10.04.2013Roma organizations left NCCEII
Roma organizations left the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues and asked for cardinal restructuring of the body so that it becomes an institution that can manage the implementation of the National Strategy for Roma Integration. Organizations left the meeting at NCCEII held on International Roma Day - April 8 and said that they would participateonly in talks to create a new administrative structure, as well as a new body that will ensure effective participation of civil society organizations in the formulation and implementation of integration policy.
Prime Minister Marin Raykov, Ombudsman Konstantin Penchev, and many guests - representatives of the diplomatic corps and journalists - attended the first for 2013 year meeting of NCCEII. It was chaired by the Deputy Chairman of the Council Georgi Krastev.
Bulgarian institutions have to deal with acts of hate speech, but there are such cases, said in his welcoming speech, Prime Minister Raykov. He said that there should be a large Roma representation in all institutions, especially in the Ministry of Interior for security in neighborhoods with Roma majority to be provided.
On behalf of 13 NGOs Stela Kostova (Vice-Chairman of the quota NCCEII civil society) read a letter immediately after the speech of the Prime Minister. The letter urged the Council to be restructured and to have Roma people in its administration and to take immediate measures to stop the anti-Roma rhetoric. Deyan Kolev from Amalipe Center explain why the restructure of NCCEII is necessary: The Council did not perform the essential functions that it was created for, he said. First, the Council does not coordinate with the institutions in terms of integration policy, it has not managed to convince the major institutions of the executive that realizing the integration activities is necessary. To this day, in each working group Roma organizations need to convince experts from various ministries that activities for Roma integration are not a privilege or discrimination against the majority, said Kolev. Second, the Council is even more unsuccessful in realizing consultations with NGOs: NCCEII do not make proper consultations, just ceremonial events and reports. We work with all the ministries, but this is outside the Council. But most importantly, NCCEII proved inadequate to the dynamic situation in the country: there were ethnically motivated killings in the past month, in the media constantly speaks against Roma, a year ago we were on the verge of a major conflict after Katunitza, and the Council does not respond in any form. Kolev said that NGOs have tried for years to change NCCEII inside, but obviously this body has structural defects, so it is necessary to be restructured. Kolev also announced that Roma NGOs leave the Council and this is not an action directed personally against the officers in the Secretariat or the Prime Minister. It is unwillingness to participate in legitimizing the lack of real integration activities.
In response, Prime Minister Raykov agreed with the findings and the need of Council restructure. He suggested that organizations should remain to make things done in this session. They departed the proposal, because expert work suggests a narrower format, but declared themselves ready to join the working group to develop a proposal to transform NCCEII into an agency. Ognian Isaev from Integro Association stressed that Roma are Bulgarian citizens and it is unacceptable for the state to rely on European directives and resources to do something for Roma integration. It is unacceptable for not having a single Rome in the Sekretariat of NCCEII, given that we have a very well-educated experts. We will not participate in simulated activities Isaev was explicit.
A decision for forming a group which should develop a proposal for restructuring NCCEII was made after the leaving of the Roma organizations. The proposal should be discussed at a further meeting on April 22.