ATHENS – The effort to raise citizens’ awareness on issues relating to Greece’s Roma communities should be constant, stated Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during his meeting on Monday with representatives of Greek Roma at the Maximos Mansion, on the occasion of International Romani Day.
Tsipras expressed his pleasure at the meeting, noting that there are no second class citizens and adding that, in Greece, significant steps have been taken by the current government to support Roma citizens in a period of fiscal difficulty.
“We proceeded with a substantial programme to mobilise communities and for their integration into economic life,” said Tsipras, adding that the government had drawn up maps to see “how the 371 communities, the 110,000 Greek Roma citizens, are living”.
He noted however that some of those 371 communities “do no credit to the country… which wants to defend human rights and that’s why we have launched a strategic plan on the axis that ‘no Roma without help in the crisis’.”
Tsipras clarified that a prerequisite for the social integration of Roma communities is that their children go to school as “education is basic right but also a condition for these communities to acquire rights in the future”.
In parallel, the prime minister referred to the support of schools and provision of school meals to ensure all children are properly fed, as well as adult education programmes and programmes to support employment and fight joblessness implemented in recent years by the government. A top issue was also the access of Roma communities to healthcare, including the impact of a government decision to remove barriers to public health for a large part of the Roma community that is uninsured.
“There are no first, second or third class citizens. We are all children of the same God,” Tsipras said.