The National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues will be reformed

Deputy Prime Minister for Effective Governance Kalina Konstantinova clearly pointed out that the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues is going to be reformed, which has been a major demand of NGOs. The aim is to provide opportunity for the National Council to play much more ambitious role as a coordinator of effective and transparent policies on ethnic issues, as well as to provide an opportunity for the real participation of civil society organizations in this process. These and other issues related to access to health care and education were discussed during a meeting with representatives of more than 20 civil society organizations, Roma public figures and activists on the occasion of the International Roma Day.

Kalina Konstantinova, who is also the Chair of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues (NCEEIB) congratulated Roma for the International Roma Day and thanked the organizations that have actively participated in the preparation of the strategic framework of Bulgaria for equality, inclusion and participation of Roma until 2030. Together with the Deputy Prime Minister, the host of the event was Virginia Atanasova. She is an 11th grade student at the Vocational School of Agriculture in Shumen. She is one of the winners in the competition “I have a dream: to study and live together” organized by the Center “Amalipe”. Therefore, she has been chosen as the “Ambassador for a Day” in the Council of Ministers. “Ambassador for a Day” is an initiative Amalipe has been organizing for years in major national institutions and diplomatic missions on International Roma Day.

Representatives of the National Network of Health Mediators, Integro Association, Center Amalipe, the SEGA Foundation, the Legal Incubator Program, the Health and Social Development Foundation and the Institute of Sociology and Philosophy at the BAS presented their successful practices in the field of challenges in the implementation of the health mediation program in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, support for municipalities and local communities to plan and implement effective inclusive policies. Other practices included supporting Roma youth to complete secondary education, monitoring and reporting hate speech in media and online, empowering Roma activists to counter anti-Roma disinformation and fake news. Daniela Mihailova presented the Legal Incubator Program – continuing practical training for young lawyers with a focus on lawyers of Roma origin. The meeting emphasized the role of educational mediators and their activities for the full coverage of students during the pandemic.

In his speech, the chairman of Center Amalipe Deyan Kolev recalled that on April 8, 2013 Roma organizations left the NCCEII, pushing for its institutional reform. Even then, the organizations proposed changes to ensure the actual implementation of the advisory and coordinating functions of the NCCEII. In the following years, discussions about the changes have begun several times, but were not brought to a successful end. Kolev congratulated Deputy Prime Minister Konstantinova for “reviving” the Civil Society Council, wishing the same success with regard to the NCCEII. In response, Deputy Prime Minister Konstantinova pledged for a deep reform of the NCEEIB, which will be done in dialogue with civil society organizations. Kalina Konstantinova awarded with certificates the organizations that actively participated in the process of developing policies and practices for equality, inclusion and participation of Roma, as well as for preserving cultural identity and promoting the increasingly active role of the Roma community in public and political life.