04.02.2009New composition and new terms for preparing Framework Program for Roma Integration: facts and analysis

The facts: Deputy Prime-Minister and Chair of NCCEDI Emel Etem defined new composition of the Working group for preparing new Framework Program for Roma Integration as well as new deadlines thropugh its Order Р-13/23.01.2009. Most of experts of Roma NGOs are not included in the new Group composition: from 10 they declined to 4 (Deyan Kolev, Nikolay Kirilov, Stefan Panayotov and Assen Kolev). The National Coordinator of the Decade of Roma Inclusion Baki Hyuseinov is not included in the new composition too. Iosif Nounev (expert in educational integration from Ministry of Education and Science) is replaced with Assen Petrov, Director of Directorate in the same Ministry. New experts are included in the Group: Rumyan Russinov (Deputy Chair of Roma Education Fund), Ivan Ivanov (Director of European Roma Information Office) as well as prominent scholars: Evgenii Dainov, Ivan Krastev, Tihomir Bezlov, Petya Kabakchieva, Maksim Mizov, etc. New deadlines for preparing the documents and introducing them in the Council of Ministers are also defined: April 2 for the Framework Program and April 30 for the Action Plan.


Analysis: Order Р-13/23.01.2009 turns the process of preparing the Framework Program for Roma Integration back and makes it part of the election campaign in Bulgaria. It also destroys the efforts of Roma NGOs that prepared and introduced draft for the Program after long process of consultations. In addition the Order contradicts at least two decisions of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues.

The exclusion of most of Roma NGOs from the new Group composition not only sharply decreases the opportunities of Roma organizations to take part and to influence the Program preparation.  Having in mind that until now Roma NGOs were the main driving force that generated ideas and suggestions (Emel Etem and Miroslav Popov recognized this fact during the NCCEDI session on December 20,2008) as well as that Roma organizations prepared by consensus draft for the Program the exclusion of Roma NGOs could be interpreted as clear attempt to deny the Roma vision and to replace it with as another, politically correct one. The exclusion contradicts of the decisions of Commission for Roma Integration within NCCEDI from April 23,2008: this decision defined 10 Roma experts and NGOs to be included in the Working group.

It is hardly to explain why the National Coordinator of the Decade of Roma Inclusion Baki Hyuseinov is also excluded from the Group. It deepened the hard, artificial and caused by political reasons division between the general policy for Roma integration (the Framework Program and other documents) and the Decade of Roma Inclusion.

The exclusion of Iosif Nounev most probably is because of his strong and clear positions expressed in the previous Group sessions. They defended the interest of Roma community but obviously contradicted the ideas of certain political figures. The argument that Iosif Nounev is replaced with official who occupy higher position in the administrative hierarchy could be denied because the Minister of Education officially supported the suggestions for Chapter “Education” within the Framework Program proposed by Roma NGOs and Iosif Nounev.

The inclusion of prominent scholars is obvious strength of the Order: they should be included from the very beginning of this process. It is hardly to predict how active their support would be at present since the new Program will be approved in the election period and most probably it will be used in the election campaign of the ruling parties. Most probably this will prevent the active engagement of these prominent scholars.

The new deadlines for preparing the Program and its Action Plan are extremely disturbing: April 2 and 30 respectively. This means their approval will be in May during the election campaign. Ethnic and Demographic Issues Directorate have proposed these deadlines since November. Deyan Kolev – Deputy Chair of the NCCEDI – rejected them immediately with the argument that in this way the new Program will be politically abused. During the session of NCCEDI on December 20 the Council also rejected them and approved another deadlines: February for final preparing the Program and March for its approval in the Council of Ministers. This decision was not respected by Order Р-13/23.01.2009

The most disturbing fact is that the Order abolishes all efforts for preparing the Framework Program undertaken in the previous months by Roma NGOs and experts. During 3 sessions of the Working group, 6 regional discussions and during the National meeting of Roma organizations from December 9 tens of suggestions were raised. Roma NGOs gradually overcame the apathy and skepticism and engaged themselves actively in the process becoming its driving force. As a result they prepared integral draft of the Program that included also the suggestions raised by institutions (by these institutions that proposed suggestions). Order Р-13/23.01.2009 abolished these efforts and established preconditions for replacing the vision of Roma NGOs with another, completely different one.

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