Roma inclusion in BiH is an European issue

The Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Commission jointly organized in Sarajevo, on 18 and 19 June 2015, a two-day Seminar on Roma Inclusion. These Seminars, organised since 2011 in all the Western Balkan countries, serve the purpose of holding inclusive and constructive dialogue among all key stakeholders on Roma integration.

Over 50 representatives of the BiH authorities, NGOs and International Organisations, participated in the Seminar and discussed challenges faced by the Roma community, what has been achieved so far and what steps need to be taken in the future.

The key purpose of the Seminar was not only to identify the main policy gaps and the shortcomings on the ground, but also to single out concrete measures that BiH will need to implement in the future in order to address the social inclusion of Roma. The discussion focused on the five key priority areas on Roma integration: housing, education, employment, social issues and health care and civil registration.

Ms. Marta Garcia Fidalgo, Advisor co-ordinating Roma policy in the seven enlargement countries, at the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) of the European Commission, and Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of BiH, Semiha Borovac, co-chaired the Seminar.

Ms. Marta Garcia Fidalgo said: “Full and constructive engagement by BiH in addressing fundamental rights and ensuring full protection of minority rights in the country will be crucial in its path towards the EU. Some progress has been reached since the previous seminar, with encouraging steps in areas such as housing and civil registration, but further efforts are required to implement the operational conclusions of July 2011 and November 2013. BiH has a Strategy and Action Plans in place to address Roma policy but it is now essential to ensure full political consensus and commitment in their implementation on the ground and to achieve tangible and measurable results.”

Minister Borovac said: “Bosnia and Herzegovina is committed to continue the implementation of all plans and activities aimed at improving the living conditions of the Roma population and their rapid integration into society. We do our utmost to achieve more results within the available financial resources.”

Addresses were also delivered by the Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to BiH Renzo Daviddi, and by the Chairwoman of the Roma Committee within the BiH Council of Ministers, Indira Bajramović.

The EU, in its enlargement policy, is committed to enhancing its support to the Western Balkans countries in their efforts to achieve tangible progress on Roma integration. The EU will continue to monitor the situation on the ground and the implementation of the operational conclusions from the Roma inclusion seminars. Furthermore, the European Commission expressed its readiness to allocate to the Western Balkan countries additional financial assistance in this field.

From 2007 to 2013, the EU has provided around € 6,3 million under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and European Democracy Instrument for Human Rights (EIDHR), to support socio-economic inclusion and integration of Roma in BiH, including through housing.

See here the Operational conclusions adopted at the Seminar on Roma Inclusion.