The kick-off conference of the joint ROMACTED Phase II program of the European Union and the Council of Europe in Serbia took place in the MPs’ Club in Belgrade.
“This extended start-up phase has shown us once again how relevant and up-to-date ROMACTED is,” said Tobias Flessenkemper, Head of the Council of Europe office in Belgrade, in his opening speech. “Today is therefore an important moment in building a productive partnership with 14 communities across the country working to empower Roma,” he concluded.
Gordana Čomić, Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue and National Focal Point for Roma in Serbia, pointed out that the integration of the Roma population is a strategic and political goal and stressed that the Roma in Serbia are in terms of employment opportunities and housing options are still not the same, education and other fundamental rights. “You can’t ban prejudice, but you can pass laws that ban prejudice-based behavior, and this is where Roma inclusion begins. This ministry will be actively involved in all projects related to Roma integration and we expect the Council of Europe to continue its support, including under the joint program ROMACTED II of the European Union and the Council of Europe, ”she said.
HE Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret, Head of the Delegation of the European Union in the Republic of Serbia, emphasized that “every person has the right to have their rights fulfilled, respected and protected and every person to be a valuable member of his and her own society”. So the more we integrate and include everyone, the more resilient and prosperous societies become! Roma are the largest ethnic minority in the EU and Serbia, but this population is also very young; it is essential to provide them with opportunities for education and decent and decent work and life. Improving the life of the Roma community requires coordination and cooperation between all relevant actors – both at national and local level. At the national level, we expect a revised strategy and action plan to be adopted so that the planning and implementation of strategic measures is carefully planned. However, the success of national policies depends heavily on the local communities who are at the forefront of this task, and through projects like this regional one, the EU has worked with the Council of Europe, the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue and Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, offers them instruments and support in their work on Roma integration. “
State Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government Stevan Gligorin said the Ministry would remain a committed partner in the implementation of the new phase of the ROMACTED program. The Ministry will contribute to better communication between local authorities and representatives of the Roma community in order to solve problems, taking into account the specificities
any local context. “I hope that with the second phase of the ROMACTED program we will come to a result and a sustainable solution,” concluded Gligorin.
For Dalibor Nakić, President of the National Council of the National Roma Minority in Serbia, the importance of the ROMACTED program is, among other things, that “the need for action on the ground has been recognized, as this is the key to success” Roma integration. This process largely depends on the ability, ability and willingness of local governments to systematically address existing problems. ”At the same time, Nakić emphasized the importance of involving the Roma community in decision-making and decision-making processes, so it is very important to empower them to to make their political participation as active as possible.
Sonja Licht, President of the BFPE Foundation for a Responsible Society, said that for her “ROMACTED is more than a project – it is an incentive for the local Roma community to get involved in solving their burning problems and for local self-government to work much better for everyone, with much more citizen participation in decisions that matter to the whole community. “
Marina Vasić, ROMACTED program manager, presented the novelties of ROMACTED II and informed at a glance about the joint efforts of the Council of Europe and the European Union to strengthen the Roma communities through several joint programs / projects since 2011.
Following the opening speech, the signing ceremony of the cooperation protocols between the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, the Council of Europe and representatives of the partner cities and municipalities (Aleksinac, Apatin, Bač, Kostolac, Kragujevac, Kruševac, Libane, Niš, Pirot, Prokuplje, Subotica, Vrnjačka Banja, Zaječar, Zvezdara).
Joint ROMACTED program of the European Union and the Council of Europe “Promoting good governance and strengthening the role of the Roma at local level” Phase II (2021-2024) is a continuation of the implementation of Phase I of the ROMACTED program in the Western Balkans and in the Turkey (2017-2020), which will consolidate and expand efforts to better integrate Roma people into local communities through increased participation in local policymaking and implementation of local measures. ROMACTED II will continue to support local authorities in integrating Roma-specific dimensions / measures into general local policies, action plans related to these policies, budgets and public services, thereby enhancing democratic participation and empowering local Roma communities .