The Annual General Assembly of the European Disability Forum gathered more than 150 delegates from 29 countries in Ljubljana
Ljubljana, 24 May 2008 – Three European disability movement leaders, among them the EDF Vice President, were denied to fly to Ljubljana for the Annual General Assembly of the European Disability Forum (EDF) due to discrimination on the ground of disability, announced the President of EDF Yannis Vardakastanis at the opening of the Assembly on 24 May.
They have been refused by the Slovenian national carrier Adria Airlines to board unless providing a medical certificate and traveling accompanied under the pretext of safety implications. As a result one of them was was prevented from attending both the Assembly and the ministerial conferencee "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – From Words to Reality?", organized by the Slovenian Presidency of the EU during the previous days.
“It is unacceptable an EU national carrier not to respect its obligations under the new EU legislation. This is exactly a kind of situation which the EU citizens have to be protected from under the Regulation. We are going to take an action that the Regulation is respected”, stressed Mr. Vardakastanis, referring to the EU Regulation concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when traveling by air, being into application since July 2007.
He called the Slovenian government to undertake measures towards the company which did not respect the Regulation and added that “that is why we need to put the UN Convention in practice as soon as possible, so that people with disabilities can enjoy their full citizens’ rights”.
In a message, addressed to the Assembly participants, the Slovenian Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs Marjeta Cotman expressed the support of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU for the preparation and adoption of legislation on the basis of Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty to prohibit discrimination on the ground of disability.
“The Slovenian Presidency has put this down as an expectation. This directive is very important in our view, in particular linked to the transport problems, encountered by members of the EDF board. This proves the significance of such a legislation to avoid any further discrimination of this and any other kind”, stated the message of the Minister.
The Slovenian Member of the European Parliament Ljudmila Novak, a member of the Disability Intergroup, also expressed her sorrow for the problems with Adria Airlines and assured that EP is on the side of the disability movement.
The human rights and their implementation in the light of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were the main topic, discussed during the first day of the Assembly. A number of case studies from different EU countries were presented on “Equal Recognition before the Law” of disabled people, one of the key articles in the Convention, soon to be ratified by the European Communities. On the second day the leaders of organisations of disabled people will also debate practical ways to further promote social inclusion of disabled people.
More than 150 delegates from 29 countries arrived in Ljubljana to participate in this key meeting.
For more information, please contact: Irina Papancheva, EDF Communication and Press Officer; Tel: (+32 2) 282 46 04; Mobile phone: (+ 32 ) 485 64 39 93; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org