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Digitalization and media in the centre of the Non-Kin-State Working Group

Digitalization and new technologies are our chance – this thought by the Arman community’s representative Sterica Fudulea was the conclusion of the Annual Meeting of FUEN’s Non-Kin-State Working Group in Constanta, Romania held on 18-20 October. Thirty representatives of ten different minorities (North Frisians, Ruthenians, Alsatians, Aromanians, Pomaks, Roma, Crimean Tatars, Tatars from Romania) joined the Annual Meeting focusing on media and digitalisation, hosted by the Arman (Aromun, Aromanian) community from Romania.

The region of Dobrogea, where the meeting took place is a unique region, being the home of 16 national minorities and also the Arman community, which is not recognised as a national minority. In his opening speech, FUEN president Loránt Vincze pointed out that „we came here to meet Armans, to see their needs“. He presented FUEN’s work and the latest developments regarding the Minority SafePack Initiative, to be presented to the European Commission on 3 December 2019. Local political leaders and the representatives of the Armans and the Tatars also greeted the participants, calling Constanta a city symbol for multiethnic tolerance, calling for mutual understanding but also talking about the Arman identity as a very emotional topic. Minority rights expert Sergiu Constantin from the EURAC Bolzano/Bozen presented and overview on mechanisms and instruments for effective political participation of minorities without a kin-state. 

On the second day of the event digitalisation and media projects were presented. Elena Saricu presented the project Anveatsã Armãneashti (learn The Armân Language), which created modern instruments for language learning (for example an e-learning platform, accessible to the public) and settled up a school of language in Bucharest. Many participants found this project useful and were interested in implementing it in their own communities. Bence Balázs, representing the Minority Dailies Association, MIDAS talked about the new challenges they face mainly due to the concurrency of online media. Daniel Cunliffe, researcher and teacher at the University South Wales, gave a presentation on the relationship between minority languages and information technology. He pointed out the potential benefits of IT in the context that new technology multiplies the dominance of majority language. He gave practical examples on how they managed to engage people to use the Welsh language, the Welsh translation of Wikipedia, and how big brands (Adidas, Budweiser) use minority languages and the positive effect of this. His presentation generated a lively debate on how to spread information in minority language on social media and what should be done when one only has few resources. 

During the internal working session led by Bérengère Vogel, new coordinator of the working group, Arvid Martens presented FUEN’s new project, Minority Monitor, a platform for autochthonous national minorities and language communities in Europe to make violations and disregard of their rights visible to the public. As future strategies for the working group, FUEN Vice President Bahne Bahnsen proposed to focus more on youth work. Ways of developing the ideas presented at the meeting were also discussed. The working group received an invitation from the Arman and Pomak communities from Bulgaria to organize its next meeting in Velingrad.

The participants visited the Museum of Popular Arts in Constanta and were welcomed in the office of the local branch of the Arman Community, where the history and current state of the community were presented. 

Check out our photo gallery of the event!