Ethnic minorities are defined as citizens of the Czech Republic (CR) who claim a nationality other than Czech. Foreigners are defined as people with citizenship other than Czech.
The definition of the term ethnic minority and member of a national minority is described in Act No. 273/2001 Coll. In line with this Act, the Government Council for Ethnic Minorities was established as an advisory and initiative body for issues connected with ethnic minorities and their members and the protection of minority languages. The Council is also chaired by a member of the Government of the CR. There are 30 members of the Council, and they include the vice-ministers of finance, culture, education, labour, interior, justice, and foreign affairs and representatives of 14 ethnic minorities – Bulgarian, Croatian, Hungarian, German, Polish, Roma, Ruthenian, Russian, Greek, Slovak, Serbian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese and 2 Jewish and Vlax Roma communities.
Since 2002 the Council has annually submitted the ‘Report on the Situation of Ethnic Minorities in the CR’ to the government. It is based on reports from all the ministries involved, bodies of local and regional government, representatives of ethnic minorities in the Council, and other background information. Since 2002 the Report has changed mostly in connection with ratification of the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages in the CR. A greater proportion of the report is dedicated to applying ethnic-minority policy on the local and regional level – specifically, to the implementation of the Charter.
Ethnic minorities are supported mostly through subsidy programmes in the state budget (Ministry of Culture (MC), Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MEYS), and the Office of the Government of the CR) and is divided up thematically into the following programmes:
- support for the preservation, development, and presentation of the culture of ethnic minorities;
- support for the dissemination and spread of information in the languages of ethnic minorities;
- support for education in the languages of ethnic minorities and multicultural education;
- support for projects of integration of members of the Roma community.
The Office of the Government of the CR maintains the following support programmes:
- Implementation of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;
- Programme of Support for Field Work;
- Support for Coordinators of Roma Consultants in Regional Offices; and
- Programme for the Prevention of Social Exclusion and for Community Work.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports run three programmes in the field of education:
- Programme of Support for Education in Languages of Ethnic Minorities, Extra-curricular and Leisure Activities for Children and Youth;
- Development Programme in Support of Schools Implementing Inclusive Education; and
- Programme of Support for Projects for the Socially Disadvantaged and Ethnic Minorities in Post-secondary Education
The MC has three programmes:
- Programme of Support for Disseminating and Receiving Information in Languages of National Minorities – support for periodical press, radio and television broadcasting;
- Programme of Support for Cultural Activities of National Minority Members – support for artistic, cultural, and educational activities, research and analysis of national culture and folk traditions, documentation of national cultures, editorial activity, and multi-ethnic cultural events aiming to combat intolerance and xenophobia; and
- Programme of Support for Roma Community Integration – it focuses on creating equal conditions for members of the Roma community, especially support for social and cultural activities executed by Roma community organisations.
In addition to these three programmes, the MC provides state subsidies for the activities of ethnic minorities, for instance, as part of its programme Library of the 21st century, for libraries working with ethnic minorities, for the integration of foreigners, and for multi-ethnic activities in the field of culture, the aim of which is to promote cultural dialogue and shared knowledge of different cultures within the framework of other grant competitions.
The MC is also responsible for the Museum of Roma Culture in Brno. In 2023 the Museum will open the Centre for the Roma and the Sinti in Prague, which will showcase Roma history and intellectual and material culture and will thus also become a social and community centre, offering a range of educational and cultural activities for the wider public.
The creation of a specialised worksite of the Museum of Roma Culture is funded by the Norway Grants – Human Rights Programme, integration of the Roma, and domestic and gender-based violence. A partner in the project is the European Wergeland Centre in Oslo.
The EEA and Norway Grants have a long tradition in the Czech Republic of supporting human rights. Many of the programmes of the EEA and Norway Grants in the Czech Republic are aimed at improving the integration of the Roma in society and at combating racism and xenophobia (see also chapter 1.4.2.).
Another programme of the EEA and Norway Grants is the Culture Programme, which focuses on supporting the cultural expression of minorities in contemporary art and on the inclusion and the cultural heritage of minorities (including Roma and Jewish peoples). Thanks to the Culture Programme, direct support will be provided to a predefined project of the Museum of Roma Culture, namely the Building of a memorial to the Roma victims of the Holocaust in Lety nearPísek in the sum of 1.5 million EUR. This project will be implemented in 2021-2024, and in addition to the construction of the monument an educational programme will be set up, which will be prepared in cooperation with the Norwegian Falstad Centre.
Programmes in the field of culture and education also address other minorities such as the Jewish community. Projects by civic associations of these minorities are supported, as is the Jewish Museum in Prague. The Ministry of Culture also manages the organisation Terezín Memorial, which carries out research and educational activities on the Holocaust.
The Concept for the Integration of Foreigners was first adopted by the government in December 2000; the most recently updated version is for 2020. Integration means the process of including foreigners in society, a reciprocal process that necessarily involves foreigners themselves and also the majority society. The Concept from the start has envisioned the involvement of several ministries. Coordination of the Concept is in the hands of the Ministry of the Interior of the CR, which each year also submits to the government a Report on the Implementation of the Concept. The updated Concept is based on an analysis of the current situation and of problems identified in the field of the integration of foreigners, and it specifically outlines the goals of this policy.
The Concept’s implementation is guided by the government’s annually updated Method for the Implementation of the Current Concept for the Integration of Foreigners – in Mutual Respect (2020).
The Ministry of the Interior (MI) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the CR regularly update their joint website Foreigners in the CR (http://wwww.cizinci.cz), which also provides access to Information Publications for foreigners in 7 language versions. The website provides access to necessary documents and contacts for state administration and foreigners and it provides necessary information for following a uniform process for achieving the integration of foreigners in the CR.
The Czech Statistical Office elaborates and publishes statistical data on the number of foreigners in the CR, their regional distribution, classification according to sex, citizenship, age, type and purpose of stay in the CR, the asylum procedure for foreigners, their economic activity and other data. Statistics take into account only those foreigners residing legally in the CR.
The number of foreigners in the Czech Republic has been on the rise since 2008. The latest available data are for the year 2018. In 2018, there were 564 300 foreign nationals living in the Czech Republic, which represented 0.53% of the total population. For comparison, in 2013 there were 441 500 foreign nationals living in the CR. The majority of foreign nationals are third-country citizens. In 2018 citizens of the EU-28 states made up 41.2% of the total number of foreign nationals legally resident in the Czech Republic. The largest group of foreign nationals from a third country (and overall) continues to be Ukrainians (131 300), followed by Vietnamese (61 100), and citizens of the Russian Federation (38 000). The largest number of foreign nationals by citizenship among foreign nationals from EU countries are Slovaks (116 800), Germans (21 300), and Poles (21 300).
There are certain differences, however, in the geographical distribution of foreign nationals according to state citizenship. Prague remains the most attractive location for all foreign nationals. Ukrainian citizens are concentrated more in the Central Bohemian Region and the South Moravian Region. Vietnamese citizens are largely settled in Prague but also in the Czech-German border regions. Citizens of the Russian Federation tend to be drawn to the Central Bohemian, Southern Moravian, and Karlovy Vary Regions as well as Prague.
For the year 2008, the Arts and Theatre Institute, a state organisation, became the main organiser of the national project Together across Cultures. A national strategy for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue in the CR was established and a national project was organised on its basis. The project priorities were:
- promoting and highlighting issues connected with intercultural dialogue in an effort to change the thinking in Czech society and among minorities, communities, and immigrants with an emphasis on the school-based and out-of-school education of young people; and
- the integration of foreigners and the Roma community using cultural and artistic activities.
In 2008, as part of the national project Together across Cultures, the Portal of Intercultural Dialogue was established. The portal was meant to serve as the main communication channel for the year. It has been maintained to date and at present serves as an open platform mainly for NGOs and for NGO activity in the field of culture and education directed at intercultural dialogue, which contributes to fulfilling the objectives of migration and integration policy in the CR.
In July 2010 the Czech Republic ratified the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005) and in 2014 the Czech Republic submitted its first preliminary evaluative report. The Ministry of Culture is responsible for the implementation of the Convention. In connection with the Convention’s implementation an international meeting was organised in Prague in autumn 2013 that focused on the method and system of implementing the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The Czech Republic also annually contributes financially to the International Fund for Cultural Diversity.
For more on projects on intercultural education in the Czech Republic, see chapter 2.5.2.