The kickoff event of the regional joint European Union (EU) and Council of Europe (CoE) Programme, ROMACTED “Promoting Good Governance and Roma Empowerment at Local Level”, took place on 19 March 2018 in Skopje.
The Launching conference brought together senior representatives of local authorities, community action groups, Roma and pro-Roma civil society, development agencies and international community. The event served as a platform for inter-sectoral exchange on opportunities in the field of Roma integration in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”
In the opening session, Ms Mila Carovska, Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, highlighted that the Government gives a clear sign that involvement of Roma in policy-making is essential for Roma empowerment. She also pointed out that commitment from the central level is not substantial if the commitment is not met at the local level and has no direct involvement of Roma civic organizations in creation of local policies and measures.
Aksel Ahmedovski, Minister without Portfolio in charge of implementation of the Roma Strategy, pointed out that the Government has provided 3 million MKD within the budget of the Ministry of Local Self-Government for 2018 for the realization of the program of the Strategy, as well as for the implementation of the local action plans.
Nicola Bertolini, the Head of Cooperation, European Union Delegation to “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, said that the ROMACTED Programme was designed as a combination of ROMED and ROMACT Programmes, tackling the importance of building capacity of the local authorities and empowerment of Roma communities. He also highlighted that building political will and stimulating local authorities is one of the main challenges of the Programme. The implementation in the “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” certainly seems the most ambitions having in mind that the Programme targets 12 municipalities.
Monica Martinez, Head of the Council of Europe Programme Office in Skopje, shared more insights on other activities and projects that the Office is currently running in the beneficiary. She underlined that the CoE Programme Office remains fully committed throughout the Programme`s phases.
Marcos Andrade, the ROMACTED Programme Manager within the Roma and Travellers Team of Council of Europe, provided insights on Programme`s philosophy and four steps of ROMACTED methodology. He highlighted that positive change requires full commitment and involvement of everyone.
A tripartite framework of partnership for the implementation of the ROMACTED Programme was signed between the Council of Europe, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and mayors of 12 target municipalities of Berovo, Bitola, Debar, Gostivar, Kičevo, Kočani, Prilep, Strumica, Štip, Tetovo, Veles and Vinica.
Group photo after the signing ceremony of the Memoranda of Understanding between the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Council of Europe and representatives of 12 target municipalities.
The launching conference was followed by the national training on Participatory Local Strategic Planning, organized on 20 March in Skopje, focusing on the ROMACTED methodological steps that will be implemented in the upcoming months during the participatory planning processes in the 12 municipalities.
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. It is implemented by the Council of Europe’s Roma and Travellers Team and the Office of the Directorate General of Programmes and it will target approximately 50 municipalities in seven beneficiaries in Western Balkans and Turkey.