The new EU Roma Strategy and the fight against Antigypsyism in the Western Balkans

The new EU Roma Strategy and the fight against Antigypsyism in the Western Balkans

Despite limitation due to the pandemic of COVID 19, Roma Active Albania kept an active role in advocating for Roma inclusion in the Enlargement countries of the Western Balkans.

Combining distant working with field work, RAA coordinates the  partners of the regional project “Romani Women, Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Turkey”, in following their national plans and providing information from the grassroots  level to ERGO’s study on the impact of COVID 19 on Roma communities.

Thanks to the financial support of the European Union through the European Commission’s DG NEAR, RAA has been working jointly with its partners in the Western Balkans and Turkey to implement the components of the project “Romani Women, Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Turkey”. The last months focused on building synergies in regional advocacy in the context of the new EU Roma Strategy and the fight against antigypsyism.

RAA actively contributed to the organisation of the event “The new EU Roma Strategy and the fight against Antigypsyism in the Western Balkans”, which took place on 4 November 2020 via the Zoom platform.

This virtual conference addressed strategies and measures to combat antigypsyism and to strengthen Roma empowerment and participation in the Western Balkans in the context of the new “EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation” for 2020-2030. The conference brought together governments, international organizations and civil society representatives from all countries in the Western Balkan region.

The new EU Framework guides the commitment of EU Member States and defines the core policy for Roma equality, inclusion and participation in the accession and neighbourhood countries. A key priority of the new framework is to recognize and to fight antigypsyism as the root cause of discrimination and social exclusion. Combatting antigypsyism should be done in a combined approach as a stand-alone task and as cross-cutting issue in the priority areas education, employment, housing and basic services, health and poverty, and keeping a special focus on Roma Women empowerment.

Following this event, RAA participated in and coordinated three national virtual conferences on the same topic, addressing the realities and challenges in Kosovo, Serbia and Albania.

These conferences were organised by Roma Active Albania, ERGO Network and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, in partnership with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement and with support of the European Union and German Federal Foreign Office.

Most Roma Friendly Mayor awards 2019

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels, 22/11/2019

Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network Award the Most Roma Friendly Mayors in the European Parliament on November 19, 2019

Roma Active Albania and the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network organized an award ceremony in the European Parliament to acknowledge positive examples of local authorities – efforts of seven Mayors from the Western Balkans and Turkey to improve the lives of Roma in their municipalities.

The competition “The Most Roma Friendly Mayor” is part of the project Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey. This project aims at mobilising Roma communities and strengthening their existing capacities to engage in a dialogue with public authorities.

The seven winning mayors, selected from 47 competing municipalities, were welcomed by the Member of the European Parliament and the Chair of Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo Romeo Franz, Co-Chair of ERGO Network and Former Member of the European Parliament Soraya Post, the Coordinator of the Roma Policy of the European Commission Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG Near) Marta Garcia Fidalgo and the Director of Roma Active Albania and General Manager of the project Adriatik Hasantari. The winning mayors were symbolically awarded with statues, the creation of  prominent artist  Sead Kazanxhiu from Albania. The Director of ERGO Network Gabriela Hrabanova moderated the event.

Ms Hrabanova highlighted the importance of partnership between local authorities and Roma civil society organizations. “The local level is the most important to achieve real societal change and improve the quality of lives of Romani people”, she emphasized. Mr Franz asserted that “the positive role models that we are awarding this evening represent another proof that only together Roma and non-Roma can succeed”. “It is a proof that change is possible when you treat your citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, as equals”, he pointed out. Ms Post urged the mayors to spread their good practice while expressing how proud she was of their commitments: “We are proud of the awarded mayors; they are real human rights fighters. It is very clear that if mayors take their duties seriously, it shows good results also for the Roma community as full members of the society”. Ms Garcia Fidalgo highlighted the ways of support by the DG Near. “The strength of a society is proven by the support to the members who need it the most”, she stated and acknowledged that the winning mayors and their civil society partners are key actors who are helping their countries on the path to the European Union. While explaining “the Most Roma Friendly Mayor” campaign to the audience, Mr Hasantari concluded with a strong message to the Mayors: “What has been done is acknowledged and appreciated. However, we need more commitment from you in the future and more good examples!”

The awards were given to the following seven mayors: Ms Majlinda Bufi, Municipality of Roskovec, Albania; Mr Aldin Šljivo, Municipality of Kakanj, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Mr Kurto Dudush, Municipality of Shuto Orizari, North Macedonia; Mr Imri Ahmeti, Municipality of Lipjan, Kosovo; Mr Petar Smolović, Municipality of Bijelo Polje, Montenegro; Mr Vladan Glišić, City of Belgrade, Serbia; Mr Abdül Batur, Municipality of Konak, Turkey.

Seven independent juries were established in the respective countries, assessing the applications. The juries pointed out the following achievements: progress in Roma participation in local authority structures; efforts in creating education-related opportunities; increasing employability of Roma and especially of Roma women; building infrastructure and housing units and many more.

In the participating countries, the project is implemented by ERGO Network members Zero Discrimination (Turkey), OTAHARIN (Bosnia&Herzegovina), RROMA (North Macedonia), Roma Active Albania, Mladi Romi (Montenegro), Roma Forum Serbia and Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (Kosovo).

Hosting MEP of the Most Roma Friendly Mayor Award Ceremony: Romeo Franz

Contact: Gabriela Hrabanova (g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org, +32 2 893 10 49).

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.

 

Western Balkans summit

Declaration on Roma integration in the EU enlargement processs signed at Western Balkans Summit

The sixth annual summit within the Berlin Process Initiative for European integration of Western Balkans states was held between 3rd and 5th of July 2019 held in Poznań.

At the initiative of North Macedonia, the Western Balkan countries signed a Declaration on Roma integration in the EU enlargement process as a pledge for their reiterated commitment to continue and enhance efforts for full equality and integration of Roma through implementation of specific set of measures in the areas of employment, education, housing, health, civil registration and non-discrimination.

With the Declaration they pledge to achieve the following objectives:

  • A. Employment: Increase the employment rate of Roma in the public sector to the rate proportional of the participation of Roma in the overall population; Increase the employment rate among Roma to at least 25% percent;
  • B. Housing: Wherever possible, legalize all informal settlements where Roma live; or provide permanent, decent, affordable and desegregated housing for Roma currently living in informal settlements that cannot be legalized for justified reasons;
  • C. Education: Increase the enrolment and completion rate of Roma in primary education to 90 percent and the enrolment and completion rate of Roma in secondary education to 50 percent;
  • D. Health: Ensure universal health insurance coverage among Roma to at least 95 percent or to the rate equal to the rest of the population;
  • E. Civil Registration: Ensure all Roma are registered in the civil registries;
  • F. Non-Discrimination: Strengthen the government structures to protect against discrimination and establish a specific sub-division for non-discrimination of Roma within the formal non-discrimination bodies to process complaints by Roma, provide legal support to alleged victims and identify discrimination schemes, including institutional and hidden discrimination.

Governments of the Western Balkan countries understand that progress on Roma integration is progress towards enlargement. The participation of strong Roma civil society organizations from the countries of the region was crucial.
National Roma civil society organizations from the Western Balkan countries have been strongly represented in the Summit, and their presence was of crucial importance to this process. Sitting alongside the government representatives, the message they sent is that the Roma civil society organizations in the Western Balkans have grown and are consolidated to be considered a partner in the activities and actions towards Roma integration, but also showing that Roma civil society organizations may play an important and critical role in the monitoring and guiding governmental institutions in their Roma inclusion processes.


RCC also introduced the results of the Balkan Barometer 2019, which showed “modestly optimistic” regional perceptions and attitudes across a wide array of social, political and economic factors impacting life in South East Europe.

Most Roma-friendly Mayor

Regional campaignMost Roma Friendly Mayor

We are launching the 2019 call for the regional campaign for the most “Roma Friendly Mayor” in the framework of the project “Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey“, implemented jointly by Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network. The campaign aims to increase awareness of and change attitudes towards Roma inclusion and contribute to overcoming the many barriers on the way.

An important part of this campaign is the “Most Roma Friendly Mayor”competition, which is simultaneously implemented in the Western Balkans and Turkey. The award-winning mayors from Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, The Republic of North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey will participate in a special event in October 2019 in Brussels to meet a high representative from the EU Commission’s Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement (DG NEAR).

The campaign will strengthen the dialogue between municipalities and Roma communities and make best practice examples visible. The selection of the “Most Roma Friendly Mayor” can help  communities to make their vision a reality on how municipalities and the Roma community can come together and engage in a dialogue on an equal level.

The campaign will focus on positive examples of Roma integration. Moreover, the selection criteria will emphasize the project philosophy of empowerment, mobilization and equal dialogue between local authorities and Roma communities between 2018 and September 2019.

The competition will be open from April 8th until September 6th 2019. An independent jury will be established and select the winner of the contest based on the given questionnaire.

The partners of the project “Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey” will carry out local information sessions to further brief the interested municipalities on the campaign and competition.

Application documents:

  • The completed application form
  • Articles, news, reports, protocols or any document that support your responses in the application form
  • Feedback /assessment from the Roma community regarding the municipality
  • Pictures

The application form can be mailed to: info@raa.al or to any of the implementing partners until September 6th 2019, local time 23:59.

 For general inquiries you can also contact info@ergonetwork.org or check the facebook page of the event.

Partners:

This activity is implemented in the framework of the project “Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society on the Western Balkans and Turkey” (JIERCSWBT), financed by the European Union.

2017 ERGO Network Annual Report

2017 ERGO Network Annual Report

ERGO Network’s annual report for 2017 is now available. Read the  2017 ERGO Annual Report and learn how ERGO Network and  its members introduced and pursued numerous initiatives to fight antigypsyism and to empower Roma in 2017. In addition the annual report 2017 presents the initiatives undertaken by ERGO to ensure networking between, and capacity building of member organisations. The report contains relevant information and graphs on the achievements and progress made to strengthen the Roma community. ERGO Network will definitely keep the wheel rolling to support the implementation of more and better measures for Roma.

Read the  2017 ERGO Annual Report