Podgorica, 20 September 2018 – The project “United We Can Do More – Voice for Students, Support for Workers!” has been officially launched at the EU Info Centre. The aim of the project is strengthening the trade union engagement of Roma and members of the majority population in seven Montenegrin municipalities, as well as improving their knowledge and skills to be able to participate in the process of decision making.

The project is being implemented by the non-governmental organisation “Young Roma”, in partnership with the Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro (USSCG), and is financed by the European Union. The participants in the conference stated that Roma and Egyptians are the most vulnerable minority in Montenegro.

The Executive Director of the NGO “Young Roma”, Samir Jaha, said that the project, whose implementation began in May of this year and will last until 31 December of next year, will be implemented in Podgorica, Niksic, Cetinje, Kotor, Budva, Ulcinj and Herceg Novi.

“The new project is aimed at strengthening the social activism of Roma and of members of the majority population in Montenegro, through improving representation and providing the necessary knowledge and skills for participation in the decision-making process,” Jaha said, adding: “Through the project 25 students will be trained to participate in the decision-making process and in public policies that deal with Roma issues, students and workers rights, as well as other economic, social and minority rights.”

He explained that students will have the opportunity to attend four training sessions on the topics of democracy and human rights, the parliamentary system of Montenegro and public policies, public relations, as well as a simulation of parliamentary debates.

The Programme Manager for Human Rights and Democracy at the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, Mladenka Tesic, pointed out the principles that the European Union is guided by in its policies regarding the protection of Roma rights.

“The most important thing is the European Union Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies by 2020. Its primary objective is to help member states and candidate countries to improve the position of Roma in four key areas: housing, health care, education and employment,” said Tesic.

As she recalled, the significance of the inclusion of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro is mentioned in the European Commission’s 2018 Report, where it is emphasised that Roma and Egyptians are the most vulnerable and discriminated minority.

“Progress is being recorded in education, with an increase in the number of children enrolled in elementary and pre-school education. However, efforts to get more Roma and Egyptians into the labour market are not satisfactory, and a positive shift is that most Roma and Egyptians have access to healthcare. However, a large number of members of this population live in poor housing conditions and very often in illegal constructions,” said Tesic.

The Secretary General of the USSCG, Srdja Kekovic, said that the association will continue its mission of strengthening the organisation of trade unions and the work of workers in utility companies in Montenegro, as well as, as he said, their education when it comes to labour rights and models of fighting for the preservation and improvement of acquired rights from their jobs and on the basis of their jobs.