Mayors ally for Roma inclusion

23 September 2011

 

The Council of Europe this Thursday brought mayors and representatives of local and regional authorities to Strasbourg to discuss their role in promoting Roma inclusion. ERGO Network brought Tsonko Tsonev, mayor of Kavarna in Bulgaria there, together with Zoran Aleksov from Stip, Macedonia, to present their experiences and connect to colleagues from across Europe. They were the winners of the Most Roma Friendly Mayor elections in their countries which was organized by ERGO Network in 2009.

On 21 September, the evening before the Conference,  Tsonko Tsonev,  Zoran Aleksov and Ayhan Ozkan, Governor of Edirne,  Turkey, met with Jeroen Schokkenbroek, Special representative for Roma of the General Secretary of the Council of Europe to share their views on the measures to increase impact of Roma policies at local level. Being aware of the role of the CoE, they asked Mr. Schokkenbroek to support the engagement of local authorities as a priority in the national Roma strategies that are being designed now in the frame of the EU Roma Framework

The conference adopted a final declaration, reaffirming the concerns of participants of the “persistent exclusion and discrimination of Roma in local and regional communities across Europe” and calling on “local and regional authorities to set up networks at national level for action on Roma”.

“It is high time that mayors’ voice was heard, because they are the people who solve the problems of Roma and stay closest to them. This is the first ever meeting of this type. The alliance of cities and regions which was built yesterday and the declaration adopted by all attendees will rely on this. This is the future – regional and local authorities start seeking solutions with the help of the European Union, European Commission and Council of Europe,” said Tsonko Tsonev.

The meeting also established a kick-off group of six European cities and regions, (Aubervilliers/France, Kavarna/Bulgaria, Malaga/Spain, Region of Madrid/Spain, Heraklion/Greece and the 5th district of Bucharest/Romania) to prepare the establishment of this new European network.

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