Mayors in the Western Balkans and Türkiye honoured for championing Roma communities News | WeBalkans


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Mayors in the Western Balkans and Türkiye honoured for championing Roma communities

The European Commission announced the winners of the ‘Most Roma Friendly Mayor’ awards on 9 April. These mayors have been chosen for their work in supporting Roma communities and promoting equal rights and dignity for all. This award is part of a commitment to changing how people think about including Roma people in society.   


The ‘Most Roma Friendly Mayor’ award celebrates the achievements of those local administrations who are genuinely proud of empowering Roma communities and meeting their needs actively.  Valentina Superti, the Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission’s DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement, presented the awards.  


Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, emphasised the award ceremony’s role in encouraging better relationships between local governments and Roma communities.  “Tonight’s award ceremony celebrates the outstanding efforts by these mayors to break down walls between local administrations and Roma communities, sending a clear message to politicians, civil society, and experts that change is possible,” he said. 


Commissioner Várhelyi shared that EU funding for Roma integration has increased by 50% between 2014 and 2023, now more than EUR 130 million.  


The European Union is home to between 10-12 million Roma, roughly 1 million of whom in the Western Balkans and 2.8 million in Türkiye. These awards demonstrate the EU’s commitment to the inclusion of Roma and recognise the positive impact Roma communities can have.  


The “Most Roma Friendly Mayor” award is part of a larger project supported by the European Union and managed by Roma Active Albania. This project works in several countries and aims to get Roma communities more involved in conversations with authorities. A panel chose the winning mayors from each country, and they received their awards in Brussels. 




The primary purpose of Romani Week is to consolidate the European Parliament’s and other institutions’ commitment to fighting against antigypsyism and formulate this commitment into action. The award ceremony is the peak of the campaign in Brussels and aims to create strong synergies with the actions that took place across the Western Balkans and Türkiye, as well as the EU Member States at the local and national levels. 


The “Most Roma Friendly Mayor” award is organised as part of the regional project of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance ‘Romani Women Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Türkiye. Roma Active Albania coordinates the project with financial assistance from the European Union, and it supports the network of Roma civil society organisations in the enlargement region.  


The Power of Change project is implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Türkiye. It is part of a regional campaign aiming to mobilise Roma communities and strengthen their ability to engage in dialogue with public authorities. The local advocacy took place in all the Western Balkans region and Türkiye, and the independent selection panel was chosen among the nominated mayors, with only one winner per country – The Most Roma Friendly Mayor – to receive the award in Brussels. 


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