16.02.2009Roma organizations protest against the exclusion of Roma community from preparing new Framework Program for Roma Integration
At present the new Framework Program for Roma Integration is preparing in a way that exclude civil society organizations and Roma community, breaks resolutions and recommendations of European institutions and tends to make use of the new document in the election campaign. This was one of the main massage of the coalition of Roma organizations in Bulgaria during the press-conference that took place on February 15 in Sofia. Deyan Kolev (Center “Amalipe – Veliko Turnovo), Lili Makaveeva (Integro Association – Razgrad), D-r Stefan Panayotov (Health of Roma – Sliven), Radostin Manov (Diverse and Equal – Sofia), Dimitar Georgiev (Human Rights Project – Sofia), Gancho Iliev (World without Borders – Stara Zagora) and Kadrin Hasanov (Civic Union of Roma Movement) took part in the press-conference.
Deyan Kolev explained that during 2008 Roma organizations took active part and were the driving force in preparing new Framework Program. We insisted on several ideas and principles, said Kolev: the new Program should be adopted with Decision of the Parliament, financing from the state budget should be provided for Program implementation, concrete mechanisms for participation of municipalities, civil society and Roma community are necessary. Following these principles, the Roma representatives in the Working group for preparing new Program proposed integral draft for the Program and ask for discussing it in the Working group. Instead of this, Deputy Prime-Minister and Chair of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues (NCCEDI) Emel Etem issued Order P-13/23.01.09 and took the process back to its beginning. The participation of Roma NGOs in the Working group was sharply reduced from 16 to 4 organization and the deadlines for preparing the Program were extended till the time of the election campaign (end of April) through Order P-13. Until now there is denial of Mrs. Etem to propose the draft Program prepared by Roma NGOs for discussion in the Working group. That is why Roma organizations refuse to take part in the sessions of the Group after its new composition was announced. Answering a journalist question Deyan Kolev explained that the Chair of NCCEDI Mrs. Etem has not consulted him as Deputy Chair of NCCEDI for preparing Order Р-13/23.01.09. According to him this Order breaks at least two decisions of NCCEDI.
Lili Makaveeva presented resolutions of European Parliament and recommendations of European Commission that stress civil society participation and participation of Roma community in preparing and implementing strategies for Roma integration. She insisted that Order Р-13 of Deputy Prime-Minister Etem breaks the decisions of European institutions as well as one of the basic democratic principles – cooperation between civil society and state institutions.
D-r Stefan Panayotov insisted on constructive participation of Roma organizations until January 2009. The good will of Roma to take their responsibility in the process was denied by the political leadership. Nevertheless, we will continue insisting the idea for civil society participation and civil society monitoring of Roma integration activities, said D-r Panayotov.
Dimitar Georgiev underlined that the current developments are example of Roma exclusion by the side of institutions and political parties. He said that not only the ruling parties but also the opposition ones exclude Roma and this will make Roma more radical.
Gancho Iliev pointed that Roma organizations have reacted immediately the attempt Roma community to be excluded from the process of preparing new Program for Roma Integration: special letter with request for a meeting was sent to Deputy Prime-Minister Etem and after this to Prime-Minister Stanishev. Since such meetings were denied, Roma organizations will ask for support President Parvanov and will inform European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.