ERIO e-news 06/06/2008
ERIO’s Director interviewed on the Journalist Award 2008 - special award on the Roma
Roma in the Media – Views from a Journalist Award Judge
A member of the EU jury for the Journalist Award 2008, Ivan Ivanov is Executive Director of the
European Roma Information Office (ERIO), an international advocacy organisation which
combats discrimination against the Roma. Ivan talks to us about the competition and, to mark
International Roma Day on 8 April, the challenges facing the Roma in Europe today.
Was it significant that the Journalist Award 2008 included a special award on the Roma?
‘Yes it was significant. It provides clear evidence that Roma issues have gained recognition at the
EU level. The journalist award is aimed specifically at anti-discrimination issues. To dedicate a
special award to the Roma means that the EU recognises that the Roma are one of the most
discriminated groups and hence deserve special attention.’
Do you think that there are many young Roma, as described in the article by Mika Kontorousi,
who are breaking away from the ‘traditional’ lifestyle of their communities?
‘Yes I know many young Roma who, while respecting their traditions truly, do not follow all of
them. This most often includes such traditions which contradict their aim to build a better life for
themselves, and which may create difficulties to their integration into society as well as to their
educational and professional growth.’
If you could challenge three common misconceptions about the Roma what would they be?
‘Firstly, not all Roma are criminals or beggars on the streets. To cheat tax payers by living on
social benefits is not their ultimate goal in life! Secondly, the Roma want to integrate1 Living in
segregated ghettos is not their choice. If they could choose between being integrated into the
society with access to education and employment, proper health care and social services, and
decent housing in an environment free of discrimination, and living in extreme poverty in a