The second phase of the Joint EU-CoE ROMACTED Programme “Promoting Good Governance and Roma Empowerment at Local Level” was launched in Skopje on 10 December 2021, bringing together the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the European Union Delegation, international stakeholders and municipal representatives from the partner municipalities in North Macedonia. The conference was organised on International Human Rights Day, which was highlighted in the introductory remarks.
The Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Ms Jagoda Shahpaska, noted in her speech that the involvement of the local self-government units in the inclusion of Roma at local level is crucial for addressing and resolving the real challenges faced by Roma. The Minister underlined the commitment and obligations of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia in the cooperation with the Council of Europe, the European Union and the local self-government units in order to continue working together on inclusion of Roma at local level.
Mr Elvis Memeti, National Roma Contact Point within the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, stressed that the launch conference was a confirmation of the political will for the implementation of the ROMACTED Programme. “The Republic of North Macedonia was and will be an exemplary case in good cooperation and implementation of this Programme. We have developed a budget that targets Roma issue at national and local level and covers the important needs regarding housing, employment, health, social protection”, he said.
Mr Steffen Hudolin, Head of Co-operation in the European Union Delegation in North Macedonia, highlighted that the respect of human rights should be ensured every day and not only on 10 December. “This programme is raising the political will of the authorities to work on Roma issues, which is a very important topic because this is how we raise the issue from the inside; we do not come up with a solution from outside; the goal with this approach is to achieve a long-term solution in society, he added.
Ms Marina Vasić, ROMACTED Programme Manager, underlined that the ROMACTED Programme is a result of longstanding efforts of the European Union and Council of Europe to provide a response to the challenges that the Roma community faces. In addition, she explained that Phase 2 focuses on three new components based on the Human Rights approach, namely Roma Responsive Budgeting, Roma Returnees, and COVID-19 recovery measures. “The ROMACTED Programme is built to promote Roma potential, not to promote marginalization” she concluded.
Mr Elvis Shakjiri, Executive Director of the Support Organisation Romalitico, highlighted that one of the main goals of Romalitico is to promote dialogue with all stakeholders in order to improve the situation of Roma. “We are proponents, observers and correctors of all processes in society connected to Roma”, he concluded.
The representatives of 14 partner municipalities signed the Memoranda of Understanding with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the Council of Europe.
Participants discussed the lessons learned from Phase 1, the way forward in Phase 2, the challenges that the Roma population is facing, as well as the activities planned for the incoming period. Representatives of the Regional Cooperation Council, USAID North Macedonia, European Policy Institute, UNDP North Macedonia and Roma Entrepreneurship Development Initiative-REDI, were part of the final panel on “Advancing human rights and sustainability of action at local level”.
The joint EU-CoE ROMACTED Phase 2 Programme will be implemented in the following localities: Berovo, Bitola, Prilep, Kocani, Stip, Kriva Palanka, Shuto Orizari, Gostivar, Kicevo, Tetovo, Debar, Veles, Vinica and Delcevo. The Action is ensured by the Council of Europe Programme Office in Skopje and the Support Organisation "Institute for research and policy analysis- Romalitico".