Interview with Selvia Mustafi, part of the AVAJA core team: "Avaja is in an evolutionary phase in which changes are taking place in many aspects, which is an absolutely healthy process."

Roma Times: Avaja has recently added an addition - Roma for Democracy? How much did this addition affect the transition from the previous management to this current one?

Selvia Mustafi: The Roma Foundation for Democracy is the new entity and source of new hope in order to strengthen the democratic participation of the Roma in society, and Avaya is the initiative that is a constituent part of the foundation. One of the goals of the foundation will be to support individuals, informal groups, movements as well as media portals that promote the contribution of the Roma in the development of democracy.

The establishment of the foundation did not affect the change of the previous leadership, on the contrary, it opened up space for a broader perspective and joint work through the inclusion of people from other regions of the country that have great potential in strengthening the power of the community.

R.T.: Who is now in the management of Avaja, and are there any in the management from the previous composition?

SM: Avaja is in an evolutionary phase in which changes are taking place in many aspects, which is an absolutely healthy process. In the management we have people from the previous composition, but also reinforcement with activists who during these 4 years had the opportunity to lead at the local level and grow in the whole process to now reach the management level.

What is crucial in the whole process of working is our will to work regardless of who leads, because the goal at the end of the day is the same, but only the focus is different. On the one hand, we have the rapid progress in the Roma neighborhoods in many municipalities, and from Dr. political organization and influence.

RT: What is the current focus of Avaja's activities?

SM: As before, Avaja will focus on 3 main elements, namely:

political education, political participation as well as representation.

In the past, we had the opportunity to experience all kinds of manipulations, especially when it comes to elections. From all of this, the main lesson is that we need strengthening of the voice of the community, political education (how to vote correctly), participation (why it is important for everyone to participate and vote) as well as representation - for greater influence in the creation of state policies.

RT: What is the main motive for Avaja to grow into a Roma political movement?

SM: I think it is high time to realize that we must be politically strongly organized and be part of higher political processes and involved in positions that will make changes for our community.

The motive is simple, we do not have our own home country and (military) force to demonstrate such strength, economically we are the poorest community in Europe, but what we can do is organize ourselves politically and act by building power in the community. Thanks to our forefathers and leaders like Faik Abdi, we are enabled not only to think about politics, but to actively engage in it.

Avaya has a generation of young leaders with the capacity to imagine a better future through common ideas and the will to improve the status of the Roma community.

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