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.

 

 

Alliance Against Antigypsyism Drafts Recommendations for Post 2020 European Programming Period

Alliance against Antigypsyism and its partners work intensively to create recommendations for the Post 2020 European programming period

On the 14th of March 2018, ERGO Network together with European Network against Racism (ENAR) and Central Council of German Sinti and Roma organized a meeting of the Alliance against Antigypsyism.

The aim of the meeting was twofold. The participants explored two topics. One of them is Roma inclusion in EU social and employment policies and another one specifically about the antigypsyism framework at the EU level and beyond. The ultimate aim was to discuss the draft papers authored by some members of the Alliance themselves and contribute into the content by discussing specific relevant policy processes and by formulating recommendations. New steps were jointly set in creating the two documents with recommendations with purpose to help the institutions with clear guidelines that will be used as an advocacy tool by stakeholders in their work on Roma and the post 2020 programming period.

Other participation organizations such as Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), Roma Active Albania, OTAHARIN, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Romano  Centro, Slovo 21, Romea, European Roma Right Center, Sozialfabrik, Society for the Research on Antigypsyism, were consulted in order to help make the recommendations feasible and relevant ranging from the international to the national and local level perspectives.

Secondly, a joint advocacy work occurred in light of preparation for the upcoming European Commission consultation meeting organized by DG JUST a day after, on 15th of March. The key objective of the consultation was to collect views on the implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies launched in 2011 and running until 2020. Our discussion was yet another coordinated action among various civil society stakeholders aiming at reaching a common agreement on priorities and possible action plan that will lead our work in 2018 and further so we achieve strong Roma inclusive policies after 2020.

 

ERGO’S work and its partners continues in the NEW FRAMEWORK PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT with EASI DG EMPL: 1st working meeting

ERGO’S work and its partners continues in the NEW FRAMEWORK PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT with EASI DG EMPL: 1st working meeting

ERGO Network brought together its co-workers from Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria to Brussels on March 5-7, for the 1st working meeting under the Annual Working Program (AWP) 2018- 2021. The meeting marked a continuation of the last four years work ERGO and its partners conducted under the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation funded by Director General: Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion support (DG EMPL).

The aim of the meeting was to discuss all the priorities under the four years framework. The meeting aim was to plan and discus the AWP 2018 and find ways to raise the effectiveness and productiveness and continuation of the previous activities conducted. A special focus was put on the methodology and guidance on how our members should carry out the implementation of the AWP in the next months.

Our members were very active in commonly agree on the next steps in our work at the grassroots level. In addition, the ERGO members were updated with the ongoing work of ERGO at European level and together we planned further steps for the events which are in the next days (Roma week etc.)

ERGO will continue in the next period together with its partners to equip multipliers with the competencies to train local Roma civil society organizations and public authorities in engaging more effectively with national and EU decision-making processes.

Join us at the EU Roma Week 2018!

Join us at the EU Roma Week 2018!

The EU Roma Week 2018 will take place in Brussels starting on 8 April, International Roma Day and continue until Thursday 12 April. A series of events will be organised during the week, including an event co-organised by ERGO Network on addressing From quality education to decent employment, Antigypsyism, Theatre peformance,  International Roma Day commemoration and celebration with concerts.

Click here to see the programme  of the EU Roma Week!

Register for the events by 3 April  here. 

French activists fighting against environmental violence and police brutality towards Roma and Gens du Voyage

French activists fighting against environmental violence and police brutality towards Roma and Gens du Voyage

ERGO Network visited its member La Voix des Rroms in France between March 16 and 18, 2018. The purpose of the visit was to take part in one of the meetings of the Rromani Resistance Movement, learn about the fights of the French Roma and Gens du Voyage and think together how we can support each other. The participants were activists from different regions of France: women from Northern France who organized themselves in their community to fight environmental violence, Roma from Paris, Saint Denis, Bordeaux, Nice, a sister and her friend who seek justice for Angelo, a man killed by the French police, Raymond Gurême a Roma genocide survivor with his daughter and many others.

Gens du Voyage women who fight environmental violence ask no more than for their right to health. Their camp is surrounded by factories and railways. The consequences of the bad position of their camp on their health are severe. In addition, the toilets are cold, outside of the premises they live in. They have talks with relevant authorities who are supposed to react, especially because there is a French law that does not allow the conditions this community lives in. Even though the process is slow, the women we talked to expect their camp to be moved sometimes next year. In general, in France, there are not enough caravan camps.

In this community in Northern France there are about 500 people not only at risk but already having health issues (skin problems, for example). The women have written to the mayor and are waiting for the response. A specialist is also going to access the consequences of these living conditions on the people’s health. These women activists are sending a message that they want to move their camp and to have toilets inside – all they want is their basic rights to be respected.

You can read more about the women living in Hallemes-Ronchin dedicated caravan sight in the suburbs of Lille we met, but also more about “a significant gap between the officially stated goals of such sights and the reality of life within them” in an article written by Lise Foisneau here.

Beside environmental violence, one of the big problems in France is police brutality. Aurelie, a sister of Angelo who was murdered by some French police officers, and few supporters formed “La justice pour Angelo” movement. On the 31st of March, in the city of Blois, Angelo Garand’s family and their supporters will march to remind the public that it is intolerable to kill someone just because he is a prisoner and a Roma. A month after the march, on April 30th, the judge will decide if there is enough evidence and if the police officers are going to be sent for a trial. More information about the case and the opportunities to support the cause can be found here  and here , and at the Facebook page of Angelo’s family.

Photo credit: Valentin Merlin 

After an exciting day and a half of learning, getting to know each other, learning more about the 16th of May – Rromani Resistance Day from our partner from La Voix des Rroms Saimir Mile and working in small groups following Tara Dickman’s and Anina Ciuciu’s presentation of community organizing methodology, figuring out the most efficient and effective next steps, Sunday was about connecting past and present, listening a research findings of Lise Foisneau and Valentin Merlin about the resistance of “Nomads” during the Second World War. The public in general lacks the knowledge about Roma genocide, but even less known is the resistance of the Roma, which was continuous and had both an individual as well as an organized dimension.