Attempt to storm Roma neighbourhood in Bulgaria

Roughly 2,000 inhabitants of the Southern Bulgarian city Asenovgrad tried to storm the city's Roma neighbourhood on Wednesday and Thursday, but were blocked by police. Roma were said to have attacked youths in the city in the days prior to the unrest. How should the city and the country deal with the conflict between its majority and minority populations?

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Duma (BG) /

Police can't be the solution

The police operation doesn't solve the problem, Duma criticises:

“What exactly does the state plan to do to reduce the massive police presence in the divided Roma ghetto? What solution has statesman [Deputy Prime Minister] Simeonov proposed that would do anything to change the situation? What good does it do when he notes that there are ethnic tensions in Bulgaria? How does it help when officials come and ascertain that the Roma have built their houses illegally, as if they hadn't already been aware of this for a long time? What good will it do if they're relocated? Where are they supposed to go, and what will become of them? Will they suddenly start to read and write? Will they suddenly become socialised, stop stealing and getting married at 13, and start going to school?”

Trud (BG) /

The economy as a motor of integration

The Bulgarians must stop regarding the Roma as enemies, comments MP Ivo Hristov in an interview with Trud:

“Bulgaria has the largest Roma minority in relation to its population in Europe. But the Roma can only be integrated successfully if they cease to be seen as a problem and instead are identified as a chance for the country. … All the talk about multiculturalism, diversity and so on is just hot air. Integration only works via the economy. The Roma are still the biggest losers of Bulgaria's transition to a market economy. Their erstwhile places of work - the ironworks and agricultural businesses - have changed and no longer need them. Social decline, illiteracy and criminality are the result. But the Roma are not the root of the problem, even if they are generally depicted this way.”