Albanians could switch on to integration (HOLD MID MAY)
A proposed Albanian television programme in Switzerland aims to integrate the country's 200,000 strong Kosovo-Albanian population better.
It is now hoping for government money and support, but the political right is not too happy about the move.
Albanians in Switzerland have had a lot of bad press recently, with newspaper articles reporting on violence, sexual attacks and clan-based conflicts.
"This is a one-sided and negative vision which only serves to unjustly feed criticism and racist proposals concerning the very great majority of the almost 200,000 people from Kosovo who have never had any justice problems," said Ueli Leuenberger, the Geneva Green party politician behind the television initiative.
Leuenberger, who has spent many years fighting for rights for Albanians in Switzerland, believes that giving the diaspora a special broadcast will help the situation.
A one-hour transmission in Albanian would be produced by the specially formed Migravision association and would be broadcast once a month via Radio Television Kosovo (RTK).
The Pristina-based RTK, which can be received in Switzerland, has already indicated its availability, but Leuenberger has had no concrete interest from Swiss channels.
The programme's content would focus on life in Switzerland as well as relevant issues for Albanian migrant families.
"We will deal with more varied problems than just those of the foreigner trying to adapt to customs and practices different from those in his country," said Leuenberger.
Planned subjects include school, training for young people, the role of the family, equality of the sexes and sexuality.
Nazmi Jakurti, a union official and co-founder of Migravision, said he believed the move was a good way of countering the bad press for his countrymen.
"I want to help integrate Albanians in Switzerland," Jakurti, who came to Switzerland in 1985, told the Zurich-based Tages-Anzeiger newspaper.
Leuenberger hopes that other foreign communities might also be tempted to follow his idea.
The Albanian programme needs an estimated SFr50,000-SFr70,000 ($40,000-$56,000) for six episodes.
The organisers are due to present the proposal to the Federal Migration Office and the Federal Foreigners Commission in the hope of securing financial back up.
The Swiss authorities allocate SFr14 million annually for integration projects for foreigners.
A spokesman for the Federal Migration Office told swissinfo there was interest in projects of this kind.
"We evaluate very carefully each proposal on integration, whether it's the fruit of a public or private initiative," said Dominique Boillat.
However, the rightwing Swiss People's Party – which is known for its anti-foreigner stance – has not welcomed the proposal.
Spokesman Roman Jäggi said the government should not finance such projects because "it's exclusively the duty of foreigners to adapt to the Swiss reality and to take on all the costs of this".
He does not agree with the programme only being in Albanian. "If you really want to talk about integration, such programmes should be made in a national language, otherwise they are of no use," he said.
One in ten Kosovans lives in Switzerland.
In Switzerland the 200,000-strong Kosovo community is the second-largest after the Italians.
300,000 people in Switzerland come from the former Yugoslavia.
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