The Closing Conference “Looking back and Moving Forward” and the Sixth Steering Committee meeting of the EU and Council of Europe joint action ‘Promotion of Diversity and Equality in North Macedonia’ took place in Skopje, gathering beneficiaries, partners and No Hate Speech Ambassadors. They discussed the main achievements and results of the Action from 2019, as well the main activities of the campaign Block the Hatred. Share the Love. This was an opportunity to present to our No Hate Speech Ambassadors, Young European Ambassadors, and partners, the Certificates of Appreciations for their active support of the Block the hatred. Share the Love campaign.
The event was opened by Lejla Dervisagic, Head of Operations of the Council of Europe Programme Office in Skopje who greeted the participants and emphasised the importance of the co-operation and the Horizontal Facility II programme as an instrument to enhance co-operation and dialogue between different institutions and organisations.
Thorsten Afflerbach, the Head of the Inclusion and Antidiscrimination Division of the Council of Europe provided a brief overview of the main results and the support that the Action has given to support the alignment with the Council of Europe standards. Ms. Snezana Kolekeska from the EU Delegation in Skopje followed the discussion pointing out that the activities and results of the programme, as well as the activities in the next phase will be very important in light of the accession negotiations between North Macedonia ad EU.
Vesna Bendevska from the Commission for Prevention and Protection against Discrimination also elaborated on the co-operation with the Action and the work that the Commission has done since its inception, and David Tasevski from Subversive Front also talked about the LGBTI Helpline and their work in regards of hate speech reports.
Ognen Janeski, talked about his experience as a No Hate Speech Ambassador and also highlighted the main challenges when it comes to combating hate speech, and the importance of the continuation of the work in this area. Young European Ambassadors, Mila Mladenova, Renata Penchova and Damjan Zlatanovski, also contributed to the discussion especially in regard to combating hate speech and that young people are key partners in this process.
The event was also an opportunity for Jasna Orovchanec Arangjelovikj, one of the main experts working on the Anti-Discrimination Manual, to present the main aspects of the manual which was published and shared with the participants, and it is available online.
The representatives from different institutions and civil society organisations discussed on how to improve the activities and how to ensure that the fight against discrimination and hate speech can be even more structured and effective. The participants agreed that the co-operation will be stronger and will continue in the next phase.
The action ‘Promotion of Diversity and Equality in North Macedonia’ is part of the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022”, a co-operation initiative of the European Union and the Council of Europe, implemented by the Council of Europe, which aims at assisting beneficiaries in the Western Balkans region and Turkey to comply with the Council of Europe standards and European Union acquis in the framework of the enlargement process, where relevant.