Moldova is a peaceful society and no black clouds are seen there on the horizon, said Henrik Villadsen, Director of the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. A debate on the role of ethnic minorities in Moldova was held within the conference “Integration of society: implementation of the strategy for strengthening interethnic relations in the Republic of Moldova”, IPN reports.

The strategy for strengthening interethnic relations was approved as a result of discussions between the Government and representatives of minorities, based on the experience of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Henrik Villadsen stated for IPN. The official, who took part in the conference, said such documents ensure diversity in society and there is a framework for coordinating activities.

Asked if the largest groups of minorities, Ukrainian and Russians, are integrated into society and their rights are respected, Henrik Villadsen said these are offered equal opportunities for civic participation and it is good when society as has more components.

The Director general of the Bureau for Interethnic Relations Oleg Babenco said the goal of the conference is to initiate the process of implementing the strategy approved by the Government. After the conference, there will be agreed the plan of action for 2017-2020.

Marin Alla, the representative of the Coalition “Voice of the Roma”, said the Romany people have been marginalized for hundreds of years and are not part of the decision-making process. In Moldova, there are appropriate laws and regulations, but these are sometimes not put into practice because of lack of funds or of political interests. Marin Alla voiced hope that Moldova will do its homework with the support of the EU, the Council of Europe and the OSCE Mission.

Ian Feldman, head of the Council for the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination and Ensuring of Equality, considers there are particular problems in the relations with ethnic minorities and a comprehensive strategy, with an approach that will cover all the aspects of life of the ethnic minorities, will improve the interethnic situation in Moldova and will contribute to biter living standards and peace in society. More can be done in the field and the strategy is one of the first steps.

The strategy covers four key areas: participation in public life; language as a means of integration: policies concerning official language and languages of minorities; intercultural dialogue and civic engagement; the mass media.

According to data from the strategy, besides Moldovans, the Republic of Moldova is home to Ukrainians (8.35%), Russians (5.95%), Gagauz people (4.36%), Bulgarians (1.94%), Romany people (0.36%), and other minorities (less than 1%).

Source: IPN