SKOPJE, 18 October 2012 – The efforts and challenges faced in implementing and protecting minority rights in the Balkans are the focus of an OSCE-supported regional conference that started in Skopje today.
The conference, organized by the Agency for Community Rights Realization and supported by the OSCE Mission to Skopje, brings together high-level representatives of institutions involved with minority rights protection in the region to share positive practices and best models for rights promotion and implementation.
“Supporting development of harmonious, inter-ethnic relations in this country is a core part of the mandate of the OSCE Mission to Skopje. We are convinced that in a multi-ethnic society such as this one, the full implementation of minority rights is a precondition for building peaceful relations. The full realization of minority rights is vital for all people to feel part of society and to be able to actively participate in it,” said the Head of OSCE Mission to Skopje, Ambassador Ralf Breth.
Vesna Babich-Petrovski, Director of the Agency for Community Rights Realization, added: “Our country, the same as other countries in the region, faces challenges when it comes to issues which concern the communities. We hope that this conference will provide an opportunity for more active regional inter-institutional co-operation.”
Nezhdet Mustafa, Minister without portfolio who is in charge of implementation of the Roma Decade commitments, said that the Roma population continues to face difficulties in enjoying their fundamental rights.
“Unfortunately even nowadays, thousands of Roma people in European countries live without citizenship; they do not possess any personal identification documents, which is additional proof that they are often deprived of access to their fundamental rights, such as access to education, healthcare services and social protection, as well as the right to vote, which would provide them with a means to social integration,” said Minister Mustafa.
The reports and conclusions emerging from the conference will serve as guiding principles for further action aimed at strengthening regional co-operation in the area of minority rights implementation and promotion.