Thursday 23 February
|Training in Samarra: “Mechanisms of Cooperation", 28th-29th June 2004|
Once again, between the 28th and 29th of June 2004, the hospitable Samarran earth was the location for one of our trainings. In Tolyatti, the training-seminar “ International and Russian Mechanisms of Cooperation between Ethnic Associations and Governmental Agencies” took place. It was organized by the Center for Interethnic Cooperation and the Jewish Organization “Tsvi Girsh” (Lower Novgorod), with the support of the Samarra Regional Ministry of Culture, Youth Politics and Sports.
The Seminar was carried out within the framework of a partner project called “Introduction to Positive American Experiences in the sphere of Interaction between Ethnic Minorities and Governmental and Non-governmental Organizations,
The first training cycle took place in Lower Novgorod. It was very interesting for us to compare the problems, the level of the organization, and the project ideas expressed by leaders of ethnic NGO’s of two big cities from the Volga Federal District (VFD).
Already before the training in Samara began, it was clear that Samara was an advanced and socially mature region.
One organizer of the training from the district’s administration - Nadezhda Petrova Osipova - is the main specialist of the Department for Cooperation with Social Organizations, Ethnic Issues and Religious Faiths of the Ministry of Culture, Youth Politics and Sports of the Samarra district.
Participants in the training were:
The training highlighted the more current problems of the ethnic situation in the Samarra region.
It’s interesting that in importance, problems of financing here were in 30th place, whereas 5-6 years ago they were designated as the most important.
The leaders of the native ethnic organizations (Tatar, Chuvas, Mordvinian,) also named education reforms that threaten the existence of small province schools.
Among the other problems named were:
One of the problems in realizing regional ethnic policies revealed at the training is the state of the governmental culture institution House of Friendship between Peoples (HFP). HFP possesses an annual budget of 6 million rubles. At the same time, another program was realized in the region, called: “Different, but not strange - peace through culture,” in accordance with which 3.5 million rubles are allotted annually to support ethnic culture, ethnic education, ethnic media, and scientific research.
Funds for the carrying out of ethnic holidays are also allotted from budgets of different levels.
But despite the fact that at this time sociologists are recording an increase of xenophobia, and that in recent times there have emerged instances of worsening interethnic relations (for example, in the village of Sukhiye Avrali of the Yelkhovskiy region and the village of Mar’yevka of the Pestravkiy region), there are still newspapers, including the Volga Nightfall, which continue to inflame interethnic tensions.
This means that the availability of a financing budget and the special governmental foundation the House of Friendship of Peoples, which is occupied with conducting ethnic activities, haven’t acted as a panacea for the increase in xenophobia.
Today it is necessary to propose and designate new priorities for carrying out ethnic policies in the region, and in the foreground of this pursuit are: human rights questions; the creation of mechanisms for monitoring media that incites interethnic conflict; projects to promote tolerance in youth and student environments; and activities aimed at the mutual adaptation of immigrants and the native population.
The leaders of Chechen and Azerbaijani ethnic cultural centers, who in May of this year took part in a training visit to the UK (within the framework of a Russian-Britain project called: “Ethnic Minorities and Access to Justice”), gave a presentation to the seminar participants. They familiarized those present with the work experiences of the Greenwich Council for Racial Equality, with the governmental Commission for Racial Equality, and with Scotland Yard, the subdivision of the Police Office responsible for fighting racial crimes. It was interesting to hear about the work of the Greenwich Council, where every new policeman in Greenwich (the most multi-ethnic region of London) has to go and take classes on the ethnic particularities of Greenwich’s population.
A lot of attention has been devoted to examining the experiences of US social organizations, and in particular, of CAMBA (Church Avenue Merchant’s Block Association), which helps solve the social adaptation problems of migrants in the Brooklyn area of New York City. Together with the police department, the organization creates instructional videos for the police on immigrants and Muslim communities; realizes the "Mosaic" youth project; releases booklets and posters for the promotion of tolerance, etc.
The participants of the seminar were in agreement that today it is necessary for the Samarra region House of Friendship of Peoples to orient their actions toward the realization of ethnic-culture policies while taking into account the experiences of other countries that have survived such a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in their societies.
A large part of the training was devoted to the search for ways to create mutually beneficial collaboration between the regional authorities and social ethnic organizations. Therefore, Victoria Shukhat, the trainer from the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, asked the participants to formulate a list of what kind of practical use the authorities could get from the project activities of ethnic associations.
We obtained the following results:
On the second day of the seminar, the participants worked out a few project ideas, and those that got the most support were:
These lines of work turned out to be most relevant today in our multi-ethnic community. And, for the realization of these projects, IREX and the Ministry of Culture (in compliance with the Samarra Act “Different, but not Strange - Peace through Culture) are allocating funds in the amount of 120 thousand rubles. At the seminar a competition for these projects was declared. Therefore we invite all interested organizations to prepare an application for a project. The competition goes until the 1st of August 2004.
The necessary conditions for participation in the competition are a coalition of a few social organizations, active participation by the local or regional authorities in the realization of the project, and the organization’s own contribution of not less than 30% of the total cost of the project. More detailed information on the conditions for participation can be found on our website at http://184.108.40.206/~intereth/News/210704_1.html.
The possibility of realizing their own project ideas inspired many of the training participants. It was easy to compose a list of recourses necessary for participation in the project and that were available to the social organizations.
Aleksander Nikolaevich Popov, the chief of the department for cooperation with social organizations, ethnic issues and religious faiths of the Ministry of Culture, Youth Politics and Sports of the Samarra region, expressed an unconditional approval of the active positions of ethnic social associations.
But the main result of the training will be the projects submitted to the competition. The competition has begun, and we wish all participants good luck.