July 11, 2019 - Roma integration in the Western Balkan countries was one of the topics of the Summit of the Western Balkan countries, which took place from July 3 to 5 in Poznan, the NGO Young Roma reported.
During the Summit, the prime ministers of the Western Balkans countries adopted a Declaration of Partners from the Western Balkans on the integration of Roma within the process of enlargement of the European Union. By adopting the Declaration, states have committed themselves to continue and improve efforts to achieve equality and full integration of Roma within the framework of regional cooperation and the process of accession to the European Union.
The declaration envisages the achievement of specifically defined goals in the areas of employment, education, housing, health care, documentation and the fight against discrimination. It also envisages the adoption of regional public budgeting standards related to the integration of Roma, and the establishment of official channels and mechanisms for the joint involvement of local governments and Roma communities in policy formulation, as well as adequate mechanisms for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of policies related to the integration of Roma.
The adoption of the Declaration was preceded by the panel "Declaration of the Western Balkan Partnership on Roma and the EU Enlargement: from word to deed". Samir Jaha, the executive director of NGO "Young Roma" spoke at the panel as the representative of the Roma civil sector in the Western Balkans.
Jaha believes that, from the point of view of the Roma community, the Declaration can be perceived differently. Individuals from the community could consider the Declaration as yet another official document that will not be applied, while those who are more active in the community and want to take responsibility for changes in the society could be more optimistic and observe the Declaration as one kind of "Roma Constitution" that should be respected and whose consistent application should be constantly recalled.
Jaha said that the adoption of the Declaration is an incentive for continuing work and joint efforts in the process of Roma integration. He had also pointed out that the Declaration must be seriously accepted by all involved actors - the European Commission as part of the enlargement process and national and local authorities in the Western Balkans - it was announced from NGO "Young Roma".