Citizens of Taraclia discuss interethnic relations and social cohesion in Moldova

On 12 April 2019 the Institut für Europäische Politik in cooper­ation with our Moldovan partners, the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) and the Institute for Strategic Initia­tives (IPIS) organised a local dialogue workshop in Taraclia, the capital of the corre­spondent rayon mostly inhabited by ethnic Bulgarians. The event was attended by around 40 partic­i­pants from civil society, associ­a­tions of ethnic minorities, media, as well as local and national author­ities in Moldova, which jointly discussed the issue of interethnic relations and social cohesion in the country.

The partic­i­pants were welcomed by the project partners, the Dean of the Taraclia State University, which kindly hosted the event, and the mayor of Taraclia, Serghei Filipov. Vera Petuhov, Deputy Director of the Agency for Interethnic Relations, presented the main efforts of her insti­tution to promote inter-ethnic dialogue and voiced her support for the project and this kind of event to support social cohesion in the country.

The partic­i­pants were invited to discuss the main challenges regarding interethnic relations and social cohesion as well as potential solutions in a World Café format along four thematic areas: education and mass media, economic devel­opment, social rights, and the Associ­ation Agreement with the European Union. With regard to the media, which often report in the state language and or thus inacces­sible for certain ethnic minority groups, the partic­i­pants called for increased financial support to local media outlets reporting in minority languages and for intro­ducing subtitles for national programmes. In the field of economic, devel­opment the need for a better promotion of the already existing business incubators in Taraclia was stressed along with the suggestion to build capac­ities among local author­ities in project writing and project management to foster economic devel­opment of the region. With regard to public services, some partic­i­pants raised the issue of rigid regional juris­dic­tions irrespective of geographic realities, especially in the health sector, compli­cating the utili­sation of public services for citizens of certain regions, and thus called for increased inter-district cooper­ation on these matters. In order to prevent a polar­ising public discourse on Moldova’s associ­ation process with the European Union, the necessity of a more targeted infor­mation campaign in the region was discussed and the idea to open a EU infor­mation center in Taraclia was put forward.

The ideas and solutions raised during this workshop and previous project activ­ities will be picked up and further discussed in the upcoming project events – such as an inter­re­gional dialogue, a policy debate and a public conference, in order to elaborate intereth­ni­cally concerted recom­men­da­tions to improve social cohesion in Moldova.

The event was organised in the framework of the project “Promoting civil society and interethnic dialogue in the Republic of Moldova in the context of the EU associ­ation process” (CIVID), which is kindly supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.