24. 10. 2019.

New measures for social inclusion of Roma

Signed Agreement on Cooperation with pilot towns and municipalities

The official signing of the Cooperation Agreement with pilot towns and municipalities within the framework of the German Development Cooperation project “Inclusion of Roma and other marginalised groups in Serbia”, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), took place at the MP’s Club.

Towns and municipalities across Serbia, namely - Aleksinac, Vranje, Vršac, Kragujevac, Kruševac, Pirot, Požarevac and Subotica, took part in the signing of the Cooperation Agreement, while the programme itself is currently being implemented in city municipalities of Zvezdara and New Belgrade.

The Agreement announced the beginning of cooperation with mentioned towns and municipalities, entailing support in implementing measures for social inclusion of Roma and reintegration of returnees under the Readmission Agreement at the local level.

Ceremonial signing of the Cooperation Panel was attended by the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Serbia, H.E. Thomas Schieb, who used the opportunity to emphasise the weight of the initiative and its contribution to further progress in the field of integration of marginalised groups. “It is important that we work together on projects like this, to highlight the differences and provide greater and meaningful assistance to Roma and other marginalised groups through stronger cooperation between Germany and Serbia. So far, we have raised significant funds, and through the Inclusion Initiative, have helped numerous municipalities, informal groups and organisations, as well as individuals to find employment and provide scholarships for students for better education. Local structures are of great importance for members of marginalised groups and I am pleased that we have 15 municipalities and 12 towns that show great engagement in this field,” , Thomas Schieb said.

The Inclusion project is being implemented in cooperation with the Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia and the Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Prof. Zorana Mihajlović Ph.D. who is also the Chairperson of the Coordination Body for Monitoring and Implementation of the Strategy for Social Inclusion of Roma in the Republic of Serbia for the period 2016 – 2025.

“I would specifically like to thank Germany and GIZ, working with us in the Coordination Body and dealing with Roma inclusion. The Government is committed to the inclusion of marginalised groups and strives for this to not only be a story, an idea and a desire, but to also show in real life what we can do together and fight as a state for equal rights of all our citizens. A critical point is implementing actions, strategies and plans locally. That is why this Agreement is essential, so that we can join forces and work on receiving a direct response from Roma regarding what has improved and what still needs to be improved to allow them to lead a dignified life they deserve”, Zorana Mihajlović explained.

Belgrade Mayor, Prof. Dr Zoran Radojičić pointed out that the signing of this Agreement brings greater support to Belgrade in the social inclusion of Roma and that GIZ is an important partner the city of Belgrade has made significant progress with. “Belgrade, as a local self-government, is implementing the national Strategy for active involvement of Roma in the society. There is a plan to develop an Action Plan for the City of Belgrade for further improving the position of Roma and that will be our priority in the upcoming period. The duty of us leading this city is to make sure all our fellow citizens are taken care of and to help those living in difficult conditions,” Radojičić added.

The town of Vršac is a best practice example in providing social protection services with its mobile team that serves as a link between Roma and the town and works with them in the field.

“In the last few years, Vršac has done a lot to improve the position of all marginalised social groups, especially Roma who we follow in all segments, from health care and education through housing and employment. What we’ve done in the last two years is the adoption of strategic documents for social inclusion of the Roma population, and above all the operational plan under which we operate on the ground, where the coordinator of our mobile team for social support is a Roma woman. Also, the fact that tells us we are on the right track is the beginning of implementation of two projects in the field of Roma employment, funded by EU, and this is one of the reasons why town of Vršac is listed as best practice example when it comes to providing social protection services”“, Mayor of Vršac, Dragana Mitrović explained.

The third component of the German Development Cooperation project “Inclusion of Roma and other marginalised groups in Serbia” aims to improve the framework, structure and mechanisms for implementing the Strategy at national and local level, while encouraging a change in attitudes in the society toward marginalised groups in Serbia.