The first focus group meeting of project INTEGRA, promoting understanding between the communities of foreigners and local citizens of the cities of the European Union, was organized by ETP Slovakia in Košice on April 26th 2018. The aim was to discuss and share experience with TCN (third country nationals) integration, between the representatives of Košice Municipality, Košice Self-governing Region, Office of Labor, Social Affairs and Family of Košice, Archdiocesan Charity, IOM and UNHCR, the Psychosocial Center, University of P.J. Safarik, as well as a representative of foreign nationals, who found his new home in Košice many years ago. During this meeting, the Stakeholder Integration Group was also formed.
Representatives of organizations working directly with TCN have brought a number of inputs from the field work. The Municipality of Košice perceives the contribution of TCN mainly in filling gaps in the labor market where there is a lack of professionals such as chimney sweeper, lathe operator or other manual labour. In the recent years, the structure of TCN’s originating countries has changed, with more people now coming from Ukraine, Serbia and India. Discussion has also addressed the role of media in shaping the attitudes of local residents towards foreign nationals and the importance of smaller community neighborhood activities or events.
In June, a second meeting of the focus group will be held. ETP is planning to invite more foreign nationals, representatives of police, schools and employers. It is very useful to mutually share information about measures already taken to promote the integration of TCN in Košice, and identify areas for improvement. The aim is to conduct an audit of Košice Municipality focusing on this particular topic, which will facilitate elaboration of Košice Integration Agenda, which is currently lacking.
ETP Slovakia is the only Slovak NGO partner in project INTEGRA. There are five EU countries cooperating in the project: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia and Italy.