ECMI staff participate in a conference on European minorities and their kin-states in Berlin.
The conference, entitled “The promotion of national minorities by their ‘mother countries’ in Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th and 21st century“, is presented by the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, the Bundesinstitut für Geschichte der Deutschen im östlichen Europa, and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA). The ECMI is one of several participating partners.
ECMI Director Prof. Dr. Tove Malloy spoke this (Thursday) morning on unilateral legislation in favour of kin-minorities from the perspective of international law. She discussed legislation enacted by a number of European countries between 1979 and 2011, particularly examining the intent behind territorial and extra-territorial policies outside of the European minority rights regime.
Dr. Jennifer Jackson Preece, chair of the ECMI Advisory Council, also gave the keynote lecture on Wednesday evening, entitled “Were the Minority Treaties a Failure? Lessons from Interwar Europe”. She drew comparisons between the historical context and today, emphasising the continuing importance of minority rights in a changing Europe.
Bob Deen, a Senior Advisor at the office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, has found the conference “inspiring”. “It’s a great community of academics and practitioners,” he said. “The most interesting thing has been the debate over bilateral and multilateral approaches, and then the talk [by Professor Malloy] on unilateral actions. I really hope they will be able to share experiences on which of these approaches work best in which contexts – and of course, from the High Commissioner’s perspective, how they can do it without creating tensions.”
The conference began on Wednesday with a workshop for young scientists working in the field of European minority studies and minority rights, in which seven researchers presented their doctoral work on themes as varied as minority language policy in daily life and in new media, the changing face of far-right politics, kin-state policies, agency, and the use of cultural defence in jurisprudence. Several of ECMI’s junior staff participated in the workshop as guests, giving feedback and discussing the implications of the presenters’ research, and exchanging ideas on future cooperation.
Melanie Frank, a doctoral candidate at the University of Augsburg, said the opportunity to get feedback on her research about language use in Latvia was amazing. “I loved the atmosphere – we had a really nice interactive atmosphere, everyone was encouraged to comment. It was really enriching to hear the different case studies and find the common lines between them, for example the changing background of Europe, and the different ways minorities’ identities are created from both outside and within the minorities.”
The story prepared by Caitlin Boulter (Project Asistant at the ECMI).