Peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding between different cultural communities is a permanent Liechtenstein policy goal. On an international level, Liechtenstein is engaged at the UN, which reinforces the dialogue between countries, cultures and civilisations. The country is open to foreign labour and sets a high priority on integration. This intercultural dialogue refers to both domestic dialogue (with the migrant population) and international dialogue.
Dialogue in Liechtenstein
The Liechtenstein Art Museum took up the theme of migration in 2003. Works from the 1960s to the present, for example, were on display at the Liechtenstein Art Museum, addressing questions of cultural identity, homeland and exile, migration and otherness.
The dialogue in Liechtenstein has increased in recent years – not only in the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008. Liechtenstein is home to many small minorities from around 100 nations. Cultural diversity has gained more and more importance in recent years. This is reflected in publications, events and projects of research and cultural institutions. In addition, the “Horizon” project was established in 2015 to promote trust-based intercultural dialogue among migrants. Since 2020, the Association for Human Rights (VMR) and the Liechtenstein Refugee Aid Association have been running the project as the “Horizon Meeting Place”.
The Liechtenstein Institute organised a series of lectures on the topic of integration in 2011, prompted by the new integration concept “Liechtenstein – Strength through Diversity”. This was new territory for Liechtenstein. Integration was now a public matter. 2021, the Liechtenstein government then adopted an integration strategy.
According to the strategy, “integration” is a complex process, with the central element being a “common understanding of integration”. The success of integration does not only depend on the willingness, interest and tolerance of the newcomers, but also on the openness of society and its willingness to engage in dialogue. The explicit objective is to create a non-discriminatory society. Six fields of action have been identified:
- Newcomers are to be welcomed through information, communication and counselling.
- Communication is through the German language.
- Opportunities for all and non-discriminatory access to the labour market are to be ensured through education and training.
- Liechtenstein recognises the value of diversity and uses diversity as a strength, such as when it comes to “coexistence”. In society, a wide range of sporting, recreational and cultural activities is sought to strengthen the feeling of solidarity between the local population and newcomers. Continuous intercultural and interreligious dialogue is also one of the objectives.
- Political participation in social processes is supported.
- A key element of integration policy is the constitutional amendment of equal treatment for all people in Liechtenstein. Equal treatment discourages xenophobia, racism and discrimination.
International intercultural dialogue
The most important protagonist in the global context is foreign cultural policy (see 1.4). A number of cultural institutions have developed activities related to intercultural dialogue. Over the last ten years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also promoted dialogue with the Czech Republic in particular:
In December 2010, a Liechtenstein-Czech Commission of Historians with equal membership from both countries began its work, investigating the historical relations between the Czech Republic and its predecessor countries (Czechoslovakia, Austria-Hungary, Lands of the Bohemian Crown) and Liechtenstein. The findings of the Commission of Historians on the 700-year shared history of the House of Liechtenstein and the territories of today’s Czech Republic, as well as the relationship between the two countries in the 20th century, are now available in eight volumes.
The Principality of Liechtenstein and the Czech Republic – or rather the Princely House and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown – are closely linked historically. This link was broken in the 20th century. Since the expropriation of the House of Liechtenstein in Czechoslovakia under the Benes Decrees in 1946, the Moravian possessions of the Princely House have been the property of the Czechoslovak and later the Czech state. All political and judicial efforts by Prince Hans-Adam II to have the property (17 castles, 1,600 square kilometres of land, industrial enterprises) returned failed due to the resistance of the government in Prague. Only in 2009 did the two countries re-establish diplomatic relations.
In January 2014, the report of the Commission of Historians was published, and the foreign ministers of the two countries decided to promote mutual understanding with the help of lectures, exhibitions, and other media. They also agreed to intensify their political dialogue within the framework of European integration and international organisations such as the UN and the OSCE.
New priorities were set in 2016. Projects and activities were now targeting the general public. In 2018, for example, a Czech History Day was held in Liechtenstein, and Liechtenstein History Days in the Czech Republic in 2019. The two bilateral projects were funded through EEA and Norwegian grants (see 7.2.3).