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First National Seminar in Serbia on Roma Inclusion facilitated sharing of experiences and good-practices

Dusica Davidovic (Serbia, SOC), Stojanka Lekic (Serbia, EPP/CCE) and Fevzija Muric on behalf of Meho Mahmutovic (Serbia, SOC), Congress members, representatives of Serbian municipalities, and representatives of the Serbian Government participated in the First National Seminar in Serbia organised by the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion on Friday 12 June 2015. In line with the objectives of the Alliance, the seminar provided an opportunity for all participants to share experience and know-how with each other, in order to improve local and regional policies for and living conditions of Roma, who are one of over 20 recognised minorities in Serbia.

Saša Mogić, assistant minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Government and Nadia Ćuk, deputy head of the Council of Europe’s Belgrade Office, welcomed the seminar participants and underlined the importance of local level initiatives to the effective integration of Roma into mainstream society.

After discussing successful practices from the city of Novi Pazar and the city of Kragujevac, which have both developed a number of projects to provide Roma with homes and employment possibilities, the seminar participants focused especially on two key areas of Roma inclusion: Vitomir Mihajlović, president of the National Council of Roma, described in detail the obstacles and necessities for Roma to participate in the political life of municipalities. Then the discussion moved to experiences with measures to combat the high drop-out rates of Roma children in schools.

All participants agreed that further action is urgently needed on these issues. They decided to set up an informal knowledge-sharing network amongst themselves. The Alliance will continue its support to this newly introduced Serbian network.