Includ-EU final event: Inclusive partnerships for intercultural dialogue and culture of coexistence

Graphic harvest of the event by Lara Kastelic from Nariši mi zgodbo


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Slovenia, the United Nations Migration Agency, and the Adult Education Center Jesenice organized on 27 September 2023 in Jesenice the final event of the Includ-EU project, which addressed the importance of cross-sectorial partnerships for strengthening migrant integration and enhancing inclusive and enabling environment.

In the introductory part, Adriana Aralica, head of the IOM Office in Slovenia, presented the results of the Includ-EU project. In Slovenia, IOM organized a series of trainings and national dialogues on various issues of integration and two study visits. Furthermore, materials were developed on specific issues of migrant inclusion with the aim of identifying good practices from the participating countries. Project activities focused on facilitating exchanges and experience sharing among stakeholders at the local, national and international level.

The director of the Adult Education Center Jesenice, Majda Suljanović Hodžić, presented the pilot project of strengthening the digital skills of migrants, which the Adult Education Center Jesenice implemented in the framework of the Includ-EU project. The pilot project strengthened both linguistic and digital inclusion of migrants and enhanced their ability to navigate the online public services.

A roundtable discussion followed the introductory presentations. Peter Bohinec, MSc, the mayor of the Municipality of Jesenice, Katarina Kromar from the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants, Nina Arnuš from the TRI Institute from Škofje Loka, the President of the Intercultural Dialogue Association Furkan Güner, and the Director of the Adult Education Center Jesenice Majda Suljanović Hodžić discussed the challenges of migrant inclusion, the importance of cooperation and establishing partnerships to support the integration of migrants and the opportunities for innovative initiatives to strengthen the supportive environment. The discussion was moderated by Adriana Aralica from IOM Slovenia.

The mayor of the municipality of Jesenice, Peter Bohinec emphasized the importance of the coexistence of various population groups in the municipality and active municipal associations that strengthen an inclusive environment and promote an inclusive multicultural environment. Katarina Kromar from the Integration Department of the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants emphasized that integration is a two-way process. At the Government Office, efforts are being made to strengthen the linguistic integration and improve subsystems that would facilitate and enhance the integration of migrants. Majda Suljanović Hodžić, director of the Adult Education Center Jesenice, outlined the support programs for the integration of migrants, implemented by the Adult Education Center. In addition to counseling and Slovenian language courses, they also provide intercultural mediation for the Albanian and Macedonian languages, where they see the greatest need in educational and health institutions. The TRI Institute from Škofja Loka also strives to contribute to the linguistic integration and social inclusion of migrant women, which they enhance by volunteer help, Nina Arnuš presented. She emphasized that experiences at the local level are the most telling, so they are also the best fit for developing good practices and providing support. Linguistic integration is also one of the key areas of work of the Intercultural Dialogue Association, shared the President Furkan Güner. In strengthening intercultural dialogue, diaspora organizations play a central role, as they establish a bridge between cultures and strengthen the culture of coexistence.

Among the challenges, the panelists mentioned the growing need for intercultural mediation, as well as the need to strengthen an inclusive public discourse on migration and openness to differences, the need to present personal stories, and to promote space for dialogue, meetings and exchanges between migrant communities and the local population. They also emphasized the importance of systemic solutions and sustainable support measures that are not subject to project financing. Women's empowerment should be promoted when planning integration measures. The interlocutors agreed that it is necessary to encourage and strengthen diaspora organizations, also in their advocacy role, and to include them in relevant national and municipal consultative bodies. The mayor of Jesenice emphasized that social activities significantly strengthen the social resilience of the local community. The panelists concluded the discussion with the opinion that it is important to strengthen integration, cooperation and partnerships in order to strengthen the enabling environment for the inclusion and participation of migrants.

The national event concluded the European project Includ-EU, which strives to contribute to building more inclusive and connected European societies by strengthening the exchange of experience, cooperation and partnerships between local and regional authorities from Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia and Spain. The project is financed by the European Commission in the framework of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). The closing event took place during the European Sustainable Development Week, which emphasizes the interdependence of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Migrants significantly contribute to the development of societies in countries of origin, transit and destination; joint efforts of various stakeholders are needed to enhance the enabling environment, which can further strengthen the contribution of migrants to our societies.

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities