International seminar “Regional co-operation for participation of minority youth”

7 – 11 May 1998, Jurmala, Latvia

Representatives from Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia took part in the meeting devoted to forming of the new network. As result of the activity was creation of a Nordic-Baltic minority network in order to address minority issues and coordinate activities, which make more visible minority participation in the two regions.

The idea for the formation of a network in the Nordic/Baltic region came from participants of the Long-Term Training Course “Participation and Citizenship” in Budapest and Strasbourg which was promoted and sponsored by the Council of Europe and the European Youth Center.

The initial meeting was to established the Network and outline its aims and objectives. The reason for setting up the network was never political but rather social, so the participants outlined the needs of minority youth in each of our countries and areas in a attempt to find commonalities. Participants discussed challenges as minorities and tried to find the common ground between different minority groups. Exclusion due to language barriers, cultural differences and prejudices affected minorities and these problems were of course more extreme in some countries rather than others. Participants established therefore that the main aims of the Network should be as follows: to involve and activate the minority youth in the Nordic and Baltic regions; to bring the situation of minorities to the forefront in the Nordic and Baltic regions; to educate young people about different questions connected with minority participation and youth work.

With aims clearly defined, the participants set about outlining the structure of the network. After lengthy discussion it was decided that there should a simple network structure. It would rely upon its existing members, to extend and develop the network. The representatives of member organizations should elect board and coordinator. The role of coordinator would be to send information to network members about projects and activities, contact new partners, exchange information, prepare necessary reports, and motivate and energize the Network into functioning.

New organizations wishing to join the network must be minority organization or organizations, which work with minorities in the Nordic and Baltic regions. The regions were defined as follows: Nordic: Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, and Aland. Baltic: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Poland, and Germany. Of course, young people and organizations from other countries and regions can take part in the projects of the Network and its activity.