SARAJEVO, May 22 (FENA) – A panel on the topic “Inclusion starts in the local community” was organized by the European Union Office in BiH today, in cooperation with Centar Municipality Sarajevo.
“Inclusion is in the very essence of the European Union, because it includes countries with all the differences in a community that shares a set of rules and regulations, believing that we are more successful together,” said Head of Delegation of the European Union to BiH, Lars Gunnar Wigemark at the panel “Inclusion starts in the local community”.
The panel was organized by the Office of the EU in BiH, in cooperation with the Centar Municipality, and before the start of the panel, children with hearing and speech impediments from the Eho Kids Band” from Sarajevo and the “Basics” school from East Sarajevo performed “Ode to Joy”.
Wigemark stressed that there are disagreements in the EU itself, but there are certain mechanisms to resolve them.
“It is the same in life, if you are facing some difficulties, you need extra help, but it is very often compensated in other ways, through talent for example,” he said.
Following a performance of the European anthem ‘Ode to Joy’ by the “Eho Kids Band” band from Sarajevo, gathering children with hearing and speech impairment, and a performance of the “Basics” School from East Sarajevo, Ambassador of the European Union in BiH Lars-Gunnar Wigemark and the local Mayor of the Centar Municipality Sarajevo, Nedžad Ajnadžić, welcomed the attendees.
Ambassador Wigemark emphasized the need for systemic solutions for achieving greater inclusion of children with special needs.
“The European Commission’s Opinion BiH’s EU membership application in its recommendations very concretely touches upon this area. It refers to the need, not only to adopt European Union standards, but also to ensure their concrete implementation in order to meet the needs of the citizens of this country, including those with various developmental difficulties,” Ambassador Wigemark told attendees, stressing that inclusion is a bedrock of EU values.
Sarajevo Centar Municipal Mayor Ajnadžić spoke about the measures of inclusion being implemented by this local community.
“I truly want us to build a whole system of institutional social care and support for children with special needs, as an integral part of the local community, to be based on the principles of fairness and equality, social responsibility of the local community and the highest standards and achievements of the most highly developed EU countries,” Mayor Ajnadžić said, highlighting the EU’s support through numerous projects on social inclusion of vulnerable groups.
The parent-run Association for Support to Children with Hearing and Speech Impairment “Eho”, a member of the European Association of Cochlear Implant Users (EURO-CIU), kicked off the panel discussion by emphasizing the importance of early intervention and systemic support from education and health institutions, for which there are a number of European best practices to follow.
The event showed that children with special needs, as some of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future artists, businesspeople, scientists and leaders, are truly able to succeed when given the right incentives and included in a timely manner.
“Leave no one behind in the EU integration process” was also the theme of the Social Dimension Initiative’s National Conference hosted by the EU Delegation later in the day, discussing the EU’s assistance in helping BiH build systems to ensure adequate social protection policies and modern social protection services.