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Serbia: Roma situation still alarming

Serbia’s legal framework for protecting national minorities is solid, Serbian authorities are making commendable efforts to improve the situation of Roma-communities and to regulate the status of stateless persons, to develop cultural initiatives and minority media. However, the contrast between the levels of protection of minority rights in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and in other regions of Serbia remains notable, lack of data hinders work on protecting rights of minorities, and the participation of minorities in state administration should be significantly improved. These are among the findings of the new report on the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) in Serbia that was published today, together with the comments of the Government of Serbia.

Serbia is a multicultural country, with a diversity of national minorities, represented by 23 National Councils of National Minorities. However, it still suffers from disparities in the implementation of minority rights, the report says. There is notably a need to significantly improve the level of national minorities rights protection outside Vojvodina. The authorities should prioritise the economic revitalization in these areas, through improving infrastructure and creating more employment opportunities. At the same time, the need for further improvements in Vojvodina, especially in terms of intercultural dialogue and the command of the State language, should not be underestimated either.

In general, important steps still need to be taken to improve interaction between the various communities living in Serbia: Councils for Inter-Ethnic Relations still operate on a regrettably low level, and their competencies are limited. An independent study on the functionality of these Councils should be commissioned, and based on its results, a comprehensive strategy aimed at revitalizing inter-ethnic relations must be set up and implemented.

Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities Strasbourg 18 December 2019
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