Despite of reforms in the rule of law and human rights, many people in all countries of the Western Balkans experience varying degrees of discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, age or sexual orientation. Minorities have poorer access to job opportunities, social protection and health care and education. A lack of prospects and discrimination create major social tensions, including at the community level. Members of the Roma minority are among the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups in the entire Western Balkan region.
The federal state Schleswig-Holstein has a long experience with its internationally recognised, pioneering minority policy, which it can bring to bear regarding the participation of minorities in the Western Balkans. Schleswig-Holstein is the only state in the Federal Republic of Germany with three national minorities living within its borders: The Danish minority, the Frisian ethnic group and the national minority of the German Sinti and Roma. The protection and promotion of these autochthonous minorities are anchored in the constitution of the federal state.
The project goal is for local actors in the Western Balkans, building on experiences from Schleswig-Holstein, to develop approaches to improve access to existing municipal services for minority and disadvantaged groups (especially Roma). Furthermore, additional programmes focusing on the LNOB principle are to be developed.
The policy partner in the Western Balkans is the Network of Associations of Local Authorities in South Eastern Europe (NALAS). Other partners are selected decision-makers and project managers from local (pro-)Roma NGOs, local authorities and ombudsperson offices/anti-discrimination bodies as well as elected councillors in municipalities. The central partner in Schleswig-Holstein is the State Chancellery. The implementing partner is the organisation FUEN and other NGOs as well as selected municipalities from Schleswig-Holstein.