I will of course give the Euro-Sarkozian authorities the right to submit comments on the new developments in the course of the next days. But I make it very clear my patience is wearing thin: enough is enough.

 Her patience was wearing thin! The Euro-Narnian Gods were concerned, water turned red in the rivers, people stopped eating, birds stopped singing. The Sarkozians were ashamed. Many committed suicide. The Queen did the utmost sacrifice of all: she blushed with Anger. The sky split open and Baroslan spoke. Euro-Narnia was aroused to action and Royals and Seniors thought about us, the peasants. Some of their Mighty Neurons died on that day because of us.

But how worthy these sacrifices were! Our situation in the Sarkozian empire became so good following Her intervention that many peasants could not stand such a life of luxury and asked to be sent back to the much less stressful life in the ghettoes. The Sarkozians kindly complied, carefully watched by Euro-Narnia. Terrible frowns from Royals and Seniors forced the Sarkozian police to expel peasants with the utmost Respect.

Let’s look now at Queen’s words about us.

Her Highness delivered the first of the many speeches that eternally will illuminate our way out of the caverns of ignorance in April 2010.  She was imperially Diplomatic as She said:

I don’t believe we should waste ENERGY in developing special laws or funds for Roma.

 At that moment we thought we understood. The Queen revealed to us with these words what we had been unable to grasp for so long. All this time, the Euro-Narnians had been trying to save us peasants by not wasting ENERGY. ENERGY supports everything that is in us, and around us, and obviously is generated by the Brains Serene (BS –see footnote 1) of Royals and Seniors. The level of ENERGY must be kept constant, and developing any laws or funds for Roma drains it significantly.  ENERGY must be reserved to be used by Royals and Seniors for much more important matters. For example:

€400 000 were provided for ‘a completely European event supporting in every way the harmonious and prosperous coexistence of young people under the EU umbrella’ or in peasant language, running. The name of the event was The Marathon for United Europe.

€173 274 in Euro-Narnian funds were given to the luxury golf resort, Monte da Quinta Club, in the Algarve, Portugal. €80 000 went to building the virtual Malmo in Second Life (a virtual world).

 These actions might sound confusing for the untrained peasant reader but in fact they have a more complex and higher meaning than the already very useful ones: running, improving the Sport of the Poor (golf, that is) and building a much-needed virtual version of a real city. Unfortunately, these higher meanings cannot be explained by Euro-Narnians, as the Ways to Arrive at Serenity, Truth and Enlightenment (or WASTE) are secret and reserved only for the spending and understanding of the Seniors and Royals.

But enough about ENERGY. On October of the same Blessed year Her Majesty Spoke again to us.

For Euro-Narnia, the Roma issue is more than a summer story. We have been active for over ten years in this field. We do recognise, however, that more needs to be done.

We peasants were impressed to tears about the fact that we were not a ‘summer story’. We were not quite sure what she meant, but we liked the sound of it, and as we are musical beings, we applauded enthusiastically.

However, We have been ACTIVE for over ten years in this field puzzled us: the Queen clearly has never in her life been active in the fields of the peasants (and rightly so – royalty must keep their hands clean). We realized that ACTIVE is another tricky Euro-Narnian word. As is WE  – could it possibly refer to the Euro-Narnians themselves? We cannot recall any activity – in the peasant sense of the word – from 2000 to 2003. After many debates and years of studying the Extraordinary Speeches from the BS[2] book we have concluded that ACTIVE means ‘to be sick of’ (just like the word ‘positive’ does, in relation to HIV).

 ‘More needs to be done’ did not worry us much as we knew from previous experience what it meant. All-powerful Euro-Narnian ‘Warriors for the Order of Righteous and Defenders of Serenity’ (i.e. WORDS) would be sent to fight social exclusion, poverty and abject anti-Gypsyism. And the Queen did not keep us waiting long for the WORDS:

 The Euro-Narnians put the issue of Roma integration into a broader perspective. We set out a strategy to have an agenda for a truly inclusive society focusing on fighting poverty, improving skills, bolstering social cohesion and increasing employment.

 This was a real call to war. They (blessed be their unknown names by Baroslan) created a mighty Strategy to create an Agenda that will Focus on Discussing how Others (non-Euro-Narnians of course) will need to do things. I know this might seem confusing; but to ensure clarity, the Seniors invented Reports and Communications that report and communicate on the Strategy to create the Agenda that Focuses on Discussing how Others will do things. Sometimes there is even a need for Reports on the Reports and Communications…

The Holiest things ever said by the Queen came later:

 Also the Roma themselves play a key role in their own integration. Integration policies must be evidence-based and must be designed WITH the Roma and not just FOR the Roma. With Roma women. And with Roma children. Failing to involve Roma in the design of effective integration policies to finally break the poverty cycle and is a recipe for failure.

That was the moment when I understood that she truly was the Queen of the Gypsies. She used WORDS to heal and mesmerise us, just like some of our women who tell fortunes and cast spells. She was trying to be the Holy impersonation of what most Euro-Narnians think Roma women are: a Woman Intellectual Technocrat Commissioner Highness  – we peasants still use the vulgar acronym.

It is true that no Roma women (in fact, no Roma whatsoever) were employed by Euro-Narnia, but the Queen’s beautiful voice, her passion, and her gestures were worth a million times more than any experience or facts. We felt truly BlesSed.

In 2010 and 2011 major crises made us peasants very visible for the Euro-Narnians. Press visibility seems to provide ENERGY for the Royals and Seniors, and as a result, there was a rumor that a Euro-Narnian Strategy for Roma would be put in place. The Queen put an end to our anxious waiting:

This Euro-Narnian Framework aims to bring about a change in the approach to Roma inclusion: a transition from scattered, project-based interventions to comprehensive, evidence-based strategic thinking. The new approach is also clearly linked to Europe’s ambitious economic growth agenda, the Euro-Narnian 2020 strategy.

 The move from projects-based interventionsto the much better and much more substantial strategic thinking was truly an act of brilliance, Baroslan bless Her. By no means should we think that those ‘over 10 years’ of being ‘active’ didn’t involve evidence–based strategic thinking. In fact we are still not quite sure what evidence–based strategic thinking means, but we are certain that the Royals and Seniors will reveal to us the Sacred Meaning soon. Only two years have passed since Her Majesty started the Strategic Thinking and we already started feeling lots of Energy building up. Accordingly, consultations with us peasants have been reduced to the minimum; Euro-Narnians need to be focused.

Now some perverted minds of peasants and non-Euro-Narnian intellectuals (forever be their names cursed!) might think that the Queen contradicted what she had said just two years before (i.e that Euro-Narnia should not waste Energy on peasants laws or funds) by launching a Framework Strategy for Roma. However, the Queen is never wrong. She is consistent, but for us mortals her meanings and ways, and sometimes even her decisions, are incomprehensible.

I will end this chapter by proving her irrefutable link to the Beyond and her Majestic solution to our problems.

23 May 2012:  We are all aware of the enormous challenges faced by Roma communities. It is time to translate ambitions into action.

Eight years before, the Euro-Narnian Holy books included this phrase ‘integrating the Roma population needs to be rapidly translated into action.’

A mind unaccustomed to the subtleties of Euro-Narnian Royalty might think that she simply repeated what had been said eight years before. Some despicable snakes would perhaps go even further and imply that lacking ideas or solutions, and unwilling to do exert further efforts, the Queen was unnecessarily producing some Royal hot air.

However, this could not be further from the Truth. She was in fact Magnificent, and imbued the older words written by unworthy low-level Euro-Narnians with a Royal meaning. The ambiguous term ‘rapidly’ was transformed into the much more precise ‘it is time’ and the vague ‘integrating Roma’ became, appropriately, the Royal ‘ambitions’.

Flocks of pigs flew majestically over Euro-Narnia that day – a clear signal of her powers and the great Revelation to come.

* all quotes can be found on the Queen’s speeches website; the 2004 report is also available online.

** The next chapters of the Euro-Narnian Chronicles will include a short history of the Roma Ministry and its documents, an overview of the States’ Work on Roma, a description of our own Powerful peasants and to be soon Seniors, and hopefully the Great Revelation.

*** Any resemblance to actual people or places is purely coincidental

[1] No link whatsoever to the waste produced by bulls or bullshit in peasant language, whatever some vermin might suggest.

[2] Here, BS stands for Book of Serenity, and has no link to the meaning explained in the first footnote

Difficult to speak and impossible to be silent[1]

16 Nov

Next week I will publish another chapter of the Euro-Narnian chronicles. Plagiarism, incompetence, window-dressing measures, arrogance, empty wording will be exposed.

I realized that some of my readers might misunderstand the purpose of my articles as a “crusade against the European Commission”. It is not.

The decision to write these articles came from taking part in the Forum 2000 and many readings including Havel’s “The Intellectual and Politics”. Havel thought that intellectuals should be if they do not want to be involved in politics the ones who constantly hold up a mirror to those in authority, to make sure that the latter truly serve a good thing and that they do not begin to use fine words as a cloak for evil deeds”

The EU’s language is dry and sometimes incomprehensible and that is why I decided to try satire instead of anything else.

Choosing to write critically about the European Institutions and Funding is a very difficult exercise indeed but I believe it is the only way to strengthen those institutions and significantly increase the efficiency of European public money.

Many demagogues, opportunists, populists and extremists did and do not hesitate to attack the European Institutions as a way to justify or hide their own failures. Many times these institutions are unfairly bashed by governments and pressured to deal with issues none of the Member States are capable to deal with.

A number of essential laws against discrimination have been adopted by Member States because of these European Institutions –laws that otherwise would have much delayed or never been approved by the national politicians. Significant funds have been allocated to address extremely difficult and highly unpopular issues by the European Union –no Member State would have allocated similar (and in most cases any) funds from their national budget. Eastern Europe – the part of Europe were most Roma live is nowadays much better that it would have been without the pressure from the European Union.  There are many very good things that happen due to these institutions and the European Funding.

The European Commission is a very powerful bureaucracy. It gathers some of the smartest people in Europe ensuring them a very secure and well-paid employment. It distributes and controls important amounts of funding. Most of the European Civil Society depends on those lines of funding. The European Institutional culture is much more towards hierarchical diplomacy (some see it as lip-service including the author) and soft compromise than heated debate and critical thinking – more specific to the civil society.

Incentives for promoting a culture of critical thinking in regard to the activities of the European Commission(EC) and European Funding are in these conditions very limited for the European civil society and in particular for Roma civil society that is overwhelmingly depending on European Funds.

I strongly believe that the EC should in fact promote such a culture of critical thinking at least when it comes to Roma issues as there are many things that do not work that well or at all when it comes to these European Institutions and their funding and policies targeting Roma social inclusion.

Compromises, diplomacy, patience are all required skills in a very difficult construction of a stronger European Union but should not be used as ways to justify: window dressing measures, lip service, inefficient use or waste of public money, arrogance, lack of critical self-evaluations, blunders or cowardice.

To be silent about those, I argue, is against the very basic values of the European Union and profoundly immoral.

In his book “The Idea of Justice “Amartya Sen writes that factoring in “the lives that people manage or do not manage to live” is as important as institutions and rules. “Justice cannot be indifferent to the lives that people can actually live”

Existing institutions and rules dealing with Roma inclusion and anti-Gypsyism are not enough and sometimes not at all connected to the lives that Roma can live or actually live. Reform is needed. Now.

*a quote from Edmund Burke. [1]

On Euro-Narnia*, its language and the Queen of Gypsies

12 Nov

Some days I feel like there must be two parallel worlds: the one I live in (together with my colleagues, friends, families and children I work with in the ghettos of Bucharest) and another which is almost the same, but somehow perplexingly different.

In my world we have successes and failures, but most days are a mix of the two: good things and bad things happen, many of them out of our control. We do our best to cope, and to help the people around us. We talk to people in order to communicate, to share information, and to understand what other people are experiencing and what they need.

You can know that you’ve entered the parallel world by looking for a few telltale signs. In the other world, the actions taken by the ‘elites’ of that world are always good. The language spoken in that world is another give-away sign: certain words and phrases seem to have different meanings there. You might also notice the almost complete absence of “ethnic and religious minorities” (or ‘darker people’ in the ordinary language of my world).

Let’s call this parallel world ‘Euro-Narnia’. In Euro-Narnia we always see ‘significant progress’. Euro-Narnia is accessible through some special doors in Brussels, and in capital cities where governments sit. Practices initiated by Euro-Narnians are always ‘positive’, and there have been many ‘leaps forward’ when it comes to the social inclusion of Roma (quotes courtesy of the holy reports of the Roma Ministry of Euro-Narnia).

As I mentioned, one of the special features of Euro-Narnia is the language spoken there. Let’s have a closer look.

The workings of Euro-Narnia are based, among other things, on Respect for the Human Rights of Roma. Now, Respect is not a code of law handed down by a talking lion, as you might imagine (nor is it the name of that lion either: let’s call the mighty ruler of Euro-Narnia ‘Baroslan’). In fact, the meaning of the word

Respect in Euro-Narinian is difficult to fathom. The governing institutions of Euro-Narnia show (and here I use another Euro-Narnian phrase) the worst signs of ‘structural racism’ when it comes to Roma. In our language: you are not likely to spot a Roma person in any important job in Euro-Narnia. Respect seems to mean that Euro-Narnians love Roma as long as they are only visiting (preferably briefly), and as long as they praise the Royals and Seniors (blessed by Baroslan be their names) leading the Euro-Narnian institutions. The Euro-Narnians do not trust us, and decisions about how to ‘fix’ us are placed in the hands of those untainted by direct contact with our realities, and of course, by the mighty Queen charged with the care of Gypsies.

I know this seems difficult to understand. Maybe an example will help. The Euro-Narnian Ministry for Roma organised a huge event on Roma this year; they called it the ‘Extraordinary Meeting on Roma Social Inclusion’. The Queen honored us ordinary folk (you can call us peasants, if you wish) by breathing the same air as us for almost five minutes after her speech. She spoke in Euro-Narnian: we peasants did not understand much. She maintained her usual dignified and imperial pose, and certainly did not get involved in any discussion with the audience.

However, the Queen and her Ministry exercised Respect by inviting 2 Roma peasants as speakers (out of 29 speakers). One of us even stood next to the Queen. The Euro-Narnians kindly made sure that those two peasants spent enough time in Euro-Narnia and spoke good Euro-Narnian, in order to not scare away the High-Level Euro-Narnians or the Royals that might have found themselves lost in the building during the event. Both of the peasants were polite and used the compulsory Euro-Narnian almost fluently. “Mainstreaming Roma multidisciplinary intersectionality of multistakeholder’s positive practices will allow better flexicurity within the framework of the flagship initiative Euro-Narnian 2020” was said by both and impressed the Euro-Narnians greatly –some of them woke-up, some even smiled and the lower grades even clapped.

The Respect thing is mentioned relentlessly by the Euro-Narnians, and I am beginning to suspect that they believe it will protect them from the Gypsy evil eye. It seems to work: it keeps us, Roma, away most times of the year. (Note for myself: I should try it with some of my relatives.)

Another puzzling word is Experience. Let’s start with a quote from the Euro-Narnian holy book of rules: ‘Very experienced people work in the Ministry for the Social Inclusion of Roma.’

The experience of the senior and middle-management level Euro-Narnians in question is drawn mainly from rare, well-chosen and protected visits to Roma neighborhoods, talking to carefully chosen Roma peasants, participating in Roma conferences (where one might find Roma) and reading some (not too many) books about Roma. So you see, they are courageous as well as experienced! Any significant hands-on or academic experience in the field of Roma might taint their superior thinking and judgment. In order to maintain her perfectly unbiased position, the Queen herself has never visited the places where most of us live. According to rumor, she does not read her carefully-prepared speeches before delivering them, and she forgets them immediately afterwards.

Now, I often talk to surgeons and my mother worked in an emergency room (spent a good time of my childhood there). I’ve visited hospitals (a lot more often than the brave Euro-Narnians visit Roma neighborhoods). I watch ‘Gray’s Anatomy’ and ‘MASH’ religiously (both are serials about doctors) and from time to time I read books that talk about surgery. I’ll now share my secret hope: I thought perhaps that all this Experience could make me a surgeon, if not the King of Surgeons, in Euro-Narnia. It didn’t work at all. Therefore, I can only conclude that the meaning of the word Experience in Euro-Narnian is evasive, and needs more studying.

But enough about language. The way Euro-Narnians at the Roma Ministry help our social inclusion is also rather intriguing. In the first place, they make sure to listen to nobody but their own people about what should be done. Another compulsory and important step in the social inclusion of Roma is to assist the 4 and 5 star Euro-Narnian hotel business by holding regular meetings and events at these places.

In fact, most of the money allocated to Roma social inclusion is spent for meetings in 4 and 5 star hotels, trainings in Euro-Narnian language, salaries for Euro-Narnians or Euro-Narnian experts and producing papers that can be read by Euro-Narnians only. The criteria for such papers to be read is that they must not disturb the well-being, disposition, or the bright and always correct ideas Euro-Narnians at the Roma Ministry have about Roma and the impact of Euro-Narnian actions.(more about the holly papers will follow)

And I haven’t even mentioned the per diems yet! As compensation for the inconvenience of attending meetings at 4 and 5 star hotels, the Euro-Narnians receive hefty per diems. Sometimes the per diem for a two-day conference exceeds the average annual income for many of the excluded Roma. And the total costs for one of these meetings is on average much bigger that the yearly budget of a medium-sized Roma village. But blessed be their souls and their leader: we know they deserve rich compensation for the long hours of work and severe hardship they endure. Lately the best of us Roma (still small in number, but certainly the cream of the crop) have started to follow the Euro-Narnian trend, and are completely unable to meet anywhere aside from luxurious hotels. Our meetings are still rather unsophisticated and our elite will still talk to any old peasant – but surely that will progress. We are moving in the right direction.

It is almost forbidden that Euro-Narnian money be spent in a ghetto. As Euro-Narnians in the Ministry are highly sensitive to unfiltered air and any source of contamination to their pure thinking, they are understandably reluctant to enter ghettos. (Ghettos also tend to be too far away from the 4 and 5 star hotels.)

There are many more stories to be told about Euro-Narnia; this is only the beginning. More tales will come.

But before closing, I should mention, in warning, that from time to time there are Euro-Narnians (even in the Roma Ministry) who run away from Euro-Narnia and are genuinely interested in talking to us and working with us to find solutions. You might say they have ‘gone native.’ These people risk being stigmatized and labeled as ‘virused’ by their colleagues. They are treated with well-deserved contempt and sometimes fear. Most are pushed away and become outcasts. For example, some of the Royals close to Baroslan (a German, a Czech and a Hungarian one come to mind) were genuinely interested in us peasants, spoke a dialect we could understand, and spent time talking and thinking with us. I suspect this brought shame on the Euro-Narnian government. Two of them have since departed, and the third is thought to be ‘different.’ Perhaps this is why Baroslan decided we needed an untainted and aloof Queen.

* The original Narnia is a fantasy world created by a talking lion named Aslan. Its Chronicles were written by C.S Lewis.

On trafficking and neutered institutions

8 Nov

Conference on combating trafficking.

Starts with the official speeches from authorities, OSCE and the UN. All the coin words were there – synergy, multi-stakeholder approach, multi-disciplinary approach, effectiveness, sustainability, measuring impact, cooperation, determination to tackle the issue, important achievements, positive practices. Any other empty but fashionable word you can imagine was probably there. Orwell would have probably felt so amazed that would have rewritten his essay “Politics and the English Language”. Being dead probably he spins relentlessly in his grave.

The proposed solutions were:

  1. more institutions involved –my translations bigger budgets and more well paid jobs for the intergovernmental institutions
  2.  more awareness –my translation – more conferences in great hotels and great per-diems, more money wasted on all kind of irrelevant posters and clips that are watched by almost nobody, more round-tables where we listen things that we know make no sense but we have to hear them politely as they come from high level people that control significant amounts of money which at the end determine the survival of our NGOs.
  3. inter-ministerial groups dealing with the issues  and exchanges of good practices– my translation more jobs for political cronies that have no idea about the issues that will travel on great per-diems to different luxurious locations , more money wasted by already extremely inefficient bureaucracies

The official speeches were followed by a request for debate. Nobody. I felt compelled to help.

I asked what are the incentives they propose as an alternative for those to be trafficked (women living in abject poverty and with abysmal educational background, children from disintegrated families, drug addicted teenagers and desperate poor male youth) .

I said that while I think is important to have all the high level speeches, the great posters, the amazingly well done and expensive internet based awareness campaigns and the great reports and secondary researches I was more interested to know how they plan to stimulate the work where it really matters – at the grassroots – in the shanty towns, in the ghettoes, in the rural and very poor communities.

I explained that girls from the ghettoes I know that go into prostitution have a major economical incentives to do it and there the enthusiasm for posters and internet campaigns and righteous movies is not that great. That the exceptional success of one girl out of tens that ends up back in the neighborhood with enough money to open an erotic massage business is what it matters and the stories of those that never come back or end up in prison, addicted or dead are simply ignored. That work at the grassroots tackling trafficking is really dangerous and many expect to be done voluntarily or on crappy salaries.

I did not get any answers. Just some irrelevant polite blabla. In the break around 20 people came to tell me how much they appreciated my intervention.  Two said that finally there is somebody with enough balls to say it. I told them that I would have preferred to hear their opinion about the combating trafficking during the plenary and I am not really keen on discussing my private matters with strangers. My sarcasm was not appreciated.

Then, I pondered why there are so many people that seem to like the some very few people with guts at the conferences but never dare to say anything themselves. And I also realized that I see less and less people with guts and more and more experts on lip-service or keeping quiet and complaining in the breaks at the few conferences I go.

Now my question is how should we fight institutional castration? Do we need some conferences about this ? Should we try to convince intergovernmental institutions that investment in treatments against cowardice disguised as diplomacy is needed for their own employees ?

Solving this issue might lead to some very good and much needed reforms. It could also lead to a minimum pragmatism when people talk about trafficking. The criminal networks make huge amounts of money out of their “business”. They have the means and the incentives to corrupt policemen and politicians. To stop traffickers you need comparable huge amounts of money to go towards preventing it , tough legislation and lots of work at the grassroots. Disrupting trafficking networks will mean exposing also corruption at very high level. For all of it we need many people with serious balls and some serious protection.

For now all that it is available seem to be great speeches. Simply not enough.

Domnu’ misto

5 Nov

Hotnews a publicat un articol cu o poveste frumoasa tare link-ul e la sfarsit.

 Dupa ce am citit articolul m-am gandit ca autorul nu a vazut o parte foarte importanta din caracterul eroului sau. Cum am norocul (chior) sa il cunosc pe domnu’ in cauza m-am gandit ca ar fi bine sa adaug ceea ce urmeaza.

Inceput de vara. Seara – suntem vreo 6 la o masa – grupul e mult mai mare. Se rade mult si se spun o gramada de poante. Marea majoritate bune, nu de alta dar le zic eu. Domnu’ rade cot la cot cu noi. Obosit de dat din gura ii zic sa bage si el o poanta . Se uita la mine serios tare si spune ca nu prea ar vrea. Il intreb de ce. Pai nu prea stiu poante, zice. Hai ba nicio poanta?! Zice ca stie cateva. Pai zi care e mai buna. Zice: ”Bine, hai ca va zic”.

Se opreste cateva secunde. Arata super serios.

”Bai, dar sa stiti ca nu e prea buna poanta”. Pauza de vreo 3 sec.

”Si probabil o stiti”. Pauza vreo 2 sec.

”Si nici nu prea stiu sa zic poante”.  Inca vreo 2 sec de tacere.

”Si e mult mai buna de citit”.

Eu ma capiez de ras. Ii dau un servetel sa o scrie pentru noi – nu de alta dar sa ne simtim toti bine. Rade si el de se rupe. Pana la urma ne spune poanta. O stiam. Si nici nu o zice bine. Oricum radem de ne prapadim. ”Un tip misto tare!” zice cineva langa mine. Tare tare misto intr-adevar!