The launch event of the joint European Union and Council of Europe ROMACTED Programme Phase II on “Promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at local level” in Bosnia and Herzegovina was held on 19 October in Sarajevo, bringing together the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, the EU Delegation, international stakeholders, central-level partners, and municipal representatives from 12 partner cities and municipalities.
In addition to the presentation of ROMACTED Phase I and Phase II, the participants discussed the incoming implementation of the Phase II components, as well as the topic on “Advancing Human Rights and sustainability of action at local level”.
In her welcoming address, Ms Bojana Urumova, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Sarajevo, highlighted that the Council of Europe has been working on the Roma topic for several decades and hence believed that, with such experience and joint work, a lot can be done for the social inclusion of Roma.
Mr Miloš Lučić, Minister in the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, said that “the Ministry fully supports the implementation of the ROMACTED programme, recognising that our goals are common to the Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina for Resolving Roma Issues and the Action Plan for the period 2021-2025. In line with the accession process to the EU, the goals are being aligned with the Poznan Declaration.”
For Mr Dervo Sejdić, President of the Roma Board, “despite the long-term work on Roma inclusion, Roma in Bosnia and Herzegovina are still only involved in the work of advisory bodies, but not in the places where decisions are made. I hope that during the ROMACTED Programme, the voice of the Roma will be heard, at least at the local level. In addition to budgeting, it is extremely important to coordinate and link all policies concerning Roma, and I hope that the ROMACTED programme will help us with this, in parallel with defining and accepting the priorities proposed by the Roma community itself.”
Ms Ajša Adrović-Bešlagić, Programme Manager - European Union Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasised that it was of the utmost importance for Roma to be actors, rather than just an object of support, referring to “with Roma for Roma” as a key concept in promoting active citizenship. By recognising the importance of the local level, the EU continues its support in implementing measures and action plans for Roma. Through this programme, trust and connections are built resulting in moving away from paternalism and instead supporting inclusion, good governance, and democratisation."
Ms Marina Vasić, ROMACTED Programme Manager, presented the path towards ROMACTED II in Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasising the experience from the implementation of ROMED1, ROMED2, and Roma Political School prior to ROMACTED I. She highlighted that Roma should not only be seen through the lens of poverty but rather as potential contributing to the overall good of Bosnian society.