The combination of growing nationalism, populism, and corruption in Macedonia leads to anincreasing exclusion of Roma people from the country. The newly created political and ethnic tensions are reflected in all spheres of social life and pose a threat to the Roma's enjoyment of basic human rights and freedoms. On the other hand, democracy in Europe is
being tested as a result of global competition on geopolitical and geocultural levels. These
developments have significant implications for EU enlargement processes and minority
Such a development is detrimental to all citizens, particularly the Roma population, which is still insufficiently organized and mobilized to defend its collective rights and interests as guaranteed by the Macedonian Constitution. The three-decade coalitions of Roma political parties in power, partnerships of Roma civil organizations with state institutions, and employment of Roma intellectuals in state administration did not produce visible results or positive changes for the Roma. On the contrary, the culture of discrimination, exclusion, and marginalization continues to be a daily challenge for all Roma, regardless of educational level, gender, age, or economic status.
The third cycle of the state's Roma Integration Strategy is presently being implemented, but the first two cycles have not been evaluated or adequately monitored. Consultations with civil society groups helped formulate the analysis of the issues and requirements of the Roma community, which was then partially incorporated into the IPA 3 instrument for financial support.
In addition, due to the lack of medium- and long-term goals, the Roma are not adequately involved in matters of national concern, i.e., in policies and processes related to European integration. The election cycles determine how busy the parties are. The short-term engagement of intellectuals is at the level of the individual, whereas the civil groups resonate at the project level.
According to the Network for Systemic and Permanent Solutions' analysis, the space for action and influence of Roma political parties and civil society organizations has shrunk, while non-democratic forces continue to exert increasing influence in the lives of individuals. The Network's members launched an initiative to establish a National Roma Platform, believing that the current generation of leaders and activists must take joint
action and establish cooperation mechanisms for the common good of the Roma and democratic processes in the country.
WHAT IS THE NATIONAL ROMA PLATFORM?
The National Roma Platform is a voluntary grouping of intellectuals, politicians, activists, representatives of civil society, and other specialists who work to advance the interests of the Roma community in Macedonia. Each group and member is dedicated to defending shared values and interests as well as, of course, bringing about positive change for their community by taking part in the National Roma Platform.
All Platform participants must cooperate in both political and non-political ways during this interaction. Participating in the Platform is intended to address the group needs and interests of raising the standard of living of the Roma population through active involvement in societal advancements both within and outside of the country. The main emphasis of the Platform's operation is on Euro-integration processes and policies, and in accordance with EU principles and values, we have a legal right to take part in defining those processes and making decisions about how to allocate IPA 3's financial resources.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CIVIL, INDIVIDUAL, POLITICAL AND EXPERT INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY
FOR MEMBERSHIP IN THE NATIONAL ROMA PLATFORM
One of the fundamental concepts and tools for the realization of individual and collective rights and interests in democratic societies is civic, individual, political, and expert involvement. The Roma community is underrepresented in the nation's public political and economic flows, which results in ongoing political, economic, and sociocultural marginalization. State organizations frequently disregard or ignore our needs and priorities.
Here are some of the contributing reasons to this problem:
– Culture of political majorization by the majority political parties
– Weak and politically controlled institutions
– Disunity and mistrust among Roma political parties
– Fragmentation of the Roma voting electorate, insufficiently informed and cheap vote
– Unstructured and fragmented intellectual elite
– Weakened capacities of Roma civil organizations
– Absence of national dialog and cohesion between Roma parties, organizations and businesspeople
The aforementioned elements are only a small portion of the numerous, centuries-long issues and state institutions' handling of the Roma matter in Macedonia. These variables include both internal and external elements. We have made efforts on both fronts over the past three decades, but regrettably the expected changes for the Roma community have not materialized. The National Roma Platform will concentrate on internal influencing
factors in this phase of action because we think we have the resources and expertise to put them at the right level of involvement.
The establishment of a National Platform for Roma is a critical step toward resolving the many issues confronting the Roma community today. The establishment of a National Platform for Roma must address the aforementioned issues by utilizing positive legal norms of the state as well as EU policies and standards for countries in the process of joining the Union.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO FORM AN NATIONAL ROMA PLATFORM:
VISION, MISSION AND GOALS?
The vision of the Platform is: Roma from Macedonia, enjoy political, social and economic
rights in the country and live as equal citizens in the EU.
The mission of the National Roma Platform is: The Platform is the voice of the Roma people in the process of negotiations between Macedonia and the EU, including in the planning, programming, implementation and monitoring of the spending of pre-accession funds for the integration of the Roma.
The National Roma Platform aims to be a key actor in promoting the development and strengthening of its community by leveraging EU accession policies and coordinating with state measures and programs for Roma integration. Macedonia will thus confirm that it is constructing an inclusive society in which all citizens enjoy equal treatment and civil rights.
The establishment of a national Roma platform is a critical step toward elevating the Roma issue to a higher level, in which political and economic solutions should be coordinated with Roma social inclusion policies. The National Roma Platform will unite our collective efforts and aspirations to ensure a decent life for every Romani man and woman through advocacy, capacity building, and the promotion of dialogue and cooperation.
The National Roma Platform can assist Roma in safeguarding their culture and identity,
enhancing their access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities, and defending themselves against prejudice and social isolation.
This process can help to:
• Achieve an inclusive and equal approach for Roma in all spheres of society, and improve their daily lives; and
• Move closer to European Union standards and values. This is a significant step forward for the Republic of North Macedonia in promoting the rights of all its citizens. Due to a number of factors, the creation of the Roma Forum during Macedonia's EU membership is crucial.
• Promoting Roma inclusion: The creation of the Roma Platform will make it possible for Roma communities to actively participate in the discussion and implementation of laws and policies that will boost Roma inclusion in society.
• To raise the status of Roma: In Macedonia, Roma encounter numerous social, economic, and cultural obstacles, which causes them to integrate poorly into society.
The creation of the Roma Platform may help to elevate the status of the Roma, which may eventually aid in their overcoming discrimination and assimilating into society.
• To increase Roma participation in decision-making: Roma in Macedonia are under represented in the political system, which means their voices and needs are not considered when making decisions. The establishment of a Roma Platform could increase Roma participation in decision-making and give them more influence in areas that affect them.
• To assist with the EU accession process: The Roma community is one of the most significant obstacles to Macedonia's accession to the European Union. The improvement of Roma rights and status is one of the requirements for EU membership. The establishment of a Roma Platform can be a useful tool in this process, as it can help to improve the status of Roma and strengthen their participation in society.
WHAT ACTIVITIES WILL BE CARRIED OUT BY THE NATIONAL ROMA PLATFORM
The European Union has policies and methods to ensure that all of its member states uphold certain standards of democracy, human rights, and minority protection, guided by knowledge, resolve, and information. The Republic of Macedonia's Roma population can and should be strengthened through the use of these policies.
The Platform may operate in the following manner over the next few years:
– Thoroughly and frequently examine whether the EU's entry requirements are being met: These requirements include regard for human rights, the defense of minorities, and the advancement of democracy. The EU can work to guarante econditions in line with the demands of the Roma community and address the development needs of the Roma population by keeping an eye on Macedonia's adherence to these criteria.
This might entail performing frequent analyses and evaluations of the nation's advancement toward fulfilling these requirements.
– Offering financial assistance for the growth of the Roma: The EU offers financial assistance to candidate nations through a variety of programs and funds, including the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, and the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance. The Roma community can benefit from these funds, especially for economic growth and the eradication of poverty among the Roma people.
– Technical assistance and capacity building: The EU can assist Roma organizations in implementing policies and practices that promote Roma development by providing technical assistance and capacity building. This may include training and support for government officials, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders on Roma protection and development issues.