Promoting the inclusion of all relevant actors, notably women and the youth, in the implementation of the National Strategy for the Inclusion of the Roma until 2020, was the focus of an introductory conference of the National Platform for the Inclusion of the Roma, held in the Science, Education and Sports Ministry on Tuesday.

The need to include the youth and women was underscored by the head of the Office for Human and Minority Rights, Branko Socanac, and MP representing the Roma ethnic minority Veljko Kajtazi.

Kajtazi fears that the Roma community will have little benefit from this project, realised with the help of the European Commission, saying there was not enough political will to resolve basic problems, such as housing, education and employment.

"The problem is insufficient coordination at the local level and the fact that the non-Roma population and those involved in the decision-making process at the local level are not interested," Socanac said underscoring that this should be a two-way process.

The main objective by 2020 is to ensure that every Roma child finishes elementary school. The Roma population must be able to make their own decisions, Socanac said, adding that the problem was the fact that young Roma were insufficiently educated. The objective is to create a critical mass among the young Roma population who would later take over all these tasks."

He underscored that the inclusion of the general public was very important in this process. "The Roma have been a marginalised group for a very long time and there had been certain stereotypes and prejudice against them. We need to educate the general public so that the Roma can become equal participants in the public life.

The participants in the conference were also greeted by Administration Minister Dubravka Jurlina Alibegovic who said the National Platform for the Inclusion of the Roma was supported by the European commission.

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