Vlado Buchkovski, former Macedonian Prime Minister is a signatory of the Decade of Roma inclusion. He considers that the state can be an example of emancipation and inclusion of Roma people for other states, but we still have a lot of work in front of us in order to fulfill the targets of the Decade of Roma inclusion 2005 – 2015
“The World Bank and Open Society Foundation were initiators for promotion of the Decade of Roma inclusion. The meeting we had on a Prime Minister level was held in Sofia. The Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Sakskoburgotski (Simeon) was then the organizer of the Conference about the Roma Decade. Among others there was the Hungarian Prime Minister because of the significance given to the Roma minority in Hungary, the Deputy Prime Minister of Romania and I as the Prime Minister of Macedonia. On that occasion by promoting the Roma Decade, the purpose was to reach the level of development of the Roma community same as the one of the communities who already are in the heart of Europe, present here thousands of years before the Roma. Roma emancipation, incensement of the level of education and by that giving an opportunity to defeat poverty and misery connected with Roma everywhere in Europe were the main motives. It was a privilege for me personally to be there, because it was shown that generally the position and status of Roma in Macedonia can be an example for other countries“ said Vlado Buchkovski, former Prime Minister of Macedonia and signatory of the Decade of Roma inclusion in 2005 for EDNO.
EDNO: Were there analyses about the priorities of the Decade (pillars), that preceded the Decade?
Buchkovski: Researches were based before all on data given by the World Bank. That was a key segment in the research about what should be the Decade’s priority. The Conference in Sofia was a great privilege for us and we got a great compliment for the fact that even if just on paper the status of the Roma was on a high level. They are part of the Constitution’s preamble, they have guaranteed places in the authorities… We blustered then that we have Roma Deputy Minister, and now the Government of Nikola Gruevski has even went a step further, now we have a Roma Minister who has been representing the interests of the Roma community for six years and is de facto in charge of the Roma Decade.
It was also taken care in territorial organization to crate preconditions to have one dominant Roma municipality with one Roma mayor and that is what makes us different from others. Furthermore, the reserved space on Macedonian television for the Roma community, giving the opportunity of Roma students to study in their mother tongue, are basis on which we can claim that in that part, Macedonia has institutionally created preconditions for the Roma to feel as equal citizens in our country.
On the other hand facts show something quite different. By poverty, unfavorable socio-economical statuses of several target groups in our society, it can be seen that Roma people are unfortunately on the margins, and much more should be done in these areas. This especially goes for stimulating employment in public administration, for which Roma political parties struggle now. The level of convenient legal representation should be reached, because according to their sayings and from my personal contacts I get the information that Roma have the impression that legal representation – the measure that results from the amendments in the Constitution with the Framework agreement from 2011 is predominantly intended to Albanians. And Roma are again marginalized. I was mentor of a Roma student and personally assured that there are outstandingly talented young people that can be motors of the Roma community if they are educationally supported.
EDNO: As far as employments are concerned there are often reactions that exactly through employment policy discrimination towards Roma can be detected. What is your impression, are Roma people discriminated?
Buchkovski: If we speak impartially, the condition and status of Roma can be a lot better in our country. But when we see the opposition even in much more developed countries, the story in France and Sarkozi’s behavior and what Orban demonstrates… speaks about the presence of a kind of depreciation of Roma generally in whole Europe. In our case no matter the hard efforts we must note that we haven’t built a system to help Roma people educate and finish emancipation quicker. To give them the opportunity to do that. Speaking with part of them, on certain occasions, they consider that Macedonians have reserved opinions about their capacity and capability to be equal. Ten days ago I have found out through the electronic media about a group of young Roma who finished secondary school in catering and cannot find work in catering only because they are Roma.
There are probably many similar stories from the everyday life. But I think that in our country comparatively seen there is outstandingly good system which gives opportunities for improving the condition and status of Roma.
EDNO: Is there basis?
Buchkovski: Yes, although it is fact that problems of the urban communities where Roma population is dominant, where political abuse on every elections happen are not being solved. Their votes are being bought. Those groups which seem to become interesting only before elections are being marginalized. That may be the biggest flaw that I can notice together with the exclusively bad conditions Roma people live in our country, no matter if it is about Skopje, Bitola or any other city.
Municipalities are not helping infrastructural and that is I think the most important thing that needs to be done in order to raise the level.
EDNO: That is exactly the obligation of the Decade?
Buchkovski: Yes. But we can see that it is not functioning. Unfortunately the pictures of the conditions in which Roma people live in this country are affecting.
EDNO: What do you think about Roma leaders in Macedonia?
Buchkovski: Most of them are my acquaintances. I personally think that it is time for the Roma community to change generations and the time of Amdi Bajram and Nedzet Mustafa and other leaders who have politically used the Roma population much more than they improved their situation has passed.
EDNO: What is your impression now, seven years after initiation of the Decade, how much of its obligations are realized?
Buchkovski: I think that pretty much is being done, but looking from our experience, I consider that the targets are not fully reached. It is probably obvious that the Decade must continue. We spent the first Decade, we will need another one. I consider that more could and must have been done.