Minorities helping minorities

A cooperation project of the Federal Union of European Nationalities and the Central Council of the German Sinti and Roma
Community of Kerecsend, June 2012 © Central Council of German Sinti and Roma

At its Annual Congress of 2011 in Eisenstadt, the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) – of which the Central Council the German Sinti and Roma is a member – adopted the resolution for “„Eisenstadt Declaration – Solidarity with the Roma“” in their respective home countries. The resolution was adopted at the suggestion of the Central Council. This “Eisenstadt Declaration” was made in light of the widespread exclusion of the Roma minority from almost all levels of society occurring in individual EU member states of Central and Eastern Europe.

Concrete steps must be taken as soon as possible in order to successfully implement the resolution. With this in mind, FUEN and the Central Council have developed the pilot project “Solidarity with the Roma – Minorities as bridge-builders”. The first stage of the project is the implementation of specific measures in the domains of employment and housing; long-term aims include measures in the domains of education and healthcare. The focus on the above-mentioned domains corresponds with the objectives of the European Commission, as set out in the framework strategy of the European Union of 5 April 2011 on the improvement of the situation of Roma in Europe.

What makes the project special is that it is to be realised in collaboration with the representatives of other national minorities. This approach is very promising for the following reasons: The minority organisations represented in FUEN possess expert knowledge in many different fields (e.g. ecological farming) and have at their command a specific infrastructure in terms of human and material resources. Incorporating these in the project will prove advantageous. Furthermore, the idea underlying the project is that facilitating solidarity amongst minorities and presenting a united front will improve the way minorities are perceived and appreciated, raise public awareness for their concerns. Experience with the “Dialogue Forum North” – a joint platform for communication and exchange of all the autochthonous minorities in the German-Danish border region – attests to this.

FUEN has intentionally conceived the pilot project as an exemplary action programme in such a way that it can be easily adapted to other minorities similarly affected by structural exclusion as the Roma. To make this possible, the Central Council has suggested the establishment of a new “development agency” as part of FUEN. This agency will then accumulate knowledge acquired though subproject implementation and make it available for future projects. Involving the parties concerned as well as local NGOs in the development and implementation of particular measures is a core condition for ensuring the sustainability of the project activities. This is to avoid competing with already existing initiatives for the already scarce financial resources.

Additional information about the project can be found here.