TIRANA, April 10 /ATA/- Erion Veliaj started his first working day as Minister of Social Welfare and Youth coming to the aid Roma community sleeping rough on the street close to Pallati me Shigjeta neighbourhood. Meanwhile, on the first two years of his tenure as the mayor of Tirana, with the support of multiple donors he worked to provide a long-term solution to housing for an overwhelming part of the Roma population living in Tirana.
On the occasion of Roma Week, the European Commission (EC) presented the mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, with the most friendly- Roma mayor prize. This award was conferred on him in Brussels at the European Parliament by Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations and ERGO Network.
The mayor Veliaj thanked the European Commission for its appreciation, saying: This prize goes to all
Tirana citizens who have been open minded about the treatment of this issue.
“I am so delighted that to date Tirana takes great pride in this award as the most Roma -friendly capital city. It is the best way to reward all those for the efforts put on the issue of social housing for Roma community at “Bregu i Lumit”, Artificial Lake AND Shkoza area. Roma people have been accommodated in better places, they have been included in our education system and social welfare.
“I am proud of all Tirana citizens who are open-minded and emancipated, and who understand that if we, as citizens, do not accept those who are a bit different from us, we cannot expect the EU to accept Albanians, who are also seen as a bit different from EU countries”, Veliaj said.
“I would like to thank all my counterparts, international community, PM’s office, ministries, our embassy in Brussels and the network of all people who have played their part in this success story. The award of most friendly -Roma city not only fills us with pride, it encourages us to advance this cause in this field of emancipation,” Veliaj said.
The campaign aims to increase involvement of Roma communities in local and national decision-making to influence policies on Roma integration, social inclusion, non-discrimination, inter-ethnic dialogue, socio-economic development and citizens’ rights.