Belgrade, 25 March 2008 – A move to establish the Council for Promoting the Position of the Roma in Serbia has caused mixed reactions.While some representatives of the Roma ethnic community described Tuesday’s constitutive session of the council as a “historic event”, Roma Party leader Srđan Šajn, a lawmaker in the parliament who initiated the idea, said that this represents an “election campaign abuse of the Roma”.

Representatives of the Roma parties and non-government organizations who backed the establishment of the council, said after the session that this is the first time that the “creation and implementation of Serbia’s policy towards the Roma has been indicated”.

Outgoing Deputy Premier Božidar Đelić, DS, who heads the council, told reporters after the session that the government has for the first time in this manner institutionalized the resolution of the problem of the 450,000-strong Roma community.

Đelić expressed belief that a large number of projects intended to improve the position of the Roma will be realized in the coming period, adding that these projects will be funded out of European pre-accession funds, and that funds from the Serbian budget earmarked for the Roma “will be multiplied in the next budget year”.

The new body has 22 members, with Rasim Ljajić and Petar Lađević as vice-presidents.

Source: B92/Tanjug