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Newsroom Press release

European Governments Commit to Roma Integration

SOFIA—Prime ministers from across Central and South East Europe today in Sofia endorsed the Decade of Roma Inclusion, an initiative spanning 2005–2015 aimed at ending discrimination against Europe’s largest minority.

The Decade, which is supported by the Open Society Institute and the World Bank, is an unprecedented international effort to ensure that Roma have equal access to education, housing, employment, and healthcare. Today, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovakia committed to reform in these four priority areas.

Each of the eight countries will implement individual action plans developed in cooperation with Roma leaders and civil society.

“This is the first time that the governments are showing real political will to see that Roma are equal citizens in a growing Europe,” said George Soros, chair of the Open Society Institute.

Soros will contribute $30 million to the newly established Roma Education Fund, which will support education reform in conjunction with the Decade. Governments, multilateral and private organizations, and individuals have also contributed to the Fund, which now has more than $43 million in pledges.

Bulgaria and Hungary co-hosted today’s launch, which was attended by Roma leaders, senior officials from governments, and international organizations. The Decade is also supported by the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the Council of Europe Development Bank, and the United Nations Development Program.

“The governments must put in force their action plans, and galvanize public support for full integration,” said Soros. “At issue is more than improving the lives of Roma. The Decade is for society as a whole.”

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