EU Delegation launches ten contracts worth €1.2 million with civil society organisations to strengthen democracy and human rights (06/03/2012)

 Tirana, 6 March 2012


Ten contracts were presented today with a variety of Albanian non-governmental organisations to support vulnerable groups and promote their rights. The actions supported include representation of rural women in political life, access to justice for children and Roma, access to economic opportunities for victims of domestic violence, access to services for people with disabilities, respect of rights in places of detention, and services for children and youth with autism. The projects, worth a total of €1.2 million, are granted under one of the EU’s financial instruments to promote democratisation and fundamental rights globally – the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). 

The 2010 Opinion of the European Commission on Albania’s membership application highlighted 12 areas that Albania needs to address with primacy in order to be considered for candidate status. The 12 Priorities include “take concrete steps to reinforce the protection of human rights, notably for women, children and Roma, and to effectively implement anti-discrimination policies” and “improve treatment of detainees in police stations, pre-trial detention and prisons; strengthen judicial follow-up of cases of ill-treatment and improve application of recommendations of the Ombudsman in this field”. The Priorities reflect the Union’s fundamental principles and values which aspiring members are required to actively adopt too.

During the presentation of the new projects, the Head of the EU Delegation to Tirana, Ambassador Ettore Sequi emphasised that democracy is not a passive state of society but a form of government that needs to be actively demanded. “Civil society organisations”, he said, “are key to organising and articulating the demand for democracy and human rights from people to governments, especially if the breach of rights is such that it disables people from effectively demanding them”. Ambassador Sequi noted the efforts of Albanian civil society groups to push for reforms, contribute to the draft-Action Plan to Address the 12 EC Priorities and called for authorities “to improve their dialogue with civil society groups – groups that give voice to marginalised citizens, give voice to their own aspirations for a democratic, equal and just society, groups that bring the various voices of society to the decision-making table, groups that “do” democracy beyond voting”. He also highlighted the importance of close contact with vulnerable groups and between civil society organisations in order to understand problems better, generate better solutions and join efforts in advocating for the rights of these communities.

Since 2007, the EU has granted around €600,000 every year for civic action for human rights through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. Over the past 5 years, and through various financial instruments, the EU has supported the activities of Non-Governmental Organisations with around €11 million to promote, amongst others, the respect of human rights and social inclusion, the fight against corruption, the conservation of cultural heritage, and the protection of the environment. This is alongside the other millions of euros that the EU invests to bring the best technical expertise and modern infrastructure to Albania to assist the country’s democratisation and development.

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Ms Artes BUTKA
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