On 4-5 December 2018 the second peer to peer visit in the area of protection of national minorities was organised in the Czech Republic for the Ukrainian authorities by the Council of Europe under the framework of the project “Strengthening the protection of national minorities in Ukraine”. The representatives of the national minorities organisations, local authorities responsible for the protection of the national minorities from different regions of Ukraine, the civil servants from the Department for Religions and Nationalities of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Ombudsperson’s representative were invited to the Czech Republic to learn about good practices and experiences in the sphere of protection of the national minorities.
The high level officials from the Czech Government Council for National Minorities, Government Commissioner for Human Rights and representatives from the House of National Minorities in Prague presented the executive structures dealing with the protection of national minorities on state and regional level, as well as the consultative mechanisms existing in the Government of the Czech Republic.
The topics raised during the two days visit dealt with the existing legislation and policies in the sphere of the protection of national minorities; which institutions are responsible at the central and local level for the protection of their rights; how the consultation bodies are established and national minorities effectively consulted.
The exchange was detailed, substantive and fruitful. As noted by the Secretary of the Council for National Minorities, Mr Milan Pospíšil, the Council involves the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Social Justice, Ombudsman office, the regional associations, the Presidents’ Cancelers and other representatives to resolve the issues dealing with the national minorities in Czech Republic.
Mr Martin Martínek, the Head of Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs Secretariat in the Czech Republic stressed the importance of the activities concerning Roma issues: he pointed out that each region in the Czech Republic has its own Roma coordinator who deals with Roma issues at the local level.
Ms Martina Štěpánková, the Government Commissioner for Human Rights in the Czech Republic, outlined the scope of the actual questions and problems existing in the country and noticed that there are currently 14 national minorities recognised protected by the law on national minorities in the Czech Republic.
The second day of the visit was devoted to the meeting with the representatives of national minorities in the Czech Republic and to the discussions with them about the activities done by them as well as about the support received from the Government of the Czech Republic. Participants met the representatives of Ukrainian, Russian, Belorussian and Vietnamese minorities.
The discussions were fruitful for both sides of the peer to peer visit and it was agreed that such exchanges create a good platform not only for discussing the mechanisms and the responsibilities of the national minorities’ protection but also created foundations for future exchanges and cooperation between colleagues from different Council of Europe member states.
The project “Strengthening the protection of national minorities in Ukraine” runs under the framework Partnership for Good Governance and is co-funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe, and implemented by the Council of Europe.