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Roma in an Expanding Europe

"Roma in an Expanding Europe: Breaking the Poverty Cycle"
The Road to the Budapest Conference and the Road Ahead

Kossuth House, Washington, D.C. (September 10, 2003)

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Presentation and Reflections by Dena Ringold, Senior Economist, ECA Region, World Bank

"Roma Voices" - Documentary Presentation (7 minutes)

Discussion led by Julius Varallyay, Senior Economist, ECA Region, World Bank

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The HungarianAmerica Foundation/KHSC is hosting a discussion forum on one of the most challenging social issues of Central Europe, the Roma poverty and their reintegration into the fabric of society in an expanding Europe. Dena Ringold, Senior Economist with the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank, will give a summary of the two-day conference, "Roma in an Expanding Europe: Breaking the Poverty Cycle," held June 30-July 1, 2003, in Budapest, Hungary.

Ringold, author of the Roma Report produced by the Bank for this event, and who also spearheaded the Bank's organizational efforts for the conference, will talk about the road that led to this milestone event. The conference, which called for economic and social advancement of the Roma, was co-sponsored by the World Bank, the Open Society Institute (OSI), and the European Commission. The event brought together an unprecedented range of top government representatives, senior officials from international organizations, and leaders from the Roma community and civil society.

The program at the Kossuth House will include the presentation of "Roma Voices," a 7-minute documentary shot in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, prepared for the conference. The film gives a snapshot of challenges to be addressed, such as education, health care, housing, and job opportunities. Short video clips will share the reflections of World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn and Mr. George Soros, Chairman of the Open Society Institute.

Ringold will talk about the objectives and potentials of the milestone initiatives, agreed on and launched at the conference, such as the Decade of Roma Inclusion, between 2005 and 2015, and the Roma Education Fund.

Julius Varallyay, Senior Economist, ECA, World Bank, a key player on the Bank's Roma project team, and a delegate to the Budapest conference, will share his views on the status and advancement of Roma inclusion in Central Europe. The discussion forum, lead by Varallyay, will provide an opportunity to explore a variety of issues - such as, how policies of the national government, local government reforms, increasing NGOs and civil society activities, the catalyst of the EU accession, and last but not least, cooperation with international organizations facilitate the empowerment and social integration of the Roma in the ECA region and, in particular, in Hungary.