First ROMACTED Advisory Group Meeting in Kosovo* was held on 27 June, 2019 in Hotel Sirius Pristina. This event brought together relevant international and local stakeholders which included representatives from central government as well as representatives of 8 local government, Roma communities, non-governmental organizations, European Union Office in Kosovo as well as the Council of Europe representatives.
The main goal of the Advisory Group meeting was to take stock on the progress of the ROMACTED Programme in Kosovo, discuss challenges and recommendations for the upcoming implementation period 2019/2020.
The meeting was opened by Mr Marcos Andrade, ROMACTED Programme Manager, Roma and Travellers Team, Council of Europe. He discussed about the importance of the ROMACTED Programme as well as the need to make a change that would benefit both the government and the Roma communities in Kosovo with emphasizing on the importance of the regional and local cooperation.
Ms Rozafa Ukimeraj, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Local Government Administration discussed the latest report of the European Union and the need to improve the situation of the Roma communities especially the issues of woman inclusion and poverty. Ms Ukimeraj also presented mechanisms/instruments established within the local government that can enhance the role of communities at the local level and implement policies.
Mr Stefano Gnocchi, Adviser on Minority Communities and Religious Cultural Heritage, European Union Office in Kosovo / EU Special Representative, discussed the current situation of the Roma communities and Kosovo’s accession plan which is a long but a relevant one. Mr Gnocchi emphasized that the ROMACTED Programme is a bridge between the local and central government as well as the need for collaboration between all the stakeholders involved in the process of implementation of this project.
Mr Ivan Milojevic, Director Office of Community Affairs discussed the mechanism on the verification of diplomas obtained under the Serbian education system, for both high school and university. This mechanism will enable the Roma to verify their diploma and apply for jobs. He recognized the coordination with ROMACTED Programme and the possibility for collaboration in the community related projects in ROMACTED beneficiary municipalities.
Mr Bashkim Ibishi, Director of the support organization, Advancing Together, highlighted the importance of the commitment by the local institutions in contributing to improved relations between the government and its citizens.
Taking stock on the regional level, Mr Marcos Andrade presented regional and future perspectives on the ROMACTED Programme. He informed participants on the stages of the programme implementation at the regional level, and also informed participants on the continuation of the ROMACTED programme beyond April 2020.
Mr Besim Shkololli, ROMACTED Focal Point, presented the Capacity and Needs Assessment key findings for beneficiary municipalities and Roma community. Final analysis report will be distributed with the beneficiary municipalities and community for further discussion.
Representatives from the 8 beneficiaries from the local institutions and the Roma community presented the implementation achievements and challenges. Actions initiated in the 8 beneficiaries based on the community needs and priorities were presented and deliberated. Some of the challenges in the process were also recognized.
Ms Sakibe Jashari, ROMACTED Project Officer, recapitulated the main points that were presented by the beneficiary municipalities. Sharing of the good practices at the local policy making, better community mobilization, participation of the women and youth in both implementing mechanisms, and financial allocation to the local action plans, were the main topics summarized.
First Advisory Group meeting was concluded with remarks given by Mr Marcos Andrade who underlined that need for accountability is very important and that evidence based policy is crucial. He said that ‘community of change’ is the pillar of the process of improving situations of the disadvantaged groups. He mentioned the importance of the responsive budgeting at the local level in regards to the Roma inclusion.
ROMACTED Programme aims at building up political will and sustained policy engagement of local authorities to enhance democratic local governance and empowerment of local Roma communities. In Kosovo, it is implemented in 8 municipalities: Gjakova/ Đakovica, Gracanice/ Gračanica, Lipjan/ Lipljan, Mitrovica, Fushe Kosove/ Kosovo Polje, Ferizaj/ Uroševac, Istog/ Istok and Obiliq/ Obilić.
*All references to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text, shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.