A scientific conference on the Roma in Croatia and on the language, culture and literature of that ethnic group was held in the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) in Zagreb on Wednesday, with HAZU Secretary-General Pavao Rudan saying that this academy is also an academy of the Roma people in Croatia.

The Roma minority's parliamentary deputy in the Sabor, Veljko Kajtazi, said that much had been changed in the status of ethnic Roma during the four years of his parliamentary term.

Thanks to Croatia, we can now observe annually our International Day of Roma Language and Literature, Kajtazi said.

"We have started exercising our minority rights, we are now better organised and we are better educated," he stressed.

Kajtazi said that the purpose of this conference was to raise the interest of the academic community and media in topics concerning the Roma community and to encourage academic research of those themes

The president of the International Romani Union (IRU), Stanislaw Stankiewicz, welcomed the HAZU decision to enable speaking the Romani language in that institution. He added that the Roma issues were more and more topical in Europe. We, Roma, want to be integrated into the society, Stankiewicz said adding that it remained to be seen how much others wanted it to happen.

This conference proves that Croatia wants it to happen, he added.

Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusic described the organisaiton of this HAZU event as a fantastic headway. The Roma community is being promoted as a a constituent element of this country, the minister said.

Zagreb University Chancellor Damir Boras underlined the importance of education of the Roma, and the studies of the Roma language at Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences  contributed to this goal. This also helps a growing number of people to declare themselves as Roma, according top Boras.

The head of the Croatian National Minorities' Council, Aleksandar Tolnauer, said that first records of the Roma existence on Croatia's soil dated back to 1362 in Dubrovnik.

After long periods of marginalisation and exposure to persecution, the Roma have been experiencing progress over the recent years in their status and progress in the implementation of documents regarding their status, he added.

The International Day of the Romani Language was for the first time celebrated on 5 November 2009 in Zagreb at the initiative of the Association for Education of Roma People - Kali Sara, in Croatia. 

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