In a joint press conference on Friday, five ministers heralded a comprehensive plan aimed at cracking down on crime in Menidi, northwestern Athens, where an 11-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet last week, and improving the education and social integration of the area’s significant Roma population.
The plan foresees initiatives to ensure Roma children gain access to better education, an increase in police patrols of the area where crime has been rife for years, better street lighting and the possible relocation of Roma settlements.
Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said measures would be taken to curb the possession and illegal use of firearms, in Menidi and beyond. A 23-year-old Roma man was sentenced to 40 months in prison for fatally shooting the 11-year-old last week, a term that was suspended following his appeal.
Education Minister Costas Gavroglou said the government aimed to improve education for Roma children, noting that classes attended by members of the Roma community would be reduced in size from 25 to 15. A community outreach program for Roma will be revived, he added, with mediators to shuttle between schools and homes.
Meanwhile Public Order Minister Nikos Toskas reiterated that the problems cannot be solved overnight. “We are not under the illusion that organized drug dealing can be wiped out in a day,” he said. “A systematic effort is under way and it will bear fruit in the course of time, not in 24 hours.”