The Delegation of the European Union in Serbia organised a meeting on Monday the 20th of February between the representatives of various NGOs and the European Commission peer review mission on national minorities. The main subject of discussion were the challenges that the Republic of Serbia faces in implementing its Action plan for the achievement of the rights of national minorities which the government adopted in March of 2016. The main emphasis was placed on the difficulties faced in implementing the parts of the plan that concern informing and educating the members of national minority groups in their native language.
The representatives of NGOs, represented by people from the Forum of Ethnic Relations, the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, the Centre for Civil Society Development, YUCOM and the Centre of Researching Ethnicity, agreed that it is of vital importance for further efforts to be made so that the Action plan for the achievement of the rights of national minorities would be fully implemented. When it comes to providing public information in the languages of national minorities, the lack of punitive measures that would stimulate owners of newly privatised media outlets and TV stations to air and print content in national minority languages was seen as the main obstacle to ensuring that members of national minority communities receive information in their native languages. In the case of education, it was mentioned that school books written in minority languages need to fulfil the standards of the educational system of the Republic of Serbia and that additional efforts need to be invested so that this aim is achieved.
The meeting was concluded when the representatives of the European Commission peer review mission on national minorities thanked the representatives of the NGOs on their presence and constructive comments.