The International Roma Day was celebrated for the 26th time on Wednesday 8th of April. The day is celebrated annually to honour the first major international meeting of Romani representatives in 1971. The Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) communities are an integral part of the Kosovan society and therefore the rights of the Roma community were discussed also in Pristina, in a conference organized by the office of the Prime Minister. The Conference supported by the US Embassy and honored by the presence of the Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, the US Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson, the OSCE head of mission Jean-Claude Schlumberger and several representatives of the civil society summarized the challenges of the Roma community in Kosovo.
Investments to the employment and the education of the Roma were seen as the most important ways to integrate the Roma community to the Kosovan society. Improving the position of the Romani language and empowering the Roma women were also seen vital for the integration. The Roma community should also be better represented in the local and national governing bodies and the already existing strategies and laws should be fully implemented. Positive thoughts were heard from a former law student Fatlum Kryeziu, who had accomplished much since a financially assisted internship in a ministry.
It is estimated that there are a little under 20 000 inhabitants belonging to the RAE-communities in Kosovo. The RAE-communities are in an unequal position compared to the majority, especially because of the low level of education and employment. The poor prospects for the future have resulted to a vast migration. In addition the life expectancy is significantly lower than among the majority. Even though the equal rights of the minorities are guaranteed in the constitution of Kosovo, the implementation is still on a poor level. The year 2015 is the final year of the strategy for the integration of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in the Republic of Kosovo and also the final year of the EU's Decade of Roma inclusion, The future expectations are now directed to the new strategy and to the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020.
The Embassy of Finland in Pristina supports the integration of the RAE-communities via development cooperation targeted to the education of the Roma children and to the employment of the Roma youth.