The European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI), founded in 1996 in Germany, is an international organization working in the field of minority governance and conflict resolution. Through action-oriented projects, practice and policy-oriented research, information gathering and documentation, and advisory services, ECMI advances majority-minority relations throughout Europe and its neighbourhood. With its headquarters in Flensburg, Germany – together with its currently two regional offices based in Tbilisi, Georgia and Priština, Kosovo – ECMI contributes to the strengthening of legislation and best practices in minority governance. Correspondingly, ECMI enhances the capacity of civil society and governments to encourage constructive relations between minorities and states.
ECMI has been operating a Caucasus office based in Tbilisi since 2003 where it works towards building stable and inclusive democracies throughout the region, particularly in Georgia. ECMI Caucasus works to improve the competencies of minority organizations and assists governments in building institutional capacities to develop and implement policies on national minority issues. In particular, ECMI Caucasus works closely with Georgian state agencies – such as the Public Defender, the State Minister for Reintegration, and the Administration of the President – as well as with international organizations and national NGOs to ensure the involvement of national minorities in consultations on state policies affecting minority communities.
To this effect, ECMI Caucasus has supported the establishment of the Council of National Minorities (CNM), functioning under the aegis of the Public Defender, as well as the Javakheti Citizens’ Forum (JCF) and the Tsalka Citizens’ Forum (TCF) to encourage dialogue and permanent, institutionalized structures for minority-state consultation. While continuing to work throughout the country, specifically in the two densely settled national minority regions of Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli, ECMI Caucasus is currently seeking to widen its geographical coverage to include other regions of Georgia with minority populations, such as Adjara, Imereti, Kakheti and Shida Kartli. Concurrently, ECMI Caucasus is also undertaking a range of efforts to assist in the process of repatriation of persons deported from Georgia in the 1940s, including the Meskhetians. Lastly, ECMI Caucasus conducts research on a number of issues relating to national minorities throughout the region while publishing books and working papers, both in hardcover and online.
ECMI Caucasus' Work
ECMI Caucasus' activities and programmes follows five main directions:
- Minority-Majority Relations
- Dialogue and Consultation
- Capacity Building and Policy Formation
- Governmental and Institutional Support
- Research and Documentation
Caucasus and Georgia
The Caucasus – with its diverse ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious makeup – has been subject to both accord and discord between the people residing throughout the region up until today. Georgia, which is situated in the South Caucasus, is a multiethnic country that is faced with both ethno-territorial secession and problems of majority-minority relations. For these reasons, ECMI Caucasus has focused on defusing interethnic tension throughout Georgia’s regions and promoting the integration of its many national minorities into the country’s society.
The ECMI headquarters in Flensburg is co-funded by the governments of Denmark and Germany as well as the government of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The core programmes of ECMI Caucasus are funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while donors for specific undertakings have included the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission, and others.