Preparation meeting – Western Balkans study visit in Schleswig-Holstein

- Press releases

Tuesday 10 October 2016 a productive meeting took place of the organisations responsible for the Western Balkans Project in Jaruplund Hojskølen in Handewitt, Germany.

In the countries of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia), minorities are still strongly affected by social and economic discrimination. Persons belonging to minorities often do not receive full information, and have no sufficient access to municipal services, infrastructure education or to the labour market.

Many persons belonging to the Roma-populations in the Western Balkans, but also other national and ethnic minorities life in households living below the poverty line and are dependent on the support from their family or government assistance. In all involved countries a process of decentralisation is taking place, albeit in very different stages of fulfilment.

They have in common that they realise that the municipalities have up to now not been able to fulfil the tasks attributed to them to the full extend. The capacity and powers of the local actors (especially social centres and municipalities) are not sufficient to provide qualitatively and quantitatively adequate services for vulnerable groups, among then often Roma. Many persons belonging to minorities are denied access to the labour market – not least because of a lack of education in place. Moreover, employees working in government institutions thus far rarely recognise NGOs dealing with the social and economic participation as competent partners.

With its minority policies, which are also internationally recognised as a good practice model, the German Land of Schleswig-Holstein is particularly well placed to show its experiences to advance the participation of minorities to the Western Balkans.

The Study Visit is part of a project commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to improve the access of Roma to municipal services. The project takes place within the framework of the Federal and Länder pilot-programme and is implemented by GIZ. Within the project the Schleswig-Holstein State Chancellery and the institutions of FUEN and ECMI, that its supports, make an active contribution to protect minorities also in in other regions of Europe and allow others to learn from the experiences made in the German-Danish border region.

The first module took place in July 2016 and consisted of a regional training in Skopje and Belgrade, where institutions were introduced to the minority model of Schleswig-Holstein.

The second module will be a study visit in Schleswig-Holstein. The delegation from the Western Balkans will stay at Jaruplund Hojskølen in Handewitt, Germany from 30 October until 04 November 2016.

Key Topics

  • Political Participation
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Linguistic Diversity
  • Solidarity with the Roma
  • European Citizens' Initiative
  • European Network
  • Forum of the European Minorities / House of Minorities


More photos at Flickr