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In commemoration of the International Roma Day, a celebration took place at the Roma Cultural Centre in Pirot on April 4, 2024. The event, organised to honour the richness of Roma culture, tradition, and identity, gathered distinguished guests, including Vladan Vasic, Mayor of Pirot, Janos Babity Head of the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, Biljana Markovic Assistant Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, Elvira Angulo Rodriguez from the EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia and Radmila Nesic, president of CSO Ternipe.

In his opening speech, Mr Vasić, welcomed attendees and stressed out the importance of the Roma Cultural Centre for Pirot and the fact that it is completely integrated within the city and wider community. 

Mr Babity highlighted the fact that the celebration of International Roma Day is an opportunity for the Council of Europe, as the first international human rights organisation, to confirm its commitment to promoting equality and non-discrimination of Roma communities, as well as to continue its efforts in the fight against antigypsyism in Council of Europe member states.

Biljana Markovic, representing the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue said that “Because of its methodology and support, programmes such as ROMACTED, a joint program of the Council of Europe and the European Union, are important for improving the position of the Roma community, but also their neighbours, members of other communities. It is precisely by promoting different cultures and traditions that we contribute to their acquaintance and rapprochement, thus strengthening the bonds between people.”

Representing the EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia, Elvira Angulo Rodriguez reiterated the fact that EU continuously provide support to Serbia not only on its way to full membership, but also in the promotion of human rights and protection of minorities.

President of the CSO Ternipe, Radmila Nesic expressed gratitude to the City of Pirot, the Council of Europe, and the European Union for their support in establishing the Roma Cultural Centre, highlighting its role in preserving Roma identity, culture, and art. 

This event, hosted at the newly established Roma Cultural Centre, signified a milestone in the ongoing efforts to promote Roma social inclusion and preserve their cultural heritage. Funded under the Second Phase of the ROMACTED, a Joint Programme of the Council of Europe and the European Union, the Centre serves as a hub for cultural, educational, and artistic activities aimed at empowering the Roma community.

Traditional Roma music, dance, and other artistic expressions were presented highlighting the vibrancy of Roma culture. By providing a platform for cultural exchange and dialogue, the event emphasized the importance of tolerance, understanding, and social inclusion of the Roma community.

After the event, a public class on Roma history and culture was delivered to pupils from elementary schools presenting them origins and migrations of Roma, but also traditional professions, key holidays, as well as information about the flag, anthem and important dates and heroes.

This event served as a testament to the progress made in recognising and celebrating Roma heritage while acknowledging the challenges that persisted. Through collaborative efforts supported by the Council of Europe and its Roma and Travellers Team, initiatives like the Roma Cultural Centre in Pirot exemplified a step forward in building a more inclusive and cohesive society.

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