The Committee on Federal and European Affairs, for Cooperation in the Baltic and Northern Seas and for Minorities (known as the Committee on European Affairs) held its 65th meeting in Kiel on Wednesday, where Prof. Dr. Tove Malloy was invited to speak about the current state of the minority protection regime in Europe and the work of the ECMI. Prof. Malloy briefly presented the ECMI’s work over past 20 years, including activities and research undertaken at the headquarters in Flensburg as well as in a number of regions throughout Europe and its surrounds. In the second part of her presentation she spoke about the challenges that governments and national minorities face in our current political climate:
“If this meeting had taken place in February 2014, I would have been far more optimistic about minority protection. I would have argued that Europe had finally transformed minority governance management from being a conflict paradigm to being a diversity paradigm. The conflicts of the 1990s in the Balkans had been transformed into budding democratic dialogue, and the frozen dialogues in the post-Soviet space had become warmer due to a weakened Russia. Diplomatic solutions were on the horizon. At the same time, the European regime on minority protection, such as the European Convention on the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, had experienced a decade of good progress in the implementation of minority rights. Some countries even recognized national minorities who had been waiting for years for recognition, while others expanded the rights and protection of national minorities. I would even argue that there was an increasing understanding of the right to self-definition; a right we know from Article 1 of the Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations but which many countries do not respect.
“This optimistic vision unfortunately shattered in March 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and began the purge of Crimean Tatars that is still going on…”
She highlighted two aspects of serious concern in almost all European countries today with regard to national minorities: the rise of right-wing populism in politics and in the public debate, and the lack of protection of Roma and Sinti across Europe.
In the last part of her speech Prof. Malloy spoke about current ECMI projects and the role of the ECMI in transferring good practices from Schleswig-Holstein to other regions. Ms. Sonja Wolf, Research Assistant at the ECMI, also gave a presentation on findings of the recently finalized ECMI project Bridge Building and Integration in Diverse Societies.
During the question and answer session after the presentations, the members of the Committee expressed their interest in specific ECMI projects and in featuring ECMI activities in the next Committee meeting. The Committee members thanked the ECMI and the FUEN for their work in promoting minority rights and the Danish-German border region model across the Europe and beyond.
About the Committee
The European Committee covers topics such as the analysis of European support programs, the impact of EU policy on rural development in Schleswig-Holstein, questions of marine policy, and the division of responsibilities in the European multilevel system. The Committee places particular emphasis on the area of the East Coast Cooperation, in particular, its participation in the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference. Questions on the development of democracy and the protection of minorities in the Baltic Sea are regularly on the agenda.
In addition, the European Committee is also responsible for federal affairs, in which the Lands primarily participate through the Federal Council. On these issues, too, the European Committee is in close contact with the state government and is regularly able to report on emerging developments in the federal economy. The cooperation with the North German countries offers a good platform to be heard at the federal and the European level.
See more information about the European Committee of Land Schleswig-Holstein