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CfA: Balkan Youth for Tolerance, 30.8.-19.9.2002

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  • Florian Bieber
    see: http://www.bosporus.org Balkan Youth for Tolerance Place: Sofia, Nis, Sarajevo, Belgrad, Cluj-Napoa, Bucharest, Plovdiv Date: 30th August - 19th
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 29, 2002
      see: http://www.bosporus.org
      Balkan Youth for Tolerance

      Place: Sofia, Nis, Sarajevo, Belgrad, Cluj-Napoa, Bucharest, Plovdiv

      Date: 30th August - 19th September 2002

      Organization: Behrooz Motamed-Afshari/ Vanya Ivanova/ Emilia Ilieva

      Participating countries: Germany, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia
      and Hercegovina, Serbia and Montenegro

      Type of program: Multilateral exchange programme
      Supported by: programme "YOUTH" of the European Commission

      Program description:

      . The "Balkan Youth for Tolerance" is a project aiming at raising youth
      awareness for human rights in general and the minority rights more
      specifically on the Balkans.

      . 28 participants from 7 target countries:
      - will discuss minority topics in two (startup and extending) seminars
      (Romania, Bulgaria)
      - will travel by bus through the Balkans!
      (Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Romania)
      - will visit different institutions, media centers and experts dealing with
      minority rights in the countries involved
      - having workshops with different minority groups in the villages
      - will write a Bus Diary of their experiences and publish it daily on the
      - will make a short documentary video film about the programme
      - will participate in an online discussion forum on minority topics


      The theme of this programme will focus on one of the most discussed but
      fruitless topics on the Balkans: The situation of "ethnic, religious and
      national" minorities on the Balkans. Minority rights discussions seem to be
      one of the dominant characteristics of contemporary political life on the
      Balkans. Most minorities today enjoy more rights than ever before. Some,
      unknown a generation ago, have won international recognition. Others have
      ceased to be minorities as they were able to secede and form their own
      states. At the same time, though, Europe have witnessed a series of
      devastating and atrocious wars e.i. in former Yugoslavia. They were, in a
      way, about minority rights. Territorially concentrated minorities have been
      trying to fight their way to independence from oppressive nation-states. The
      international community's reaction oscillated between persistent
      underreaction (like in Bosnia and Hercegovina) and belated overreaction
      (like in Kosovo).

      But while talking about minorities in the Balkans it is a certain need to
      talk also about majorities in at least three reasons:
      1) most minorities have majority communities of the same ethnic background
      in neighbouring countries.
      2) After the fall of the Ottoman Empire some ethnic groups that were
      minorities became a basis for the on-going nation-state formation processes
      that, especially after the recent disintegration of Yugoslavia, intensified
      3) It is a rule in the Balkans that the attitudes of majorities define not
      only the main parameters of the minority situations but in many cases play a
      decisive role in the processes of the change and
      consolidation of identities. (Krassimir Kanev - president of the Helsinki
      Committee in Bulgaria)

      Balkans are a small territory where for ages coexisted big communities of
      Orthodox, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants and Jews. They spoke languages
      that were and continue to be completely incomprehensible to each other.
      Shortly before the Second World War five alphabets were in a relatively wide
      use - Cyrillic, Latin, Greek, Arabic and Hebrew. On this background, when in
      the 19th and 20th century the Balkan people, following the European model,
      decided to form nation states, the result was predictable. All known methods
      of solving the "national question" were used repeatedly: genocide, ethnic
      cleansing, exchange of population, expulsions, forced changes of names and
      faith. These practices, in different combinations were used against members
      of every Balkan ethnic community, including those that did not have their
      own "mother country". All Balkan countries at different times were
      recipients of big refugee masses which, on its own turn, radicalised
      societies and politics.

      Yet young people - no matter to which minority or majority belong - are
      growing up burdened with the mistakes and prejudices of the past while
      facing a huge challenge and responsibility to find ways out of this
      political and social disaster in this region. Even though currently a kind
      of "silence" is ruling over the Balkans - which is one of the effects of the
      international "intervention" in the region - the question of the minority
      rights is still ticking like a time bomb and can explode anytime and
      anywhere. While using this "silence" this project aims to raise youth
      awareness and respect on human rights in general and minority rights in

      Therefore it is necessary to divide the topic into three parts:
      . Definitions of minorities
      - Which minorities exist?
      - What are the differences between the several kind of minorities?
      - Which minority groups are existing on the Balkans and what are their
      - The cultural dimension: Is there a 'clash' of cultures?

      . Minority rights on the Balkans
      - Actual legal status of minorities in each country
      - Minority-Related national legislation
      - Can minorities resist to the conditions imposed by the legacy of
      authoritarian nation-states and articulate their rights as political rather
      than as ethno-national rights?
      - How can minorities struggle for their rights using the means of a
      democratic republic, that is constitutional guarantees for the exercise of
      fundamental human rights as well as a public sphere where the extension and
      recognition of new rights can be debated?

      . The EU dimension of minority rights protection
      - EU co-operation for better protection of the rights of minorities
      - Legal enforcement for the protection of the minority rights.
      - laws and institution existing to protect minorities rights

      Structure of the programme:
      Working methods:
      1. Presentation- Discussion panels
      2. Work in small groups
      3. Learning through experience
      4. Learning through direct exchange

      Theoretical part:
      - 2day Startup-Seminar in Sofia:
      Here the participants will analyse issues of minority rights protection both
      at the national and supranational level. While presenting the specific
      character and institutional framework of minority rights protection in their
      own countries, the participants will have the chance to work out
      commonalties and differences. The examination of the relevant international
      documents and practices will point out the international framework and the
      available guarantees of human rights and minority rights. Within this
      discussion, a special attention will be paid to the binding character of the
      existing international arrangements on minority rights, their applicability
      and enforcement in the respective countries. This analysis will indicate
      diverse approaches to minority rights in the respective countries and
      consequently their difficulties to reach a consensus on the uniformity and
      coherence in the content of minority rights obligations as well as on the
      binding character at an international level.

      - 2day extending seminar in Cluj-Napoca
      After having travel through Bulgaria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and
      Romania, meeting and discussing with different officials and representatives
      of NGO's dealing with the Minority issue in this countries, visiting
      villages and enclaves of Minorities, the participants will stop in
      Cluj-Napoca to join an extending seminar together with a small number of
      Romanian/Hungarian and Roma students from Babes-Bolyai University. Here they
      will continue to analyse and will have the opportunity to reflect their
      opinion critically based on the experiences of the last days.

      - lectures and discussions focusing on the theoretical and practical
      relevance of the minority rights in the region. This will be hold by
      scholars of political science and law, politicians, journalists and other
      prominent representatives of the public life as well as by representatives
      of NGO's and regional/international institutions.

      Practical part:

      - Meeting and discussions with ordinary people from minority groups
      As part of the preparatory activities we will contact organisations and
      persons belonging to a minority group or working in the field of minority
      rights and geographically placed on the route of the Caravan with the
      purpose of arranging meetings between them and the participants. During the
      implementation of the project as many meetings should take place as

      - Direct involvement of the press
      q press conferences will be organised in each major city, both the local and
      national press will be invited
      q by taking part in a youth radio program in every country. The project
      foresees a particular topic for each of the radio programs. The "host"
      participants will be encouraged to choose an issue of common interest,
      addressing questions of youth participation, current policy problems, and
      ultimately building strategies to encourage young people to be more vocal.
      Rather than accentuate the perceived differences among ethnic groups, the
      project will focus on highlighting the common bonds that unite youth in
      general. All participants will be expected to freely express their opinions
      and share their experience organising interviews and discussions relating to
      the topic.

      - Filming will occur throughout the excursion and an actual documentary will
      be produced in the months following the project. We will also conduct a
      "before and after interview", aiming to register any possible change that
      has transpired in participants throughout the process

      - online itinerary:
      by preparing and publishing an online itinerary which gives information
      about the actual situation in each country, private experiences of the
      participants... this will ensure that more interested people can join the
      program virtually and be a part of the program.

      Participants from:
      Germany: 250 €
      Greece: 200 €
      Turkey: 150 €
      Bulgaria: 100 €
      Romania: 100 €
      Serbia and Montenegro: 100 €
      Bosnia and Hercegovina: 100 €

      (This fee includes: Travelling (to Sofia and back), accommodation,
      Bus-travel, insurance, Visa, Seminar material and catering (for participants
      from Germany, Greece and Turkey only for 6 days)

      Are you interested? Please fill out the [online application form] or just
      send us an [email] and we will send you the application form asap. see:
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