Bulgaria's new National Strategy for Roma Integration discussed

November 15, 2011

The World Bank calls for results, pointing out strong economic arguments for investing in education

Sofia, November 14, 2011 - Bulgaria’s new national strategy for Roma integration was discussed today by civil society representatives and nongovernment organizations during an event with broad participation. The event was opened by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who is the chairperson of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integrational Issuesat the Council of Ministers. “There is a certain public distrust about the effectiveness of Roma integration activities, because for 20 years the problems have not been solved”, Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetanov said. He stressed out the government’s commitment to develop strong sector policies for Roma integration.
The new national strategy for Roma integration is expected to be approved by Bulgaria’s government to be submitted to the European Commission together with an action plan for implementation. The document is aligned with National Reform Program, and in line with the Europe 2020 initiative for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

“We all want to see results from investments in Roma inclusion. We want to see Roma students with increased skills, increased employment opportunities, increased income”,
Markus Repnik, the World Bank Country Manager for Bulgaria said at the opening. He emphasized the strong economic reason of Roma inclusion by pointing out that every Roma citizen may be losing potential income of up to 5000 Leva a year, and the Bulgarian Government may be losing about 700 million Leva a year due to low level of education of Roma people. (Read the whole speech here)

The event today was preceded by national consultations whose beginning was marked by a World Bank-supported workshop in May this year entitled “Roma Inclusion in Bulgaria – What Works, What are the Challenges?”

The discussion today was attended by Minister of Education, Youth and Science Sergei Ignatov, Minister charged of EU funds management Tomislav Donchev, H.E. Ambassador of Poland Leszek Hensel, and other ambassadors, as well as EC representatives, local government representatives, academia, think tanks, Roma associations and media.

Bulgarian media reported broadly on the event emphasizing the high level officials’ strong commitment to move forward Roma inclusion agenda. ”The Government will guarantee that the money for integration will not disappear” wrote 24 Hours Daily quoting DPM Tsvetan Tsvetanov. News Agency Focus published the World Bank Country Manager Markus Repnik statement highlighting the “strong economic argument for Roma inclusion”. The numbers provided in his speech were quoted also by several newspapers. The biggest daily in the country Trud dedicated two pages on the topic summarizing the envisioned measures and policies for better Roma inclusion.

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