on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
by “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 4 July 2012
at the 1147th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (hereinafter referred to as “the Framework Convention”),
Having regard to Resolution Res(97)10 of 17 September 1997 setting out rules adopted by the Committee of Ministers on the monitoring arrangements under Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention;
Having regard to the voting rule adopted in the context of adopting Resolution Res(97)10;1
Having regard to the instrument of ratification submitted by “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” on 10 April 1997;
Recalling that the Government of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” transmitted its state report in respect of the third monitoring cycle under the Framework Convention on 11 March 2010;
Having examined the Advisory Committee’s third opinion on “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, adopted on 30 March 2011 and the written comments of the Government of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” received on 4 January 2012;
Having also taken note of comments by other governments,
1. Adopts the following conclusions in respect of ”the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”:
a) Positive developments
“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” has pursued a constructive approach towards the monitoring process and has taken useful steps to disseminate the results of the two first cycles of monitoring. The second opinion of the Advisory Committee, the government’s comments and the resolution of the Committee of Ministers on the implementation of the Framework Convention were translated in the Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Bosnian, Vlach and Roma languages and disseminated. In addition, the Advisory Committee’s “Commentary on the Effective Participation of Persons Belonging to National Minorities in Cultural, Social and Economic Life and in Public Affairs” was also translated into the Macedonian language and disseminated.
The authorities have also maintained an inclusive approach in practice in the communication with representatives of the national minorities. Following the adoption of the Resolution of the Committee of Ministers on the implementation of the Framework Convention by “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in July 2008, the authorities organised a follow-up seminar in January 2009 to discuss the recommendations with representatives of government agencies, minority representatives and civil society and to prepare for the third cycle of monitoring.
In June 2010, within the framework of its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” organised an international conference on “Strengthening the Cohesion of European Societies: Effective Participation of Persons belonging to National Minorities in the Decision-Making Process”.
Since ratifying the Framework Convention in 1997, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” has continued in its efforts to protect national minorities. The authorities have continued to show their commitment to the implementation of this treaty. The legal basis established to implement the Ohrid Framework Agreement of 2001 generates continued interethnic co-operation and remains vital for the political stability of the country. The Committee of Ministers notes with satisfaction that the legislation implementing the OFA has on the whole been adopted.
Measures have been taken with a view to improving the legislative framework to prevent and combat discrimination. The Anti-Discrimination Law was adopted in April 2010 and the Commission for Protection Against Discrimination (CPAD) has been established. The commission has been empowered, together with the courts, to enforce the law and in particular to receive complaints from individuals, initiate proceedings before competent bodies in cases of alleged discrimination, to review draft legislation, suggest amendments to existing legal acts and to make recommendations. The shifting of the burden of proof, the provision enlarging the scope of application of the law to private relations and the provision allowing third parties to intervene as amicus curiae in cases of discrimination are also included in the law.
The Ombudsman’s Office continues to play an active role in protecting human rights. It receives a number of complaints from persons belonging to all ethnic communities regarding discrimination on ethnic grounds, including the non-respect of the legally guaranteed principle of adequate and equitable representation of persons belonging to all ethnic communities in State administration bodies and other public institutions and reports regarding ill-treatment by the police of persons belonging to the Roma community.
Persons belonging to national minorities continue to play an active role in the political life of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. There are two major Albanian parties represented in the National Assembly (one in government, one in opposition) and there are a number of parliamentarians elected in respect of all national minorities, including Roma. At the local level, persons belonging to national minorities are widely represented in local authorities. The Law on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Persons Belonging to Communities which Represent Less than 20% of the Population, adopted in 2008, enshrines the principle of equitable representation in respect of employment of persons belonging to minority communities in State administration bodies and in other public institutions at all levels.
The adoption, in August 2008, of the Law on the Use of Languages, which has been under consideration since the conclusion of the Ohrid Agreement, gives a clear legal status to the Albanian language and regulates its use in parliament, government ministries, judicial and administrative proceedings. The adoption of the law was followed by the recruitment of more skilled translators and interpreters.
The authorities continue to provide various forms of support for the cultural activities of national minorities, such as libraries, cultural institutes, museums, art galleries, cultural centres, theatres, a cinematographic archive, an opera, a ballet and performing arts festivals. A specialised Office for the Promotion and Advancement of the Culture of Communities has been established within the Ministry of Culture to monitor the promotion and the advancement of the cultural identities of persons belonging to the various communities.
Public television (MTV) and radio extensively broadcast programmes in the languages of national minorities (Albanian, Turkish, Serbian, Romani, Vlach and Bosnian). The MTV Parliamentary Channel broadcasts the activities from the parliament, which are conducted in the Albanian and Macedonian languages.
A well-developed system of minority language education exists in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. The Law on Primary and Secondary Education establishes that the Macedonian language shall be the language of instruction at primary and secondary level, but also recognises the rights of persons belonging to national minorities to teaching of and in their language. Additionally, the Higher Education Act obliges the State to provide minority language education where the language is spoken by over 20% of the country’s population. In 2010, the Strategy for Integrated Education was adopted to promote integration through education.
The authorities have increased their efforts to combat discrimination and integrate Roma into society. The Strategy for the Roma and their National Action Plan for the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 has already yielded some results, especially as regards equal access to education for Roma children. The introduction of scholarships specifically earmarked for Roma secondary school students, the reduction by 10% of the average mark required of Roma children to enrol in the secondary school of their choice, and the ethnic quota system at universities are all to be welcomed. Other positive measures concern free distribution of textbooks to Roma children attending primary and secondary schools and free school transportation.
b) Issues of concern
Society remains polarised along ethnic lines, with the principal national groups living without significant interaction with each other. Such a parallel co-existence is particularly evident in the education system, the media, the political parties and as regards living areas. There have been instances of interethnic tension caused by lack of dialogue, stereotyping and prejudice.
Cases of discrimination against Roma in the fields of education, employment, housing and health care continue to be reported. Many projects contained in the National Action Plan for the Decade of Roma Inclusion have been downsized or remain unimplemented. Those projects which have been implemented, such as the inclusion of Roma in pre-school education and scholarships for Roma secondary school pupils are financed for a large part from non-budgetary sources, and only to some degree by the state budget itself. Additionally, many initiatives remain pilot projects and there is no systematic follow-up provided by state institutions.
The situation as regards employment of the Roma remains unacceptable with more than 70% of Roma remaining unemployed. The action plans in the field of employment have not been implemented at a sustained rate. The authorities have not shown the necessary determination and the inter-ministerial co-ordination working group on implementation of the Roma strategy met only twice in 2009 and 2010, and three times in 2011. In some Roma settlements, inhabitants face the most deplorable living conditions, without proper roofing, electricity, running water, sewage treatment, or roads.
Despite the progress achieved towards implementing the right to the equitable representation of ethnic communities in the public sector, at central and local levels, persons belonging to the Albanian, Bosniak, Serb, Turkish, Vlach and Roma minorities are still underrepresented.
Many new employees belonging to national minorities, hired to increase the quota of such persons within the workforce, do not have clearly defined job descriptions, or even proper workplaces. Some of the newly-hired persons are paid all or part of their salary without having to report for work. This does not help to increase the effective participation of persons belonging to national minorities in the public sector. In addition, it could have a negative impact on the quality and consistency of services provided by the civil service and foster resentment in society.
Although the funding allocated to the performing arts, cultural centres and cultural associations has remained at similar levels during the last five years, various interlocutors have underlined that public financial support for the activities of the national minorities is still limited and insufficient to meet the needs. In particular, the limited funding allocated to the cultural activities of the numerically-smaller groups, such as the Vlachs and Serbs, seriously undermines their efforts to carry out activities aimed at preserving their language and culture. Representatives of national minorities are not sufficiently involved in the decision-making process on the distribution of funds for cultural projects.
In spite of the diminishing number of cases of ill-treatment by the police, such cases continue to be reported and, according to some non-governmental sources, persons belonging to national minorities, especially the Roma, are disproportionately targeted. Allegations of discriminatory ill-treatment of Roma are not always properly investigated.
The possibilities to use minority languages in relations with the administrative authorities remain limited on account of the lack of qualified interpreters and translators. An additional difficulty stems from the insufficient language skills of civil servants.
The lack of opportunities for Roma children to attend pre-school hinders their acquisition of the Macedonian language and jeopardises their further education. There is a lack of qualified teachers speaking the Romani language.
2. Adopts the following recommendations in respect of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”:
In addition to the measures to be taken to implement the detailed recommendations contained in sections I and II of the Advisory Committee's opinion, the authorities are invited to take the following measures to improve further the implementation of the Framework Convention:
Issues for immediate action:2
- develop urgently and implement appropriate and targeted policies to address the problems confronting Roma in the field of employment; allocate adequate resources to address the situation of Roma with regard to housing, education and access to health care, and the particular needs of Roma women;
- effectively implement the laws adopted to implement the Ohrid Framework Agreement; create opportunities for interethnic dialogue in all spheres of life, in particular aiming to involve in joint activities children and young people living in ethnically-mixed areas, undertake further measures to promote tolerance, mutual understanding, respect and intercultural dialogue, and further measures to combat prejudice towards persons belonging to national minorities;
- take measures to effectively redress the underrepresentation of persons belonging to
numerically-smaller national minorities in the state administration bodies and in other public institutions at all levels.
- ensure that no disadvantage shall result for citizens from the exercise of their right to identify themselves as belonging to any ethnic group;
- provide the newly established Commission for Protection Against Discrimination with the appropriate financial and human resources and the composition and structures necessary to allow it to fulfil its duties effectively and independently; continue to support the Ombudsman’s Office;
- seek to increase support for the cultural activities of the national minorities’ organisations and ensure that financial difficulties will not affect disproportionately persons belonging to national minorities; involve national minority representatives in the decisions on the distribution of funds allocated to cultural projects;
- consider putting in place an independent mechanism to monitor police conduct, in line with European standards and ensure prompt, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by the police;
- put in place conditions necessary for the use of languages of national minorities in dealings with administrative authorities in particular by providing financial means necessary for the employment of more qualified interpreters and translators; provide additional support to civil servants to acquire more skills in the minority languages;
- make sustained efforts to ensure access to pre-school education for all Roma children and guarantee that the curriculum in such kindergartens corresponds to the diverse needs and multilingual composition of the groups; raise awareness of teachers on Roma culture and provide those working in areas with substantial numbers of Roma with more adapted training.
3. Invites the Government of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, in accordance with Resolution Res(97)10:
a. to continue the dialogue in progress with the Advisory Committee;
b. to keep the Advisory Committee regularly informed of the measures it has taken in response to the conclusions and recommendations set out in sections 1 and 2 above.
1 In the context of adopting Resolution Res(97)10 on 17 September 1997, the Committee of Ministers also adopted the following rule: “Decisions pursuant to Articles 24.1 and 25.2 of the Framework Convention shall be considered to be adopted if two-thirds of the representatives of the Contracting Parties casting a vote, including a majority of the representatives of the Contracting Parties entitled to sit on the Committee of Ministers, vote in favour”.
2 The recommendations below are listed in the order of the corresponding articles of the Framework Convention.