- What does your project involve?
Reinke: Ukraine is a multinational and multireligious country. There are 13 recognized minorities in the constitution; there is quite often tension between various groups included in these. The project’s concept is to bring the minorities together in the form of a human rights organization. In this way, we aim to overcome that specific type of nationalism and, at the same time, protect the respective individual identity, language, and culture of each minority group - all together in a common Ukrainian state.
Over the long term, we hope to ensure the compliance with the rights of the minorities through monitoring reports that we will forward on to, for example, the OSCE and the EU.
- Why does Ukraine in particular need this type of organization?
The minorities in Ukraine are very different. There are groups such as the Hungarians and the Germans who are partially supported by their home countries. Other minorities such as the Crimean Tatars and the Karaite Jews have no home country. But the Romanies certainly have it the worst, as they face daunting anti-Romanyism and, in the eastern part of the country, are even subject to pogroms.
If the minorities come together in the form of an organization, then they can speak with one voice, establish international relationships, and support each other. This would promote the democratization process and pluralism in Ukraine. This would also make it more difficult for Russia, for example, to justify its intervention in the Donets Basin and in Crimea with the protection of Russian minorities.
- How did the Ukraine Calling program help you?
Every idea needs a reality check: Who are the potential contacts and partners? Who, if anyone, might be interested in a collaboration? My stay in Kiev enabled me to look into these questions and to get to know local experts.
We also recognized that the different minorities need more living space and completely individualized support. Many Romanies and Crimean Tatars are afraid of getting a raw deal as part of a mutual organization.
- What does the future hold for you and the project?
I hope to invite as many representatives from the minority groups as possible to take a trip to Germany and participate in workshops here. The focus in this process should be placed on the needs of the minorities as well as the structures in Germany. Perhaps there will be a few things that we take for granted but can serve as inspiration in Ukraine - and we can learn something from the guests from Ukraine.