Minorities in Western Balkans


Vulnerable groups, including Roma, are the focus of the new initiative recently launched by the State Chancellery of Schleswig Holstein in cooperation with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit). The project implementation partners are the ECMI (European Centre for Minority Issues) and FUEN (Federal Union of European Nationalities),  both of them actively involved in sharing Schleswig-Holstein’s experience to the target groups. The project aims to introduce the Schleswig-Holstein model to the local actors in the Western Balkans and to increase access of Roma to municipal services. The direct target group of the project are members of the (pro-) Roma NGOs and local governments in Serbia, Macedonia, BiH and Kosovo.

Internationally acknowledged as a “Good Practice Model”, the state of Schleswig-Holstein (SH) aims to share its experience and together with FUEN and the ECMI to actively contribute to the participation of minorities in other parts of Europe. Learning from the experience of the German-Danish border region will be the overall objective of this initiative, while the focus will be on the accessibility of municipal services to Roma.

Stage 1:

The first activity of the project, Module 1 took place between 11-15 July in Skopje and Belgrade. Module 1 envisioned trainings for representatives of the local municipalities and NGOs dealing with Roma issues in 4 target countries (BiH, fYROM, Kosovo, Serbia). The aim of the trainings was to introduce the local participants to the protection of minorities in Schleswig Holstein and establish a network. In addition, the project team aimed to gather information for planning the next activities. For that purpose, some of the questions for the participants included: what are the crucial issues on vulnerable groups and social rights in the region? What specific activities would be relevant for the participants during their visit to Schleswig-Holstein?

Read more about the stage 1

Stage 2:

As a second part of the project, a delegation from the project countries in Western Balkans visited Schleswig-Holstein between 29 October-4 November 2016. The delegation conducted meetings with the representatives of Schleswig-Holstein State Chancellery, local municipalities and minority organisations. 

Read more about the visit

Stage 3:

In the last stage of the project, the ECMI team organized a workshop in Skopje to assist the participants in development of own project ideas. Five different project proposals were drafted during an intensive workshop, moderated by the ECMI team with support of partners from FUEN, GIZ and SH State Chancellery. All the project ideas reflect the skills and knowledge received throughout the previous stages and are to be implemented in four target countries.

Update in 2017:

With the financial support of the State Chancellery of Schleswig-Holstein, the project continued throughout 2017. During the second year the initiatives proposed by the local stakeholders were implemented with the supervision of the ECMI and FUEN, and with the support of the GIZ.

Some of the main achievements and results of the initiative include the establishment of the Office for Minority Issues in Bijelina (BiH), the creation of a Platform for Social Dialogue and Cooperation in Tetovo (FYROM), trainings on monitoring and the implementation of a Roma and Ashkhali action plan in Ferizaj/Urosevac and Prizren (Kosovo), and the publication of a Handbook on Minority Institutions in Schleswig-Holstein and educational info-sheets on selected topics.

The project was concluded with a Final Conference in Skopje on 01 February 2018. The conference aimed to gather the project’s beneficiaries as well as local contacts, and present the project results to a wider audience. The presenters spoke about the achievements of the project and wider impacts, as well as ways to make these results sustainable.

Click here for latest announcements about the project.

For questions or inquiries, please contact Dr. Zora Popova or Ms. Tamari Bulia.


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Minorities in Western Balkans

ECMI founders:

The German Federal GovernmentThe German
Federal Government
The Danish GovernmentThe Danish
The Federal State Schleswig-HolsteinThe Federal State