The grand opening of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) took place this morning in Berlin, Germany. The opening ceremony was conducted by the Alliance for ERIAC, the Council of Europe, the German Foreign Ministry and the Open Society Foundations.
ERIAC is meant to be a public vehicle for presenting the talent and wealth of Romani arts, culture and history and for demonstrating how Romani people have been contributing to European culture. "Romani art, language and traditions represent the strongest connections among the 12 million Romani people living in Europe," explains a joint declaration about ERIAC previously issued by Željko Jovanović, chair of the board of ERIAC, and Romani Rose, an activist and chair of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.
"Romani culture has significantly enriched European civilization for centuries," says the statement. "It is precisely now, at a time when so many matters are tearing European citizens and countries apart from each other, that ERIAC can take advantage of the power of culture to combat these persistent prejudices and respond to them by presenting the positive identities of the Roma and Sinti."
Speeches and performances by: Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe; Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Foreign Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany; George Soros, chair of the Open Society Foundations and main sponsor of ERIAC; Željko Jovanović, chair of the board of ERIAC; Timea Junghaus, ERIAC artistic director; Sead Kazanxhiu, Romani activist and painter; Dijana Pavlović, chair of the Alliance for ERIAC; and Romani Rose, chair of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.