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.


Zoran Dimov


National Roma Platform North Macedonia

26 September 2023


Varheji: We need to provide young Roma with full access to education, health, housing, and employment

The host of the annual ministerial meeting, the fourth in a row after the adoption of the "Declaration of the partners from the Western Balkans for the integration of the Roma within the EU enlargement process" - Poznań Declaration, is the Republic of North Macedonia. At the meeting, ministers from North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo highlighted the good practices from their countries as well as their views on future steps.

The ministerial meeting was opened with welcoming speeches by Jovana Trenčevska, Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Oliver Varhei, Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Relations from the European Commission, Anna Liermann, Minister of State for Europe and Climate in Germany, David Geer, Ambassador of the European Union in Republic of North Macedonia and Željko Jovanović, the director of the Roma Initiative at the Open Society Foundations.

"We should strive to provide the young Roma with full access to education, health, housing, employment and participation in the green agenda," said Varheyi.

He pointed out that there are a number of successful projects that involve the Roma and contribute to the improvement of their standard of living, but he also expressed his conviction that the countries in the region can do even more. But the Director of the Roma Foundation, Željko Jovanović, mentioned to those present that "How many more such meetings will there be, to repeat the same words, as in the past twenty years"?

UN: Over 300 million children live in extreme poverty

The information published on the Digi24.ro website can be retrieved, in accordance with the applicable legislation, only within the limit of 120 characters. More than 300 million children around the world live in extreme poverty, according to a new report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank. Although the number of children living on less than $2.15 a day decreased between 2013 and 2022, the effects of the pandemic on the economy interrupted this progress, according to the report, writes Agerpres, taking over EFE. Approximately 30 million children would have come out of the situation of extreme poverty in the last three years if it were not for the disruptions caused by COVID-19, UNICEF and WB analysis estimates. By region, Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected. Not only do 40% of children live in extreme poverty there, but the region represents an increasing share of the global child poverty figure, an evolution determined by the rapid population growth, environmental disasters and the effects of the pandemic. In fact, only Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East have seen an increase in the level of extreme child poverty in recent years

Exclusive interview with the member of the Macedonian Parliament Ljatifa Šikovska: "I will not run in the next parliamentary elections. I will not continue my political career"

Roma Times: How satisfied are you with your activities in your first term as a deputy in the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia?

Ljatifa Šikovska: In general, taking into account all the circumstances and developments in the assembly and outside it, I am satisfied with my activities, commitments, and representation of the interest of the Roma community in solving the challenges and needs that we have been trying to solve for three decades.

RT: You were previously active and known for your involvement in the NGO sector. Your engagement even now as a member of parliament is noticeable in the activities, especially in the section for homeless people and their housing, as well as registration of people without documents? How do you evaluate the activities so far?

LJS: Yes, while I was part of the civil society sector, we actively and with specific activities and projects advocated to solve some of the needs of the Roma in education, housing and of course the people who were not registered in the birth registers. As part of Umbrella before my mandate as a member of parliament, through project activities supported by the Roma Educational Fund (REF) Budapest, more than 1000 children of preschool age from 3 to 5 years old. were included in the kindergarten in Shuto Orizar. We also supported the children in OU Brača Ramiz Hamid and OU 26 Juli, through the TUTORING project. About 100 people from the municipality of Sh.O. who failed to complete primary and secondary education with our support completed their education by issuing valid certificates and diplomas from the Ministry of Education and Culture.

In terms of homelessness, Umbrella in cooperation with MTSP succeeded in dislocating 36 families who had been living under the so-called Pod Kale for more than 10 years, without basic living conditions without water and electricity. With the support of MTSP, the families were accommodated in new barracks, fully equipped inside with adequate living conditions, at a location in Vizbegovo. We immediately enrolled the children in school and they are still going to school today. But of course my advocacy regarding homelessness continues, until the families get social housing. The problem with people who have not been registered in birth registers for many years, most of whom are children aged 1 to 17 years. is truly one of the most pressing challenges.

That is why in the assembly of the SM, with the support of certain deputies, I submitted a law for a systemic solution to this problem. The law was passed in June 2023. and it is already implemented. By the way, on my initiative, supported by several MPs and with the support of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice, at the 125th session held this month, 2 laws were passed, one of which was about residences, addresses and residence, while the second law was about identity cards. . The laws at the commission hearing were supported by both the position and the opposition, and at the next session of the Assembly, these laws, which are very important for the Roma community, will be passed. With the support of certain NGO organizations, work is being done in the field to find all the persons who are not registered in the MKR to submit a request for registration in the regular register of births, and to obtain certificates with identification numbers as we all have, and with they will be able to exercise all their rights, according to the Constitution and laws in the RSM. I expect that by the end of the year this problem will finally be solved and closed, that we will have zero people without birth certificates.

RT: What is your point of view regarding the adoption of the NAPs, if it is known that the Republic of Macedonia adopted the National Strategy 2 years ago... How long will it take for its adoption?

LJS: Yes, it is true that the National Strategy was adopted two years ago, but the adoption of the NAP by the Government is still pending. I'm honestly not up to date with what's going on and why it's late. In charge of the Strategy and the NAP is the department for the Strategy intended for the Roma in RSM at MTSP. Perhaps you will get more information regarding the strategy and NAP from them and the Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Government.

RT: Will the constitutional amendments be adopted within the stipulated period?

LJS: I have always been an optimist and I am now, my expectations are that the opposition will take heart and make a real decision, voting for opening and changing the constitution. RSM and the citizens have been waiting for 30 years. for starting the negotiations with the EU and, of course, to become an equal member of the EU. RSM must not miss this chance.

RT: Do you plan to run in the next parliamentary elections?

LJS: Ljatife Šikovska will not run in the next parliamentary elections. I will not continue my political career. I leave room for other Roma to continue to represent the interests of the community at a higher level through political participation.



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Од 5 Ноември 2022 достапен документарниот филм на СП БТР „Небо, Точак, Земја„ на Max TV и Max TV GO со пребарување –Видеотека


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