Anti-Roma Sentiment in the Western Balkans | A Debrief with Sonja Licht and Zeljko Jovanovic

The Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority, an estimated 10 to 12 million people, of whom over two thirds live in Central and Eastern Europe according to the World Bank. Despite their many contributions to European society, Roma communities continue to face extreme social, economic, and political exclusion while suffering disproportionately from environmental racism and shorter life expectancies.

In this episode of #BalkansDebrief, Nonresident Senior Fellow Ilva Tare discusses the current challenges and potential changes for Roma communities in the Western Balkans with Sonja Licht, the President of Foundation BFPE for a Responsible Society in Belgrade and Zeljko Jovanovic, the Director of Roma Initiatives Office for the Open Societies Foundation in Berlin. 

Along with a brief overview of the history of the Roma people in the region, Tare poses the following questions to the guest experts in this important discussion: What are the root causes of anti-Roma sentiment and what practical steps can be taken to combat discrimination and promote a more inclusive society? What are the major institutional barriers in the Western Balkans preventing the full integration of Roma communities socially, politically, and economically? How does ending Anti-Roma Sentiment promise critical economic benefits for Western Balkan economies? 



#BalkansDebrief is an online interview series presented by the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center and hosted by journalist Ilva Tare. The program offers a fresh look at the Western Balkans and examines the region’s people, culture, challenges, and opportunities.

Watch #BalkansDebrief on YouTube and listen to it as a Podcast.


The Europe Center promotes leadership, strategies, and analysis to ensure a strong, ambitious, and forward-looking transatlantic relationship.

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