Supporting the German minority in Ukraine

Project description

Title: Promotion mMeasures of German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) to support the German minority in Ukraine
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI); German Federal Office of Administration (BVA)
Country: Ukraine
Lead executing agency: Council of Germans in Ukraine 
Overall term: Since 1993

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Context

Beginning from the end of 18th century  to the Second World War, the area along the Black Sea coast was home to one of the largest communities  of ethnic Germans in the former Russian Empire and Soviet Union – second only to the Volga Region. Around 400,000 Germans lived in the area of present-day Ukraine. However, most of them were deported to Siberia and Central Asia immediately at the beginning of  the Second World War.

Today, the German minority in Ukraine numbers around 33,000, many of whom emigrated there from Russia and the countries of Central Asia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In its efforts to make amends for the consequences of  the Second World War, the German Government is working hard to improve   the living conditions and prospects of the German minority in Ukraine and other post-Soviet states.

Objective

The German minority represents its interests independently in its country of origin. It is developing its ethno-cultural identity and actively fulfils its role as a bridge between Germany and the country of origin.

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Approach

The measures, which promote cultural activities, youth work, the German language and social projects but also help build leadership capacity and strengthen self-organisation, are implemented. The activities are organised by a country-wide network of 170 non-governmental organisations (NGO). The NGO-network has been established by the Rat der Deutschen der Ukraine (RDU, Council of Germans in Ukraine) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

GIZ is supporting RDU and its implementing organisation, the Gesellschaft für Entwicklung (GfE), to represent and finance efficiently the NGOs of the German minority. Besides organisational and process consultancy as well as legal advice, GIZ  is responsible for the financial control and results-based monitoring of all actions.

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Results

Training measures and advisory services supported the national umbrella and the regional organisations of the German minority to acquire further skills and to establish firm structures of self-organisation. In the meanwhile the NGOs are planning, implementing and managing support measures independently.
A comprehensive range of language and training courses as well as extensive leisure activities for young people aim to provide a basis for allowing  the ethnic minority to preserve its identity as well as to develop it further.  These measures have been used to establish  a close-knit network of youth clubs that are well-integrated in their respective communities. For the members of the ethnic minority,  they make an important contribution on a  social level  as well as to broader  aspects of their lives.

Joint cultural projects with other minorities within and international exchange programmes  are helping to boost the profile of the German minority in Ukraine.  At the same time these activities  enable ethnic Germans to act as intermediaries between Ukraine and Germany. A special role here is attributed to leadership figures among  Ukraine’s ethnic German community. Individual support programmes provide them with assistance in their academic, cultural and social activities. In return, they present themselves, their own works in arts or other social spheres as well as the German minority as an integral and vital part of Ukrainian social life.