On 24 June, a coordination meeting took place in the premises of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue between the Minister Ms Gordana Comic, the Head of the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, Mr Tobias Flessenkemper and ROMACTED Programme Manager, Ms Marina Vasic.
The purpose of the meeting was to reaffirm institutional partnership between the Ministry and the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade in the framework of the regional joint EU-CoE ROMACTED Phase II Programme on “Promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at local level” for the period from 2021 until 2024. Furthermore, one of the main points of discussion were in line with the terms and responsibilities of the signatory parties of the Memorandum of Understanding, which will be officially signed between the Ministry, the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, and the representatives of the partner cities/ municipalities of the ROMACTED Phase 2.
“Roma are the second largest national minority in Serbia. The ROMACTED II works at the local level, and this is where all of us need to be able to realise their fundamental rights and freedoms in the first place”, stated Tobias Flessenkemper, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade. “Good policies require participation and reliable information about the aspirations and needs of the people. 14 municipalities in Serbia will commit to ROMACTED approach for the benefit of Roma and all citizens. The aim is to promote equality and diversity while considering the particular strengths, resilience, and innovation capacity of Roma citizens”, he highlighted.
Gordana Comic, Minister of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue of Serbia, noted that the inclusion of Roma population is a strategic and political goal, underlining that Roma people in Serbia are still not equal in terms of job opportunities, housing, education, and other fundamental rights. “One cannot ban prejudice, but one can pass laws that prohibit behaviour based on prejudice and this is where the inclusion of Roma begins. This ministry will actively participate in all projects related to Roma inclusion and we expect from the Council of Europe to continue its support, including under the joint European Union/Council of Europe programme ROMACTED II”, she said.
Marina Vasic, ROMACTED Programme Manager, underlined that the active institutional support from the Ministry is of immense importance for the Programme in Serbia. She also thanked Minister Comic for signing and sending out the 14 letters of support to the partner cities/ municipalities to actively participate in the implementation of the ROMACTED Phase II.
The Ministry and the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade will work closely together to improve the inclusion of Roma people in Serbia. The ROMACTED II, the joint European Union/Council of Europe Programme that will run from 2021 to 2024 is a natural follow-up of ROMACTED Phase I. It will serve to consolidate and expand efforts to improve the integration of Roma populations in local communities through enhanced participation in local policymaking and implementation of local actions. ROMACTED II will continue to assist the local authorities to integrate Roma specific dimensions/measures into the mainstream local policies, action plans related to these policies, budgets, and public service delivery, thereby enhancing democratic participation and empowerment of local Roma communities.