Report on Roma access to employment in the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”

by Sejdo Jasarov, CoE consultant1

Content

Part II. Employment policy development and implementation

Part III. Roma Access to vocational training
Part IV. Romany women

Part VI. Recommendations
Annex No. 1

Part I. Introduction. The employment situation of the Macedonian Roma

Political and economic development. The labour market.

The death of president Trajkovski has a shocking effect on a significant part of the Macedonian population - the security situation start stabilizing and the political climate improved. The Stability Association Agreement (SAA), which was signed in April 2001, entered into force in April 2004. In March 2004 FYROM submitted an application for membership to the European Union. The implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement is progressing, although there are still sensitive pieces of legislation to be adopted. Provisions in the area of employment are being implemented, although ensuring proportional representation of Roma seems to be very low on the governmental agenda.

Economic restructuring in the last decade brought substantial job losses and the recorded unemployment is very high and growing: according to the Labor Force Survey, in April 2003 was 37% of the labor force, which means that at least one out of three persons able to work, does not have a job or participates in the grey economy.

The European Commission expressed concerned that sustained high rates of unemployment may cause social and political tensions undermining further economic and political reform, not least since it mainly affects young people and minorities2. A significant part of the population lives under poverty line. Minorities, low skilled workers and unemployed (categories where Roma are over-represented) have particularly low living standards. In its most recent report, the European Commission placed emphasis on the fact that the integration of the Roma in the Macedonian society and particularly the fight “against discrimination in access to social services, education and employment will require a comprehensive approach”3. It remains to be seen whether the Macedonian government will interpret the message of the EC as an encouragement to adopt comprehensive polices to address the situation of Roma or would insist in the usual piece meal approach.

The informal sector covers a significant part of the country’s economy. The country benefits of a substantial income from its workers abroad. The migration of labour force towards European Union continues, although not at the same level as it was during the conflict years.

According the Employment Bureau, the number of unemployed in September 2003 was 384.8044 persons, which represents approx 18% of the total population. As far as the number of registered Roma is concerned, statistics are controversial. The Employment Institute indicates that 16.734 Roma registered as unemployed at national level in 2003 ( Extrapolating their local experience, where they detect big differences between the statistics of local employment offices and their own statistics, some Roma NGOs consider that the real number is higher. However, registration as unemployed does not necessarily reflect the employment status of a person, as many individuals, Roma and none Roma alike, register only to keep their health insurance.

The size of the Roma population in FYROM.

Other minorities. Official census figures and other sources.

According the 2002 census in 2002 the population of FYROM is 2.022.547 people, out of whom 1.297.981 (64.18%) Macedonians, 509.083 (25.17%) Albanians, 77.959 (3.85%,) Turks, 53.879 (2.66%) Roma, 9.695(o.48%) Vlachs, 35.939 (1.78%) Serbs, 17.018 (0.84%) Bosnians, and the rest (1.04%) other minorities.

All minorities, including Roma, have disputed the census results, claiming that the real figures are higher. The debate over percentages is especially relevant for the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement which requires, inter alia, proportional representation of minorities within the civil service.

If we consider the official figures, the Roma population in the country has tripled in the last 50 years, from 19.500 Roma in 1948 to 53.879 in 2004.

Census Year

Number of Roma

Percentage out of total population

1948

19. 500

1,69%

1953

20. 462

1,57%

1961

20. 606

1,47%

1971

24. 505

1,49%

1981

43. 125

2,26%

1994

43. 707

2,24%

2002

53. 879

2,66%

Today Roma live mainly in the urban areas, with massive a concentration in Suto Orizari, Skopje followed by Prilep, Kumanovo, Bitola, Stip, Kocani and Gostivar. The official statistics show the following distribution: Suto Orizari 13.311; Veles 800; Vinica 1.230; Gostivar 1.904: Gradsko 127; Debar 1.079; Delcevo 651; Berovo 459, Bitola 2.594; Dolna Banjica 324; Kicevo 1.630; Kocani 1.951; Kratovo 151; Kriva Palanka 658; Kumanovo 4.256; Negotino 453; Prilep 4.433; Radovis 271; Strumica 121; Tetovo 2.357; Stip 2.195.

Roma leaders and NGOs consider that census results are much lower than the real figures. Their estimates double or triple the census figure. The United Roma Party, for example, maintains that in FYROM live approximately 132.000 Roma, with 65.000 only in Suto Orizari. An well-known Roma ethnologist, prof. Saip Jusuf, goes even further, estimating at 200.000 the number of Roma in the country5. In his study "Between fiction and reality”, Asmet Elezovski, a proeminent young Roma leader calculates the number at 135.490 persons. Ramadan Pini, president of HCRA "Mesecina"-Gostivar, at the same time president of the Roma NGOs network which reunites 13 organizations, also estimates the total number of

Roma in Macedonia somewhere around 130.000 while Latif Demir, President of the Centre for Education" Darhija” gives a more conservative estimate around 80.000 - 90.000.

There are many reasons for the significant discrepancies between census figures and NGOs estimates: a large segment of the Roma population does not have Macedonian citizenship or does not have valid identity documents. Some of them do not have even birth certificates, do not have any administrative proof of the fact that they exist. Additionally, many Roma declare themselves Albanians, on their own will or under pressure6, or Turks, or Macedonians. In the eastern and central parts of the country, Christian Roma known as “K’rci” do not declare themselves as Roma (and often Roma themselves do not recognize them as Roma). Another group which is sometimes included and sometimes considered separated is the group of “Egyptians”, Roma whose maternal language is Albanian, 3.080 people according to the 1994 census.

According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Care, 12% of all social assistance beneficiaries in the country are persons of Roma origin. This figure seem very high as compared to the official 2.2% Roma out of the total population, but like any another statistical evidence, it should be considered with caution, as it provides only a part of the entire picture, which needs to be completed with data about the real number of Roma in the country, level of poverty, and participation in the informal sector.

Employment/unemployment indicators majority population and Roma

The Employment Bureau publishes every year disaggregated data along ethnicity lines about the number of unemployed persons registered with each of the 30 local bureaus7, their level of education, professional skills, etc. The figures presented in the table above indicate that the number of the Roma registered with the employment offices remained the same or slightly increased in the last four years.

However, there is a need of clearly established indicators and more sophisticated data collection to understand and evaluate the impact of governmental employment policies on Roma or on any other ethnic group.

Data for Employment, Form P-4

Nationality

Total unemployed

Out of which women

With VIII grade

Whithout the
VIII th grade

YEAR 2000

Total

366.211

163.581

325.325

40.886

Macedonians

247.474

122.707

227.632

19.842

Albanians

72.813

22.578

66.008

6.805

Turks

14.430

5.702

8.890

5.540

Roma

15.580

6.435

10.394

5.186

Serbs

3.860

1.608

3.599

261

Vlachs

302

101

281

21

Year 2001

Total

360340

159395

320393

39349

Macedonians

240939

117594

221785

19154

Albanians

73683

23680

66706

6977

Turks

14739

5734

9499

5240

Roma

15797

6549

10389

5415

Serbs

3658

1491

3395

263

Vlachs

385

131

359

26

Year 2002

Total

374144

165013

331735

42409

Macedonians

346117

119480

225328

20789

Albanians

80557

26082

73174

7383

Turks

15337

5998

10063

5314

Roma

16192

6746

10755

5437

Serbs

3482

1388

3225

257

Vlachs

504

200

454

50

Year 2003

Total

390361

167937

Not available yet

Not available yet

Macedonians

266166

122126

Not available yet

Not available yet

Albanians

80706

26536

73867

6591

Turks

15560

6057

10197

5301

Roma

16937

7114

Not available yet

Not available yet

Serbs

3657

1438

3338

195

Vlachs

502

187

475

10

Religion and Language

The Roma community is not homogeneous, but contains various groups with different languages and religions. These differences exist and should be taken into consideration when addressing Roma issues, but are not so important as to divide the community into groups with opposed interests.

The majority of Macedonian Roma is Muslim, the rest are Orthodox, but religion does not play a determining role in the daily life, and does not guarantee any privileges. The assistance received by Roma communities from religious institutions is very limited (small amounts of money, food, clothes, heating and eventually counselling). According to a study conducted by the Institute for Social, Political and Juridical Research, 93.8% of the respondents stated that they never received help from the church, 2.6% received assistance from Islamic religious communities and 1.9 from the catholic church and the rest have been assisted by the Adventist church, Evangelic church, Jehovah witnesses or others.

Concerning the language there are some differences. The maternal language of the biggest part of Romany population is Romanes. Ashkalije and Egyptians speak Albanian and there are also Roma who speak Turkish. All of them speak Macedonian or at least understand it well. There are also some Roma who’s maternal language is Macedonian.

Traditional Roma occupations

Typically traditional Romany crafts are blacksmithing and rope makers. Even today one can see in the bazaars Roma craftsmen selling theirs products. In area of Skopje’s bazaar “Bit Pazar” there are 8 registered blacksmiths. In big cities there is always at least one Roma still practicing it, usually located in the old parts of the city. In Kumanovo, Mr. Sulejman Ismilov, family counts many generations of blacksmiths: “But now the tradition dies. There is no work for us anymore. Only in the season, when agricultural works begin, things are better. We sell our products to the farmers, to people from the villages…”8

Apart from blacksmiths, there are also many Roma who work in metal, making pots, tubes, and other objects. There are also many people who make leather equipment for horses. More recently there is a strong demand for baskets and small figures which are sold to the tourists.

As far as traditional Roma music is concerned, there are some famous Roma singers who can earn a living with it, but, like within the majority population, successful musicians are rather the exception then the rule; making music cannot be seen as a source of income for the community.

Self-employment

To start with, when analyzing the employment situation of Roma, the concept of “self-employment” is quite unclear. The law defines the “self-employed” as a person who starts his/her own business aiming to earn a living, and the activity is registered with the Court. By registering, the individual agrees to pay all due taxes, social, health and pension insurances and commits to ensure his/her own salary and eventually the salaries of the employees. Roma understanding of the concept is much simpler: a self employed person is somebody who has some money to invest to initiate an activity and then earns money to provide for him and his family based on his/her own effort and knowledge.

Regardless these conceptual differences, most interviewed persons, officials and private persons - Roma and non-Roma - equate “self-employed Roma” to “street vendors”. Indeed, it seems that this is the most popular form of self employment in Macedonia among Roma, although is not the only one.

Unfortunately, in the absence of any reliable study, is not even possible to start estimating the number of Roma persons who sell on the streets and in the markets. It seems to be a sort of consensus among Roma and non-Roma that this number is “very high” but this is all we can say about it at this moment. There is no information about the products they sell, the source of these products. We also do not have any information about the level of income they obtain selling on the streets. The vendors interviewed for this report emphasized that this is just a survival activity which brings minimum benefits: “nobody will ever become rich selling cotton blouses in the bazaar – says one of them – the best we can hope is to provide every day sufficient food for our families”.

At the beginning of the 90’s Macedonia started facing serious economic difficulties. Many factories have been closed and the unemployment rate grew rapidly. The number of persons, Roma and non-Roma, who decided to earn a living by selling various products on the street also increased continuously, almost on daily basis. The proliferation of street selling has negatively affected the established small businesses and the owners started putting pressure on local authorities and national government to stop or limit unregulated trade. In August 1993, the government adopted a decree prohibiting the sale of a whole range of products in the markets and on the streets9.

The decree limited drastically the type of products eligible for street selling reducing the possibilities of earning a living. Everybody was affected, but as street selling is a major occupation within the Roma community, the group was particularly hit by the new restrictions. In an effort to adapt to the situation, Roma focused on buying and selling textile products. It seemed that they have found a niche in the market which allowed them to survive. But this did not take long; very soon, in 1995, another state intervention pushed them out of the market – or at least out of legality - when the Macedonian parliament adopted the law on commerce which effectively banned the outdoor sale of textiles10.

In spite of these interdictions, Roma – and non-Roma -- continue to sell textiles with all associated risks -- because they do not have other reasonable option. The police impose fines, harasses them, confiscate the merchandise.11 Human rights organizations have extensively documented cases of police brutality, beatings and abuses against Roma street vendors12.

In contrast, there are some local authorities who tolerate street vendors, Roma and non Roma alike, because they understand that street selling is a socially useful activity which responds to the need of the market13. It is cheap, flexible, accessible and diversified. Fact is that the impoverished Macedonian population needs it and Macedonians do buy products in bazaars. Suto Orizari has an enormous market where half of Skopje’s inhabitants make their shopping, which proves that Roma trading activities, even if not registered by the book, are valuable and should be protected instead of being continuously attacked.

The position of the mayor of Suto Orizari is very clear:

“We think that this municipality has a huge success in the area of self employment. We insist on calling it self-employment although it is mainly illegal and belongs to the grey economy. This municipality tolerates and supports tolerance for street selling activities. And what I mean when I say “tolerance” is in fact a “realistic approach”. For example – we know that for selling textiles the taxes are very high. The municipality does not impose a tax for selling in the bazaar in Suto Orizari. There are hundreds of sellers, products are very cheap and people from all over Skopje come here to buy, because they need it and because is cheap. What I mean by ‘support for tolerance” is that I personally get involved and talk to the police, trade and labour inspectors when we need to discuss a problem related to the bazaar.

The phenomenon exists and it is dictated by the market conditions. In the actual context makes no sense to fight it. The state will lose money in paying police, trade inspectors and tax inspectors. The people are harassed, their profit remains low, and their businesses cannot grow. It makes much more sense to encourage people to build up businesses and create instruments to support them. What we need is more competences for the municipality to deal with a whole range of street selling issues – including authorizations to sell and management of the bazaars. Right now, the competence are divided: the local authorities decide when people can sell (the bazaar day), but the Ministry of Economy decides where bazaars can be located. We want this competence transferred to the municipalities.”

The reality is that grey economy exists on the streets and in bazaars and Roma families are right in the middle of it. This does not mean that Roma are the responsible for the existence of grey economy in Macedonia. They represent only a small part of it, a fact repeatedly stressed by authorities. What is important for the employment policies, however, is that a big part of the Roma community is trading textiles and any “neutral” measure affecting this type of trade has necessarily a disparate impact on the community.

In the last couple of years, the Macedonian authorities have designed a series of measures aimed to support self employment and the creation of small enterprises. The new Trade Law, in force starting with April 2004, makes it easier to initiate a commercial activity. The application forms for registering a commercial activities are free of charge, easy to complete and available at local level. Technical requirements are kept at minimum level.

The measure is welcomed, but Roma representatives stress that registration problems are only the tip of the iceberg, and there are many other issues to be tackled in order to really facilitate legalization of small trade. “The process of registration of firm by it self is not the biggest problem. The total cost including the services of the attorney in law is around 250-300 euros. The problems are starting after the registration. From that moment they must prove the provenience of the merchandise, customs payments, and taxes for trading”14.

“We do not need only to exist for the benefit of the state which wants our tax money. We want to work and have profit. The real problem is that the system does not offer sufficient support to small business to become profitable. We want to register our businesses and start paying taxes – but in a way that would allow us to live with what we earn. If we register our business we cannot be registered as unemployed anymore. And if we are not on the list of the employment office, we lose our health insurance! This means that we will afford registering our trade only when we will make sufficient money to pay the health insurance from our profit! This is what the legislators should understand”15.

In conclusion many Roma are afraid to start a business/or to register street selling activities because on one hand, they are not sure that they will earn enough to pay taxes and make some profit and, on the other hand, they do not want to lose their health insurance (which comes with the registration as unemployed) because it is not sure that they can pay with what they earn. One of the possible solutions would be to allow people who are registered with unemployment offices and want to initiate a small business a period of grace (e.g. one year) to continue to have health insurance paid by state. Another possibility to be explored is to (re)include street sellers in the “pausal” system (tax them with a fix amount of money every year).

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, together with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy developed a programme for the reduction of grey economy which supports small trade activities (tax reduction, free consultancy services, etc). In long term the idea is to create consultancy centres which will assist traders to initiate and develop their businesses. The programme is now in an initial stage.16 It remains to be seen to which extent Roma issues will be addressed by the programme, and what kind of efforts will be made to reach the Roma community and offer a chance to the Roma potential business men to participate in this programme.

Indeed, although street selling is widespread, it is not and cannot be considered the only form of self-employment for the community. A study conducted by ISPJR17 among Roma company/firms owners shows that most of them operate in the commercial (trading) sphere (55.80 %) and have one or two employees (66.80 %). Less then half of Roma employees have finished primary school (42.90 %). The owners point out that there are very few programmes aimed to provide them support to develop their activity. The same research reveals that a very high percentage of Roma adults think that the only way of improving their living conditions is to start their own business (58.80 %). Out of those 59.00 % feel that they might need assistance to follow up registration procedures. The results of this study should be carefully analyzed by policy makers who might want to adopt measures specially designed to reach the Roma business community and offer legal, financial and management consultancy services.

The majority of those who want to start a business (58.60%) stated that the only way to do it would be to have access to a credit or to a start up fund. However, the existing micro-credit schemes, some of which proved quite effective and popular for the rest of the population18, do not have sufficient flexibility to provide access for Roma. A combination between requirements which cannot be met (stable income, existence of financial guarantees), high interest rates and very short timelines prevent Roma (and all the other persons belonging to poorer groups) to obtain credits. Financial institutions do not have social policies and are not able to address the needs of the more vulnerable groups in the population.

The access to credits is probably one of the most delicate and complex issues of self employment, because it has to do not only with the banking system and lack of adequate financial schemes, which affects all entrepreneurs, but also with perceptions and prejudices of the business community against Roma. To build a successful business there is a need of self confidence, and self confidence is based on the respect of the others.

“One of the most important things we miss in the field of self-employment in this country is respect. Making business requires respect among partners and Roma are not respected as business men here. When we go abroad, we find more respect as business partners than we find here. Here we simply are not given any opportunity to prove what we can achieve as business men. What kind of dignity has a seller obliged to tell the producer: “I cannot buy your products with cash; I will pay you when I sell”? Or a seller obliged to run like a rabbit when the police come? Or a seller who cannot even dream about getting a loan to extend his business? He has no dignity and is not respected and will never have success.” Roma business man in Kocani. March 2002.

Other difficulties Roma encounter when attempting to start their own business are related to lack of Macedonian citizenship or valid ID, and access to business related information. There is a lack of institutions which offer business consultation to Roma. The existing structures are inefficient (Commerce Chambers, Employment Centers) and Job Clubs are not Roma friendly. Additionally, people do not trust consulting services.

Some of the solutions proposed by experts and Roma leaders interviewed for this report:
- Support NGOs which have micro credit programmes for Roma;
- Create BUSINESS INCUBATORS in Roma neighborhoods (e.g. in Suto Orizari find a space to be given to entrepreneurs with reduced rent: 10% first year, 50 % second year, etc) to help them initiate their businesses
- Encourage one of the banks in FYROM to have special credit lines for Roma people
(e.g. Pro Credit)
- Initiate a governmental programme for Roma entrepreneurs (maybe in the SME action plan)
- Adopt special measures for Roma in the National Action Plan for Employment
- Have a special CARDS programme to support entrepreneurship among Roma;
- Asses the effectiveness and take measures to increase performance of Commerce Chambers and employment offices in distributing information
- Create Job Clubs-like offices in Roma neighborhoods

Hopefully, the future Roma employment policy will take all these aspects into consideration when designing measures to support self employment.

Romany youth

Romani youth issues are under-researched in Macedonia. Education statistics paint a bleak image of a illiterate group or semi-illiterate group. Girls leave school early and boys waste many years before getting a job. Many of them dream about emigrating because they lost hope to make a future in their own country. Criminality rates are high, drugs made their entry in the community. The majority use light drugs, glue and marijuana, but recently cocaine and heroine users appeared. According to Roma NGOs, in some cities there are neighbourhoods where more than half of the minors use something. NGOs are trying to help by organizing theatre programs, and harm reduction projects, but much more would be necessary to reverse these tendencies and offer Roma teenagers a real chance.

However, the young generation of Roma is much more than a group of hopeless teenagers. There are many young Roma who attend high schools and universities. There are organizations and foundations that provide financial support for Roma students (e.g. Roma Versitas provides this year scholarships for 31 students, 15 boys and 16 girls19, the European Roma Rights Center supports law students, etc.) Macedonia is very different from other Balkan countries from this point of view and the difference must be acknowledged and taken into consideration. It would be a big mistake to continue pretending that Roma do not have intellectual elite and that policies towards Roma should only address the marginalized, the socially excluded, the poorest and the lowest educated.

Young Roma activists request a special focus on the employment of highly educated Roma and policies which provide concrete answers to their problems. They argue that “time has come to re-tune the discourse on Roma employment and strike the balance between the needs of the uneducated/low educated and those with higher educational level”.20

Citizenship, identification documents, IDPs and refugees

Citizenship, legal status and existence of valid, personal document are of vital importance for the exercise of the right to work. A significant segment of the Roma population in Macedonia is prevented from work, simply for not being able to clarify their legal status.

The 1992 Law on citizenship has been severely criticized by the international human rights community for being too restrictive, effectively barring access to Macedonian citizenship of tens of thousands of holders of citizenship of other former Yugoslav republics but who had genuine ties with the Macedonian territory.

The situation of Roma was – and remains - particularly difficult. Statelessness remains widespread. Children born in other parts of the former Yugoslavia could not obtain their birth certificates. Adults could not prove the existence of their marriage celebrated in other parts of the former Yugoslavia, outside Macedonia. Naturalizations procedures are complicated and time consuming, and administrative fees to high for many Roma families who live under poverty level. Living in illegally built houses is another major obstacle Roma face when trying to access Macedonian as formal residence is an eligibility requirement. Lack of legal
awareness within the community and the absence of governmental programs to assist people to apply add to the problem.

The number of Roma people without valid identification documents at national level is not known, but there are various studies at local level which might provide an indication on the dimension of the phenomenon. In Kumanovo, for example, a survey carried on in 2003 of one thousand nine hundred and ninety-six families, comprising three thousand eight hundred and eighty-four people revealed that out of the 2224 adults,7% did not have citizenship certificates, 34% did not posses passports, 7% did not have ID cards, 5.4% did not have birth certificates. Of one thousand six hundred and sixty-four Romani children below the age of 18: Sixty-five, or 4 percent of the survey group, did not have birth certificates; Eighty-seven, or 5 percent of the survey group, did not have medical insurance cards21.

The citizenship law was finally amended in December 2003 and entered into force in March 2004. It will hopefully give many people a chance to apply for citizenship – and among them to many Roma. It remains to be seen, however how the law will be implemented, to which extent all issues related to the reduction or exceptions from administrative fees have been solved and to which extent the information about the new opportunities will reach the Roma community.

The European Commission praised the progress made in the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and noted that the housing reconstruction programmes have been completed and there are only 2.678 persons to be reintegrated in the villages. However, the legal status of many of this people still remains a problem, as well as property issues and documentation.

As of December 2003, according to the UNCHR, 2500 refugees were still in FYROM. Almost all of them could apply for refugee status under the new law on Asylum and Temporary Protection.

Part II. Employment policy development and implementation 

Up to date the government did not make any attempt to analyze the employment situation of Roma or to evaluate the impact of various employment measures on the most vulnerable group of the country.22 There seems to be a general consensus that Roma have a very difficult employment situation, but the authorities failed to formulate any coherent policy in this area. A UNDP report is expected soon to provide detailed information and create the basis for sound policy making. Roma Decade will hopefully provide an opportunity to discuss and develop targeted employment policies.

The National Employment Policy: The institutional framework for the adoption and implementation of the employment policy in Macedonia is currently in the process of development.
The government adopted in 2004 the National Action Plan for Employment (hereinafter “the Plan”). The Plan was developed with technical assistance from the European Union, within a 2.5 million Euros CARDS programme launched by the European Agency from Reconstruction in 2003. Apart from contributing to policy development, the programme will also strengthen the National Employment Bureau and its 30 local branches, train the staff of the employment offices on how to provide more effective labor market services to unemployed citizens, and on how to share and disseminate information on vacancies as widely as possible.
Considering its objectives, this particular programme could have been the vehicle for the so much needed systematic mainstreaming of Roma employment issues within the national employment policy. The approximation of Macedonian employment law and practices to the European Union standards and best practices would require special attention to ethnic minorities and vulnerable groups. Unfortunately, as far as the author of this report could find out, there was no contact and no formal consultation process between Roma organizations and the government in the period when the National Action Plan was drafted. Moreover, in 2004 a number of pilot and micro projects have been launched, but, at least as of May 2004, there are no Roma employment projects among them.
Measures aimed to promote employment

In the previous period the government adopted a significant number23 of active employment measures but the number of unemployed is continuously increasing.24

Among the measures implemented by the Macedonian employment bureau there are many which might have been useful and welcomed by Roma job seekers: “the social infrastructure” project aimed to improve communal infrastructure by using unqualified labour force, and providing qualification courses for social cases; “Support the employment of youth in your municipality”, a project that provided temporary jobs to unemployed aged 18- 30, “preparation for employment” which offered professional counselling for youth, organized cooperation with employers, and ensured professional selection of candidates at the request of potential employers as well as pre-qualification courses. Unfortunately, the bureau does not have any mechanism to monitor and evaluate the impact of these measures on various ethnic groups, so for the time being policy making in Macedonia is ethnically insensitive – or more exactly Roma insensitive.

The bureau also organized data collection on a series of thematic areas such as employment mobility, unemployment and migration, employment plans and programs. Once more, although the authorities make efforts to collect data, Roma issues are ignored: there are no ethnically sensitive variables introduced in the system, and as a result the system is not prepared to provide answers to questions which are of outmost importance in designing proper employment policies for disadvantaged groups.

Another initiative aimed to boost employment, was the adoption of the Law on initiation of employment also known as Brankov law25, which provided financial incentives 26 to private employers who would consider employing job seekers belonging to certain categories. Some employers took advantage of the new incentive system and created new jobs, but in general, but the results were under expectations in general27 and almost null for Roma job seekers.28

The National Strategy on Poverty Reduction in the Republic of Macedonia provides an analysis of poverty issues in Macedonia and facilitates the construction of a strategic framework for addressing them. Poverty is analyzed using the EUROSTAT definition: “Individuals, families and groups of people are considered poor the resources of which (material, cultural and social) are on such level which excludes them from the minimum acceptable way of living in the country where they live”

The highest incidence of poverty (poverty rate) was recorded in the Northeast region (23.5 percent), which includes Kumanovo, Kriva Palanka, Kratovo, Probistip, Kocani, Delcevo, Vinica, Sveti Nikole, Veles, Stip, Radovis, and Berovo. The highest number of poor people is to be found in the Northeast region (36.7 percent), followed by Skopje (22.2 percent) and North West (21.6 percent). The lowest proportion was in the Southeast region (4.5 percent).29 In some of these regions Roma represent a significant part of the population.

The poverty reduction strategy recognizes as risk groups: Employed without education, with low education and low-skilled; Long-term unemployed out of which 60 percent wait for employment more than four years; Poor households from rural areas and small urban areas: Disabled people; Institutionalized persons; and Elderly30. There is no specific recognition of Roma as group at risk. They are only mentioned as part of urban poor, inhabitants of slums, together with Albanians, Macedonian and other ethnic groups31. Not even the existence of

Suto Orizari, a unique Roma settlement with very specific problems and a extremely high rate of unemployment and poverty is not mentioned. This failure to recognize Roma as a particularly vulnerable group further translate into a policy which does not take into consideration the specific needs of the group

The National Strategy for the Improvement of the Situation of Roma

    FYROM is the only country in the region which did not adopt yet a national strategy for the improvement of the situation of Roma. A couple of years ago, a group of NGOs prepared a proposal for a Roma strategy, and submitted it to the government. The government refused to discuss the paper, arguing that a governmental policy cannot be passed on a paper developed unilaterally by Rome non-governmental organizations. Such a policy – argued the government –should be developed by the representatives of the state, with the consultation of a wide range of actors, including Roma32.

In 2003, the World Bank, together with the OSI, launched the Roma Decade. At the conference in Budapest, representatives of Macedonian Roma NGOs presented a revised version of their proposal. The Macedonian government agreed to participate into the Decade, but continued to ignore the documents prepared by Roma.

At the moment of writing, in FYROM, a group formed by government and Roma representatives has started the preparations for the Decade, which is considered a priority. The elaboration of the National Strategy for Roma is not excluded, but postponed, eventually for the second part of 2004 or beginning of 2005. According to Mabera Kamberi, Assistant of the Minister for Labor and Social affairs:

“The government is willing to adopt a National Strategy by the end of 2004. This will be a comprehensive document, with all the areas, and not only the areas covered by the Decade, including the problem of identification papers, gender issues, discrimination.”33

As for the preparation for the Roma Decade, all eight countries participating in the Decade34 will focus on the same areas: education, housing, health and employment. In FYROM, the Prime Minister appointed the Minister for Labour and Social Affairs as coordinator of all related activities. The composition of the commission in charge with the preparation has been recently decided:

    6 representatives of ministries concerned
    4 representatives of NGOS, one for education, one for health, one for housing and one for employment)
    1 local authority – the mayor of Suto Orizari
    1 political party
    1 person from the department of statistics
    1 person from the National Employment Bureau
    1 person from OSI
    1 person from UNDP
    and maybe one person from the European Agency for Reconstruction

For each area, a thematic working group is required to draft an Action Plan. A meeting with UNDP to discuss the data collection is scheduled. In Macedonia data collection is easier, at least at theoretical level, because authorities do already a legal obligation to gather ethnically sensitive statistics.35 At this moment it is too early to predict how the new mechanism will function. What it is clear is that for the area of employment there is only one Roma person to contribute to the design, development and implementation of all work related projects, to advocate for the creation of institutional structures, for mainstreaming Roma issues, to monitor the monitoring, to contribute to the establishment of the indicators and to participate in evaluation mechanism. Regardless who is the Roma person in charge with employment issues, it seems impossible to perform such a task, unless s/he has behind a well organized team of professionals in employment to provide guidance and advice. Otherwise, participation of Roma will again be just a formality, aimed to legitimate a non-Roma venture.

Part III. Roma Access to vocational training 

In the last years and for financial reasons, the National Employment Office did not organize anymore vocational training at national scale as it used to do. People are trained in professional schools, and those who do not attend or do not finish them do have very few opportunities to recuperate later. The only possibility to acquire new skills is through trainings provided by employers, who have certain jobs available. The role of employment offices – if any – is to assist employers to identify and select trainees, if the employers so require. There is a system of state incentives for employers who organize vocational training (not specifically for Roma but in general) and the local employment services may provide a small sum of money to cover the training related expenses of each trainee.

Potential Roma applicants have a limited access to training organized by employers for at least two reasons:

      a) The law establishes that only people who finished the first 8 years of education are eligible for this type of training, a requirement that disproportionally affects Roma and,
      b) Employers use discriminatory practices when selecting trainees (race/ethnicity) and even age discrimination – many announcements which limit access to training of people over 30 or 35).

The 8 years of education requirement was introduced as educational incentive for all citizens. However, it is obvious that in absence of support programmes (e.g. support for young mothers, second chance education, and education finalized in parallel with the vocational training) this requirement became an obstacle for the most marginalized part of the population. The government should consider adopting a more flexible approach (e.g. introducing conditional waivers – a possibility to access vocational training with a promise to finalize education within a certain period of time). It also should consider creating and/or financing support programmes such as those mentioned above.

As far as discriminatory selection practices are concerned, the dimension of the phenomenon is not known, the only available evidence is anecdotal. Roma NGOs do not have sufficient expertise to monitor and litigate employment discrimination. The state did not create any data collection mechanism to document and analyze these practices and there are no control mechanisms of employers’ selection practices.

Apart from the obvious need of developing clear anti- discrimination policies, the state should review the labor code and strengthen the existing anti-discrimination provisions and institutions, create effective control mechanism of employers, design data collection instruments capable of providing data disaggregated on gender, age and ethnicity, develop indicators and evaluate periodically the impact of anti-discrimination policies.

The lack of state organized, continuous, vocational training has a strong negative impact on Roma unemployed population, because, on one hand, they represent the segment with the lowest level of qualification and they would needed it most, and, on the other, because selection practices of the trainees are often unfair and tend to exclude Roma even when they are eligible. Furthermore, limited access to information related to the type of vocational training that is being organized, its location and eligibility requirements also contributes to excluding Roma from the system.

Indeed, Roma do not have effective access to information related to training and job opportunities. Such information exists, it is published in newspapers, posted on the walls of the employment offices, but does not reach the community. Moreover, the text is not formulated in an accessible language for Roma and there are no mechanisms to inform illiterate Roma (especially women). Among the solutions offered by Roma NGOs – but which are still to be put in practice – are:
- The creation of billboards for VET/JOB opportunities
- The creation of “one stop shop” projects for Roma to inform them on employment opportunities (eventually through CARDS programme)

One possibility is to finance specific Roma employment programmes by foreign donors at the beginning and then gradually transfer the financing obligations to state and to local authorities. NGOs might contribute to this effort by starting pilot projects and gradually integrate them into local institutional structure.

National and international NGOs try to fill the gap created by the lack of state-organized vocational training by running training programs which are targeting Roma, and particularly Romani women (e.g. the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation). Several Romani NGOs have expressed their interest and willingness to undertake research on the needs of the local market before organizing any vocational training activities for their community – and some of them even included it as an objective in their Action Plans – but they do not have yet sufficient support, expertise and funding to do it. They expect the part of employment of Roma National Strategy to create the needed framework and open budgetary lines for it.

Romani women seem to be easier then man accepted and included in trainings organized by private companies (in Bitola, a Greek textile firm organizes training for women and out of 10 trainees, eight are Roma, In Kocani, 30 women have been trained for textile industry, 3 of them Roma, etc.) There are also situations when training courses are advertised, but, for a reason or another, there is little interest for it within the community: “Through Foundation Europe we had a training course on using computers, says the head of the employment bureau in Kocani. The organizers wanted to have 13 Roma people. It was advertised in the media, information posted on the walls in our office – but only 3 Roma showed up.”36

Vocational trainings organized by local NGOs or other organizations didn’t bring the expected results. Romani leaders have identified at least three problematic areas in relation to vocational training programs organized for Roma up to date:
1. The type of vocational training depends more of the organizational capabilities of the NGO then the needs of the market. In majority of the cases there is no market analysis whatsoever.
2. Trainings are not organized in cooperation with potential employers, so there is no immediate link between attending the training and the possibility of obtaining a job.
3. Very often vocational training is designed in isolation, not incorporated into a more coherent effort from achieving a sufficient educational level to full, stable employment.37

Part IV. Romany women 

The image of Roma woman illiterate and helpless it is outdated. It needs revisiting, because during the last decade the situation changed substantially. Today FIROM has many highly educated, emancipated Romani women. They learned foreign languages and travelled the world. They understand administrative procedures and are perfectly able to run businesses. The number of Romani girls in secondary schools and universities is higher than the number of boys.

Romani women have also a voice. Some of them are opinion leaders; they run organizations and cooperate with each other. They are part of international networks. They are well prepared and ready to address rather sensitive issues. Apart from traditional issues like domestic violence or gender discrimination, some of them opened the debate on issues considered until now taboo such as relations between males and females, research on traditional practices (virginity), homosexuality within the Roma community, and many others.

There is no doubt that within the poorest group disparities between the level of education of girls and boys still exist and need to be addressed. But this does not put Romani women in a clearly subordinated or powerless position in her community. She is the mother of her children and the wife of her husband and as such she has the obligation to take care of the family. But beyond this, they are expected to help their husbands and bring money in the house. The proverbial jealousy of the Roma man who prohibits his wife to work because does not want her to see other men, is just another exaggeration. In the Roma family, as in any other family in the world, when women go out men might be jealous, - and there might be a certain pressure coming from the extended family to keep women home. However, these cases are the exception rather than the rule. It would be unwise to generalize and say that Romani women cannot work because their husbands or their families would not permit them to do so. There are many Romani women who work in factories (e.g. in textile factories, tobacco enterprises).

In the families of street sellers, women share the work equally with men. They buy the products together, transport them and sell them together. Very often the women the ones who deal with the police, trade inspectors and other authorities for various reasons: because they have clean criminal records, because they have better communication skills, etc.38 As a rule, the women administrate the money because they are considered wiser and can be trusted to make sure that kids will have food on the table every day. When men are going out they ask money from their wives and receive a limited amount39.

In Suto Orizari, the majority of the Romani women work as cleaning ladies in public institutions, schools and hospitals. Many of them work in private Macedonian houses. Unlike in other countries in the region, Macedonians accept Romani women and trust them in their houses. The main problem is that women are working 20-30 years and have no pension and no social insurance.

In the field of employment, some NGO programmes focused on women’s capacity to organize and run a business. “Horizonti”, for example, is an NGO supported by Catholic Relief Services, as well as other donors. They opened a micro-credit line for women active in the field of trading, small production, services and family businesses. “The procedure is flexible and rapid: the applicant does not pay interest, there is no need for mortgage and she can receive the loan within a week. The loans are between 500 and 2.500 Euros, which must be paid back in a period of six to 9 months. Up to date “Horizonti” handed out 9.703 credits from which 5.001 for Romani clients. The total amount is almost six millions USD dollars, out of which 2.9 millions to Roma clients. Very soon “Horizonti” plans to open offices in Gostivar and in Kumanovo and to open new credit lines.”40

In the field of vocational training, “Daja”, an Romani women NGO from Kumanovo has already accumulated significant experience. They organized a series of training courses for tailors for Romani women who obtained certificates and could register their own business or find job in private textile firms. In the period 2000 – 2004, 126 Romany women finished the courses and 27 of them, (or 21,4%) already found job in private firms. Other vocational trainings are less successful; there are not sufficient opportunities on the market. Out of 71 women trained as hairdressers only one opened her own shop and employed two of her colleagues. (4,2% success rate). Out of 22 women trained as cosmeticians, no one found a job until now.41

Part V. Existing employment projects and initiatives

1. Equitable representation of minorities in the civil service in FYR Macedonia: an EU assistance programme lunched by the European Agency of Reconstruction

According to the official data, Roma represent 2.2% of the population of the country. The Ohrid Framework Agreement provides for proportional representation of ethnic groups in the public administration, military, police and public enterprises42. Currently, employment levels of Roma in state institutions are much lower than this figure.

In November 2003, European Agency for Reconstruction launched a 2 million Euros EU assistance programme aimed at addressing imbalances in representation in public services. Some 600 young youths from non-majority communities (Albanians, Roma, Serbs, Turks, Vlachs and other non-majority groups) have been selected and attend a nine-month training, with a view to obtain a Public Administration Certificate (PACE), equivalent with the country’s Civil Servants’ Exam, and to be subsequently employed in civil service.

Out of the 600 trainees accepted, 20 are Roma, including several Romani girls43. After the training they all are expected to find jobs in the civil service. Roma organizations are aware of the possibilities opened by the Ohrid Framework Agreement to increase the number of Roma employed in state institutions but there is no indication that they have a mechanism to monitor and evaluate the process in a systematic manner. The chapter on employment of the future Roma Action Plan should include support for such a monitoring and evaluation project.

2. Public Works Programmes

The need to repair the country’s infrastructure, and the flexibility of the system which allows local authorities to enter in contact directly with private donors made Public Works Programmes quite popular in Macedonia today.

As a rule, these programs employ a significant number of unskilled or low skilled workers, which makes them particularly interesting for Roma. They might be a powerful instrument of inclusion of Roma on the labour market, at least on short term, until other mechanisms are set into place. Unfortunately, for the moment there is no coherent governmental policy in this area. The existing public works programmes developed within the frameworks of the SIPs (Social Infrastructure Programmes) have no unified procedure for selecting the workers. Roma job seekers, who represent a significant part of the unskilled and low skilled unemployed, and who might and should benefit equally of the opportunities offered by the programmes, are often excluded or ignored.

The interviews with local authorities in cities where Public Works Programmes have been organized up to date revealed the existence of various patterns for the selection of workers:

    “ethnically blind selection process” – which in fact is translated into exclusion of Roma (Prilep) ;
    “sensitive unformal selection process” – which results in offering jobs to a significant number of Roma (Kocani)
    “sensitive formal selection process” – imposed by the foreign donor (Bitola).

In Prilep, a city with a very large Roma community and a high number of unemployed, the City Hall runs a series of public works programmes, financed by CARDS, by the German Government, and other donors. Ensuring equal access and fair representation of minorities in public works programs does not seem to be high on their agenda.

The selection commission has five members, 1 from the Ministry of Transport, 1 from the municipality, 1 from the social care center, 1 from the employment office and one coordinator. The commission has established two selection criteria: the applicant must receive social benefit and, should be actively seeking for a job. This second condition is used to “exclude the lazy people, those who do not like to work” and the interest in finding a job means “to see the person every day at the doors of the employment office asking whether there are jobs available”44. According to the mayor there is no need to establish any proportionality rule, Roma will always be offered jobs in this kind of programmes simply because “they are poorer and because they apply in such a large number”. In fact, in Prilep they always receive 10% of the public works jobs, although they represent only 5% of the population of the city.

According to the local Roma NGO, the number of Roma employed in public works programs is insignificant, barely 2 or 3 people out of 150. The selection process is not transparent; the selection criteria have been never discussed or publicized. There was no Roma and no representative of any other minority invited as a member or observer in the commission. Jobs are offered according to the politic affiliation of the applicants. In other words, public works programs are used by local authorities as instrument for electoral propaganda. “This is not mainly about racism, says Mr. Tahir Selimovski, president of “Romano Šukaripe”, this is manly about politics. Roma will have much more chances to get a job if they would register with the ruling party45.”

The NGOs advocate for more transparency and for the involvement of a Roma representative in the commission – a person who lives in the community and know personally the situation of each family, a young, educated Roma who can advocate for equal access and fairness. It should not be appointed by the authorities but eventually selected from a list presented by NGos. The selection criteria and the composition of the commission should not be let at the discretion of local authorities. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs should issue clear guidelines and establish participation percentages, or at least clear rules. Foreign donors, including the European Union, should agree on a number of principles to be respected by all of them, in all public works programmes they finance.

The City hall in Kocani recently organized three programmes: cutting trees (50 people), infrastructure in a nearby village (80 people), cleaning the river and the riverside (60 people). During these programs – 1 to 3 months -- the workers did not receive social benefits but received full salaries, the equivalent of 130€/month, which is approximately four times their social benefits. There was a huge interest, and there were had many applicants. For one of these programmes we had more than 300 applications for 60 places, which obligesd the City Hall to pay attention to the selection process.

Kocani seems to be one of the few, if not the only city in FYROM that employs a Roma counselor in the city hall to serve al liaison between the City Council and the Mayor on one side and the Roma community on the other side. This Roma counselor played an important role in the selection commission, providing information about each Roma job seeker from the list and indicating who is really poor, who is genuinely looking for work and who might need the job most. The selection criteria: a) to be registered with the local employment office, b) to be eligible for social assistance (social aid).
The commission did not establish any formal proportionality requirement, but “a significant number of Roma” have been offered jobs: according top the mayor, 30% of the people employed were Roma.

The mayor seemed particularly pleased with the results of public works programs in Kocani: “the salary was good; the work was done, and people content. We would like to continue organizing this type of programmes. Including a significant number of Roma in the teams has not only a material value but also an educative one: Macedonian workers saw that Roma are good workers, they fulfill their tasks without complaining or protesting they are disciplined and did their best at work.46

In Bitola, there was no Roma representative in the selection commission, but the Dutch donor has imposed the selection criteria insisting for a fair and proportional representation of minorities within the group of workers participating in the project. The local authorities did not oppose the donor’s requirements, so Roma and Turkish workers got jobs together with Macedonians47.

This example illustrates the very important role which foreign donors and international community might play when sufficiently sensitive and interested in minority protection. Unfortunately, not all foreign donors are as aware and sensitive to Roma issue like the one from Bitola; in this area the Roma organizations have a clear responsibility to identify in due time the partners in the Public Works Programs (local authorities and foreigners) and inform them, educate them and encourage them to make sure that Roma job seekers would receive a fair treatment.

The Bitola experience also shows that local authorities are able and willing to respect equal access rules when they are encouraged to do so. It might be argued that the majority of elected officials would apply in a systematic manner equal access rules, if such rules would be discussed and then adopted by competent authorities (e.g. if proportional representation provisions would be included in a law governing the organization of public works programme, or if the principle of fair representation would be included in the national employment policy, etc)

Finally, this example raises an interesting policy question: if the goal is to ensure proportional representation of unskilled and low skilled workers in the Programme, according to their ethnic origin, which would be the most adequate reference? Would it be the percentage established by the census in 2002 (2.2% Roma?). Or it would be more reasonable to take into consideration the percentage of Roma in the city where the works are organized – and not at national level? Or, even closer, the reference should be the percentage of unskilled/low skilled Roma from the total number of people registered with the local employment office in the same category? Although more difficult to implement, this third option seems to be offer the most adequate response to local conditions.

3. Legislative proposal to protect traditional professions

Another initiative which deserves being mentioned and will deserve close monitoring in the future is a governmental proposal to further protect traditional occupations – not only the occupations of Roma, but all the occupations which the state considers that should be kept alive for their cultural value.

The exiting Law on Traditions Crafts, which is a pre-89 law, lists the occupations recognized as traditional and protects them by establishing a tax reduction mechanism. In the last decade the list was continuously increased. In spite of it, there are many craftsmen, Roma and non Roma alike, who do not want to register their business. They argue that the actual level of protection is not sufficient to keep the tradition alive: materials are expensive; the demand decreases every year, and in some cases depends on the season, registration is complicated, profit is low.

The Ministry of Economy responded by drafting a new Law on Traditional Crafts which will simplify the registration procedure, allow craftsmen to work at home, and reduce the registration fees. The draft also permits authorized craftsmen to suspend their activity and stop paying taxes out of season or for a period of maximum six months. The eligibility requirements to register as craftsmen are (i) registration as unemployed with the employment office and (ii) a certain level of education48.

This second requirement might raise some problems and exclude a part of Roma applicants, how it happened in Romania when a similar law was adopted. The Ministry of economy argues that this will not be the case because the draft also establishes some exceptions, cases in which there are no need to prove a certain level of education in order to be authorized to work as craftsman. There is a need to further monitor the adoption and implementation of the law, to evaluate its impact and make sure that it will not have a discriminatory effect on any particular group.

Also, it should be made clear that protection of traditional professions should be seen as part of the efforts to preserve the cultural identity of the group rather as a method of insuring Roma access to the labour market. The craftsman market is limited and its chances to grow in the future are very slim: the income obtained practicing traditional profession might insure survival, but not prosperity. It seems reasonable to suggest therefore that employment priorities should be to support self employment and Roma integration in marketable professions.

Part VI. Recommendations  

To the Government:

    Establishment of employment institutions capable of responding to the needs of minority population or creation of special departments within the existing institutions specially designed to address these needs.
    More focus on informing Roma on employment opportunities as opposed to a focus on informing them on social assistance
    Ensure effective participation of Roma in implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Roma employment policies.

Vocational training:

    Reintroduce general vocational training
    Design specific forms of training for Roma
    Adopt a more flexible requirements for access to vocational training
    Develop clear anti-discrimination policies
    Adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation/strengthen the existing anti-discrimination provision in the labor code
    Create effective control mechanisms -
    Create data collection mechanism capable of providing data disaggregated on gender, age and ethnicity
    Develop indicators and evaluate impact of anti-discrimination policies
    Protect Roma traditional professions as part of the efforts to preserve the cultural identity of the group.
    Monitor the implementation of the Law on Traditional Crafts and evaluate its impact on Roma traditional occupations

Women:

    Pay special attention to gender dimension of the Roma employment policies.
    Promote incorporation of Roma women issues on the nation gender agenda.

Civil service:

    Include in the Roma employment policies programs for monitoring and evaluation of incorporation of Roma in civil service.

Public Works programmes:

    Ensure transparency and fairness of selection of workers for the public works programs. Issue clear guidelines and rules. Ensure proportional participation of Roma in these works.

To NGOs:

    Invest in the professional training of its own staff in the area of employment law and practices.
    Advocate for policy change, reintroduction of general vocational training schemes and monitor implementation.
    Increase monitoring and evaluation capacity of the organizations.

To Foreign institutions and donors:

    Donors who support public works programmes: Agree on a number of workers selection principles to be respected by all of them, in all public works programmes they finance.

    ILO: offer Roma representatives internships within the organization

    Other donors: support training/know how for NGOs to accumulate experience on labor discrimination monitoring and reporting and labor litigation programmes

Annex No. 1 

    Unemployed Roma persons registered with the Employment Office, according to the place of registration and level of education.
    Source: Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

ROMA

No

CITIES

NKV

NKV NSO

KV

SSO

VKV

VISE SO

Un.

 

Ma

Phd

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

1.

BEROVO

235

103

5

1

22

12

8

2

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

2.

BITOLA

970

507

4

1

5

0

2

1

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3.

MAK.BROD

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

4.

VALANDOVO

3

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

5.

VINICA

425

195

4

0

2

0

3

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

6.

GEVGELIA

12

4

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

7.

GOSTIVAR

629

206

2

2

42

3

37

15

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

8.

DEBAR

405

153

14

1

6

0

12

3

0

0

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

9.

DELCEVO

192

72

6

1

14

4

12

3

0

0

0

0

2

1

0

0

0

0

10.

DEMIR HISAR

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

11.

KAVADARCI

199

44

0

0

8

0

4

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

12.

KICEVO

537

189

31

0

17

3

16

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

13.

KOCANI

779

311

11

2

18

2

10

3

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

14.

KRATOVO

65

30

0

0

3

0

4

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

15.

K.PLANKA

147

70

10

0

11

1

7

4

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

 

16.

KRUSEVO

13

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

17.

KUMANOVO

1460

645

20

50

50

14

37

14

0

0

1

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

18.

NEGOTINO

47

24

0

0

1

0

3

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

19.

OHRID

361

227

189

76

37

9

3

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

20.

PRILEP

1877

913

0

0

9

3

12

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

21.

PROBISTIP

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

22.

RADOVIS

3

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

23.

RESEN

96

41

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

24.

SV.NIKOLE

34

24

0

0

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

25.

STRUGA

66

25

2

2

3

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

26.

STRUMICA

6

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

27.

TETOVO

382

166

96

16

26

4

29

10

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

28.

VELES

324

167

6

1

3

0

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

29.

STIP

839

410

23

4

13

5

13

7

0

0

2

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

30.

SKOPJE

TOTAL
23840

4995

15103

2068

6605

54

477

11

123

516

808

116

179

159

376

60

137

0

0

0

0

1

7

1

1

7

16

5

8

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Legend:
NKV – Without any qualification; NKV NSO – Low qualified; KV – Qualified; SSO – Highs school (Elementary plus 3 years high school); VKV – Highly qualified (elementary plus 4 years high school) VISE SO – Finished high school plus 2 years of University; VISOKO – Finished University; Ma – Master degree; Phd – Doctorate


1 This report reflects the situation as it was at the moment of writing in the summer of 2004. Ibrahim Ibrahimi also contributed to the report.

2 Commission of the European Communities, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Stabilisation and Association Report 2004, COM(2004) 204 final, Brussels, page 13.

3 Ibidem, page 17.

4 Data published by the Institute for Employment for September, 2003.

5 Press conference, April 2004.

6 The European Roma Rights Centre describes the situation in Western Macedonia where Albanian individuals put pressure on Roma to declare themselves ethnic Albanian. The inhabitants of Teke (Tetovo’s neighbourhood) and the surrounding area, around 1000 Roma surrounded by Albanians, are registered as Albanians. In Tetovo only, two neighbourhoods with 500 to 700 Roma inhabitants are declaring themselves as Turks. See: “A Pleasant Fiction: the Human Rights Situation of Roma in Macedonia”, Budapest, 1998.

7 See Annex 1: Unemployed Roma persons registered with the Employment Office, according to the place of registration and level of education.

8 Interview with Mr. Sulejman Ismailovski, 30 of March, 2004, Kumanovo.

9 “It is prohibited, at the retail market at which retail trade of agricultural food products is being performed, to sell: meat and other products; candied products; non alcoholic beverages, spare-parts and equipment for motor vehicles and motor oils, electro-technical and electronic devices, radio and television sets, machines, spare-parts and equipment, lighting fixture, ready medicaments, medical and pharmaceutical raw materials, products and preparations, medical and laboratory appliances and instruments, gear, spare-parts, equipment and disposable materials of all kinds except medicinal herbs, chemical products, paints, varnish and painting tools, washing soaps and other hygiene products, detergents, tobacco and tobacco products.” Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia, No 53, Year 49, 26 August, 1993, Governmental decree No. 23-2293/1.

10 The Law on Commerce (Zakon za Trgovija), Article 6 allowed only the sale of agricultural products, some foodstuffs and trinkets of various kinds, effectively banning outdoor sale of textile products. Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia, (Sluzben Vesnik na Republika Makedonija) (number 08-1626), No 23, pp. 523-529, 27th of April, 1995.

11 “Many Roma do not have registration, so the police come and confiscate the staff. The police is very active here, economic inspectors and tax inspectors”. Interview with Mr. Todor Pasovski, Mayor of Kocani, 11 of March 2004, Kocani.

12 ERRC, Roma Rights, Autumn 1998, “Police violence in Macedonian markets”. See also ERRC’s report “A Pleasant Fiction: the Human Rights Situation of Roma in Macedonia”.

13 Mr. Todor Pasovski, the mayor of Kocani, 11 March 2002. “People are selling on the street and we tolerate it because we see that there are buyers. This means that the market needs the products offered by these street sellers. If we forbid then we will create social tensions. It is true that many of them do not pay taxes - but authorized entrepreneurs do not pay taxes either”.

14 Interview with Mr. Zoran Mihajlov, attorney in law, 26 of March, 2004, Skopje.

15 Roma street seller in Kocani bazaar. Interview, 11 March 2002.

16 Cvetanova Olivara, State Secretary in the Ministry of Economic, on the Roma Economic Forum held 25-26 of March, 2004, Skopje.

17 Institute for Social, Political and Juridical Research.

18 For example the Micro-Finance Bank - Pro Credit Bank, opened by the EBRD in July 2003, which provides loans up to € 100,000, has rapid procedures and seems to be quite successful.

19 Telephone interview with Senad Mustafov, Director of “Roma Versitas”, 29 of April, 2004.

20 Interview with Ramiza Sakip,13 of March, 2004, Skopje

21 See Roma Rights, No.3, 2003, Profile of One Community: “A Personal Document Survey among the Romani Population of Kumanovo, Macedonia”, Narrative project report of the Romani organisation Roma Community Center DROM.

22 Ibrahim Ibrahimi, speech at PER Conference, 16.02.2004, Skopje.

23 Around 80 measures.

24 Interview with Mr. Mile Stojanovic, Director of the Employment Bureau of Macedonia, 09.02.2004.

25 Law for stimulation of employment (Zakon za pottiknuvanje na vrabotuvanjeto) No. 07-1470, or so called Branko’s law from 31 of March 2003, valid until 31 of December 2003.

26 The state covered a part from the employers costs, for a period of two years: approximately 70 Euros per person and months, plus equivalent of 40 Euros in the first three months if the newly employed was a social case (a person eligible for social assistance benefit).

27 As of October 2003, only 6.000 people were employed, while the government expected employment of 20.000 people. According the Minister for Labor and Social Affairs, Jovan Manasievski, the results are below expectations because of the insufficient economic growth and low level of investment. Magazine “Kapital”, no. 211, from 13.11.2003.

28 The law functioned for some job seekers, but not for Roma. We got only two or three jobs for Roma -- because employers were asking people with finished elementary education and the majority of the Roma, 900 out of 1100, do not have that. Interview with the Director of the Employment Bureau in Bitola, 13 March 2004.

29 Macedonian National Poverty Strategy, Part VII, page 94

30 Macedonian National Poverty Reduction Strategy, chapter IV, page 53.

31 “Low income (slum settlements) dwellers, which are caught in the poverty cycle for a long period of time. These households are located in spontaneous urban clusters or neighbourhoods that are generally poorly serviced and have been neglected for a long period of time. Most of the settlements are located in the periphery of cities, but there are also pockets of poverty in the inner parts of cities, including Skopje. Most settlements are inhabited by Roma or ethnic Albanians, and sometimes mixed with Macedonians and other ethnic minorities. The majority of residents are unemployed, though they are active in the ‘informal’ sector of the economy.” Macedonian National Poverty Reduction Strategy, chapter VII, page 94-95.

32 “The Macedonian Government did not accept the NGO proposal because the strategy must be a joint effort of the government and Roma NGOs and not an NGOs only document. It is a matter of ownership of the policy and the government wants to start all over again and take the lead in this effort.” Interview with Mabera Kamberi, Assistant of the Minister for Labor and Social Affairs, 15 of March, 2004, Skopje.

33 Interview with Mabera Kamberi, Assistant of the Minister for Labor and Social Affairs, 15 of March, 2004, Skopje.

34 The eight countries are: FYROM, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

35 Interview with Mabera Kamberi, Assistant of the Minister for Labor and Social Affairs, 15 of March, 2004, Skopje

36 Interview with Aleksandra Koceva, Director of Employment Bureau in Kocani, 11th of March, 2004, Kocani

37 Interview with Zaklina Durmis, NGO “Dendo Vast”, 18th of March, 2004, Skopje.

38 Interview with Imien Selimovska, Romany women activist, 12th of March 2004, Prilep.

39 Interview with Sejfedin Ibraimov, unemployed Roma from Kocani, 11 of March 2004, Kocani.

40 Interview with Aldijana Bajramovic, Field Coordinator in “Horizonti”, Skopje, 22nd of March 2004.

41 Interview with Dilbera Kamberovska, President of Romany Woman Nongovernmental Organization DAJA from Kumanovo, 25th of March, 2004, Skopje.

42 Article 4 of the Framework Agreement and Annex C, in particular Article 5 Non-
Discrimination and Equitable Representation, seek to address the issue of the inequitable
representation of citizens from communities not in the majority in the areas of public administration, the military, the police and public enterprise.

43 Gjulten Dalipova, Ajnes Ibraim, Elvira Arslan and Julia Selim all fom Skopje; Simhana Jasarova from Stip; one girl from Tetovo and one from Veles

44 Interview with the mayor of Prilep, 12 of March 2004.

45 Interview, Prilep, 12 March 2004.

46 Interview with Mr. Todor Pasovski, Mayor of Kocani, 11 of March, 2004, Kocani.

47 Interview with Mr. Tome Dimitrovski, Head of Employment Bureau in Bitola, 13 of March, 2004, Bitola.

48 Presentation of Mr. Dusan Stojanovski, Crafts Department of the Ministry of Economy at the Roma Economic Forum held in Skopje, on 25-26 of March, 2004.