Wednesday, 6 September 2017
Address of the President of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Talat Xhaferi at the Constitutive Meeting of the Interparty parliamentary group for the Rights of the People with Handicap
Ladies and gentlemen,
Distinguished Representatives of the NGO Sector,
The Interparty Parliamentary Group for the Rights of the People with Handicap is not a classic body of the Assembly, such as the Assembly Committees, Parliamentary councils or others, but it is a parliamentary lobby group that aims to work on improvement of the conditions of our co – citizens with handicap, so that they can feel equal to the rest of the citizens. Let us not forget that this is part of fundamental human rights embodied in the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia. The state, as well as all political entities, is obliged to provide each citizen, as individual to equally practice ones rights.
When referring to normative stipulation of the rights of the people with handicap, I believe that we have good laws that have implemented the European standards. Still, I am convinced that your group that will be established today will review in details laws and other acts that stipulate these affairs and on the basis of the analysis thereof, as well as comparison with the standards of the European Union and the legislative solutions of its Member states, will propose amendments of the existing legislation. In the same time, if need arises, adoption of new laws will be proposed, without waiting them to be proposed by the executive governance. As a President of the Assembly, respecting the Rules of Procedure, I promise that every initiative of this kind will be put on the agenda and will enter a legislative procedure. Still this is the normative part only. Unfortunately, our practice demonstrates great discrepancy between the normative stipulation and the implementation of the laws – this does not refer to the people with handicap only, but in general. How to surpass this? The parliamentary democracy has an answer to this question. There are scrutiny debates, which on one hand, depict the situation, to identify the accountable entities and their objective and subjective responsibility, but also to adopt clear conclusions and directions to surpass thereof. Namely, as a state whose strategic aim is the EU accession, we must not allow the people with handicap to be marginalized in any manner. Unfortunately, even in Skopje and in the cities around the state, there are realistic physical obstacles that burden or disable the normal movement of people who use wheelchairs. We speak of computer for every child, but at least I haven’t heard, if every citizen of ours with damaged sight, regardless if one is a pupil, student or adult, was provided by the state with a special commuter for people with this kind of handicap. Furthermore, I indeed wonder if the local self governance bodies and state institutions have employees that know the sign language to communicate with deaf or people with damaged hearing. The question that is imposed is how much, as a state, we have established conditions for the people with handicap, above all people with damaged hearing or deaf people, as well as people with damaged sight or blind people to study in the higher education institutions. We can ask ourselves similar questions in the future, but as I have said, the situation must be changed.
I believe that you, as members of this interparty parliamentary group for the rights of the people with handicap in the current mandate, have capacity, knowledge and political will to change the affairs. I am convinced that together with the NGO Sector and other state institutions, you will make a great positive step in direction of improvement of the lives of our co - citizens with handicap. Certainly, this is a great challenge and responsibility, but if we all speak of overall implementation of the European standards, then we cannot let a group of citizens to realistically be prevented from achievement their human rights and freedoms only because they have a kind of handicap.