Two important questions formed the basis for discussions at an event recently organized by the Open Society Institute in Sofia. First, how to achieve real and lasting results in the integration of Roma in Bulgaria? And second, how does civil society assess results from the Roma Decade initiative?
To help answer those questions, about 80 representatives from civil society, along with international partners and ambassadors, attended the workshop on December 10, 2013, which happened to coincide with both International Human Rights Day and a recommendation adopted by the EU Council of Employment on how to increase efforts to bridge the gaps between Roma and the rest of the European population.
Noting the importance and relevance of the date in his opening remarks, Bryan Dalton, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of the United States of America in Sofia, highlighted the need for strong Government leadership to overcome Roma exclusion. The United States became an observer to the Decade of Roma Inclusion in 2012.
A long-term partner in the Roma Decade initiative, the World Bank is calling for increased urgency to build upon the existing success stories of Roma inclusion in Bulgaria. Markus Repnik, World Bank Country Manager for Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Slovakia, called for scaled-up efforts to achieve tangible results for Roma inclusion, and he put particular emphasis on the importance of early child development.