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Podgorica, 13 June - Roma community members are more discriminated than the rest of the Montenegrin population, in all areas of life – in education, employment, health, housing - and that gap needs to be bridged, by both local and national authorities, Katarína Mathernová, Deputy Director General at DG NEAR, stated at the opening of the seminar “Inclusive Society: Improving the Socio-Economic Position of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro" held in Podgorica.
“Together with Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin, we concurred with the fact that as the most advanced country in EU accession negotiations, Montenegro cannot be satisfied to be ranked as the least advanced country when it comes to Roma integration” Mathernová stated.
She reminded that Roma integration is a priority at the EU level and an integral part of the accession negotiations with Montenegro under rule of law chapters 23 and 19 (social policy and employment). Mathernová added that after adopting strategies and strengthening institutions, the EU wants to see the effect of these reforms on improving the daily life of citizens, including on the most vulnerable categories, those at particular risk of discrimination.
DPM Pažin expressed his gratitude for the efforts and resources the European Union and other international organisations have invested in the inclusion policy in Montenegro.
"The Government of Montenegro is ready to make additional efforts in order to improve the situation of Roma and Egyptians and their greater inclusion in the Montenegrin society, especially in the area of social protection, health and education, as the basis for the overall social and economic progress of this community,“ said Pažin.
He said that there are 8,000 citizens in Montenegro who declare themselves as members of the Roma or Egyptian population which is a significant community that deserves the full attention of the whole society.