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“Better 20 years of diplomacy and talks, than one year of war”

Domowina – the Federation of Lusatian Sorbs hosted the XVIIth FUEN Seminar of the Slavic Minorities, which took place in Bautzen from 6 until 9 November. The seminar was attended by amongst others, Burgenland Croats from Austria, Carpatho-Ruthenes from Ukraine, Czechs from Croatia, Slovenes from Italy and the Lusatian Sorbs. The seminar of this year had as its subject: “Instruments for Funding Minorities in Europe”.

On Friday Marko Schiemann, Member of the Regional Parliament of the Free State of Saxony for the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), and Chairman David Statnik of Domowina welcomed the participants. 

Marko Schiemann used his speech to talk about opportunities for funding in the three-border region of Saxony, the Czech Republic and Poland. In other presentations an overview was given about the situation of the minorities in Croatia and Austria. Especially in Austria the financial support for the minorities is insufficient. Funding does not come on a regular basis and projects receive funding at a short notice or not until after the projects have been finished. Only with the help of loans these deficiencies can be overcome.

Madlenka Kowar, herself a Sorb and staff member of the European campaign "language diversity", told in her presentation about the new funding programmes on the European level that are also relevant for minorities, such as the education programme Erasmus+, Creative Europe and Europe for Citizens.

On Saturday the participants were welcomed by PhDr Jiři Kuděla, Consul-General of the Czech Republic, for a meeting with all the participants.

The representative of the Carpatho-Ruthenes in Ukraine, Yevhen Zhupan spoke in detail about their situation: “funding and recognition do not exist. Everything we do is done on the basis of voluntary work, including raising money. For us already the recognition of our minority by the government would be progress.” It was followed by discussions on the situation in Ukraine. Bernard Ziesch summarised the discussion very well: “better 20 years of diplomacy and talks, than one year of war”.

The participants of the seminar visited the town of Bautzen and the Krabat-Mill in Schwarzkollm. 

With more than 90 member organisations in 32 European countries the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) is the largest umbrella organisation of the autochthonous minorities in Europe. Since 1996 Domowina has been organising FUEN seminars for the Slavic minorities. The next seminar is planned to take place in Daruvar, Croatia.

Clemens Škoda, Domowina