The second phase of the joint CoE/EU ROMACTED Programme “Promoting Good Governance and Roma Empowerment at Local Level” was launched in Podgorica on 18 Novembre, bringing together the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, the EU Delegation, international stakeholders, central-level partners, and municipal representatives from eight partner cities and municipalities in Montenegro.
In her introductory remarks, Head of the Council of Europe Programme Office in Podgorica Evgenia Giakoumopoulou expressed satisfaction that the ROMACTED Programme continued into the second phase. “It has reunited important partners at the local and national levels who will continue working together on social inclusion and improving Roma and Egyptians' quality of life in Montenegro”, she said.
Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights Sergej Sekulović reminded that a lot had been done in the process of social inclusion of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro, but that the obligation remained for all institutions of the system to continue working towards achieving even better results, which is an assumption that brings Montenegro closer to EU standards, but also to fulfill the existing obligations as a member state of the Council of Europe. "In our joint responsibility to implement anti-discrimination policies through respect for the human rights of all citizens, the local level has a very important role. Respect for human rights and freedoms as well as efforts for the social inclusion of all citizens should be a connection point that will be above daily politics, " the Minister pointed out.
H.E. Oana Cristina Popa, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro encouraged the municipalities participating in ROMACTED Programme to keep up their good work, to continue defining their Roma inclusion priorities, strengthen their capacities and connect with the local Roma communities. “The European Union will continue to support you in this process. Our small grants will assist you to accomplish some of your strategic goals. Let this be a bright example to all municipalities in Montenegro to start working on social inclusion for all their citizens,” she stressed.
Marina Vasić, ROMACTED Programme Manager, underlined that ROMACTED Programme is a result of longstanding efforts of the European Union and Council of Europe to provide a response to the challenges the Roma community faces. “Our methodology puts a special emphasis on the empowerment of Roma and community-organising, in order to articulate the Roma potential and implement a sustainable change in the system,” she concluded.
The representatives of seven partner municipalities and Capital of Podgorica signed the Memoranda of Understanding with the Ministry for Justice, Human and Minority Rights and the Council of Europe.
Participants discussed the challenges the Roma population is facing, such as poverty, inadequate housing, unemployment, lack of documents, and ways to respond to them. Representatives of the Ministry of Finance and Social Welfare, the Regional Cooperation Council, the UNHCR in Montenegro, Help Montenegro and the Red Cross of Montenegro were among the speakers at the event.
Joint EU-CoE ROMACTED Phase 2 Programme will be implemented in the following localities: Bar, Berane, Bijelo Polje, Herceg Novi, Niksic, Tivat, Ulcinj and the Capital of Podgorica.