“Integration policy at local and regional level – Best practice examples from Europe”
Graz, 4 December 2013
Andreas Kiefer: “Both integration policies and intercultural action must begin at the grassroots”
Graz, 04.12.2013 - “Our integration efforts must necessarily be accompanied by policies to foster intercultural dialogue and build harmonious intercultural relations in our communities”, stated Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress, addressing the conference on “Integration policy at local and regional level”, in Graz, Austria, on 4 December 2013.
“Both integration policies and intercultural action must begin at the grassroots, in our communities where cultural groups interact most directly, both with one another and with public authorities and many successful examples exist, which were also presented in this conference”, he added. M. Kiefer also underlined that integration and participation in society are mutually reinforcing processes which involve equal access to social rights and public services and political and civil rights. “Local populations with more than 30% residents having a migration background are becoming increasingly common. These residents have become an important force due to their economic, social and cultural contribution”, he explained. “The true challenge is to find ways of using this diversity for the benefit of the entire community”.
He also referred to the fact that citizenship would solve the question of political participation by given right to vote at all levels, citizenship without accompanying measures, however, would not solve the challenges of meaningful integration. The conference under the title “Integration policy at local and regional level – Best practice examples from Europe” was the first one organized by the Austrian chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in partnership with the Congress and the Institute of the Regions of Europe.