“It is our duty to protect women, children and national minorities”

“It is our duty to protect women, children and national minorities”

2012. 11. 15.

The seminar was chaired by MEP Lívia Járóka (Fidesz) who is the vice-chair of the Human Rights and Gender Equality Committee. At the event members of the parliaments of the formal Iugoslavian states’ were also present. In her introductory speech Járóka greeted the improvements achieved by the EU-candidate countries in terms of legal harmonization, however she stressed that this process was slowing down. It is necessary to focus on the better implementation of laws tackling discrimination so that these would have influence on the most marginalized groups within society, especially the Roma people.

Kinga Gál, member of the Subcommittee of Human Rights elaborated her speech focusing on the situation of children in the Western Balkans, mentioning that they are those who suffer the most in time of conflicts. "Children are the victims of family violence, conflicts arisen between individuals and the regime, or the consequences of war" – pointed out the politician. It is important to educate children in their mother tongue, especially for those who belong to a national minority. At the same time one should not forget those challenges that these children are facing when learning the language of the majority. In Voivodina region for example it is extremely hard for Hungarian children to learn the Serbian language due to the lack of professional teachers and textbooks. This leads to an increasing number of early school leavers belonging to a national minority. The MEP furthermore highlighted the importance of mobility and visa free travel especially for students and young people to learn and gain work-experience in neighbouring countries. "There are several opportunities offered by the European Union, but these are available for young people only if these are accessible " – stressed Kinga Gál.

In her closing speech Lívia Járóka listed three challenges that have to be faced on the Western-Balkans: guaranteeing democracy and the rule of law, the struggle against corruption and the protection of minorities. The European Union has to be more critical and to focus on the better implementation of these issues. She urged the candidate countries of the Western-Balkans to join the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies and to make their own national strategies and implement these with by the means of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and The Stabilisation and Association Process.