23 May REGIONAL PARTNERSHIPS FOR INTERCULTURAL EXCHANGE – project presented at the round table and press conference in Subotica, City Hall

Local presentation of the project was held in the City Hall Subotica in presence of some thirty five representatives of local CSO-s and local media. Among the invitees were the organizations included in the Subotica Intercultural Guide, published previously. Present also were the local government departments (LED office, Mayor’s office, department for education and culture).

In her introductory notes, Ms. Erika Kudlik, City Councilor for international/regional co-operation spoke about the activities taking place over the past couple of years in support to promote Subotica as the intercultural city – both within the established network of the European Intercultural Cities and through the regional co-operation project Regional Partnerships for Intercultural Exchange. A number of local projects have been successfully implemented in collaboration with CSO-s, and a number of good practices/mechanisms launched in support to establishing genuine intercultural understanding and respect for diversity. Three languages in official use, examples of bilingual education, hosting four national councils of national communities, large number of ethnically mixed marriages are some of the evidence of the efforts invested by the local government.

Co-operation established with the cities in neighborhood and with the cities across Europe includes this important achievement of democratic governance at local level, while the intercultural approach is incorporated in local economic development strategy as one of its main pillars.

Ms. Ljubica Kiselicki, Mayor’s Advisor for education and culture reiterated the importance of the image of the city as the intercultural safe haven, while much has to be done in order to establish social environment more favorable for intercultural education. Namely, it is necessary to introduce the learning of Hungarian language as the language of social environment and improve the conditions for the instruction of Hungarian especially in elementary schools, considering the need to improve the bilingual skills at this age among the young people.

Subotica is among the local governments in Vojvodina with the highest level of local budget allocated for culture (up to 11%), while most of the national communities and their cultural institutions are among the beneficiaries. However, in this area it even more important to promote interculturalism as the guiding principle, rather than having fragmented and isolated cultural events. Cultural heritage as the part of identity of local national communities should be seen as a shared value belonging to all the citizens. It is therefore necessary to invest more coordinated efforts in promoting intercultural dialogue as a broad public space engaging the widest range of local actors.

In the overview of the project activities, Ms. Stanka Parac Damjanovic, project manager, presented its key components, achievements as well as the most important activities. Particular emphasis was on the regional dimension and the partnerships established among the participants, including the local governments of Subotica, Mostar and Osijek. In addition, sustainability was sought in all three main project components: capacity building an trainings for CSO-s and local governments, exchange of good practice on intercultural governance and local socio-economic development strategies and in the project promotion and visibility tools as potential tools for further trainings and information share.

DOWNLOAD – Closing conference – PowerPoint presentation