Roma Leaders, U.S. Senator Gather at CEU for Workshop on Empowering Minorities

Eleven Roma leaders and U.S. State Senator Kevin Killer gathered at CEU May 22-23, 2017 to discuss political narratives regarding minorities at the workshop and panel discussion entitled “Empowering Roma Young Leaders to Shape Inclusive Narratives.” The event was part of a project by Roland Ferkovics within the context of the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ (GMF) Office of Transatlantic Leadership Initiatives, and was supported by the GMF and CEU’s Roma in European Societies Initiative. Ferkovics, CEU Chair of Romani Studies Iulius Rostas, and State Senator Kevin Killer of South Dakota.

On the first day, participants identified political narratives operating in European countries regarding Roma. One session was dedicated to analyzing and better understanding the media coverage of Roma people in European countries, which leads to biased public image of Roma. At the end of the workshop, participants developed a comprehensive strategy aiming to challenge the current narratives with a goal of shaping a more inclusive narrative treating Roma as a full-fledged part of society.

The second day, a panel discussion open to the public included a session analyzing political narratives and policy narratives. Participants noted the danger of negative narrative through elections and campaigning that enable political coercion of Roma.

The second panel focused on media representation of Roma in European countries. Market driven media outlets, misuse of social media and misinterpretation of Roma celebrities are also elements that contribute to the worsening of the public image of Roma, discussants said. Social media could be utilized to build a positive image of Roma as well as direct actions on local level in order to increase inclusivity, they said.

The third panel focused on policy and political narratives used towards Roma, with panelists sharing their own experiences and successful strategies that contributed to inclusive narratives. Inclusive policy design and narratives should be built that do not further identify Roma as socially and economically disadvantaged group. The more similarities are emphasized, the more likely it is that communities will find a common narrative uniting people on the basis of citizenship.

Participants and panel discussants were:

Laszlo Jakab (Roma Graduate Preparation Program (RGPP) and CEU Alumnus)

Jashar Jasharov (RGPP and CEU Alumnus)

Dr. Henriett Dinok (CEU Alumnus)

Senator Kevin Killer (South Dakota State Legislature)

Marija Mitrovic

Radost Zaharieva

Jan Balaz (RGPP and CEU Alumnus)

Ciprian Nodis (RGPP and CEU Alumnus)

Csaba Olah (RGPP and CEU Alumnus)

Vicente Rodriguez Fernandez

Marija Sulejmanova (RGPP Alumnus, CEU student)

Irina Spataru



Marius Taba (Lecturer and Fellow at Corvinus University and McDaniel College)

Bernard Rorke (Visiting Professor at CEU and Advocacy Officer at European Roma Rights Center)

Daniel Makonnen (Open Society Foundations)