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Photograph: Freeimages.com

A conference on the rights of ethnic minorities was organised in the northern Adriatic city of Pula on Friday as part of the European Union's SAMPLE project to improve the human rights and protection of ethnic minorities in Southeast Europe.

The project was launched in February 2015 and will close in February 2016. Its budget is 20,000 euros, of which 18,000 is co-financed by the EU.

The project has been aimed at strengthening the administrative capacity to ensure that members of the Italian minority in Pula can exercise their rights, project coordinator Tihomir Brcina said.

The deputy mayor of Pula and head of the local Italian community, Fabrizio Radin, said that the city had joined the project because it had recognised a chance to improve the practice in the exercise of minority rights.

The president of the Istria County Chamber of Commerce, Jasna Jaklin Majetic, noted that everyone was aware that multiculturalism was Istria's greatest asset. She said that the Istrian economy was very export-oriented, partly thanks to the fact that many of the local business people are members of different ethnic minorities.

The countries beneficiaries of this project are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

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