Seminar on promoting the rights of the Roma and Ashkali communities in Kosovo, held in Pristina

A seminar aimed at promoting the rights of the Roma and Ashkali communities in Kosovo concluded today in Pristina. The seminar, co-organized by the Office for Good Governance, together with the Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo and the European Union, brought together representatives of the government, the international community, local authorities and civil society, as well as representatives of the Roma, Egyptian and Ashkali communities in Kosovo.

In addition to focusing on the implementation of the Declaration of the Western Balkan Partners on Roma Integration within the EU Enlargement Process, known as the Poznan Declaration, the seminar also focused on setting priorities for the next two years in five key sectors: education, employment, health, housing and anti-discrimination.

The Deputy Head of the EU Office in Kosovo, Eva Palatova, highlighted the important contributions of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities to Kosovo society and European culture, and emphasized the shared EU value of unity in diversity.

Palatova noted that the EU has supported Kosovo’s efforts to promote the rights of these three communities, including through two main projects, the Community Stabilization Program and the Kosovo Return and Reintegration Programme, of which the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities have benefited. While Palatova noted that more work needs to be done to defend the rights and well-being of these communities, she added that the next steps should be the implementation of the Kosovo Strategy and Action Plan and fulfilling the obligations of the Poznan Declaration, which are an integral part of Kosovo’s EU path.

Habit Hajredini, Director of the Office of Good Governance within the Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, emphasized the government’s commitment to implement the National Strategy for the Integration of the Roma and Ashkali Communities in Education, Healthcare and Housing, in coordination with the municipal level. He highlighted the actions taken by the Kosovo Government to implement the Poznan Declaration, such as creating mechanisms to encourage and promote the employment of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, and to eliminate discrimination against them communities to prevent and combat. “Collaboration with civil society is an important pillar of society, and this cooperation brings progress in the integration of communities and ensures equal opportunities for all without discrimination,” Hajredini said.

As co-organizer of the seminar, Marta Garcia Fidalgo, the European Commission’s Roma Inclusion Advisor, addressed the audience and stated that progress on Roma integration requires joint action. She emphasized the importance of identifying clear directions and concrete measures. “The integration of the Roma from an EU perspective represents a milestone in the enlargement process that requires continued progress, and will be part of the negotiations on Chapter 23 ‘Judiciary and Fundamental Rights’,” Fidalgo noted.

The seminar concluded with concrete recommendations to the Kosovo government, the implementation of which will be monitored. While existing legislation and strategies are recognised, the focus must remain on implementation to improve the lives of these vulnerable and often discriminated communities.