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06.04.2008Session of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues

 

The first session for 2008 of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Demographic Issues (NCCEDI) took place on April 4. The new Council membership participated in the session: besides 16 deputy ministers and 7 directors of state agencies 47 representatives of non-governmental organizations (37 of them – Roma or working with Roma) are members of the NCCEDI during 2008. The session was chaired by Mrs. Emel Etem – Chair of NCCEDI and Deputy-Prime Minister.

Several topics were discused. The team of Ethnic and Demographic Issues Directorate presented its Report about the state of interethnic relations and intercultural dialogue. Roma NGOs representatives reacted to certain statements and conclusions. According to Deyan Kolev from Center “Amalipe” it is a mistake to perceive Roma question only as social one and to foresee the so-called “Roma policies” as “limited in their extend and supplementary to the horizontal social policy in their character.” Roma question is question of deep exclusion: Roma community does not participate in the political, social and economoc life that determines the social aspects of Roma issue – pointed Deyan Kolev. Concerning the “Roma policies”, they should be integral part from the horizontal social policy instead of its supplement.

Rumyan Sechkov (S.E.G.A.), Nikolay Kirilov (Roma – Lom) and Georgi Parushev raised similar criticisms. Nevertheless, the report would not be changed - its presentation appeared to be only “for information”.

Georgi Krastev (Head of Roma integration Branch of Ethnic and Demographic Issues Directorate) presented the state of the process of preparing new Framework Program for Roma Integration. He pointed that it should be ready until November when its approval by the Council of Ministers is expected. The Program will have higher normative status: Decree of the Council of Ministers or even Decision of the Parliament as well as financing from the state budget. In responce to the requirments of Roma NGOs from November 2007 Ethnic and Demographic Issues Directorate is ready to include a vast number of  NGO experts in the Program preparation. That is why Working group and Expert groups in the Program fields will be formed. Regional discussions will be organized. April 20 is the deadline for NGOs to send suggestions for the first Program draft. Summurizing the suggestions and public discussions will be the next step.

In the end of the session the representatives of 40 NGOs voted for Deputy Chair of the NCCEDI. Deyan Kolev was elected for this position after competition with Mladen Ivanov and Petar Georgiev.

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