Minority problems in the German-Danish border region
The German-Danish border region rightfully is regarded as an example of how minority conflicts in Europe may be solved. http://www.ecmi.de/about/history/ger...border-region/
Not in the last place the reconciliation and the friendly cooperation of today between German and Danish minorities show this development that is exemplary in Europe. The minority model that gradually developed got some significant scratches in 2010/2011. The excellent relations between the Kingdom of Denmark and the Federal Republic of Germany knew only one controversial subject in the past 12 months: namely the situation of the minorities in the border region.
The Land of Schleswig-Holstein suffers from alarming financial conditions and
decided to pass a law on reorganising its budget. Within the framework of this law the subsidies for the Danish minority were cut from 100% to 85%. This is a clear breach of the principle of equality, because subsidies for German school students remained untouched. This one-sided measure led to severe protests in the border region – and not just from the Danish minority. The Danish Folketing (parliament) and the Danish government in Copenhagen actively got involved in the minority conflict. In this context there has been a talk between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime-Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs also spoke about the minority-issues.
After foreign-policy pressure the federal government in Berlin decided to come with a one-time payment that financially compensates the imbalances in the field of school subsidies for the Danish minority (now 97% subsidy for the Danish school students).
The restoration of 100% equality for the Danish school students in comparison with the German students was however not implemented. The regional government in Schleswig-Holstein instead, with a majority of its conservative-liberal coalition in Kiel intends to change the school law. This law will legally underpin the cuts made to the Danish minority.
Shortly about SSW
Südschleswigsche Wählerverband (SSW: South Schleswig Voters’ union) was
established in 1948 as the party of the Danish minority in the area of Schleswig and of the national Frisians in North Friesland.
SSW has been represented in the Kiel Landtag (regional parliament) since 1947. In the 17th Schleswig-Holstein Landtag (2009-2014) SSW is represented with four members of parliament: Anke Spoorendonk, Lars Harms, Silke Hinrichsen and Flemming Meyer.
In the elections for the Landtag in September 2009 SSW collected 69,701 votes (4.3 %). Based on the number of members, SSW is the third biggest party in Schleswig-Holstein with about 3,500 members.
Shortly about SSF
Sydslesvigsk Forening (SSF) is the main cultural organisation of the Danish minority with 24 affiliated associations. The aim of the organisation is to foster and propagate the Danish language and to promote Danish and Nordic culture. Cultural and social work take centre stage. SSF for example manages 40 community centres, the Dannevirke-museum and is divided into 80 SSF districts where based on voluntary work the Danish cultural activity in the area of Schleswig is developed.
Together with the Danish youth association an information desk at the Danish
parliament is operated and politically SSF works closely together with SSW. The Danish state supports the minority with around 500 million Kroner annually.
Short about the Danish school association
The Danish school association for South Schleswig manages kindergartens and
schools for those children belonging to the Danish minority.
The association manages:
47 schools, two of these have senior (gymnasium) classes
1 school dormitory in Flensburg (Ungdomskollegiet)
1 folk highschool (Jaruplund Højskole)
2 rural school dormitories
1 centre for teaching materials
1 psychological school service
Feriekontoret (agency for facilitating holidays for school students to
On 1 September 2010 the number of children in Danish kindergartens was 1,921.
On 1 September 2010 the total number of school students was 5,636.
Germany forsakes minorities
German-Danish border region model at risk
After many years of exemplary minority policy in the German-Danish border region the Federal Republic of Germany placed a ticking bomb under the German-Danish border region role model by insufficiently funding the German minority in Nordschleswig, Denmark. The Germans in Nordschleswig are beginning to realise now that their kin state forsakes them, with consequences that at this moment are yet inestimable for their future as German minority in Denmark. So says president of FUEN Hans Heinrich Hansen in a statement on the budget decisions on the German and Danish minority by the Federal Republic of Germany.
The fact that 3.5 million Euros for the Danish schools in Schleswig-Holstein was allocated so quickly shows that it is possible to find funding if only the political will is there. FUEN as umbrella organisation of 86 minority organisations in Europe welcomes that the Danish minority will receive this funding, but at the same time it criticises the fact that the existing unbalance between German and Danish support for the minorities is enlarged. Hans Heinrich Hansen, president of FUEN, makes it plain: “Just to avoid misunderstanding: we are friends in the border region – not just do we not begrudge the Danish minority the money, we are of the opinion that they are entitled to it. Of course the school students of the Danish minority should receive 100% of the grants. That is the basic principle of equal treatment of citizens, and one cannot divide such a principle in percentages. That would namely mean the end of equal treatment.
Minority policy should always take place with some tact, in order to avoid misunderstanding and humiliation. Exactly this happened. Clearly the arguments of the minorities were not taken into account; based on political pressure from Denmark a decision was taken ad hoc, a decision that lacks a deeper understanding for the situation of the minorities. The decision leaves a sour taste the more so because for decades the German Nordschleswigers have reacted with understanding to surprises made for them by German governments, because they felt secure in the assumption that the German minority was an important partner for their kin state as well. I say this because I have been chairman of the German minority for a long time.”
According to FUEN, the Federal Republic of Germany should follow the example of Denmark, on how minorities are treated with respect. Both the solution to the municipality reforms in 2005 as well as in regard to the decision taken on 100% funding for German schools in Denmark testify that. Equality as a principle has been applied without dispute. The Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen decided that the issue of equal treatment of the Danish minority was a matter for the prime minister. That show how much respect and esteem the Danish minority holds within the Danish government. For the Danish state it is about nothing less than justice. And in the eyes of the Danish government this is the case in the same measure for the Danish and for the German minority, as proves the thoroughly decent solution of mainstreaming the German minority schools. “In Denmark the government acts instead of engaging in soap-box oratory. Here facts are created that have empathy, trust and credibility”, says Hans Heinrich Hansen. How different is the reaction of the Federal Republic of Germany! In general it may be the largest emotional problem for all minorities in Europe if they are not taken seriously or not noticed by the people and the nation they feel affiliated to. Deep disappointment creeps in amongst those who paid a high price for their belonging to the German minority during their whole personal life.
For many years the Federal Republic of Germany and especially Schleswig-Holstein has been able to boast about the model character of the German-Danish border region in regard to minority issues. Today, we can no longer defend this position with good conscience.
FUEN therefore urges the Federal Republic of Germany and the state of Schleswig-Holstein to provide sufficient funding for the minorities to allow them to exist on an equal footing. Cooperation based on trust can only be based on equality. Right now this is not guaranteed anymore. FUEN demands from the Federal Republic of Germany and the state of Schleswig-Holstein to comply with the principle of equality in their minority policies, to apply the same rights for all and to meet their responsibility as custodian for those that consider themselves to be ambassadors of their kin state to the countries in which they live. Only so one can live with each other on par.
This explain why SSW support SPD, it's not so much ideologic agrement with SPD and the Greens, but more the open hostility from CDU.
It should be said that this article put Denmark in better light than it deserve. Denmark treat the German schools in Denmark as every other Free School (private school), which mean that they receive slightly less than public school from the state (85%, which was why the Landtag in Schleswig-Holstein choose that number.), but may raise up to 33% of what the state give among the parents (which they can have a budget of around 113% of a public school per student). Of course the German schools have shown little wish to change that, as it would mean that they would get a smaller budget. The difference in the school system of the two minorities are to large degree based on the German minority in Denmark has traditional been the upper middleclass and upper class, while the Danish minority has traditional been urban workers, rural workers and small farmers, as such they was less able to afford to pay extra for education, as such the Germans was very generous in the Copenhagen-Bonn declaration, which gave the Danish schools this support. Of course it should be said that it was also a attempt to normalise the relationship with the Danish state after the occupation, where Denmark didn't annex South Schleswig after the War, as they had been offered by the allies (and which around 33% of the local population had supported) or deported the German population in Denmark.