ECMI Annual Reports highlight the main research, analysis, action and documentation results of the European Centre for Minority Issues. As such, the reports manifest how the Centre manages its ambition of delivering high-quality research, policy-relevant analysis, and of building bridges between majority-minority relations’ theory and practice.
Marking the events of 2016 and relevant work of the ECMI, this issue is named “Building Bridges in Diversity” . The publication provides information on the ECMI projects, trainings, events both at the headquarters in Flensburg and in regional offices, as well as an overview of how and where the information on these activities have been disseminated. The Report also includes lists of the ECMI team members and the publications issued throughout the 2016.
“Taking a lead from the Danish-German border region, the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI), under the auspices of Germany’s 2016 Chairmanship of the Organisation of Co-operation and Security in Europe (OSCE), took the notion of national minorities as bridge builders to the international arena. The idea of national minorities networking with authorities and civil society to build bridges across borders and within societies between minorities and majorities has not previously been scientifically investigated across the European Continent. In a year that saw xenophobia on the rise not only against newcomers but also against national and ethnic minorities, and in particular against Roma, the notion of building bridges was clearly topical. The subsequent report of the first phase of this scientific endeavour, Dynamics of Integration in the OSCE Area: National Minorities and Bridge Building (page 12) revealed that it is not only in the Danish-German border region that national minorities engage in building bridges across divides – it happens in many regions of Europe.
A couple of milestones were passed in 2016. The European Parliament’s LIBE Committee decided for the first time to include a chapter on national minority governance in its Annual Report 2015; this was supported by the ECMI’s research and guidance. Our new institutional partnership with the Council of Europe’s CAHROM (Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issues) was initiated. And while our ECMI Kosovo office has been certified by the Government of Kosovo to assist a newly established Verification Commission tasked with verifying diplomas from the Serb University of North Mitrovica, the Eastern Partnership Programme team in Flensburg has intensified its co-operation with the Ukrainian authorities with a view to improving minority governance and legislation. Visitors from afar have also sought out our expertise; in May, the ECMI hosted and organised a visit to the region of a delegation from the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. And close to home, we have been providing expert advice to the Schleswig-Holstein Landtag in connection with the decision to incorporate minority languages into public administration legislation.
After 20 years in operation, we feel that we have good results to show that the Centre is relevant both at the international and national levels. In this, the support of our governing body, the Executive Board and our founders is invaluable. We are also grateful for the support of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Foreign Office as well as the German GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) in 2016.”
Prof. Dr. Tove Malloy