Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Ambassador Sem Fabrizi paid a visit to Vrsac where he talked to local government officials and toured several EU-supported projects.
Following a meeting with Mayor of Vrsac Dragana Mitrovic at the Town Hall, the two visited three Roma settlements – Balata, Vojvoda Stepa and Mali rit – whose residents are included in programmes implemented by the EU and Vrsac with a view to integrating and strengthening Roma population.
“Local self-government has done a lot in the past two years. We agreed that housing conditions are among the biggest issues and I believe we will improve them in the coming period. Also, property relations among Roma population remain an issue, making the connection to power network impossible. Almost entire settlement of Mali rit has started the legalization process so this issue will also be resolved,” Mayor of Vrsac Dragana Mitrovic said.
“Mayor and I discussed particular challenges faced by the Roma community with regard to housing issues and social inclusion,” Fabrizi noted.
“Minority inclusion is of key importance for the EU, and is also a part of commitments Serbia has assumed within negotiating chapter 23 and I can assure you that the EU will remain committed to improving these three segments: education, housing and job creation,” EU ambassador stated.
Fabrizi met with teachers and students who teach and attend classes in Roma language at the Preschool Teacher Training College Mihailo Palov.
“While talking to them, I could see that Roma integration and fighting discrimination are real,” Fabrici said.
Over the last two years, the European Union has given over 1,000 scholarships to Roma speaking students.
“When it comes to education, Serbia has made great progress, and 2019 marks the year when Serbia becomes one of Erasmus+ partners. The school we’re in and the Erasmus project are part of a forward looking approach,” Ambassador Fabrizi said.
The EU has so far donated EUR11.4 million in an effort to improve the status of Roma and intends to donate another EUR20 million in the coming period.