Today marks 165 years since, as the text of the Legislation for the Emancipation of All Gypsies in the Principality of Wallachia said, the Romanian people parted ways with "the inhumanity and shame of holding slaves."

It was one of those moments of a very special relevance for the course towards the renewal and westernization of the Romanian society in the middle of the 19th century. Like the short-lived Union of Principalities or the reforms that followed, the liberation of the Roma played a major role in changing the profile and values ​​of society at that time, preparing our country for the encounter with its European modernity.

The liberation from 1856 was a great challenge for the Romanian society as a whole. For the Roma, hundreds of years of deprivation of liberty have left deep scars that are difficult to heal. The law that disobeyed them did not solve the enormous gap, economically and socially, to which the Roma were victims, and in the decades that followed many expressions of discrimination, hatred and racism tragically marked their existence.

Overcoming the consequences of this past is a great challenge. In a social Europe, through strategies and projects, a resilient Romania must capitalize more and more insistently on the identity, potential, capacities and energy of its Roma citizens. It is extremely important to eliminate prejudice and discrimination, which are all too common in the access to education of Roma communities. Therefore, I want "Educated Romania" to be the spearhead of our effort for equality, inclusion and tolerance.

The last year, dominated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has revealed how difficult it is for society in times of crisis to remain immune to hate speech, generalizations and mass blame. Entire communities, such as the Roma, are being targeted by such attacks. These behaviors and attitudes are unacceptable in a democratic society!

The deterrence and speedy sanctioning of hate speech, racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic manifestations are in the power of all citizens, but they are the special responsibility of those who, by the nature of their activity, give real content to the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution.

For all this, today, at the commemoration of the important historical moment of 165 years ago, I urge you to work together for the values ​​of solidarity and respect for diversity, for a society in which, regardless of ethnicity and cultivating their identity, all citizens find themselves through their own contribution to the great projects of the nation! "

The President of Romania K.W. Iohannis, 20.02.2021


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