'Do as We Say, Not as We Do': EU to Turkey on Roma/Gypsy Integration

AVARA H., Mascitelli B.

EUROPEAN REVIEW, vol.22, no.1, pp.129-144, 2014 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/s1062798713000690
  • Journal Name: EUROPEAN REVIEW
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.129-144
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


For many centuries, Roma/Gypsy people have been an oppressed and stateless minority. Until 1989 most Roma/Gypsy people resided in the former Central and Eastern European communist countries. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Roma/Gypsy became one of the communities that were regarded as a scapegoat for post-Communist society's ills. Despite much rhetoric to the contrary, Roma/Gypsy communities were not welcomed in the West and much of the persecution they endured in the East they saw repeated in the West. The European Union (EU) has sought to place Human Rights as a focal point of its approach in all matters including the issue of Roma/Gypsy communities. Since 2007, Romania and Bulgaria, two states with large numbers of Roma/Gypsy, have become members of the EU. In the last few years France (and Italy) have been cautioned on their expulsion of Roma/Gypsy people. Not only have these actions contravened the European Union charter on Human Rights, but just as seriously, France and Italy have actually expelled citizens who are members of another European Member State because they were Roma/Gypsies. Turkey, on the other hand, as the home of one of the oldest and largest Roma/Gypsy settlements, had for long periods of time subjected Roma/Gypsy people to a life of social and economic disadvantage. Recently this has changed, ironically as part of Turkey's EU accession process. The aim of this article is to explore and compare the actions of European member States (France and Italy primarily) on the question of Roma/Gypsy integration with their integration in future EU accession states such as Turkey. The EU's moral high ground with regard to minorities seems to be ruined by the deplorable behaviour of some of its member states on the question of Roma/Gypsies while Turkey, which has an uneven record on human rights violations, has shown greater, although contradictory concern for the fate of the Roma/Gypsies.