09.03.2009Session of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues

More than two hours took the discussion of the draft National Program for Roma Integration proposed by the new Working group established by Order P- 13/23.01.2009  of the Deputy Prime-Minister Emel Etem. This happened during the first for 2009 session of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues that took place on March 6. The Deputy Prime-Minister and Chair of NCCEDI Emel Etem announced that the draft Program proposed by state institutions in the end of February summarizes all previous suggestions , including the draft Program proposed by Roma NGOs in January 2009. Miroslav Popov, Deputy Chair of NCCEDI, agreed with Etem and added that the draft proposed by the Special Working group composed by state institutions officials is of high quality.

The draft Program proposed in February is not continuation of the previous suggestions and of the draft proposed by Roma NGOs but it contradicts them – Deyan Kolev, Chairman of Center “Amalipe” and Deputy Chair of NCCEDI, said. He provided as an example “Defense of Public Security” chapter: all Roma organizations included in the Working group during 2008 opposed it but this chapter is included in the new draft Program. The draft proposed by Roma NGOs in January has strong structure and it envisaged priority measures for all priority axes. Unlike it the draft proposed by institutions in February does not follow clear structure and proposes only intentions but no measures. “A document that does not propose anything is prepared again. And this happened without any Roma participation!” – Deyan Kolev said.

Biser Alekov from Integro Association showed discriminatory sentences within the draft Program. They present Roma community as group of savages that should be civilized and re-educated.

Objections against the main principles or / and against concrete texts  of the draft prepared in February raised Petar Georgiev, Nikolay Kirilov, Gancho Iliev, Radostin Manov and others. The draft  was commended only by Asen Kolev.

Profesor Ilona Tomova pointed that the draft proposed by Roma NGOs in January is of high quality, both theoretical and stylist sides of it are good enough. The draft proposed by institutions in February has also many good ideas and intentions. She proposed a merged version that would combine all positive common points from both previous drafts to be prepared.

The Chair Etem denied the idea for merged draft explaining that the draft proposed by institutions in February is good enough. All objections and recommendations could be sent until March 10 and they will be taken into consideration. It became clear from her words that she would not organize a new session of NCCEDI for approving the Framework Program and she would propose it directly in the Council of Ministers. Deyan Kolev opposed that this would break the Internal Rules of NCCEDI: art. 9 states that all decisions should be taken by consensus.

In the end of the Session elections for Deputy Chair of NCCEDI from the quota of civil society for 2009 were carried out. Besides the appeal of Mrs. Etem for not electing Roma again, only Roma were proposed: Mladen Ivanov and Dimitar Georgiev. Mladen Ivanov was elected with majority of the votes.


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