National and ethnic minorities are frequently not only pro-active actors but also proponents of border region co-operation. They apply their bilingual and multilingual skills as well as bi-cultural knowledge to regional development projects and to enhancing people-to-people dialogue. Studying national and ethnic minorities in border regions has been an integral part of the research of the ECMI for many years. However, with the drive to secure territorial cohesion in Europe, the involvement of national and ethnic minorities in creating and managing open borders becomes more relevant. In some regions, the continued protection of the rights of minorities in border regions also needs attention. Academic knowledge of this area of Minority Studies is limited and often confined to local studies in local languages. The ECMI’s symbolic presence in one of Europe’s most peaceful border regions presents an opportunity to conduct comparative studies and suggest recommendations for other border regions in Europe. With the ECMI Border Region Governance Programme, the ECMI will intensify its focus on these regions in order to set the issues on the agenda not only for research but also for international politics.

The ECMI Border Region Governance Programme aims at multidimensional analyses of cross-border co-operation involving national and ethnic minorities as well as local actors and authorities. As a consequence, our research fields will include but may not be excluded to:

  • Minorities’ contribution to and influence on governance in border regions as well as normative frameworks organizing cross-border cooperation;
  • Minorities as actors in cross-border endeavours;
  • Discourses and narratives produced by minorities with regard to borders, crossborder activities, experiences of the other side of the border and borderlands as common living- and cultural spaces;
  • Minorities’ identities as influenced by border region reality;
  • Cross-border cooperation as an example of secondary foreign policy and minorities as contributors to initiatives dealing with difficult past.

The research on the topic started in 2018 with a focus on the Minorities and the cross-border cooperation. In the contemporary Europe, cross-border cooperation steadily turns into a fairly ubiquitous phenomenon in the transborder regions. The aim of this project is to analyse the patters of minority groups’ involvement in such endeavors. Exemplary research questions are: (1) In which aspects of cross-border cooperation are minority groups most active? (2) How the activity of minority groups in the field of cross-border initiatives is perceived by the authorities (local, regional and central), political parties of the majority, media and public opinion?

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