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SUMMER 2000: v5i2 INDEX

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SUMMER, 2000: Volume 5 Issue 2

Progress Towards Civil Peace Service in Germany by Helga Tempel

Note: Helga Tempel and other Quakers of Germany Yearly Meeting were instrumental in creating the Civil Peace Service (see PTN v2i3 and PTNv4i3).

The last months have proved rather successful for our work: we have succeeded in getting our ZFD (Ziviler Friedensdienst—Civil Peace Service) program for the Southern Balkans approved by the Ministry for Development. This is the very first time that we will get public funding for practical work in a region of conflict and tension, and that we can send out our own Friedensfachkräfte (Peace Professionals) financially supported by an official program. Until now only the officially acknowledged development organizations had a chance for public support. There were quite a lot of bureaucratic hinderances to overcome, for in spite of the decision to build up a Civil Peace Service under governmental responsibility, there is no legal framework for this. So we had to apply for funding at one official institution and to cooperate with another organization in sending out our volunteers. Besides this the Foreign Ministry also had to agree to our program. The Southern Balkan Program is a project of seven different peace bureaus in the Balkan region, i.e., in Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania, that will be installed during the next 12 to 18 months in cooperation with some smaller peace initiatives already active in the area.

We sent out two Peace Professionals on behalf of the ZFD to Prizren/Kosovo on the first of February. Both of them have been trained in our training program which was extended to five months including a practical phase. There has been a lot of rumor and public discussion because one of the volunteers is a former member of the RAF, a terrorist organization active some twenty years ago. We insisted on our decision to offer the psychologist Silke M-W a new start for her life by including her in our training program, because we really felt she was the most convincing person we could send out to help people overcome violence—and at last the officials had to give in. We feel this conflict and its resolution was a peace building activity along the lines of Civil Peace Service.

Our two Peace Professionals have started to work in Prizren/Kosovo supporting local people who want to take the first steps to overcome violence and hatred. Both are also cooperating with the local bureau of CARE International. Silke is offering training for local moderators and facilitators and has built up contacts to the staff of a hospital in Prizren, while Piet, as a lawyer, is mainly engaged in human rights work. In spite of the difficult situation in the region, their reports are full of hope to be able to support the process for a sustainable peace.

The next Training Course began in March 2000. It will be jointly funded by the States of Northrhine-Westfalia and the Ministry for Development. During next weeks we hope to convince the Federal Government and the Ministry for Development that the whole Training Program should go on continuously so that organization and planning would become much easier. This Training Course has fourteen participants with four foreigners among them. It will last four months including a practical phase abroad in a project similar to the later area of work.

At last our project of offering training of local moderators in Herzegovina on behalf of the OSCE comes into reality. It will be funded by the Foreign Office—and we were offered the opportunity to ask for continuing funding this year. The Training Courses for OSCE personal will go on with a two days contribution of the ZFD on mediation and long-term reconciliation. We hope that following our arguments the ministry has understood that two weeks are not enough to prepare the personnel for its difficult task so that the courses will be extended to four weeks.

The whole budget of Germany for civil conflict transformation for the year 2000 has been enlarged to 30 million DM, which will be split between the Foreign Office (20 million DM) and the Ministry for Development (10 million added to the previously budgeted 7.5 million = 17.5 million DM). The last sum is meant specially for the Civil Peace Service run by the development organizations (who will get the bigger part) and the Peace Services like us. (Ed. note: $1USD=2.17DM)

This may sound as if the ZFD is to become a prosperous organization. The case is the contrary. We do not get any funding for our office and our daily work of the board which—as you can image—has been tremendous during the last months. We nevertheless had to find a new and bigger office to allow some more people to work for the ZFD—and we are now struggling to find the funding for the rent of the rooms and the staff.

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