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The conference “Facilities in public use at the local level – Accessibility for persons with disabilities”

Pristupacnost objektata 2The conference “Facilities in public use at the local level – Accessibility for persons with disabilities” was organized by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism and the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro, with the support of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, from 16-17 December 2015.The conference aim is raising awareness of the accessibility of facilities for persons with disabilities, as well as analysis of the results of the removal of architectural barriers at the local level.

The event brought together participants who are dealing with the accessibility of buildings for persons with disabilities – the Ministers of relevant ministries, mayors, presidents of municipalities, the main administrators, heads of local administrations in charge of urban planning and construction of facilities, managers of public companies and public institutions founded by the municipality, representatives of non-governmental organizations dealing with the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, activists at the local level, as well as the civil sector in general. The conference presents the activities of the central authorities and local governments in the provision of access and movement of disabled persons to the facilities for public use.

The conference was opened by Mr.Branimir Gvozdenovic, Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism, H.E. Ambassador Janina Hrebickova, Head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, Mr. Aleksandar Bogdanovic, Mayor of the Old Royal Capital Cetinje and President of the Union of Municipalities Executive Board, Mr.Suad Numanovic, Minister for Human and Minority Rights, Mr.Nikola Dedeic , Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and Ms.Natasa Borovic – representative of NGO Association of Paraplegics of Montenegro.

Minister Gvozdenovic on this occasion said that: “Accessibility is a precondition for participation in society and economy. Often, removal of architectural barriers is linked to lack of funds. However, it is necessary that all of us make every effort to overcome the financial and architectural barriers. A significant capacity to address this issue may represent donations and IPA funds. Because we have an obligation, both as individuals and as a society and as a country to ensure the exercise of human rights for everyone.”

Ambassador Hrebickova stressed: “I believe that this conference will provide us the ability not only to look at the results we have achieved so far, but also to reach common conclusions on the next steps to be taken by all stakeholders in this process. I would like to ask all of you to at least think for a moment about the space in which we move every day. Stairs, sidewalks, street manholes, narrow passages – all these are barriers that may be encountered and that easily bridges the many times a day. I believe that many of us take it for granted. For disabled people just a few steps can be an insurmountable obstacle. “

Mayor Bogdanovic recalled the activities in the previous period that the Union of Municipalities, in cooperation with the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, with the support of the OSCE Mission, has undertook to finish the legislative framework at the local level, stressing: “Today, from this place I want to once again refer a strong appeal to all of us that we are first and foremost in the human obligation tasked to ensure the conditions for life and work of all our citizens, regardless of their individual characteristics. Therefore it is essential that the central government through policies concerning the exercise of the rights of these groups lay down clear financing mechanisms to adapt the public buildings, while on the other side my colleagues from the local governments should, with the existing financial framework, make further efforts to create an environment accessible to all members of the local community. “

The representatives of the Association of Paraplegics of Montenegro, Ms.Natasa Borovic said: “The conference also announced that, in line with the European concept of accessibility in 2003, Montenegro has set the legal framework in the field of accessibility in a way which is, among other things, adopted the Strategy for Integration of Persons with disabilities 2008-2016 whose new version is expected in the coming period, and integrated this question in the Law on Spatial Planning and Construction and the by-laws, a simplification of the procedures for obtaining authorization to set up the facilities necessary for accessibility like – access ramps, elevators and so on. At the same time, as one of the novelties in the legislative framework was pointed out that, in accordance with the Amendments to the Law on Spatial Planning and Construction, which are just at the public hearing, provided that already at the level of the planning document, and at the level of project development, urban planners should evaluate a plan or project, among other things, in terms of meeting the requirements in terms of accessibility.”

The conference presents the activities of the central authorities and local governments in the provision of access and movement of disabled persons to facilities in public use. It has been concluded that in the future it is needed especially to meet challenges such as: informing the professional public on this issue, intensifying the training of professional staff, and further improvement of the administrative capacities and the issue of financial resources required for implementation of the plans in this area.