Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network Award the Most Roma Friendly Mayors

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels, 09/04/2018

 

Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network Award the Most Roma Friendly Mayors at the 3nd EU Roma Week on April 9, 2018

 

Roma Active Albania and European Roma Grassroots Organizations (ERGO) Network organized an award ceremony in the European Parliament to acknowledge positive examples of local authorities – eight Mayors from the Western Balkans and Turkey. The campaign “The Most Roma Friendly Mayor” is part of the project Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey aiming to mobilize Roma communities and strengthen their existing capacities to engage in a dialogue with public authorities.

The eight winning mayors, selected from 49 competing municipalities, were welcomed by the Member of the European Parliament Ms Soraya Post, the Minister of Labor and Social Policy of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ms Mila Carovska, the Director-General of the European Commission DG Near Mr Christian Danielsson and the Director of Roma Active Albania and General Manager of the project Mr Adriatik Hasantari.

Ms Post explained the importance of cooperation between all the stakeholders by pointing out the relevance of participation of mayors in fighting antigypsyism. “We are looking forward to have more mayors who will take full responsibility”, she stated. Mr Danielsson highlighted the ways of support by the DG Near and the investments of the European Union under IPA II in the Western Balkan and Turkey. “The commitment shown by the mayors and local organizations should inspire future efforts to continue the good work”, he asserted, and assured future commitment of the DG NEAR as well. Ms Carovska highlighted the importance of partnership of governments with Roma civil society organizations in implementing the strategic plans for Roma integration. “We have to work for the development of the whole region”, she argued by pointing out the importance of joint efforts. Mr Hasantari introduced the project Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey focusing on “the Most Roma Friendly Mayor” component. He concluded with the strong message: “When Roma civil society is strong, authorities perform better!”

The awards were given to the following eight mayors: Mr Erion Veliaj, Municipality of Tirana, Albania; Mr Mićo Mićić, Municipality of Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Mr Blagoj Bochvarski, Municipality of Štip, FYROM; Mr Burim Berisha, Municipality of Fushë Kosova, Kosovo; Ms Snežana Matijević, Municipality of Tivat, Montenegro; Ms Latinka Vasiljković, Municipality of Odžaci, Serbia; Mr Osman Genç, Municipality of Canik, Turkey and Mr Hayri İnönü, Municipality of Şişli, Turkey by Ms Post, Mr Danielsson and Mr Hasantari.

Seven independent juries were established in the respective countries, assessing the applications and comparing the facts with the realities. The juries pointed out the progress in having a concrete and budgeted Local Action Plans, efforts in creating education-related opportunities, support for social entrepreneurship, improvement of infrastructure in terms of roads, lighting, sewage and water supply, newly built apartments, Roma participation in local authority structures, and some results are visible in the fields of employment and health as well as in applying holistic approach.

After the award ceremony, all participants were invited to a luncheon discussion. Ms Gabriela Hrabanova, the director of ERGO Network, invited the participants to engage and open about challenges they face and think about how they can work together to find solutions. The award was followed by discussions about the situation of Roma in the Western Balkan and Turkey by speakers ranging from civil society representatives, mayors and the National Roma Contact Points to members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and international organizations. Main questions that lead the discussions were the following: how can the participants overcome specific challenges they are facing from their own positions and how do they see the development of the positioning of the enlargement countries’ Roma agenda in the post-2020 EU programing period.

The Award Ceremony is organized in the framework of the EU Roma Week 2018 held from April 9 to April 12, 2018 to mark the occasion of the International Roma Day on April 8. The International Roma Day in 2018 commemorate the 47th anniversary of the first Romani Congress that was organized in London in 1971. The third EU Roma Week is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Parliament, together with civil society and international organizations.

Hosting MEP of the Most Roma Friendly Mayor Award Ceremony: Soraya Post

 

All the events of the Roma Week can be found at https://www.ardi-ep.eu/roma-week-2018/. Contact: Jelena Jovanovic (j.jovanovic@ergonetwork.org, +32 486 451 393).

 

Disclaimer: This press release has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The content of the release is the sole responsibility of Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.