MINELRES: Press release: EC agreed on consideration of all Macedonian minorities

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Dec 1 17:20:36 2007

Original sender: Alexandra Bojadzieva <alexandraboja@mt.net.mk>

Advancing Inclusion of Vulnerable Groups in SEE: Minority Rights
Advocacy in the EU Accession Process
EC Progress Reports on Western Balkans Countries Review from the
Perspective of Minority Rights
20 November 2007 
Brussels, Belgium


Minority Rights Group International (MRG), United Kingdom 
Association for Democratic Initiatives, Macedonia 
Rroma Women's Center Bibija, Serbia 
Center for Peace, Legal Advice and Psychosocial Assistance, Croatia 
Independent, Bosnia and Herzegovina 
LIBERTASK, Montenegro 
Roma and Ashkalia Documentation Center, Kosovo 
Roma Democratic Development Association Sonce, Macedonia

The European Commission immediately agreed that it should consider all
minorities in Macedonia

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and the partner organizations
from Western Balkans had a meeting with representatives from the
European Commission and several international civil society
organizations, in the European Parliament in Brussels, on 20th November
2007. The Meeting was held anent the EC Progress Reports on the Western
Balkans countries. Meetings attendees discussed the coverage of the
important minority issues in the EC reports. The Commission was
particularly interested in the views of the minority rights activists,
which is evident through the presence of Mr. Pierre Mirel - Director of
the Directorate C (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia,
Kosovo Issues) of the DG Enlargement. Besides Mr. Mirel, other
representatives from DG Enlargement also attended the meeting, but
unfortunately the head of the unit for Macedonia, Ms. Paola Pampaloni
didn't attend the meeting.

Alexandra Bojadzieva from the Roma Democratic Development Association
"Sonce" and Bekim Abdulai from the Association for Democratic
Initiatives participated from Macedonia. Bojadzieva had a statement on
the minority rights activists' views towards the EC Progress Report on
Macedonia. She highlighted the concern for the EC's lack of attention
towards the smaller minorities in Macedonia, considering that most of
these minorities were not even mentioned in the report. This was
immediately accepted by the EC representatives. Mr. Mirel said that this
remark - that the EC focus was on the Albanian minority - was rightful
and that EC is not in disposal of sufficient information on other
minorities, thus in the future other minorities from Macedonia will be
given appropriate attention by the EC.

Another remark that attracted the interest of the participants was the
inefficiency of the mechanisms for political participation of
minorities, particularly on local level. Although the EC Report
recommends that municipal Committees on Inter-communities Relations
become more effective in the inclusion of minority issues on local
level, one part of the Report says that wherever they exist these
commissions are effective. After a discussion on this issue it was
concluded that the only progress made in this regard was the legal
framework for these committees, but the practice still needs intensive
development and improvement. 

Ill-treatment by the police and judiciary towards minorities in
Macedonia, particularly by the police unit "Alfi", was identified as an
issue for concern. The ill-treatment on racial basis towards minorities,
especially Albanians and Roma, was highlighted as a crucial factor
causing destabilization of Macedonia.

Policies towards Roma in Macedonia are recognized by the EC Report, but
their implementation is recommended. It was stressed that this process
needs EC support, as well as allocation of adequate institutional and
financial resources from the Government.

Other issues discussed in regard to the EC Report on Macedonia were the
under-representation of minorities in the public administration,
problems related to usage of minority languages, and insufficient
inclusion of the minorities in the development processes.

The need for comprehensive and EU compatible antidiscrimination
legislation was recognized across the whole Western Balkans region,
including Macedonia. The participants also asked the EC to prioritize
this need and provide support to the accession countries regarding this
issue. Moreover, the participants asked the EC to push for advancement
in the inclusion of the minorities in the whole process of EU accession.
EC provided a positive example from Montenegro regarding this issue,
where the Government has established a permanent forum for discussion of
issues of importance for the civil society sector, and which results in
concrete suggestions for future actions within the EU integration

Minority rights activists from Macedonia at the meeting assess the
meeting successful, considering that the EC expressed considerable
interest for the views presented by the activists, a fruitful
discussions followed on several issues, and the EC committed for
realization of some of the recommendations that emerged at the meeting.
Minority rights activists committed for more active participation in the
process of EU integration of the countries through communication of
their suggestions to the governments and EU institutions, in order to
continue and develop the established dialogue.

Alexandra Bojadzieva,
Roma Democratic Development Association

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