Letter with reaction from the National Roma Platform North Macedonia to the Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) European Commission, Commissioner Oliver Varhey

In this reaction by the National Roma Platform North Macedonia and its coordinator Zoran Dimov refers to one topic, namely: Concern regarding the implementation of the visit of DG NEAR and the Roma advisor of North Macedonia The letter states, among other things:

Dear Commissioner Várhelyi,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to express our deep concerns about the recent visit of the Roma Advisor from the Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) to North Macedonia. This visit has raised several troubling issues that require your attention and intervention.

As the leader of the National Platform of Roma Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in North Macedonia, I believe it is my responsibility to advocate for the rights and interests of the Roma community in our country. Therefore, I must bring to your attention the continuous, untransparent, and selective behavior exhibited by the Roma Advisor, Ms. Marta Garcia Fidalgo, during their visit. It is important to note that I regularly communicated with Ms. Fidalgo concerning our cooperation and coordination on Roma issues, for which I can provide written evidence.

One of the fundamental principles that underpin EU policies related to Roma inclusion is the imperative need for genuine consultation with Roma organizations. It is disheartening to note that the recent meetings held by the Roma Advisor did not fully uphold this principle. Instead, it appeared that the Advisor met on a regular basis with only a few CSO leaders, leaving out numerous experienced Roma organizations. This selective approach raises serious concerns about transparency, accountability, and impartiality in the interactions between DG NEAR officials and the Roma civil society.

The consequences of such actions are significant. By failing to engage with a broad spectrum of Roma CSOs, the Roma Advisor risks excluding the voices and perspectives of those who have been working tirelessly on Roma inclusion and empowerment for years. This not only undermines the credibility of the European Commission but also weakens the effectiveness of our efforts to address the challenges facing the Roma community in Macedonia.

Moreover, this selective approach also has a detrimental impact on coordination and communication channels with the EU Delegation officers in Macedonia. Effective communication and cooperation between the EU institutions and local stakeholders are essential to achieving our shared objectives. When a few CSO leaders are prioritized over others, it creates divisions and disrupts the collaborative spirit needed to make progress.

In light of these concerns, I kindly request that you address this issue internally within the respective DG. It is crucial to ensure that a transparent and accountable culture is upheld among all EC officials, including the Roma Advisor, when engaging with civil society organizations. DG NEAR should work towards a more inclusive and equitable approach to consultations with Roma CSOs, respecting the diversity of voices within the community.

I understand that the European Commission is committed to promoting Roma inclusion and improving the living conditions of the Roma population in the Western Balkans, including North Macedonia. To achieve these goals, it is imperative that our interactions are characterized by openness, fairness, and inclusivity. I trust that you will take the necessary steps to rectify the situation and uphold the principles that guide our shared efforts.

Please be advised that in order to maintain openness and accountability in our lobbying, this letter will be published as an open letter to the EU Commissioner for Enlargement on media news channels in North Macedonia.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to a constructive resolution that strengthens our partnership in advancing the rights and well-being of the Roma community in North Macedonia.

Sincerely,

Zoran Dimov

Coordinator

National Roma Platform North Macedonia

26 September 2023

 

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