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City Bijeljina

Skopje: Regional conference on minorities and vulnerable groups in the Western Balkans

Representatives of the City Administration took part in the Regional conference in Skopje yesterday. The conference was about the models for inclusion of minorities and vulnerable groups in the Western Balkans with exchange of ideas and recommendations for improved policy making.
The conference was opened by Jovana Trenčevska, Minister of labour and social policy of the North Macedonia. Linda Pieper, from the State Chancellery of Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein, Department of Minorities, also addressed the guests.
David Oberhuber, GIZ Country Director for North Macedonia, spoke about the position of minorities.
Kelmend Zajazi, Executive Director of the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South East Europe (NALAS), also took part in the conference.
Delegation of Germany, country which has a great and diverse experience related to minorities, emphasised that diversity management is the instrument to create conditions for social justice and elimination of discrimination of minorities.
Zora Popova, project manager with the Federal Union of European Nationalities, presented good practice examples of the minorities in Bulgaria.
Ljubiša Stanišić of the Department of Social Affairs talked at the conference on behalf of the City of Bijeljina. Stanišić presented the City’s dedication and commitment to the cooperation, reconciliation and an active local minority, or the dialogue with the minorities.
He mentioned that within the Department there is an Office for minorities and the Section for minorities and diaspora, and that the results of this Section’s activities are manifested in better communication, improvement of dialogue, exercise of rights, and promotion of cultural heritage – language, tradition and minorities’ customs.
Stanišić mentioned Roma as an example of the largest minority in Bijeljina and mentioned the campaign which was implemented in order to raise awareness of the local public and decision makers in order to influence the change of positions regarding inclusion of Roma in the community and pointed out that last year the Mayor Ljubiša Petrović received an accolade Mayor Friend of Roma.
“Bijeljina implemented numerous projects which resulted in improvement of quality of lives of Roma. Primarily, it is about the housing care by building numerous housing units, free snacks and books for all Roma children attending primary schools,” said Stanišić.
Romacted, as the joint programme, is another example of positive practice, because due to the promotion of good management and strengthening of local Roma community, a Memorandum on Cooperation between the Council of Europe and the City of Bijeljina was signed.
There is also an integral approach to social inclusion with the aim to provide adequate living conditions for Roma and other vulnerable groups, as well as opportunities for personal growth and participation in social, economic and political life of the local community.
Currently, an idea for the shelter for children who are at risk from human trafficking is being developed.
Bijeljina is a local community that respects diversity. This is shown by the fact that the City implemented the project Promotion of diversity and equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and did everything to set up signs in languages of minorities.