Romani: European institutions’ concern “Recent developments in several European countries, most recently evictions of Roma camps in France and expulsions of Roma from France and Germany, are certainly not the right measures to improve the situation of this vulnerable minority. On the contrary, they are likely to lead to an increase in racist and xenophobic feelings in Europe.” Mevlüt Cavusoglu, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was among the first international representatives to address the recent events involving the Roma. The President, who put the issue on the agenda of his trip to Romania (August 29 to Sept.1), also recalled that that Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits the collective expulsion of aliens. “Taking advantage of the financial crisis, some governments and groups capitalise on fears deriving from the equation made between Roma and criminals, choosing a scapegoat that presents an easy target, as Roma are among the most vulnerable” amongst all the minorities present across Europe. Cavusoglu underlined, “The process of Roma integration has not reached its objectives over the last 20 years” and urged member states “to face up to their responsibilities and to tackle the issue of the situation of Roma seriously and sustainably”. The PACE President welcomed “the adoption by many member states of national strategies for improving the situation and the integration of Roma”. Other bodies of the Council of Europe equally addressed the situation of Roma. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) expressed “disappointment about the development of the situation of Roma in France” and called on the French authorities “to combat the racist attitudes and hostility harboured by the majority population vis-à-vis this community”. Thomas Hammarberg, CoE Human Rights Commissioner, and Viviane Reding, EU Commission vice-president called for the social integration of Roma, and conveyed their disapproval. Cultural promotion and national policies “Culture and the Policies of Change” is the theme of the conference on the promotion of culture in European countries. The event will take place in Brussels September 6-7 at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels which is among its promoters along with the Council of Europe, the EU Commission, the EU National Institutes for Culture, Culture Action Europe, the Budapest Observatory, International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies and the European Cultural Foundation. “The ongoing crisis and shifts in public interests and values highlight the need to re-think current strategies and political priorities” at national level, state the organizers in a release. “The state’s role as a substantial provider of culture is called into question. There is the need to re-define certain current cultural practices, taking into account global cultural market forces and the shift in cultural values”. The Conference “will seek to explore the direct impact of significant cuts to cultural budgets and institutions in 2011 and beyond”. A keynote speech is offered by Jeremy Rifkin, economic scholar and expert in globalization-related issues. Religions and tolerance, the role of the media The third meeting of the Council of Europe on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue will take place in Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia, next September 13 to 14. Religious representatives, politicians, journalists, cultural and civil society representatives of the CoE’s 47 Member States will address the theme of “The role of the media in the promotion of intercultural dialogue, tolerance and mutual understanding”. In particular, speakers will delve into the various aspects pertaining to freedom of expression and respect towards cultural and religious diversity. As was the case of the previous two editions, the 2010 meeting – aims to “promote and intensify CoE fundamental values”, such as the protection of human rights and the promotion of democracy and rule of the law, in order to “encourage mutual respect, tolerance and understanding” between the members of different religions at European level. To this regard, newspapers, TV networks, the web as well as other social communication tools, play a delicate – albeit fundamental – role. To view the event’s program log on www.coe.int, the CoE’s official website.