Statement regarding Bulgarian EU conference on Roma Inclusion

Brussels, 29th May 2018

The European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO) and its Bulgarian member Integro Association together with the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) and a number of Bulgarian Roma activists and organizations support the position of prominent advocates for Roma rights in Bulgaria concerning today’s event entitled “Roma inclusion – where we stand and where we are heading to”.

We would have appreciated the effort to prioritize Roma inclusion as a topic if the event had stood up for values such as meaningful Roma participation, not just tokenism, and the fight against antigypsyism. As this is not the case, we join the 51 Bulgarian organisations, coalitions and individuals participating in the Roma Standing Conference, who decided not to take part in the event in a letter supporting a society free from antigypsyism.

Today’s conference is organized by the Bulgarian National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues, an institution that fails to implement the priorities of the National Roma Integration Strategy. The institution is chaired by Valeri Simeonov, who in 2017 was convicted by the regional court of Burgas and the Commission for the Protection Against Discrimination for his antigypsyist statements.

For these reasons, we characterise this event as yet another illegitimate attempt to represent ‘Roma issues’. We call upon the authorities to include the Roma community and Roma CSOs as equal stakeholders rather than token participants for public relations.

Download the statement here.

     The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC)     Bulgaria_Integro 

 

Signatures:

Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, ERGO Network; Ðorđe Jovanoviç, ERRC; Liliya Makaveeva – Integro Association; Lyubomir Dimitrov, Roma-Lom; Nikolay Kirilov, member of the RSC; Asen Yordanov IG-Boychinovtsi; Miglena Mihaylova “Leader” NGO, Blagoevgrad; Asen Karagyozov ICRC, Plovdiv; Zapryan Hristev, IG, Rakovski; Yanko Krivonozov Future Rakitovo; Krassimir Kirilov IG, Sliven; Ophelia Krumova IG, Vidin; Peter Tsvetanov – National Network of Health Mediators, Branch Montana; Veselin Lakov –  IG Montana; Assen Hristov- Association of Roma pastors – over 100 Roma churches; Alexander Strahilov – IG Razlog; Svetlin Raikov – Development Initiative for the Northwest; Anton Karagyozov – Roma-Plovdiv; Nikolay Nikolov, Center for strategies for minorities – Varna; Metin Shefket – Roma – Vazovo; Daniela Mihaylova – Equal opportunities Association , Sofia;  Roumyan Sechkov, S. E. G. A. Foundation; Emil Metodiev, RSC; Demir Yanev, Roma Solidarity, Petrich; Yuksel Yasharov, Peshtera, Roma Active Albania, Romano Centro Austria, La Voix des Rroms, France, Advancing Together, Kosovo, Amaro Drom, Amaro Foro, Germany, Asociatia CRIS, Romania

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The European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network’s mission is to fight against antigypsyism and advocate for better policies for Roma in Europe. We create strong networks and empower Roma activists all over Europe. More information on our website: http://ergonetwork.org/.

Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, ERGO Director:  g.hrabanova@ergontwork.org

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is a Roma-led international public interest law organisation which monitors the human rights of Roma in Europe and provides legal defence in cases of human rights violations. For more information see at:  http://www.errc.org/.

Ðorđe Jovanoviç,  ERRC President:  dorde.jovanovic@errc.org

Association Integro Bulgaria is a not-for-profit non-government music organisation. It was incorporated in 2002. Its main goal is to support Roma in the rural areas of Bulgaria and supply musical equipment, such as drum samples and drum sounds. The name of the Association is an abbreviation of “Roma INTEGRation”. More information on our website:  http://www.integro-bg.org/

Liliya Makaveeva, Director Integro: L.makaveeva@gmail.com

 

 

 

Strengthening Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations

Strengthening Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations

ERGO members from the Western Balkans, Turkey and the ‘Visegrad countries’ Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic met in Brussels on 24-25 November to prepare a new ERGO project that will strengthen Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations.

Being transparent and accountable are important prerequisites for the effectiveness of civil society organisations that are taken seriously by their institutional counterparts. It also shows public authorities that civil society take transparency and accountability very seriously and demand the same from the public sector.

With financial support from the International Visegrad Fund and the European Commission, ERGO Network member organizations therefore agreed on joining their efforts and put their thorough expertise together to set up a list of ‘transparency criteria’ and capacitate Roma civil society in their countries in implementing them.

During the meeting, all partners agreed that using transparency criteria would give them more legitimacy, better fundraising opportunities and more trust from both the grassroots level and institutions. They then drew up a list of criteria, divided into the chapters ‘governance’, ‘finance’ and ‘performance’. These include points such as giving access and distributing information about statutes and funding sources of CSOs, clear decision-making structures that divide responsibilities and ensure gender equality in CSOs, as well as the participation of target groups in the development of strategies and goals.  The partners furthermore stressed the importance of open leadership and regular training within the organisation that contribute to a positive performance of the staff, as well as the need not to use ‘dirty money’ coming for example from illegal sources or from companies using child labour.

Transparency also demands a proper and clear communication strategy (both internal and external) that communicates the vision, mission and the long term goals of the organization. If applicable, diversification of funds also contributes to more independence of organisations.

In 2018, ERGO Network will organise a training for trainers on the transparency criteria in order to help their usage and dissemination in the participating countries as well as offer coaching visits to the partner organisations. You will be able to find regular updates on our website.

“The inclusion of the Roma community was encouraged and evaluated through a system of indicators developed by the ERGO Network”* – a story of success

“The inclusion of the Roma community was encouraged and evaluated through a system of indicators developed by the ERGO Network”* – a story of success

Our Bulgarian member organisation Integro analysed the Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) process and Roma inclusion therein.

In Bulgaria the implementation of the CLLD in the 2014-2020 programming period started within the Rural Development Program 2014-2020, a successor of the LEADER approach. During the current period, the budget for implementation of local development strategies is significantly higher – so that it is expected that two times more local development strategies will be funded.  With the help of ERGO Network’s quality audit tool, Integro analysed Roma integration in local development strategies and local action groups, and identified four steps that are important to take when wanting to improve Roma access to the CLLD programme.