Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) along with PGF Consortium partners – U.N.O. Libertask, Humanitarac, Pocetak i Young Roma, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights of Montenegro held a press conference on International Roma Day (April 8).
International Roma Day should again remind us of the social responsibility to provide normal living conditions and the right to equal participation in community development to all citizens of Montenegro, especially to those who are discriminated against and socially marginalized. A large number of Roma in Montenegro still has no identity documents, provided housing, social and health care. The low percentage of educated Roma, low living standard, a high percentage of unemployed and under-representation in political and public life are just some of the problems that further complicate the process of integration of these people into Montenegrin society. Note that there are still municipalities that have not adopted Local Action Plans for the integration of Roma. Further, only small number of local governments has coordinators for addressing Roma issues. Great concern was raised by the results of CEDEM research in June last year, indicating a very high percentage of discrimination and strong ethnic distance towards the Roma national community.
Decade of Roma is a great opportunity to improve the situation of the Roma community in participating countries, but it is primarily necessary to analyze the position and living conditions of the Roma population in order to objectively assess the results achieved, and funds allocated to the right purposes. Although previous year was marked by significant progress in education, housing, identification documents and information, we still cannot speak of genuine and sustainable integration of Roma into Montenegrin social life.
Bearing in mind the above problems faced by the Roma population, we invite Government of Montenegro, local governments, National Council of Roma, Roma NGOs and other organizations dealing with issues of importance to Rome, to work together toward improving the Roma position, but also to send a message to the international community that Montenegro has political will and capacity to ensure progress for the Roma community in all areas of life. We emphasize the need for encouraging Roma women, who are the most vulnerable categories of population, and which should be provided with an opportunity for education and provision of basic existence. Next year, we expect that the government shall specifically put necessary efforts to secure the sustainability of Roma civil society, primarily through promotion and support of Roma projects. Also, we hope that Roma issue shall be recognized as one of the priorities in national plans for the annual pre-accession EU funds, as adequate preparation for the presidency of Montenegro over Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015, for the period from mid 2013 to mid 2014.
Finally, we welcome all the subjects whose work contributes to improving the position of Roma. By this, we wish members of Roma community all best for upcoming International Roma Day!
PGF Consortium partners:
Centre for Democracy and Human Rights – CEDEM