Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, on the Occasion of International Roma Day, 1047th Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 16.04.2015
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson,

International Roma Day, celebrated yearly on April 8th, is a valuable occasion for participating States to dwell upon how to improve the situation of Roma communities living within their borders and across the OSCE area. This is a field where many challenges still remain to be addressed. In this context we support the recent call made by Chairperson-in-Office Minister Dacic and ODIHR Director Mr. Link for greater efforts to ensure Roma and Sinti participation in social, political and cultural life. We also agree with their assessment that focusing on youth, including education, is crucial to providing Roma communities with greater opportunities.

Six years ago, my Government launched a specific outreach process towards our Roma community. Within this framework we have eliminated all discriminatory or otherwise incorrect references to Roma in our legislation, and we have been continuing to successfully implement policies aimed at tackling various challenges related to Roma education, employment, housing, social policy and health. We are currently finalizing our “Strategy and Action Plan for Roma Citizens”. We have also been taking steps to promote the Roma language and rich Roma culture in Turkey. In this connection a Research Institute on Roma Language and Culture was established last year at Trakya University.

Moreover, our entire Roma outreach process has been carried out in a participatory manner, making certain that the Roma themselves have a say in policies and programs concerning them. This has also led to a much-improved sense of self-respect and belonging on the part of the Roma community, and a marked rise in the number of Roma NGOs.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that Turkey will continue to implement its OSCE commitments with a view to more effectively combating discrimination against Roma and improving their situation in all spheres of social life.

Thank you.