Niels Grootjans Justino Losada Gómez
David Brunner, Camille Flückiger, Eliška Matějová, Anja Šmit, Petar Rankovic, Iris van Beers, Nora Varga Jaime Jover-Báez
Björn van Noord, David Parentes Golobardes, Felix Jeske, Gabriela Adina Moroșanu, Niels Grootjans, Jaka Yzma Ćosić, Sander van der Klei
Alistair Langmuir, Christoffer A. Lundegaard, Dirk Bruncken, Ivana Nedic, Mathias Cox, Wendy Wuyts
Denise Thomas, Katrine Schuster Hansen, Anja Ključevšek, Cosmin Mincu
Marija Dujic, Irene Gerritsen, Sanne Heijt, Anahita Innavong, Filip Jakovopic, Nora Hilbert, Marius Raebiger, Samantha van der Sluis
Dear EGEAns, participant of IDEAs and fellow geographers, This 13th issue of the European Geographer presents the outcomes of the Intercultural Dialogue – a European Adventure (IDEA) seminar, held in Zagreb from 10th – 16th July 2013. This magazine gives you the opportunity to read some of the most adventurous, frontier-spirited articles that geography has to offer. The articles came to life through participant observations and dialogue with locals and exemplifies EGEA’s motto: ‘Experience Geography, Explore Europe’. Six of these articles are written by international groups of young academics coming from all geographic disciplines who would rather spend their free time exploring in their hiking shoes, eating and drinking unidentifiable local treats and with no return ticket. During the week, each participant placed themself in the shoes of a key Croatian stakeholder
The EGEA Magazine is a publication of the European Geography Association for Geography students and young geographers. The EGEA Magazine is published at least once per year. The magazine is produced for the EGEA community, EGEA partners and everyone who is interested in geography, Europe, and EGEA.
tackling the topics of social integration, immigration, intercommunity dialogue, restoring trust, xenophobia, and youth participation. At the end of the week each group presented their findings to everyone by collaborating with or defeating them, with arguments of course, in a political simulation. So was this seminar original? As always, in retrospect, you have to conclude that ‘the Simpsons already did it’ (for the geeks: Coming to Homerica, season 20 episode 21). But still we did some things differently! Firstly, as a European community consisting of 18 nationalities, we made current and historically sensitive topics accessible for discussion. In fact, this is what EGEA is best at. Secondly, having one leg in the academic world and one leg in the field, we heard from Croatians and non-Croatians from all walks of life what it is like to live in Croatia and what they want to achieve. Third, the organising team consisted of no less than seven nationalities and organised the whole event from seven different countries. The aspect that was not so original, yet perhaps the most
Colette Caruana (Chief Editor), Rachel Abela (Chief Editor), Florin-Daniel Cioloboc, Uwe Kocar, Gabriela Adina Morosanu, Annika Palomäki, Noora Rämö, Avishai Roif, Matthew Stephens, Henna Tiainen. Marek Kapusta; edited by Tobias Michl Tobias Michl
EGEA Faculty of Geosciences - Utrecht University P.O.Box 80.115 NL-3508 TC Utrecht Telephone: +31-30-2539708 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org E-mail EGEA magazine: email@example.com Website: www.egea.eu
David Brunner, Dirk Bruncken, Jaka Yzma Ćosić, Mathias Cox, Marija Dujic, Camille Flückiger, Irene Gerritsen, David Parentes Golobardes, Niels Grootjans, Katrine Schuster Hansen, Sanne Heijt, Nora Hilbert, Anahita Innavong, Filip Jakovopic, Felix Jeske, Jaime Jover-Báez, Anja Ključevšek, Alistair Langmuir, Justino Losada Gómez, Christoffer A. Lundegaard, Eliška Matějová, Cosmin Mincu, Gabriela Adina Moroșanu, Ivana Neđić, Marius Räbiger, Petar Rankovic, Anja Šmit, Denise Thomas, Iris van Beers, Sander van der Klei, Samantha van der Sluis, Björn van Noord, Nora Varga, Wendy Wuyts. Photographer: Camille Flükiger Picture title: “Home, Colourful Home” Take in: Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2011.
important element: it was fun to do and a great occasion to spend time with friends! I suppose that is also what moved the EU to choose IDEA as the national winner of the Charlemagne Youth Award. On behalf of all participants and organisers, I would like to wholeheartedly thank the contribution of our local partners: Centre for Peace Studies (CMS), Association IKS, Nansen Dialogue Centre Osijek, The Parliamentary Committee on Human and National Minority Rights, Delphin, and the University of Zagreb for sharing their knowledge, facilities, and that they did not hesitate to throw us into the deep end during field excursions. I would like to thank every participant, organiser, and contributor for their fantastic work to make this event a success. I am convinced that I speak for all when I say that IDEA was a classic EGEA event that ought to be repeated. Are there any ambitious geographers out there? For now, enjoy reading the articles!
All authors are completely responsible for the content of their articles, their figures and the references made by them.
ESRI Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University The IDEA Seminar, to which this magazine is dedicated, was made possible through the support and collaboration of: The Association for promotion of IT, culture and coexistence (IKS) The Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) Delfin Nansen Dialogue Centre Osijek The Parliamentary Committee on Human and National Minority Rights The University of Zagreb The European Commission This publication reflects the views only of the author and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
with a pioneer in the intercultural dialogue between Croatian society and asylum seekers. Drawing upon his experience, the findings of the paper point towards the importance of intercultural dialogue and its hidden potential to become a solution for the growing problem of social tension. These originate from almost inexistent contact which lead to a lack of mutual understanding.
Keywords asylum policies, asylum seekers, Croatia, European Union, immigration, integration, media representation, volunteering, xenophobia
Since negotiations about entering the European Union started in 2005, Croatia has become attractive for asylum seekers. Although improvements in Croatian migration policy have been accomplished, the system still fails at several points. Additionally, a big challenge concerns the social acceptance of asylum seekers which is increasingly shaped by negative media representations. The article, written within the context of the IDEA (Intercultural Dialogue – a European Adventure) Seminar in Zagreb organised by EGEA, is based on an in-depth interview
“Dobar dan, that's how we greet in Croatia.” Prince Wale Soniyiki welcomed our group of students with these words in the Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) in Zagreb, Croatia. Prince Wale Soniyiki is a refugee from Nigeria and is one of the eighty eight asylum seekers who received asylum in Croatia. He was born in 1985 in a Christian royal family in Jos, from where he had to run away when a conflict started between Muslims and Christians. After some time of tramping through Nigeria and Niger, he arrived in Libya. In this country, affected by a civil war, he lost all his legal documents. While other migrants remained stuck in Libya, he was lucky enough to still have enough money to buy a boat fare to Italy. However, the trip did not go as expected and the boat landed in Split, Croatia. Once arriving on the European continent he paid a taxi driver to bring him to the Italian border. Upon arriving on the Croatian-Bosnian border, the Prince was told he had reached Italy. The policeman at the border brought him to reality: “This is not Europe, you cannot seek asylum here.” Deceived by the smuggler, the Prince was not at the entrance door of Europe but rather in the antechamber of the European Union (EU). For years Croatia was a country of transition, considering its strategic position between Greece and Italy. With its entry in the EU on the first of July 2013, the situation will slightly change and Croatia will have to face several new challenges. As new member of the EU it has committed itself to align its practices in the field of asylum to the European laws and
international humanitarian norms (Šabić S. et al., 2011). Croatia is a country with a highly homogenous population. The Census of the year 2012 revels that 89.6 % of the population is Croat, 4.5 % Serb, 0.5 % Bosnian, 1.8 % are nondeclared and the remaining 3.6 % are another ethnicity (DZS, 2012). This rather locally influenced composition of the population is due to the historical context of the region. Croatia and other countries in the western Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro) were affected by war in the nineties. These wars caused the displacement of more than three million people inside and outside of countries of the western Balkans (Kemp W., 2011). This is Croatia’s major experience with refugees. Mr Wilfried Buchhorn (the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Representative in Croatia) stated that at the beginning of the 21st century no one saw Croatia as a country in which to ask for asylum. When Croatia began with the process of entering the EU, the country itself became more attractive for refugees (UNHCR, 2010). Since negotiations with the EU started in 2005, some improvements in the migration policy have been accomplished but Croatia still has a long way to go so as to reach EU standards (Zdravković L., 2011). The Croatian Law on Asylum defines asylum seekers as “an alien [(either a person who has no Croatian nationality or a stateless person)] who has applied for asylum, regarding which a final decision has not yet been made” (Ministry of the Interior, 2010). According to the same law, asylum seekers have a right to stay in the country, to be ensured adequate material living conditions and accommodation, to health care, to elementary and secondary education, to free legal aid, to social welfare, to freedom of religion and religious education of children and a right to work (Zakon o azilu, 2010). However, the Croatian system has some imperfections due to a lack of money. That is also a reason why asylum seekers in the Asylum Seekers’ Reception Centres (ASRC) are not eligible to financial support (Zdravković L., 2011, p. 6). Financial means for the Reception Centre are provided by the Ministry of Interior. The Croatian government
supplies asylum seekers with their basic needs, food and accommodation, the rest is supported by national and international NGOs like the Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) and the UNHCR (Zdravković L., 2011). The main purpose of these NGOs is to provide asylum seekers opportunities for integration. The CMS, one of these NGOs, is an organisation locally based in Zagreb with different sections. In the concrete case of asylum seekers the organisation aims at directly supporting asylum seekers with different kind of services, while informing the Croatian society about the current asylum situation and lobbying. Some other NGOs working in this field are the International Organisation for Migration and the Croatian Law Centre which provides asylum seekers free legal aid (Zdravković L., 2011). The work of these NGOs is an essential part of the “asylum case” and, as will be shown further in this article, a key element for a successful asylum procedure and then for a sustainable integration. The Prince stands just between the immature asylum system and the work of NGOs, between the still conservative Croatian society and the asylum seekers arriving from all over the world. He is a bridge that links the tow or is willing to be, and therefore a very interesting case to focus on for those who would like to know more about the immigration policies of Croatia and the actual situation in the country. The organisers of the IDEA Seminar made first contact with the Centre for Peace Studies and asked them to facilitate an excursion for some of the participants of the seminar. The IDEA seminar aimed to instigate intercultural dialogue between the
participants from different countries in Europe with Croatian society. The seminar consisted of different components: fun games to get to know each other’s culture, ambitions and expectations; lectures and a practical introduction to the topic from the different stakeholders involved (CMS was one of those). The output is illustrated in this paper, written by an international group of students.
Croatia, by a group of international students of Geography. The focus was set on the integration of asylum seekers into Croatian society. Furthermore, it broached topics like the personal path of asylum seekers, their daily life and their opportunities to integrate into local society. Some questions were related to the functioning of the centres for asylum seekers and the engagement of the Centre for Peace Studies. A topic list was prepared in advance and served as a guideline for the interview, although it was a very open discussion and ended up being more of a semi-structured interview. Thanks to the Prince’s network there was also the possibility to meet other asylum seekers who will be mentioned in this article as well. These rather informal talks took place in front of the asylum centre of Dugave in Zagreb which is closed for all external visitors.
The article first defines the chosen methodology and presents the time and spatial context of our work. The main part contains the results of the fieldwork, analyses it from different angles and is structured as follows: presentation of the Croatian asylum system, historical context based on a comparison between the current situation and that during the Balkan war, integration of asylum seekers and finally, a perspective on the future of asylum seekers. The Prince’s story, his experiences and thoughts are embedded in every part and serve as a thread throughout the whole article. The titles of most of the subchapters are his own words. The article concludes by summarising the main results of our research and pointing out the importance of intercultural dialogue.
The personal story of the Prince is embedded in a more theoretical framework based on literature research and review, as well as media analysis. For the examination of the Croatian asylum system it is essential to have a closer look at the international asylum regime which nowadays is characterised by a strong restrictive approach in the developed countries, due to a range of wrong perceptions (Koser, 2001). A common feature of the restrictive policies is that they are largely ineffective in the long run and nowadays there seems to be consensus regarding their unsustainability as well. Evidence shows that restrictions have not reached their original aim of reducing the number of asylum seekers, because, due to the easier and cheaper travel and communication opportunities, more and more people have become able to move. In addition, unintended consequences, such as the growth of human smuggling and trafficking, have been increasing worldwide, adding further negative effects. Although there are several problems to be resolved, serious questions can be raised about the political will to find more innovative approaches over the imposition of still further restrictions (Koser, 2001).
This research is based on an in-depth interview with a pioneer in intercultural dialogue between Croatian society and asylum seekers (Figure 1). Prince Wale Soniyiki is a volunteer at the Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) who is actively involved in the process of improving the quality of life of refugees. The interview was held on the 12th of July 2013 in the headquarters of the Centre for Peace Studies in Zagreb,
When the Croatian police arrested the Prince at the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, they sent him to the Asylum Seekers Reception Centre in Kutina. In total, he spent six months in this centre, waiting for his request to be accepted. During the first two weeks he was confined to a room specially arranged for new arrivals, where he was medically checked and where his
personal information and fingerprints were recorded in the register for asylum seekers. The next months he had to stay at the Centre in Kutina which was overflowing with asylum seekers. Nowadays the centres for asylum seekers are still too small in capacity and have very low standards of accommodation, providing only the very basic needs to asylum seekers. In order to acquire his permit, the Prince had to go through many interviews. During these, he told the whole story of his life and his reason for having left Nigeria to the asylum authorities. Contrary to other asylum seekers, who are afraid or simply not used to being confident enough to tell the truth, he was able to talk about his experiences and he could convince the official bodies that he is really in need of asylum in Croatia. Although the Prince’s request has been accepted, the procedure he had to go through clearly shows the difficulties and negative treatment that asylum seekers have to face after their arrival in the country. Such an attitude from the part of authorities may lead to the conclusion that the Croatian asylum system draws on the restrictive international examples that aim the prevention of arrivals by making the country less attractive (Koser, 2001). At the moment, Croatia officially differentiates between three different types of support for immigrants who flee from countries because of political or religious problems. The first one is asylum, which means that a foreigner gets a permanent permit to live and work in Croatia. A second type is the subsidiary protection of refugees who are not able to get asylum, but who are also not able to go back to their countries of origin because they are in danger of serious harm. The third way is the temporary protection of refugees in the case that there are too many of them and the capacity for asylum is not large enough (EIGE, 2013). At this point we have to note that the capacity is also determined by the state, therefore, the establishment of such categories and limits serves as further proof of a restrictive, unwelcoming attitude. The Croatian asylum policy is organised by the Ministry of the Interior, the Governmental Office for Human Rights, international organisations like the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) and the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) as well as by some Croatian NGOs, like CMS, the Croatian Red Cross and the Croatian Law Centre. NGOs like CMS play an important role in the complex matter of asylum. While the Ministry of Interior is responsible for providing the basic needs such as accommodation (the
main centres are located in Kutina or in the periphery of Zagreb, Figure 2) and fair treatment of asylum seekers. NGOs provide them with further services, like language courses or legal advice. Furthermore NGOs do their best to tackle serious problems like Xenophobia and stereotypes with regards to refugees, as well as trying to influence politicians to modify the asylum policy. There are also cases in which no official body feels responsible for refugees and sometimes there is just a lack of coordination. If this happens the CMS helps the asylum seekers with the administrative procedure. Another important point for the CMS is to bring the whole topic about asylum to Croatian people through mass media portals. In 2004 the CMS launched a big research project with the name “Asylum in Croatia”. As a result of this an open discussion about this topic started. It is interesting to point out, that it is not a priority of the government, thus the project has to be carried out by a NGO. One could deplore that the government is not working on raising the awareness of Croatian society regarding asylum seekers and is not working on a national campaign to tackle prejudices (Centre for Peace Studies, 2010). Considering the experiences of traditional receiving countries about the effectiveness of such a nonresponsible attitude in the long run, questions may be raised as to whether the Croatian government is on the right track. What seems to be evident is that
the Croatian policy on asylum shows similarities to international trends in terms of restrictions, despite the fact that its system is not fully developed yet. Croatia does not seem to be a warm welcome country for asylum seekers. One of the Prince’s good friends, who is still waiting for a residence permission, stated the following: “Croats are not acting truthfully in my opinion; when they were at war some of them were refugees themselves. Now they have got a chance to help people that are in the similar situation as they have been but all they are doing is the contrary, there’s no a tolerance and little help.” This experience has similarities with the theory of “violence breeds violence” (Silver et al, 1969, p. 152). This approach reflects that a child who, for example, has been beaten in its childhood has a greater chance of becoming an abusive parent themselves. What is striven to be explained is that behaviours we learn as children could be integrated into personal development; therefore those behaviours could be imitated in the long term. That is what could occur nowadays in Croatia, according to the Prince’s friend, but also according to some scholars. Šelo Šabić et al. (2011, p. 1), in a policy brief of the Institute for Development and International Relations (IMRO), pointed out: “Most importantly, twenty years ago Croatian citizens were forced to leave their homes due to the war and hundreds of thousands were offered refuge in
Europe and elsewhere in the world. Croatia, thus, also has a moral duty to help those in need just as it was helped before”. In the following section analyses how, given their recent past, it comes to be that Croatian society in general reacts in such a contradictory manner regarding the flow of asylum seekers.The attitude of Croatia towards these refugees can be divided into two scopes: the policy of the government on the one hand, and the general acceptance and tolerance of the Croatian society on the other. The policy of the government may be described as sharp: in 2006 only one out of 750 potential asylums was given residence (Zuparic-Iljic, 2006, p. 1). The attitude of the Croatian society towards asylums seekers, whether it is admitted or not, is more complex. According to Zuparic-Iljic (2006), after a small research carried out in Kutina, the Croatians are roughly divided in three groups: tolerant, neutral and non-tolerant. The main reason of acceptance for “tolerant” people is the fact that Croatia was at war only 20 years ago and at that time a lot of Croatians were in need of asylum in other countries. Now they would be presumed to be glad to pay that “historical debt” they have contracted by giving residence to others who need it. On the contrary, the cause of “nontolerant” Croatians is underpinned by a self-protecting argument: the country has its own issues, such as unemployment, and nationals deserve to have a privileged position in the solution. The attitude described is the more repeated one in the opinion of the asylum seekers interviewed during the research in Zagreb. Media has a key influence in these matters (de Haas, 2008). Not only in Croatia can this be viewed, but also all over Europe terms such as “flood of immigrants” or “plague from Africa” are being constantly used in different papers and magazines. As it will be mentioned further in this article, the Croatian media and its influence on Internet forums are not precisely objective. This reflects on the attitude of Croatians and stimulates them to keep thinking the same way. Šelo Šabić et al. (2011) argue
that the Croatian society should be more open-minded to asylum seekers and know their position better in order to understand the problem in its whole complexity. This could be achieved through the cooperation of the government, NGOs, and a more positive and objective approach of the media. Those instruments together should be able to tackle the xenophobia in Croatia. The “violence breeds violence” theory does not completely fit on this situation. The main argument seems to be that Croatians have suffered “enough”. Furthermore, media has a deep influence on the general attitude towards asylum seekers. A change in the attitude of media could play a role in increasing toleration of “others” in Croatia.
Migration into countries of the EU, especially from third world countries, has been in constant growth over the last years. In the concrete case of Croatia, the number of asylum applications submitted has been increasing significantly between 2008 and 2012. Only 160 persons sought asylum in 2008 while they were 1,190 in 2012 (UNHCR, 2011). The most represented countries of origin between the years of 2004 and 2011 were Afghanistan, Serbia (including. Kosovo) and Pakistan (Table 1) (UNHCR, 2012). This constantly growing foreign population brings several new challenges and can lead to conflicts with the local population. In this context, integration is one of the keys for a smooth transition to living together and for accepting “the other”. Integration is a two-way process where both immigrants and local community need to cooperate. On the Croatian side, the Croatian Law on Asylum entitles asylum seekers to several benefits and rights. One of them is precisely to offer assistance in integration to society (Šabić S. et al., 2011). So as to become fully integrated, immigrants should
first be able to understand and speak the language of their new country. In Croatia these language courses are organised by CMS and given by volunteers (Šabić S. et al., 2011). During the procedure to get asylum, which lasted almost six month, the Prince attended these language classes and started learning the Croatian language. He now speaks Croatian fluently and is teaching it to other asylum seekers. Another important part of integration comes about through work. Concerning this one, EU member states have the responsibility to provide opportunities of education and employment to migrants (European Commission, 2011). One of the main problems is that most of the asylum seekers have lost or do not have access to their certificates or school reports. They have no documentation that would prove their level of education. In the lucky case of those who do have them, it often happens that these documents are not recognised by officials. Therefore, vocational training offered by the government is an essential part for successful integration. According to the Prince’s tale, the Croatian government fails in this field; there is no proper support or opportunities for asylum seekers once they get the right to stay in Croatia. The situation is not better during the procedure itself. There is no special program for asylum seekers and most of them spend their days waiting for an answer to their request. On the other hand, for the immigrants themselves integration happens in the sense that they should accept to change some of their habits so as to fit into the local community. For example, since he arrived in Croatia the Prince has started to drink coffee and to be on time when he has an appointment. Another challenge in the field of integration is that, as evoked in the introduction, Croatia is a very homogeneous country with 89.6 % of its inhabitants being Croats. The religious structure is homogeneous as well as 88.0 % of Croatian inhabitants are Catholics (DZS, 2012, p.7). Due to a lack of awareness and a fear of the unknown, it is very likely that Croatians will not accept new people
coming to their country, especially people that have different culture and look different from them. In some cases, even xenophobia (Figure 3) can appear, because locals do not get to know the asylum seekers and that is a reason why they are afraid of them. According to the Prince's words, most of the Croats are fine by them, while around a fifth of the population acts in a racist manner. Every day they have to live with people staring at them and sometimes they even have terrible experiences. The Prince experienced some of these during his time in Kutina. One day he went to a café with several friends, among them other asylum seekers and Croatians. They all ordered drinks, but the employee only served the Croatians and Serbs and refused to bring drinks to all asylum seekers as her boss threatened to fire her if she would serve them. This example comes along with the opinions reflected in media. Some forums host lively discussions about the case of asylum seekers and most of the comments are negative. Asylum seekers are called “vermin” and many forum users describe them as criminals, killers and cannibals (Stormfront, 2013). Many discussions broach the sensitive subject of the location of centres for asylum seekers. People state that they do not want them in their neighbourhood and that they would prefer if immigrants were accommodated outside of cities, in forests for example. These opinions are mainly influenced by the way newspapers and other media report on immigrants. They have the power to choose the point of view, the transmitted information and above all
the title of the article or newsflash. For example “Jutarnji List”, one of the main Croatian newspapers, published an article about a Somali asylum seeker who robbed a man of his money (Jutarnji List, 2013). However the title did not mention the nationality of the victim, who was an asylum seeker too. This biased information leads to misunderstandings and is one of the reasons why an important part of the Croatian society has a negative image of asylum seekers. This mostly negative opinion of Croatians on asylum seekers coupled with a lack of opportunities for integration provided by the government makes the current situation of asylum seekers in Croatia very challenging. If Croatia wants to reach a sustainable situation for both Croatian society and asylum seekers, it should put more effort into the integration of asylum seekers and later on of those given asylum. What is the purpose of giving asylum to somebody who does not feel integrated enough to stay in this country and to build something there?
The theory of “violence breeds violence”, explained earlier on, could be used in the opposite way and state that somebody who was blessed by somebody else, may most probably want to give something back. This is exactly the case of the Prince. During the procedure to seek asylum, the Prince benefitted from the support provided by the CMS. Through the engagement of their volunteers, he started learning Croatian which
completely changed his daily life as it filled up his days with another occupation besides waiting for an answer. However, this is not the only impact that the visits of the volunteers had on him. Unlike the employees of the Reception Centre, the volunteers were able to gain the asylum seekers’ confidence. Prince Wale Soniyiki told us that “the volunteers are positive” and that “when they come, all [asylum seekers] shave and want to look nice”. This positive experience and enthusiasm about the work of the volunteers (“they talk with us and take their time, they are different”) made him want to do the same, to “be in the system”. In case he would get asylum, of course. So when, a few months later, he got a positive answer to his request, he did not hesitate a single second and started volunteering for CMS. Besides teaching English and Croatian to asylum seekers, he talks a lot with them and provides them with useful advice. Due to the fact that he went through the same process and knows what difficulties they are facing, he is able to give them appropriate information and tips. This is his way of making changes and of making use of his own experience. The Prince’s voluntary work at the Centre for Peace Studies comes along with another engagement to raise awareness among Croatian society. Currently he is giving presentations at schools or in churches where he tells people who the asylum seekers are, what they have endured and how their situation in Croatia is. He likes to combine these presentations with an initiation to African culture and traditions and, for example, perform percussions’ shows in front of scholars. On the way to Hotel Porin where asylum seekers are accommodated in Zagreb (Figure 4), while the Prince and our group were walking through a nice and quiet neighbourhood, he mentioned a roundtable session organised a few weeks earlier to discuss the situation of asylum seekers. He did some promotion about it in the neighbourhood and invited all neighbours to join it. Several officials were invited as well. Unfortunately only a few locals came and the Prince perceived it as a negative sign, as a lack of interest. This disappointing experience reinforces his wish to work hard to raise awareness among the local society and encourages him. His biggest wish, or rather dream for the future, is to open a centre for African culture or something else, like a restaurant or shop, related to Africa. He would like the centre to be a place where asylum seekers, immigrants and Croatians could meet. The centre would gather books, music and other
materials connected to Africa. The major obstacle to this project is the lack of start-up capital. The Prince has no provisions and the asylum seekers’ case is not an urgent topic for the government who would most probably not see the need of having such a place. For these reasons this project has to stay in a standby state for the moment. It is not only his dream of having a place dedicated to Africa that is unrealisable, but the Prince’s general future is also unstable. Since his certificates got lost and he has no other possibility to certify his educational background, many doors remain closed. He told us that he “has no hope of finding a job” nor of having the possibility to get schooling, as the Croatian government does not care about the future of asylum seekers. Despite this rather hopeless situation, the Prince wants to stay in Croatia and sees his future in this country. Nevertheless he would suggest other asylum seekers to move to other countries as, according to him, the Croatian society is not ready yet to welcome a massive foreign population.
Due to its integration into the European Union, Croatia has been experiencing a sharp increase in immigration from developing countries over the last years, and this is causing significant tension in the host society. After our research and the in depth interview with the Prince, a pioneer asylum seeker and volunteer at the Centre of Peace Studies, our article has attempted to give an overview of the situation and future prospects of asylum seekers in
the newest member state of the EU. Our findings can be concluded as follows: Arriving in Croatia and waiting for recognition of status are mainly described as negative experiences by asylum seekers. Evidences suggest that the state is practicing a restrictive approach in terms of asylum policy and shows a clear lack of responsibility towards the integration of newcomers. Nevertheless, the consequences of similar international examples are pointing towards the need of a change in attitude and a focus on a more sustainable solution. The growing number of incoming asylum seekers calls for a complex integration policy to facilitate a peaceful co-existence in the long run. Integration is a complicated and long process, which requires contribution from both the receiving country and newcomers. Clearly, the government has a great responsibility on behalf of the hosting country. With the allocation of financial resources and initiating a stronger cooperation with NGOs, detailed educational programs should be developed so as to increase opportunities for asylum seekers in the labour market and for everyday interaction with the local population. The role of education is easily understandable - without qualification and ability to speak the local language it is hardly possible that one will create plans and visions for the future in the respective country, therefore successful integration will not happen either. Despite the fact that some initiatives have been taken on a smaller scale, Croatia still lacks such intentions on the policy level.
Additionally, tackling xenophobia requires special attention as well. The strong influence of the media on society suggests that a changing and more positive representation of asylum seekers is essential in order to increase tolerance and acceptance in the homogeneous and mainly closed Croatian society. On the other hand, the willingness to integrate from the side of asylum seekers is of the same importance. As the case study shows, adaptation to completely new surroundings after fleeing persecution is a very difficult step to make. Thus, the importance of volunteers who can facilitate this process by building a bridge is invaluable. The Prince’s example shows that a positive and active attitude of volunteers towards mutual understanding is essential in improving the situation. Nevertheless, the scale of its potential benefits is largely limited due to a lack of sufficient assistance from the side of decision makers. The main finding of our research is that appreciating and supporting intercultural dialogue might serve as a solution for the growing problem of the social tension, originating in a lack of mutual understanding. To develop such an attitude, it seems that the newest member of the European Union needs to take a step further towards the recognition of the people fleeing their homes, just as happened to them only twenty years ago. Although experience shows that history is repeating itself, we should also remember that the opportunity of shaping the future is always in our hands.
We would like to warmly thank Prince Wale Soniyiki for having taken his time to tell us his story and to answer our questions. Thank you, Prince, for having opened our eyes while you opened your heart. We hope that the article will spread your message and that you will continue to successfully link Croatians with asylum seekers.
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[Accessed 11 August 2013]. Ministry of the Interior, 2004. Ordinance on the accommodation of asylum seekers, asylees and aliens under temporary protection. Online access at: http://www.legislationline.org/docume nts/action/popup/id/7934 [Accessed 14 July 2013]. Pavičevič, M., 2012. Hrvatska azilantima ne vjeruje. Online access at: http://www.novossti.com/2012/06/hrvat ska-azilantima-ne-vjeruje/ [Accessed 14 July 2013]. Šabić, S. Čvrljak, S. and Baričevic V., 2011. Welcome? Challenges of integrating asylum migrants in Croatia. Institute for International Relations. Silver, Larry B., Christina C. Dublin and Reginald S. Lourie, 1969. Does Violence Breed Violence? Contributions from a study of the Child Abuse Syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 126 (3), pp. 152-155. Stormfront, 2013. Centar za azilante u Dugavama i gamad koja ih je dovela ovdje. Online access: http://www.stormfront.org/forum/t963 818-3/ [Accessed 15 July 2013]. UNHCR, 2008. UNHCR and Croatian Red Cross sign agreement to assist returning refugees and asylum seekers in Croatia. Online access at: http://www.unhcr.hr/eng/news/unhcrand-croatian-red-cross-signagreement-to-assist-returningrefugees-and-asylum-seekers-incroatia.html [Accessed 14 July 2013]. UNHCR, 2010. Roundtable on integration. Online access: http://www.unhcr.hr/eng/pressreleases/roundtable-onintegration.html [Accessed 14 July 2013]. UNHCR, 2011. Statistical Yearbook 2011. Online access at: http://www.unhcr.org/51628f589.html [Accessed 28 July 2013]. Zakon Hr, 2010. Zakon o azilu. Online access at: http://www.zakon.hr/z/314/Zakon-oazilu [Accessed 14 July 2013]. Zdravković, L., 2011. Country report: Croatia. Online access at: http://www.google.si/url?sa=t&rct=j&q= &esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CC8Q FjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.csd.bg% 2FfileSrc.php%3Fid%3D20752&ei=OWsBU tWDMzZ4QT1_YGoCw&usg=AFQjCNFHSTS YlkQaTIFZtwErPeLaGBMMtQ&sig2=ERQy kkFMN9UFf45U8_XjbQ&bvm=bv.5031082 4,d.bGE [Accessed 14 July 2013].
Zuparic-Iljic, D., 2007. Discourses on Asylum Issues and Strategies of Governmentality over Asylum Seekers in Croatia. Master Thesis Central European University. Hungary. Gregorović, M., 2011. A Human rights based evaluation of the Croatian asylum system in the context of Europeanisation. Online access at: http://hrcak.srce.hr/94670?lang=en [Accessed 14 July 2013].
evolution of the relations between different ethnicity representatives living in Petrinja. The article ends with an evaluation of the economic and social potential of the city, and with alternative solutions to the problems, that involve the local authorities.
This article presents the actual ethnic structure in Petrinja and the challenges that are faced by organisations trying to enhance intercultural dialogue on a local level. We chose Petrinja because of its bipolar ethnic structure in which the Croats and Serbs represent the largest part of the population (Čačić-Kumpes & Nejašmić, 1999), and due to the presence of Udruga IKS (Figure 1) in the community.
Keywords Intercultural dialogue, Udruga IKS, unemployment, social relations, ethnic structure, ethnicity, homeland war
In an attempt to research the attitudes towards intercultural dialogue in Petrinja City, we investigated statistical data on the ethnical and language structure of the population, and also analysed the unemployment rate, social relations and the effects of the war on the general economic and ethnic state of the region. Besides a formal visit to the “Udruga IKS” association, our specific contribution consisted of interviewing a number of inhabitants of different ages about how they perceive the
Udruga IKS was founded in 2003 by a small group of locals from the town of Petrinja. Back in 2003, the initiators started the organisation as a way to breathe new life into the local community, which is part of one of Croatia’s most economically disadvantaged regions (Udruga IKS official website, 2013). The organisation wishes to develop the local community by strengthening civil society, promoting information technology and
the socio-economic empowerment of marginalised citizens, thus aiming to become a leading organisation in the region in the field of non-formal education and democratic development. Over the past 10 years the organisation has become an important factor in local civil society. Most projects are focused on the local level, but Udruga IKS is also involved in many national and international networks. In 2011 the organisation became an accredited EVS (European Voluntary Service) organisation which provided the opportunity to bring more people from different cultural backgrounds into the local community. It is important to highlight that creating intercultural dialogues and mixing local minorities are not among the main targets of the organisation, but the projects undertaken by Udruga IKS play an important role in these processes as well. Some of the major projects in 2012 included plans to increase the employability of unemployed women, opening volunteer centres, organising an international youth summer camp in Petrinja, raising awareness of Human Rights in local high schools and supporting in the information, consultation and training of other local communities and organisations of civil society (Udruga IKS official website, 2013).
Petrinja City is located approximately 60 km south-east from Zagreb, Croatia, in a geographical area dominated by the Kupa Valley and Zrinska Gora Mountain. It is the largest urban centre in the Sisak-Moslavina County and together with the city of Sisak, it belongs to the historical region of Banovina. Archive records (Lipovac, 2005) mention Petrinja as an important urban centre which began its existence in the XIIIth century, when its citizens enjoyed privileges and a period of wealth in the time of Koloman, the Duke of Slavonia. Despite its quiet past, nowadays the municipality of Petrinja is considered to be an area with special needs, representing a cause of concern for the Croatian economy and democracy, because of the consequences of the war (1991-1995). Petrinja proved to be interesting for our research due to its bipolar ethnic structure, in which Croats and Serbs constitute the majority of the population (89%), but also due to the fact that in the period between 1945 and 1998, its demographic structure underwent radical changes, the most notable of all being the reduction of Serbian representative from almost 40% in the early 90s, to less than 15% in the present. These transformations in the demographic structure, with a particular focus on the ethnic and religious elements, helped set the stage for newer approaches and also allowed an interdisciplinary approach of the city, namely through the study of intercultural dialogue.
need for reconstruction programs aiming to improve its economy. The economic potential of the city has dramatically changed since 2001, when there were still opportunities to work and 34% of women were economically active, whereas almost 9% of residents were daily migrants (engaged in occupation), Furthermore, youths represent a third of the entire population of the city and almost 8% were pupils (1,190) studying in other cities. Unfortunately, the most recent census highlights a total of 12,744 unemployed residents in Petrinja, out of the 16,210 people constituting the working-age population. Furthermore, the population can be classified according to cathegories of income, as in the 2001 Census (Figure 2). Thus, Petrinja is a case where traces of the civil conflicts from the early 90s are
The Population of Petrinja is 15,683 inhabitants in the city itself and 24,786 inhabitants in total, when including all the surrounding dependent rural centres (Annual Census of Croatia, 2011). The main problems faced by the population living in Petrinja, are the difficulty of the municipality in providing suitable and sufficient employment for the population and the limited chances for young people to obtain a proper education and job support. A detailed picture of the structure of the population shows a significant diversity of ethnic groups, out of which the Croatians and the Serbians are the largest ones, but there is little concern when it comes to the logistical and financial support of this ethnical diversity of the city. Regarding the country development, all reports (Lipovac, 2005 & Čačić-Kumpes et al., 1999) emphasise the city’s isolation and
still visible and reflected in the economic situation, the mentality of the people and the politicaladministrative organisation in general (Stiperski & Braičić, 2009). Recent history has witnessed the Serb aggression against Croatia during which people were exiled from Petrinja between September 1991 and May 1995 (Čačić-Kumpes & Nejašmić, 1999). The town itself has suffered extensive devastation after 1991. In terms of cultural identity, and in particular the Croatian cultural identity, many monuments have been built in memory of Croat war heroes and victims of the war. Additionally, many places in Petrinja are still scarred by the war and were not renovated or used again to sustain the needs of its inhabitants (Figure 3). The demographic picture from the last
people's expectations in terms of job value. For example, in the census of 2001, there were fewer college graduates (907), only 29 master degree graduates and just 12 doctoral students compared to 928 unschooled children older than 15 years, which demonstrates that the population of Petrinja does not benefit from the best educational conditions.
Because of time limitation, the goal of the research, and the opportunity to visit the town of Petrinja, we chose to conduct qualitative research. Qualitative research in human geography is mainly used to go deeper into a subject and collect information from the population and human or social factors. Interviews were conducted on the streets of Petrinja. The interviews took place during the day of July 13th 2013 at several locations (Figure 6). The weather was sunny and dry, usual for this area at this time of the year. The interviews were conducting between 12:00 and 14:00 and between 15:30 and 16:30. We attempted to take as diverse a sample of respondents, taking into account the balance of different ages and genders. Jaka Ćosić (EGEA Zagreb) served as a translator when needed, especially with older generations. We used open questions which we formulated after a quick individual brainstorming session of 20 minutes. During the actual interviews the order in which the questions were asked was occasionally varied, depending on the way the conversation was developing.
three censuses reveals a fluctuation in the number of residents in Petrinja from 35,151 inhabitants in 1991, to 23,413 in 2001 and 24,671 inhabitants in 2011, with a general decrease in the years immediately after the war and a slightly increase in the last 10 years. Migration flows have not yet stabilised and the last two population censuses clearly highlight the consequences left by the war and post-war aggressions and development on the ethnic structure of Petrinja (Čačić-Kumpes & Nejašmić, 1999). The residents’ statements regarding native language, ethnicity (Figure 4) and religion (Figure 5) are conclusive in terms of cultural identity and its expression in diversity. Thus, it can be understood that, although 12% of the city population is of Serb origin, only 6.53% of them acknowledged Serbian as their mother language to express their culture, the
others declaring Croatian-Serbian as their mother tongue (a category that is not officially recognised) or even the Croatian language, which is a sign of an intercultural approach. All of this leads us to believe that the first steps toward integration have already been taken, although ethnically speaking, ethnic memory, expressed by the native language, is still alive and it is an exponent of the cultural diversity. The gender structure is also very interesting, revealing a predominance of women among minorities, especially the Serb one. It proves on the one hand, the different life expectancy between genders, and, on the other hand another consequence of the war: that of being responsible for the decimation of a large section of the male population. The population structure according to the level of education also defines
We started by asking the residents’ opinions about the town and the region and their current mobility. Next, we asked questions about the main problems that people have to face in their area and the main reasons why these problems occur. Afterwards, we asked them about their social relations in their neighbourhood and their sense of community. Moreover, we asked what they think about Udruga IKS and its contribution to the community. Lastly, we inquired about what could be improved in their town, as well as their wishes and perspectives for the future. Depending on the answers to these questions we created new questions on the spot during the interview, such as ‘Do you experience cultural differences in your town?’, ‘What needs to change for the town?’, ‘How do you experience the social relations?’
We had a group discussion (Figure 7) about the topic of this article with a variety of participants, including local youth, international volunteers in IKS, and members of the NGO. The discussion lasted approximately one and a half hours. In the following section, the answers of the respondents to the interviews will be analysed.
As far as we could notice, young people (Figure 8) are more tolerant of each other, no matter which ethnic group they belong to. The only cases of friction between ethnicities appear when a teenager or a child comes from a family where at least one member fought against other ethnicities during the war, or suffered damage and casualties from the conflicts of the past century. In this case, parents often forbid them to have strong friendship ties with people of other ethnicities, especially when the youth of other ethnicities have to pass the threshold of young Croatsâ€™ homes. However, it was not a question of discrimination, but
rather a cold attitude toward the ethnic relations, translated by the indifference of adults and older people, for whom the past counts more than the present. They are also not very interested in striving for the wellbeing of the entire community, if that would mean neglecting their cultural values and their national pride.
In order to encourage young people to become more involved in decision making about issues affecting them, it is necessary to take a number of measures. These could range from education based on democratic principles (such as non-discrimination and integration), presenting the importance of civil society and its role
in the community or, even more, the possibility to express their own opinion and leave their mark on the city life in terms of cultural events and involvement for all the community. What is more, everything the local government does directly affects the relationship between generations and, moreover, between ethnic representatives. However, the first step in this respect has been taken. The current level of involvement of young people in the City of Petrinja covers both their social life and decision-making about their future by the establishment of the Commission for Youth as initiators of change and guides for their needs. The driving force for the entire process is the implementation of the National Programme of Action for Youth, in accordance with which Petrinja was designated as the pioneer city for the Programme “Action for Youth”. However promising it may seem, life in Petrinja does not prove to be so simple, because of a lack of communication between the grown-up representatives of Croat and Serb ethnicities and also between the population itself and the authorities. According to the 2001 census, in the town of Petrinja, over 38% of the population, or nearly 9,000 people, live without any income; less than 27% of people are employed; and almost 5% of the population "survives" only on the basis of social benefits, which form their only income. Of the total population, only 4,368 of them, or 19%, belong to the age group of 15-29, which is the category taken into consideration by the National Programme of Action Youth. Also, about 39% of young people live in rural areas near Petrinja, which
is a symptomatic indicator for the need to leave the village environment and start looking for better education, employment and a more comfortable life by migrating to larger urban areas, and often to other countries (just under 25% of young people remain in Petrinja).
Our study in Petrinja revealed the fact that people, in general, are open to one another, regardless of their ethnicity, but there are still many adults and members of the older generations who dislike the fact that young people of different ethnicities meet and participate in the same activities (school, cultural meetings). As far as the native language of the population is concerned, it could be seen that, although in the last census, there were fewer declared Serbs (for demographic and ethno-cultural table), the number of native speakers more than doubled and the number of speakers of the socalled Croatian-Serbian language also increased. Premises for a thorough city development still exist, represented by a generous natural setting and ethnical landscape, offering multiple possibilities for economic activities (such as agriculture, hydropower on the river Kupa, industry, leisure, tourism, vocational training in economic activities, employment opportunities in the meat industry - the wellestablished Gabrilović meat factory, or in other light industry sectors, which could be restructured). We were impressed by the image Udruga IKS has in the city, given the fact that even adult people have heard
about these volunteers and believe they know how to manage and improve the situation of the population in numerous ways. As a recommendation, the local and national Government should clearly define goals for the economic development of Petrinja municipality, as well as set targets for making ethnicity integration and interaction less difficult and more durable in the long term.
Annual Census of Croatia, 2011. [online] Available at: < http://www.dzs.hr/default_e.htm> [Accessed 13 July 2013] Čačić-Kumpes, J. and Nejašmić, I., 1999. Social changes, migration and ethnic structure: Case study of Petrinja (Croatia). Zagreb: Institute for migration and ethnic studies. Lipovac, N., 2005. Petrinja - Urban History of a Croatian Town as Revealed Through Archive Graphics and Maps. Acta architectonica. Zagreb: Faculty of Architecture. University of Zagreb.Official Voice, 2009. Petrinja City. Acts of the City Council, [pdf] Available at: <http://www.glasila.hr/Glasila/SV/SV22 09.pdf> [Accessed 12 July 2013]. Stiperski, Z. and Braičić, Z., 2009. The influence of war on the dynamics of unemployment in Banovina (Croatia). Journal for Geography, p.103-112.Udruga IKS official website, [online] Available at: http://www.udrugaiks.hr/ [Accessed 19 July 2013]
groups at EGEA’s IDEA Seminar incorporated a short meeting with the chairperson for this Committee, Mr. Furio Radin and other members of his team. This article presents the information gathered from this short interview in contrast with the opinions and impressions of members of the public which were interviewed at random.
Minority’s rights, ethnic groups, national minorities, Constitutional Law
Within the Croatian Parliament there is a Committee on Human Rights and National Minorities that establishes and monitors the implementation of policies and treaties regarding the human rights of minorities living in Croatia and Croatian minorities living in other countries. The Committee is composed of Parliamentarians and some representatives of the existing minority groups. Together with NGOs the Committee’s remit is to decide and vote on the policies and measures to be taken regarding the integration of stigmatised minorities into a largely ethnically homogeneous society which is still struggling with the painful legacy of a recent civil war. One of the work
During the IDEA seminar in Zagreb, the work group studying the Committee on Human Rights and National Minorities gathered information and data about the subject by using different methods. In the beginning, we conducted an interview with Mr. Furio Radin, chairperson of the Committee and some members of his cabinet. Although it lasted only an hour, it gave us a starting point and valuable information about the political representation of the different minority groups and their current situation in Croatia. In the following days we did some individual literary research, so as to gain knowledge about the history of migration in Croatia as well as the migration policies in Croatia, the European Union and our own countries. In the last part of the program we administered a questionnaire to random people in the city centre. This survey provided valuable information
about people’s perception of minorities and their integration into Croatian society.
When discussing the human rights of national minorities, the first step is to define and identify the target groups. This process ought to be flexible and relative, depending on the territory, society, and geographical interrelations. For instance, a minority group in Amazonia is differently defined and structured from one in Turkey. There are some basic issues to be tackled before one can begin to discuss minorities in any territory. Pentassuglia (2002) criticises the lack of a definition at an international level, preferably in the shape of a universal treaty. He refers to the difficulty of identifying common elements to comprise the plurality of existing relevant communities.The United Nations, in a consensus reached in 1992, fell short of formulating an international definition. Nevertheless, it is stressed that the existence of a minority is “a matter of fact and that any definition must include both objective factors (such as the existence of a shared ethnicity, language or religion) and subjective factors (the feeling of belonging to a minority group
or the shared identity with particular members of a given society)”. (UNHR, 2010, p.2)
and the 22 other ethnic groups, which are defined as minorities. (Croatian Bureau of Statistics, 2001).
secure and integrated, especially after having suffered the consequences of an authoritarian dictatorship.
In addition, the situations in which minorities live differs between the various countries and regions. Some live together in well-defined areas, separated from the dominant segment of the population while others are scattered throughout the country. Some minorities have a strong sense of collective identity and recorded history Others retain only a fragmented notion of their common heritage. Caportorti, a special reporter of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, describes them as “a group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a State, in a non -dominant position, whose members being nationals of the State possess ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of the population and show, if only implicitly, a sense of solidarity, directed towards preserving their culture, traditions, religion or language” (UNHR, 2010, p.2). As stated above, the application of policies and measures concerning national minorities are relative and directly depend on the geographical interrelations that occur within different societies.
In the following sections, we will introduce some of the minorities in Croatia, how and why they have come to live in the country and some of the problems concerning their integration, focusing on the most numerous minority: Serbs.
The break-up of the Republic of Yugoslavia triggered a period of upheaval and atavistic bloodletting. During the nineties, war and ethnic cleansing effectively undermined all the efforts of integration made by the Tito regime. Hatred and persecution flourished in the former Yugoslavia: Croats accused Serbs and Muslims of threatening their territory the Serbian army started bombing its neighbours armed insurrections were unleashed all over the Former Republics territorial disputes in Bosnia led to mines being laid and barricades erected everywhere. Populations were displaced, refugees multiplied, people had to leave their homes in a matter of hours to avoid being massacred. The simple fact of believing in one religion or another, or even belonging to a different denomination was enough to get imprisoned if not executed.Minorities, in Croatia and all territories were persecuted and abandoned to their fate.
“While the criteria of nationality […] have often been challenged, the requirement to be in a non-dominant position remains important” (UNHR 2010, p.2). In Croatia there is a clear majority group. According to the statistics of research conducted by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics in 2011, more than 90% of the population are Croats: there is a clear division between this majority
During 20th century and in the beginning of the current century Croatia has been part of many different countries, kingdoms and republics, all of them having had different policies. During the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (1918 - 1941), the Croats did not feel that they were being treated on an equal level with the Serbs. During the fascist regime of the Independent State of Croatia (1941 1945) many minorities in Croatia, such as Serbs, Roma people and Albanians were systematically eliminated and replaced through a process of overt ethnic cleansing. Within the Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY, 1945 1990), Tito attempted to diffuse tensions and rivalries by implementing policies based on ethnic equality. The Human Rights framework in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ensured a free and equal use of minority languages in public life, the right to receive a bilingual education, to celebrate cultural identity and a proportional representation in governmental bodies. Indeed, at the time the constitution recognised the national state of Croatia, including Serbs in Croatia and also other nationalities. As a consequence Serbs and other minorities felt more
During the war years, the size of the minority population eventually decreased, with the biggest effect being felt by the largest minorities: Czechs, Hungarians, Italians and Serbs. (Croatian Bureau of Statistics, 2001) The reason for this does not lie not in natural migration, but in movement under pressure, which was, in effect, ethnic cleansing. The reasons for this decrease of minorities include: • The nationalist Croatian policy mainly targeting Serbs, who were exposed to denunciation, harassment, threats and killings, both inside and outside of the war zones. • Migration towards urban areas which resulted in the weakening of rural communities, leading to the discontinuation of traditional trades and links with any minority cultural heritage. • Migration within the regions and overseas, particularly during and after the 1991/1995 Croatian war. • Improved education resulting in greater social mobility for members of ethnic minorities. • A rise in ethnically mixed marriages. •The weakening of cohesive elements of ethnicity, which are being replaced by professional or social group identity, or even by regional identities.
According to Minority Rights Group International, Minority Rights Group International (MRG, 2003) the most numerous minority in Croatia are Serbs. In the following paragraphs, we will focus on this particular minority, which is the most stigmatized and persecuted within society and has been deeply affected by the recent conflicts. During “The Storm” (the last major battle of the Croatian war of independence, 1994) Serbs living in Croatia had to migrate to their country of origin. Several thousand became war refugees while others were systematically killed.
In the last five years, the Croatian government has been taking measures to help Serbs restore their houses and allow new communities to settle in Croatia. Still, Serbs do not feel as secure and confident in Croatia, and a big proportion chose to remain in the country that gave them asylum or in Serbia. One of the institutions created after the war aiming to achieve bilateral dialog is the Serb Democratic Forum, which was established in 1991. This forum was set up at first to help resolve the issues regarding the status of the Serbian minority in Croatia. Today it mainly focuses on issues regarding returnees, reconstruction, the restitution of returnees’ property and the renewal of communities in extensively affected areas. (Minority Rights Group International, 2003) According to Croatian Constitution, Serbs are guaranteed the freedom to express their religion (Serbian Orthodox), using their language and letters, and to educate in their language. Although they are protected as a minority, Serbs suffer from
discrimination (unfair proceedings in courts, unemployment because of Serb status, being targets of violent acts and harassment, among other actions). In order to protect their national identity and defend their rights, Serbs are establishing political parties and associations. The Serbian minority has an autochthonous character. For this reason, the community has the right of having three special representatives in the Croatian Parliament. In addition, Croatia ratified a bilateral agreement with Serbia and Montenegro in 2005 (it was one country until 2008) regarding the protection of Serbs and Montenegrins in Croatia, as well as Croats in Serbia and Montenegro. The Croatian Constitution outlines that the Republic of Croatia is a unified, democratic state in which the government is performed by and belongs to the people as a community of free and equal citizens. This right is exercised through the election of representatives via a direct vote. The Croatian Parliament has 151 members (MPs) in its Chamber of Representatives. Minorities are currently represented by 11 of the 151 MPs. The Republic of Croatia inherited from the SFRY a regime for minority rights protection, which only covered some of the existing minorities. Croatia immediately recognised these inherited rights, yet problems remained. How could the status of non -Croat citizens be defined for those who had newly become ethnic minorities in a different state, i.e. in Croatia rather than SFRY? In December 1991, the Parliament adopted the Constitutional Law on Human Rights and Freedoms of National and Ethnic Communities, as
this was a precondition for Croatia's recognition as an independent state in January 1992. By accepting international standards, Croatia achieved a high level of protection for minorities in its legislation. However, this was not a reflection of a genuine internal political will to resolve minority issues, but the consequence of international pressures. (Minority Rights Group International, 2003) In May 2000, the Parliament amended the 1991 Constitutional Law, reintroducing some of the suspended provisions regarding the Serb minority, but repealing the vast majority of the provisions related to Serb minority selfgovernment. Article 19 of the Constitutional Law on National Minorities guarantees members of national minorities the right to representation in the Croatian parliament. It provides for: Serbs to elect three MPs Italians to elect one MP Czechs and Slovaks to elect one MP Albanians, Bosnians, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Slovenes to elect one MP and Austrians and other small minorities to elect one MP. (Croatian Parliament, 2002, p. 6, art.19) Parliament has appointed the Human Rights Committee, within which the Subcommittee for Ethnic Minority Rights operates. The Committee's mandate is to determine and monitor the implementation of ethnic minority policy, and to participate in the Chamber of Representatives procedure for adopting new laws. The Committee is also an authorised working body regarding the implementation of international legal provisions regulating human rights protection, interstate agreements, minorities’ rights and programs of international cultural cooperation for minority groups.
(Based on an interview with Mr Furio Radin, the President and Chairman of the Committee, 11/07/13)The Committee on Human and Minority Rights establishes and monitors the implementation of policies and treaties regarding human rights of national minorities and Croatian minorities in other countries. The Committee comprises a Chairman, the Cabinet and four External Members, which are constituted by NGOs and community representatives. Although they do not have the right to vote in Plenary Discussions, they provide a framework and support to the Committee. In this Committee, there is a representative from the Catholic Church and a representative of other religions. In
specific issue, we always invite NGO representatives to attend our meetings and they have a huge influence on decision making. Of course the ones who vote and have legislative power are the politicians, but the opinions and advice of NGOs determine and influence our decisions." said Mr. Radin. Sometimes, however, the competences and powers of NGOs in applying the programs are hindered by local governments, municipalities and/or mayors that refuse to accord minorities their rights. If not controlled or properly regulated, this issue may reduce the impact and influence of constructive dialogue. This issue fundamentally depends on the region involved. Local governments often disobey laws and regulations regarding minority rights. The Committee has the task of identifying these situations and regulating them. The procedure followed is initially to write a warning letter to the respective administrative power, and then work with a special Committee which has specific power to take further measures. Conflicts between the national and regional levels is extremely common.
each mandate, a representative of other denominations or religions such as Orthodox, Protestant or Muslim, has this second seat. The current representative of this mandate is Protestant. The Committee and other political entities count on some support from NGOs. The different associations and non -governmental organisations formulate programs, provide intercultural dialogue, mediate between minoritiesâ€™ representatives and political institutions, fight for the most vulnerable groupsâ€™ rights and provide a framework to be applied, depending on the object of the policies and the geographical distribution in space. Unlike other Parliaments in the region, the Croatian Parliament, and especially this Committee, is well followed by the media. For instance, the Plenary Sessions of Croatian Parliament are streamed live on TV. The Centre for Peace Studies is one of the existing NGOs in Zagreb. It arose from a volunteer program that allowed reconstruction and understanding between frontier localities in CroatianBosnian territories. By the promotion of non-violence, encouragement of social change and developing a culture of dialogue and mutual understanding,
NGOs like the Centre for Peace Studies creates a link between government strategy and society. Additionally, the Nansen Dialogue Centre creates and promotes integrating relations without conflict applied to educational system in Eastern Croatian. Their projects focus on peace building and building communities. Stigmatisation and stereotyping are constant among members of villages next to each other for centuries, yet separated by controversial and painful borders. This conflict can already be observed from primary schools. Solutions to this conflict are difficult to achieve, yet not impossible. The Nansen Dialogue Centre enables children of different nationalities in a multicultural community to learn about the cultural heritage of all ethnic groups that live in the region. The participants at the IDEA seminar were exposed to both of these NGOs through the course of the event. "If there is one thing that this Committee takes for granted, it is the openness to NGOs. We have two external members in the Committee who are NGO representatives. For each
Croatian society and the relationships between different ethnic groups are still highly influenced by the mentality and prejudices that were formed during the war. Many members of ethnic groups suffer from stigmatisation, especially in the rural and less developed territories that the suffered most during the war. To close the interview Mr. Radin said: "Thank you for having IDEA visit the Committee and the Croatian Parliament. I hope you have learnt from us. We have certainly learnt something from you, because we always learn from young people. I always seize the opportunity to learn more from their questions than from any answersâ€? (11/07/13)
We conducted a small scale interview on the streets of the city centre of Zagreb so as to get an impression of the perception of minorities and their (political) presence in the country. Our interviewees (26 in total) were asked if they agreed with a series of statements on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (totally agree). The questionnaire addresses issues concerning ethnic discrimination and the integration of minorities in Croatia: segregation of schools and the right to receive education in minority languages freedom of religion; the political representation of minorities; among
different questions, regarding the integration of minorities and ethnic discrimination in Croatia. On the other hand, people tend to think minorities are integrated in society: 20 out of 26 (76.9%) consider that minorities are integrated, giving a mark from 3 to 5 while 11 out of the 26 (42.3%) interviewees state that minorities are totally integrated. Hardly anyone disagrees that all children should go to the same school, regardless of their ethnic background. In fact, more than 70% totally agree that children should attend the same schools. (Figure 5) The majority of respondents answered that ethnic discrimination exists in Croatia, but only 3 out of the 26 (11%) think that it occurs at a higher level. The people who were interviewed strongly believe in the protection of minorities’ culture. Interviewees agreed that keeping and protecting each minority’s culture is important and not a single one was against or partially against this, indeed 15 out of the 26 (57.6%) stated that they totally agree. However, when we compare these results with those obtained further on: Do you think minorities should integrate and become more Croatian? (Figure 6) we discovered a controversial result. The majority stated that minorities should definitely become more Croatian. A possible explanation for this paradox can be explained by the fact that 23 of the 26 interviewees totally agree about freedom of religion for all (Figure 7). Hence, we can deduce that people agree with the maintenance of the culture at an individual level. However, regarding public life, interviewees think that the national identity of Croatia should be maintained. Apart from the strict questions on bilingual education, religion, integration and discrimination, we also added some personal questions regarding the feeling of belonging to one culture or another.
others. The results showed that younger people (less than 25 years old) are not heavily involved in, nor are they aware of the political life and social conflicts regarding minorities in Croatia. On the other hand, people over 25 years old are slightly more concerned about integration, language privileges, freedom of religion, and so on and so forth. This is due to them having experienced the war period and its consequences for themselves.
Furthermore, elderly persons often set Yugoslavia as a point of comparison, and some of them expressed evident signs of nostalgia. However, in the overall analysis we considered all age groups together since the difference mentioned above seem rather nuanced when processed into general statistics.Figure 4 represents the answers from 1 to 5 (1 being “not at all” and 5 meaning “totally”) to two
As Figure 8 shows, most of the interviewees feel that they belong to Croatia, although half of the 26 interviewees were born in a different place. Only 3 out of 26 did not feel Croatian. Croatia was accepted into the European Union in July 2013 and in the following figures we can recognise that the majority of people feel that they are part of Europe; only 4 answered this question with a “no” (Figure 8). There are divided opinions regarding the possible positive change that the entry into the EU can achieve. Figure 9 represents the expectations of Croatians from joining the EU. The majority (15 out of 25) think that it will bring positive change, but this was closely followed by the eurosceptics: 10 out of
<http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Mino rities/Pages/internationallaw.aspx> [Accessed: 15 May 2015] Croatian Bureau of Statistics â€“ CB, 2001. Croatian Census 2001. [online] Available at: <http://www.dzs.hr/Hrv/censuses/Cens us2001/Popis/H01_02_02/H01_02_02.htm l> [Accessed: 15 May 2015] Croatian Parliament website, amended 2010. The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. [online] Available at: <http://www.sabor.hr/Default.aspx?art =2408> [Accessed: 15 May 2015] Tanjug, V., 2013. Rights of Serbs in Croatia obligation of EU, B92 newspaper. [online] Available at: <http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region. php?yyyy=2013&mm=07&dd=08&nav_id =86877> [Accessed: 15 May 2015]
25 think that the European Union will not bring about any positive change.
Inequality and governance of the public sector in Belgium. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development
The authors greatly thank: Milda, for the great support, energy and icecream; the IDEA organising team and EGEA Zagreb, for this great seminar; Mr. Furio Radin and his team, for welcoming EGEA at the Croatian Parliament and sharing their time and opinions with us; the European Geographer editors, for their helpful advice and patience.
Croatian Parliament, 2002. Constitutional Law on the Rights of National Minorities. [pdf] Zagreb, December 13, 2002. Available at: <http://www.vsrh.hr/CustomPages/Stat ic/HRV/Files/Legislation__Constitutiona l-Law-on-the-Rights-NM.pdf> [Accessed: 15 May 2015]
Radin, F., 2013. Interview with Croatian Committee in Human and Minority Rights Protection in the Croatian Parliament. Spoken interview undertaken by authors on 11/07/2013 at the Croatian Parliament Building in Zagreb. Pentassuglia, G., 2002. Minorities in International Law: An Introductory Study. Council of European Publishing, Strasbourg. DeSchouwer K., 2004. Ethnic Structure,
Minority Rights Group International MRG, 2003. Report Minorities in Croatia. [pdf] Available at: <http://www.minorityrights.org/?lid=10 05> [Accessed: 15 May 2015] UNHR, March 2010. Minority Rights: International Standards and Guidance for Implementation. [pdf] Office of the High Commissioner. New York and Geneva, Available at: <http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Pub lications/MinorityRights_en.pdf> [Accessed: 15 May 2015] UNHR website, Updated 2013. Minorities under international law. [online] Available at:
Intercultural living in Zagreb - public views and politician’s visions was one of the research topics during the IDEAseminar in Zagreb, Croatia. The research group was an intercultural group formed by four members from: Germany, Romania, Slovenia and Denmark, who also came from varied educational backgrounds. When one experiences Zagreb, it can be understood to be a city in which people from many different cultures inhabit as was made apparent during the seminar, which was also a space for intercultural living. Yet, what does that mean for a city, to be a place of cultural diversity, especially for the population? Intercultural living, European Union, White paper, Cultural diversity, Minorities, Zagreb
Intercultural living is something that the majority of us have already experienced in our lives; it is a characteristic of contemporary societies. The capital of Croatia, Zagreb, is no exception. It is a place of cultural diversity and therefore a place of intercultural interaction. But what is the public’s view about being part of this intercultural society? Are they aware of intercultural living and do they see it as an advantage or as a disadvantage? As Croatia is now part of the European Union (EU), and the question has arisen if this will make any changes to intercultural living. The Council of Europe has formulated a “White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue” to promote and improve intercultural dialogue. Will this also lead to an improvement of intercultural dialogue in Zagreb and Croatia? Is there a need for improvement at all? It appears that the intentions and objectives of the population to improve and live interculturally are good, but in everyday life it has a low priority.
During the seminar one topic was present all the time: The entry of Croatia into the European Union on the 1st of July 2013. Would this cause any changes in intercultural living in Croatia or would it continue as it did prior to EU entry? The Council of Europe has released a White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue entitled “Living Together as Equals in Dignity”, but can this be implemented in Croatia? The following article will concentrate on cultural diversity in Zagreb. Furthermore, it will include different views of the population on intercultural living in Zagreb and the entrance of Croatia into the European Union. It will also contain a brief update of what the White Paper from the Council of Europe contains.
is a place of cultural diversity and intercultural living. To guarantee “Living Together as Equals in Dignity”, successfully, intercultural dialogue is necessary.
To facilitate “Living Together as Equals in Dignity”, the Council of Europe formulated a White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue, but what is a “White Paper”? “Generally speaking, White Papers are policy documents containing background information and proposals for action in a specific political area.” (Council of Europe, 2007, 5.1) The “White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue” was published in 2008 by the Council of Europe. The process of creation was an open consultation process, where all stakeholders of intercultural dialogue were involved. In this paper the political orientations of the council in this area were formulated. The aim of the document is to promote intercultural dialogue within European societies and between Europe and its neighbouring regions. The paper includes suggestions for policies and initiatives in order to improve intercultural dialogue and to maximise its benefits (Council of Europe, 2008).
The Yugoslavian war in the 1990’s had a big influence on the recent history of migration in Zagreb. During the war, Zagreb was one of the main destinations for refugees, particularly for Croatians and Bosnians (Fassman and Görgl, 2007). According to the census of 2001 the largest ethnic group in Zagreb were Croatians (91%), while Serbians comprised the largest ethnic minority (7%), followed by Bosnians, Albanians, Slovenians and Roma people (Croatian Bureau of Statistics, 2001). The officially counted number of Roma people in Zagreb is about 2000, but the estimated number is 9000 (Fassman and. Görgl, 2007, p.7).
The majority of the research which was conducted during the IDEA seminar consisted of interviews, which were conducted on the street with a sample of diverse inhabitants of Zagreb. The point of this was to represent the views and opinions of the general public. Two people performed each interview - one was the interviewer and one recorded the interview by writing it down by hand. The interviews were conducted in different areas and districts of Zagreb, to have as diverse a sample as possible. So as to interview people who were not in a hurry, locations were chosen where the population would spend their leisure time, an example of this being public parks. The aim was to gather data from a group of respondents with different cultural backgrounds, ages and gender.
All in all there are 22 different minority groups living in Zagreb and therefore it
The purpose of the interviews was to gather the views and personal
experiences of the population on the subject of intercultural living in Zagreb. The questions asked were divided into six different blocks concentrating on: cultural diversity in Zagreb, their personal experiences, the responsibilities concerning intercultural living, the communityâ€™s rights, Croatiaâ€™s accession to the EU and finally, their personal information.
The number of interviews conducted was five and the interviewees were from different cultural backgrounds, ages and of both genders. The interviews were mainly performed in Slovenian (the interviewer) and Croatian (the interviewees). Interviews which were attempted in English, were often met by a polite refusal. After the introduction and explanation of the purpose of this research, we asked about the presence of different cultural groups in Zagreb. Several minorities were mentioned here, particularly Bosnians, Roma people, Serbians and Slovenians. These minorities were mentioned by nearly everyone. When asking for an explanation for why there are so many different cultural groups in Zagreb, the respondents listed new opportunities that a city like Zagreb has to offer to immigrants, such as jobs, but also noted that a lot of inhabitants are war refugees. The respondents saw cultural diversity mostly as an advantage, but some also mentioned that there are some disadvantages, as they felt that the immigrants were taking away jobs and subsequently fewer jobs will be left for locals. One interviewee also stated that immigration was the cause of a lot of social issues. It was also stated as an opinion that not all the groups are equally integrated into society and that language barriers exist between the indigenous population and migrant groups. Then we asked about the personal experiences of the interaction between the different cultural groups in society, and if this is the cause of any conflicts between different ethnic groups. The respondents were generally in agreement that there are no major problems, just minor ones. Those issues mentioned were about religion, different cultural backgrounds and about informal work. We also asked the people for a personal assessment, if they are doing something to improve intercultural living. The interviewees had similar responses: that they do not judge minorities; they are tolerant and to some extent also interact with people from different cultural backgrounds in their daily life - mainly through the workplace. Only one mentioned a
concrete example of interaction. We were furthermore interested in who the population thinks should be responsible to make society more aware and to improve intercultural living, and if it was important to do so at all. The respondents agreed that it is important to raise awareness in society and it is the responsibility of the state, but also the personal responsibility of each individual - including the minorities themselves. Additionally, it was made apparent that the interviewees did not know of any concrete projects or organisations in relation to intercultural living in Zagreb; a few respondents just knew that several of them exist. Following these questions we asked about the importance of a policy paper regarding intercultural dialogue, and if they knew that something like this already existed. They all agreed that there should be policy papers on this topic, but no one knew about the existence of any. Some simply mentioned the existence of foreign laws concerning ethnic minorities. As mentioned earlier, the accession of Croatia into the EU was a constant topic during the seminar and therefore we also asked our interview subjects about that, so as to discover the opinion of the sample population. We were interested in their personal views and if they believed that entering the EU will bring about change relating to intercultural living. Our research showed that the respondents were highly doubtful about that and looked towards the future with some uncertainty, but all hoped that positive changes will take place in the future. It was mentioned, that entering the EU will transform Zagreb into a more cosmopolitan city, which will have positive and negative outcomes. Croatian membership in the EU will result in increased collaboration, not just with neighbouring countries but also on a worldwide scale, which every interviewee saw as an advantage to the country.
The decision of conducting the research based on interviews rather than questionnaires conferred both advantages and disadvantages. With interviews, we were able to ask detailed questions and to inquire into the answers. It was also possible to adjust the questions to the individual interviewee and reword them, if the question was not understood in the first place. One of the disadvantages was that through an interview we might have received more polite and
not entirely honest answers, whereas with a questionnaire the respondents may be more frank in their answers as they feel more anonymous and do not have as intimate an interaction with the interviewer. Conducting the interviews was also considerably more time consuming than conducting questionnaires, and therefore it was only possible to obtain a very small sample. Since the interviews were performed in Slovenian and Croatian respectively, the language barrier between the interviewer and the interviewee was reduced. The questions from the interviewer were better understood, compared to the interviews conducted in English and the interviewee was able to answer the questions in their mother tongue and use their own words and expressions to explain their perceptions and emotions. Some individuals refused to be interviewed when it was suggested to conduct the interview in English. We received the impression that the people did not feel comfortable with their foreign language capabilities and, thus some questions were misunderstood and not answered because of language barriers. Interviews only performed in English could also have resulted in significant bias, as it could be expected that people with superior foreign language skills might be more open to and also have more interaction with other cultures and nationalities. Based on the results from the interviews it seems that the population of Zagreb is knowledgeable of the different cultural groups living in the city, and that they were aware of the reasons behind this diversity. Both the positive and negative aspects of intercultural diversity were observed, but very few concrete examples of advantages were mentioned. The difficult job market and problems of unemployment was named as one of the challenges, which also were expected to increase in the future following the accession to the EU and the opening up of the countryâ€™s borders. Integration and interaction of the different cultural groups resident in Zagreb, as well as language barriers, particularly for the Roma people, are presented as a challenge of significant importance. All of the interviewees mentioned that personally they are tolerant and did not judge minorities. To some extent they also interacted with people from different cultural backgrounds, but few particular efforts seemed to be made by the general population, and awareness of any concrete projects on intercultural dialogue and cultural integration of minorities was low. Contrary to this,
the respondents perceived each individual as responsible for improving interaction and responsibility, which suggests that the intentions and objectives of the population on this topic are positive, but in daily life it is considered to be of minor importance. Enthusiasm about entering the EU and the advantages of this were not a common occurrence in the general public. According to our results, the public could only see new challenges in the future with regards to intercultural dialogue. They regarded the future with some doubt and uncertainty, but also hoped that some positive changes will occur. Furthermore, they gave the impression that they believed that the EU will play a large role in this initiative and will contribute towards moving things forward and overcoming the challenges presented.
Despite the limited time within which to conduct the research, as well as the small sample collected, some knowledge of the population of Zagreb’s opinions and awareness about intercultural interaction and dialogue was gained. Throughout the interviews performed, it was seen that the general public had a good overview of the different cultural groups living in the city and that they were clearly aware of the reasons behind Zagreb’s diverse population. Both advantages and disadvantages of intercultural diversity were observed, although most of the concrete examples mentioned were of disadvantages. It was also clear, that the intentions and objectives of the population on improving and living interculturally are good, but in their daily life it is considered to be of minor importance. The accession of Croatia to the EU was associated with some doubts and uncertainty, but there was hope that positive changes will occur in the future and that the EU will be part of the solution and progression forward.
Fassman, H., and Görgl, P., 2007. Case Study on Housing. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. Council of Europe, 2008. White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue “Living Together As Equals in Dignity”. Croatian Bureau of Statistics, 2001. Census 2001 Council of Europe, 2007, Preparing the ”White Paper on intercultural dialogue” of the Council of Europe, Consultation document, https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1081 461 last accessed 31/01/2015.
huge difference. During the Seminar "Intercultural Dialogue - a European Adventure" held in Zagreb, Croatia in 2013, almost 50 students from 18 different countries came together to deal with Europe's diversity and its interculturality. Especially in Croatia, intercultural dialogue has an important role. It has only been eighteen years since the official end of the war between Croats and Serbs. The following article will discuss the way that relations between both ethnicities have developed and what has been done to improve intercultural dialogue between these ethnicities in the municipality of Vrginmost.
During the war that took place between 1991 and 1995, the Serbs and Croats fought each other. After the war, the two groups had to live together in some border regions. This gave rise to some friction in the beginning. Nowadays, some projects have been put in place that attempt to reinforce harmony between both ethnicities and teach mutual respect and understanding especially amongst children. This paper investigates whether these projects live up to their expectations and bring Serbs and Croats closer to each other.
The municipality of Vrginmost, an area consisting of 212 km2 and situated circa 20 km from the Bosnian border, is an interesting example of intercultural sharing of space. Currently the town has a Serbian name (Vrginmost), however, the town was officially known as Gvozd between 1996 and 2012. The switching of names is related to the changes in the ethnic background of the population of Vrginmost. After the division of Yugoslavia, the majority of the population was of Serbian background. This changed in 1995, when the Croatian army retook the area by force during â€œOperation Stormâ€?. This subject and its influence on the tensions between Serbs and Croats will be treated more elaborately further on in this paper. Vrginmost is an agglomeration consisting of 19 different settlements, that all have a population between 50 and 300 people. In the population census of 2011, Vrginmost alone had 1,122 inhabitants. According to an interview with the mayor of the municipality, the population has only been shrinking since 2011. Before that, there were 14 people per square kilometre; nowadays this number has fallen to circa 10 persons for each square kilometre. Compared to the average Croatian minimum of 40 people per square kilometre, this is a
The shrinking population is not the only problem Vrginmost faces, another issue is the ageing of its population: more than 50% of the population is over the age of 50. This is a result of the outmigration of the younger generation to bigger towns, because of a lack of working possibilities in the municipality. The out-migration has increased since 2010 when the recession became a serious issue. More and more factories closed down and the income of the municipality fell by 70% (Source: Interview with the Mayor). Vrginmost fell into a vicious circle: the fall in income caused factories to close; people lost their jobs and the unemployment rate increased; high unemployment made Vrginmost a less attractive place to live in and therefore caused a wave of out-migration; because of a smaller population the municipality got less aid from the state; and with less funding from the state, it became more difficult to invest in the area. Another problem that occurs in relation to its low population density is the need for more infrastructure. Due to the dispersion of the population, more roads need to be built and maintained from the small funds received from the government.
In the border areas many Serbs and Croats live together and because of the history between these two nationalities, this has triggered some problems. So as to have a more clear understanding of these problems, some background knowledge is needed. Serbs are the largest national minority in Croatia. They represent about 4.4% of the total population of Croatia (2011). Before the war, 12.2% of the population was Serbian. Due to the war of Independence between 1991 and 1995, a great number of Serbs and Croats fled from their homes. Croats moved away from the Bosnian and Serbian Border. The Serbs moved towards the border areas. After the war, many Serbs moved away from Croatia, even though they were told to stay in Croatia. Many Croats moved into the abandoned houses of the Serbs, because their
houses were previously destroyed by the Serbs. In Vrginmost (Gvozd) a large group of Serbs was forced to move away when Operation Storm took place in August 1995. Afraid of ethnic violence from the Croats, some Serbs never returned after the war because of discrimination and property repossession problems. Operation Storm was the major battle of the Croatian War of Independence. It lasted for three days and during the battle there were also Serbian civilian deaths, but exactly how many died still remains unclear. The Croatian government claims that 214 were killed, while the Serbs claim that 1192 civilians were killed. The tension between the Serbs and Croats was very high in the 1990s, but it has reduced since 2000. It has stayed that way ever since, even though there are still some problems. The main problem is social discrimination, especially in official matters. Serbs face discrimination when it comes to finding a job, and in some cases they are even subjected to violence. However, the government tries to reduce discrimination by making laws against it. During the excursion to Vrginmost, the Mayor explained that the municipality tries to reduce the discrimination against Serbs, as much as they can. For example, when it comes to work Serbs and Croats are treated equally in Vrginmost and as a consequence, there is an equal percentage of employed Serbs and Croats in the municipality.
During the research in Vrginmost, Croatia, the main method used was the interviewing of stakeholders. On the 13th of July, various semi-structured interviews were held. Some research was also conducted on the Internet so as to supplement the fieldwork. The following stakeholders were interviewed: two teachers of the primary school in Vrginmost, the mayor of the municipality of Vrginmost and one of the leaders of Suncokret, a project located in the area near to Vrginmost. We also had the chance to talk to one of the children taking part in the Suncokret project.
Non-governmental organisations, such as the “Nansen Dialogue Network” and “Suncokret” contribute to achieving a better understanding between the different ethnicities in the municipality. The Nansen Dialogue Network is a nongovernmental organisation, founded in
1995 in Lillehammer, Norway. Peace building actions and projects are brought forward in different European countries. Especially in the Balkan area, which was left with divided and segregated societies after the wars in the 1990s. The Nansen Dialogue network established projects of dialogue in Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia (Nansen Dialogue Network, 2013). The mission of the NDN is: “To support actively and effectively intercultural and interethnic dialogue processes at local, national and regional levels with the aim of contributing to conflict prevention, reconciliation and peace building.” (Nansen Dialogue Network, 2013). About 150 students attend the local school of Vrginmost and are between 6 and 14 years of age. The two ethnicities, Serbian and Croatian, represent an equal percentage of the students. NDN conducts and supports an after school club, where students can spend their free time together, voluntarily participating in workshops and activities dealing with topics such as “differences and similarities”, “wall of prejudices” or “this is me”. The students also created a cook book of typical meals of their individual heritage together. Suncokret - Centre for Community Development is a Croatian organisation, which was established in 1998. This organisation aims to fight against the negative social and cultural consequences of the social tensions in the Sisak County in Croatia, to promote
community rebuilding, social interaction and to support development of a sustainable democratic society (Suncokret, n.d.). In Vrginmost, Suncokret organises workshops, summer camps (figure 1) and exchanges, particularly addressing the youth of the region in order to support the development of dialogue (Suncokret, n.d.).
There are, unfortunately, still some tensions between Serbs and Croats in Croatia, even in Vrginmost. During the research, different stakeholders showed us their approaches to intercultural dialogue between Serbs and Croats. The teachers of the local school declared that the school has a ratio of 50% of Serbs and 50% of Croats. The children learn about each other’s culture through the regular lessons and the ones that are more interested in cultural exchange can follow an extra curriculum for one hour a week. In these sessions, the children undertake different activities to learn more about each other’s culture and to fight existing prejudices (Figure 2). The main idea is that children did not go through the history that their parents or grandparents have been through and therefore they should have a neutral view on relationships between different ethnicities.
be biased and mostly represent their views on the question, and thus do not represent objective facts. However, two improvements were undoubtedly achieved: projects aimed at creating harmony in the population have been set up (the Suncokret project) and tensions between the ethnicities have diminished since 2000. The extent to which the Suncokret project diminishes these problems and influences intercultural dialogue still remains to be seen. For the time being one can only say that the first steps in the right direction have been made.
During the fieldwork there was not much time left to do our own research in the city. We only managed to talk to stakeholders and therefore got a biased view on the question. It would have been better to speak to locals and observe the way the inhabitants interact with each other. For further research we would recommend a questionnaire, which can be carried out by randomly sampling people from the street. Another point of improvement concerns the interviews with the stakeholders. Due to a lack of prior knowledge we did not feel like we were well enough prepared, which resulted in conducting semi-structured rather than structured interviews. This may have resulted in forgetting to ask some important questions or mention certain topics.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), May 2003, The Status of the Croatian Serb Population in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Refugees or Citizens? [online] Available at: <http://www.refworld.org/docid/3eccfa fc2.html> [accessed 21 April 2015]
The mayor of the municipality explained that an effort is made to establish equal chances for Croats and Serbs concerning jobs. Supporting different activities to unite the population, such as cultural festivals, was another aspect that he mentioned regarding the relation between Croats and Serbs in Vrginmost. The leader of the Suncokret organisation gave us the opportunity to look around at their activity centre. Children of all ages and ethnicities were doing activities together and some parents also came along to volunteer.
To answer the main question: â€?in what way have relations between Serbs and Croats developed and what has been done to improve intercultural dialogue between these ethnicities in Vrginmost?â€?, a few things can be stated. First of all, it is hard to say whether or not real improvement has been made in diminishing tensions between Serbs and Croats in the region. The same applies to the question of whether or not the projects that have been set up contributed to this or not. As a result of the fact that the main sources of this investigation are the stakeholders, the results found might
Nansen Dialogue Network, various articles, [online] Available at: http://www.nansen-dialogue.net/ [Accessed 15 August 2013] Suncokret - Centre for Community Development, various articles, [online] Available at: http://www.suncokretgvozd.hr/?lang=en/ [Accessed 15 August 2013] Prettner, K. 2013, 'Population aging and endogenous economic growth', Journal Of Population Economics, 26, 2, pp. 811834 Interviews conducted with the Mayor of Vrginmost, teachers, and the leader of Suncokret.
civic participation, society, uprooting, class, economy
The relationship between the rise of neoliberal economics and rootless individualism, versus the classic concept of society in times of Post-Democracy, is treated in a theoretical framework of geographical consequence that aims to explain the recent territorial changes in response to the perpetuation of the markets. In return, a civic response by participating in a new framework which allows territorial cohesion is proposed to promote the integration and ownership of the inhabitants citizens with the territory in which they dwell. ‘Truth should not be confused with the opinion of the majority’… Jean Cocteau (The Umbilical Cord, 1962) The recent state of the economy in which markets and finance seem to be more important than society has created a sense of uprooting, shared by many people who understand their urban constitution much more as inhabitants than citizens. This reality shows how cities have become commercial spaces to be bought and sold rather than places to live, changing the morphology of places and landscapes. Thus we are passing from the espace vécu status (Frémont, 1974) to economic speculation and bubble models thanks to the development of neoliberal economic policies after a quite perverse reading of Fukuyama’s The End of History of 1992. In the current scenario, landscape is being homogenised by means of urban
sprawl, that derived into urBANALization (Muñoz, 2006) looking back in a reactionary way to economicist1 urban models like Alonso’s (1964), in which the downtown is much more expensive than the surrounding areas due to its better connections. Therefore skyscraper construction tends to be frequently follow the purpose of depreciating the invested fund, and according to Massey (1993) allowing structures of geometry of power as a direct consequence to gentrification processes in wellconnected central old districts (Garnier, 2011). People’s behaviour is approaching this new geographical processes, as Harvey (1989) explains in his The Condition of Postmodernity, and going closer to the theory of Individuality2 (Lipovetsky, 1989) which depicts lucidly the current human condition in urban landscapes, recalling in a modern distortion of classic Epicureanism. This style is becoming a sort of ‘social hedonism’ that prioritises personal values instead of cultural civil ones. The paradox resides in the creation of collectiveness with fewer social roots and nexus than before, so the same adjective - social - is applied to the self-destruction of the classic society by means of an infinite buenismo3 full of hypocrisy and effrontery under a patina of politesse. Fascination for technology is a great point shared by Lipovetsky, and, with less impact, by Castells (2007), who admits real social exclusion in the multilayered transformation that the Information Age has brought us due to the uneven access to new gadgets. According to those points in closer societies, technology forces us to make real communication through virtual life, stretching distances and breaking natural tête-à-tête contact in which space and time converge (Hägerstrand, 1975), and it leads us to the adoration of exclusiveness of brands who fight in competitive evolution by using their devices and making them part of modern lifestyle. (Lipovetsky, 1992). Moreover, technology was the means used to organise recent protests and revolutions having as opposition to the establishment as their main consequence. The same establishment that allowed technology for its personal use, but also filtered and cut liberties and avoided the infringement of its
status quo, and only allowed changes in its particular and paradoxical Lampedusian journey; that is ‘changing everything to let nothing change’. Concurrently to the presence of landscape change by people who do not live in it, behaving more like spectators than real actors, all the acknowledged social principles derived from the Keynesian welfare state are being infringed as the state is not able to regulate the free economic development. It is well known that the economic paradigm that led Keynes (1936) to gain support for his model, was the counterpoint to contain the communist menace at the peak of the socialist planned economies during the late 50s and the decade of the 60s, when all the possible reproduction of capital was guaranteed. After the 1973 oil crisis and even more so after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the big socialist planned economies, the economic paradigm shift, led Friedman to propose a new status in which, as a consequence, the state as a key figure to regulate economy was not necessary, as the economy could regulate itself, a clear fallacy as it would break its own scientific concept4 (Garrison, 1984). Apart from the elasticity5 in the microeconomic patterns that explains the law of supply and demand in terms of big scale economy very well, if it is self-regulated we can predict its future behaviour, so we can act in consequence to avoid crisis. For neoliberal economists that is not possible, as economy is governed by stochastic processes so it would not be possible to regulate it. As a mid-term conclusion and according to Feyerabend (1975), who proposed the biggest possible span in philosophy of science by promoting epistemological anarchy, it finally seems that economy as a scientific concept contradicts itself, because if its behaviour cannot be predicted, it cannot be treated as a science at all, at least, not in classic terms. Proof that the state is not only welcome but also loses its importance as an economic regulator when a crisis begins is the bunch of recipes for solving the crisis. These are focused on opening new markets to private capital, privatising all the services provided by the state and consequently increasing
the social exclusion of people who cannot afford the access to new private infrastructures. What we live in is not a new landscape in which problems are strictly derived from the mixed cultural palimpsest of globalisation, as Huntington explains in his ‘Clash of civilizations’ (1996), but an ideological war between neoliberal economy and the state seen as an obnoxious and obsolete historical obstacle, as a modern version of Marx’s class struggle. In these terms, as financialised capital6 fights to impose its ideology, economists have realised that speculation contributes more benefits even if risk is higher, creating new and increasing profit expectations by means of bubbles. This is thanks to the general improvement in communications during the information age that allow faster and innumerable automatic speculative transactions. This global exposition feeds back a rate that forces economies to grow faster than before only if markets are spread ad nauseam. As Latouche (2003) exposes, the key of markets spreading is a Gordian knot based on advertising, credit and planned obsolescence that make customers feel unsatisfied with their purchases in a short period of time. This creates the necessity of acquiring new goods to fulfil psychological emptiness, promoting the constant growth of companies. An average growth of 3% was measured by Harvey for companies, while the bubble models are in top form, but as markets are finite, if companies decrease from 3% even having benefits, a new crisis begins because they cannot stand this rhythm of growth. In fact, and just as an example, the Spanish government avoided saying the maleficent and damaging word ‘crisis’ by means of typical euphemisms that curiously fit the facts very well. Even the former Prime Minister of the Spanish Government, Mr. Rodriguez Zapatero pointed to the ‘economic deceleration’7 in contrast to former conditions (Pérez and Bolaños, 2008). The geographical consequences due to the new economic status come from the value of the inherited physical heritage added to all its intangible and cultural background, including all the inherent aspects of landscape. In these terms, Brandification, as a new branch of the advertising world and very much related to what Lipovetsky calls the ‘Economy of Aesthetics’, has put a price on place and on all cultural backgrounds. It modifies all the information we can get through the senses, and changes the meaning of place in its diverse spans: as a complex and deep spatial experience studied
under phenomenological assumptions (Buttimer, 1992; Relf, 1976; Frémont, 1974) or just as the spatial tessera from which all possible information is gathered by the senses (Aguiló, 1999). If landscape can be understood as a network of places in which a culture, in the anthropological meaning of shared knowledge, is received as a connector for society, the new sense of place mutates the basic qualities of landscape, the way to understand it and subsequently all its related culture. As an example to illustrate the fact, all the changes in main cities that convert their downtowns into thematic parks (Disneyfication) can be presented (Harvey and Smith, 2005). In these new no-places commercial activities do not display the real monetary resources, but a pantomime where the most cliché aspects of the local culture are exaggerated to attract and impress tourists and future off-city inversions, extending market to non-tangible goods (Harvey and Smith, 2005) and continue supporting Alonso’s (1964) model. According to this new way, landscape is not lived or experienced anymore but can be consumed even in all its ephemeral terms. (Gómez Mendoza, 2013). Having said that, the capitalist society as an evolution of homo economicus would become a full tautology in itself since it would be supremely individualistic, generating the paradox of calling society to a collective of isolated individuals who would be infinitely selfish and competitive. In other words, the drift of neoliberal economy degenerates into a human problem of purely existential nature with geographical consequences, linking its essence with the relation of all the identity processes within the territories and how freedom is articulated in those societies (Nadal, 1990). Although nationalism is still a key topic for the understanding of the structure of regions and their borders, Relph (1976) explains that uprooting is a growing process due to the decrease of identities on account of the progress of technology and the increase in mobility. As new trends in economy have landscape homogenisation as one of their most important consequences, they complement the statements given by Relph (1976), as they are spoiling their basis and experiences, demeaning the importance of place as the key link between society and territory.
Although relations between man and territory are often described under the abstract terms of ‘expansion’, ‘balance’ and ‘sustainability’, the need for spatial planning has shown that, although these terms foster good adaptation to space, experience shows a different
reality, with adjustment problems arising over time as they are formulated in financial rather than human conditions. The return to classic values in terms of size and resources in urban development, such as the model of a compact city (ChuecaGoitia,1999), and human-scaled urbanism would minimise these problems, as well as a non-speculative vision of landscape and territory (SGA & Colegio de Geógrafos, 2006). From a geographical point of view, maybe the reformulation of teaching as a Spatial Art in which freedom and equality are well-balanced (Frémont, 1974), and its consolidation as a key field of human knowledge (Morin, 1999), could be the basis to act, think and live the territory. However, due to the terms of PostDemocracy (Crouch, 2000) in which the increasing and prevalent lack of social justice due to the divorce between the bureaucratic political class and society, and the violation of the terms of democratic participation (Swyngedouw, 2011), people have begun to express themselves spontaneously. Additionally, the contradiction between electoral programs and governments, in a kind of real performance of Fo’s The Two-Headed Anomaly, has led some local grassroot groups linked to squatters' movements to take the reins of common sense in protecting heritage in its cultural span and avoiding its financial side (Jover-Baez & AlmisasCruz, 2015), contrary to the purposes intended by effect of the lack of real governance in municipal politics. Possibly an unhurried cultural renewal, filtered by an educative background could be the key to create citizens from habitants through the responsibility of real action and consciousness in politics to prevent uprooting. Thus, citizen participation should be key to keeping the heritage landscape or to avoid its Disneyfication or the nondemocratic exclusivity mentioned by Massey (1993) that led us to market democracy. This becomes another contradiction in itself, but is quite close to the idea already existing idea of a full market society8. Civic participation should also be crucial to understanding the basic strategies (Porras & Losada, 2010) of social unity in a territory, such as: • Economic sustainability to promote the egalitarian development of the whole territory through the redistribution of assets through balanced planning of land use, development and effective management of resources as well as the development and improvement of transport infrastructures. • Social sustainability through social
cohesion and integration of the territory, which evolves and develops solidarity and equal growing conditions, in order to integrate and respect the cultural and natural environment by providing a better quality of life for citizens. • Environmental sustainability that harmonises the requirements of economic and social development with the preservation and improvement of the urban and natural environment.
Although many details remain without enough development, the core of this article is intended to show how the disposition of land and landscape have changed with the rise of an economic paradigm. This has led to changes in the base of society’s existential behaviour through uprooting and alienation from the political class, with the sole purpose of dissolving all the ethical attitude and social structures, due to the presumably infinite growth of the markets. The aforementioned Latouche (2003) explains that markets cannot grow forever, for the simple fact that all activity is constrained within a territory, and thus the horizon of maximum extension is previewed indicating that markets have limits because of their territorial nature. Because of that relation, the struggle for the control of territory has just begun to price everything from territory and landscape to the environmental footprint. For this scenario Latouche (2003) proposed the development of Degrowth’s theory9 to distribute wealth, work and heritage; in other words, solidarity and social consciousness within the territory and its finite resources. At the same time, the striking and impassive gaze of indifference of much of society emerges with disappointing results, as its will for change through civil disobedience cannot respond to the omnipresent controlling neoliberal economics that cut civil rights to perpetuate itself if necessary. It seems that the only step forward is consensus and greater interrelation between society and political class in a framework of territorial redefinition that allows the development of human beings and their activities on acceptable terms of social cohesion in a territory in which they dwell and belong.
The term economicist explains and justifies every aspect of society and business on economic grounds placing the well-being of the economy above 1
all. More information about this term in relation to land use can be gathered in Alonso (1964). Lipovetsky’s Theory of Individuality is derived from his consequent analysis of postmodern society in which the separation of the public scene, the loss of sense of large collective institutions and an open culture based on the exaggeration of permissive education, sexual freedom, tolerance and hedonism, create a new code of informal human relations that articulates a neo-individualism of the narcissistic type. Further information can be found in Lipovetsky, G. (1989). 2
As Buenismo does not have a proper translation in English, it can be interpreted as ‘a mode to act that makes other people think about the kindness of people behaving that way’. 3
The confrontation of economic models by Keynes and Friedman is mostly based on different readings of Keynes’ General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) that explains how global demand is the result of the combination of family demand, investment funds, public spending and exports. The formula shows how unemployment can be controlled when increasing Global Demand by dropping taxes and allowing a bigger family demand, decreasing tax rates to facilitate investment and credit, increasing Public Spending and decreasing the foreign currency rate to foster exportation. In the same terms and implementing the opposite changes, inflation can be controlled. According to the theory, the main consequence says that unemployment and inflation become antinomies as their simultaneous existence is not possible. Friedman criticised the lack of response to the theory after the 1973 oil crisis, in which inflation coexisted and increased with unemployment, because that was not related to global demand, but for the real cost of oil. Then liberal and more recently neoliberal theories in relation to the ideas of Austrian School economists like Hayek and Von Mises became the main guideline for economic control, controlling tax rates and cutting back public spending, fostering privatisation, and optimizing general spending not in terms of the macro-economy but in the microeconomy, with direct consequences on family demand, companies and subsequently on scarcity. The actual panorama of the crisis in the EU becomes more restrictive as national governments cannot control tax rates or the foreign exchange rates, thus the possibility of exiting the Eurozone or of a new ‘two-speed currency’ is still in vogue, with all its geographical 4
implications. Further information can be sought in Garrison (1984). The concept of elasticity captures the measure of the sensitivity of a variable to a change in another variable, referring to the degree to which individuals (consumers/producers) change their demand/amount supplied in response to price or income changes. Refer to Harvey and Smith (2005) for further information. 5
Financialised capital is the non-stable value budget arising from risky manoeuvres regarding speculation and bubble-based economic models. Further information can be gathered in Harvey and Smith (2005)7 A full discussion of the semantic nature of this point, as well as the assumption of the deceleration as a full crisis was presented by the Spanish journalists Pérez and Bolaños (2008) in the Spanish newspaper El País. 6
The concept of a market society makes reference to the extension of the economy operated by voluntary exchange in a free market towards the society and human necessities, depending on their purchasing power. For more information see Massey (1993). 8
Degrowth’s Theory is an economic and political concept partly based on the theory of the Romanian economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen in 1971. It is based on the hypothesis that the constant increase of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not sustainable for the global ecosystem, as natural resources are finite, so quality of lifeimprovement may be achieved without an increase in consumption but rather by changing the dominant paradigm. See Georgescu–Roegen (1971) for more on the subject. 9
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Keynes, J.M., 1936. Teoría general de la ocupación, el interés y el dinero. Spanish Translation of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, translated by E. Hornedo, 2001. El Salador: Fondo de Cultura Económica
Geógrafos, 2006. Manifiesto por una Nueva Cultura del Territorio. [pdf] Available at: <http://www.agegeografia.es/docs externos/06-05manifiesto_cultura_territorio.pdf> [Accessed 30 August 2013].
Latouche, S., 2003. Pour une société de décroissance. Le Monde Diplomatique, [online] November 2003. Available at: <http://www.mondediplomatique.fr/2003/11/LATOUCHE/1065 1> [Accessed 25 August 2013].
Swyngedouw, E., 2011. Interrogating post-democratization: Reclaiming egalitarian political spaces, Political Geography, 30(7). pp. 370-380.
Lipovetsky, G., 1989. Ere du Vide: Essais sur l’individualisme contemporain. Paris: Gallimard. Lipovetsky, G., 1992. El crepúsculo del deber. La ética indolora de los nuevos tiempos democráticos. Spanish translation of Le crépuscule du devoir. L'ethique indolore des nouveaux temps democratiques, translated by J. Bignozzi, 1994. Barcelona: Anagama Losada, J., and Porras, D., eds., 2010. Proyecto de plan de ordenación y desarrollo territorial de La Sagra. Biblos-e UAM. [online] Available at: <https://repositorio.uam.es/handle/104 86/5065> [Accessed 31 July 2013] Massey, D., 1993. Power-geometry and a progressive sense of place. In Bird, J., Curtis, B., Putnam, T., and Tickner, L., eds. 1993. Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global Change. London: Routledge. pp. 59–69. Morin, E., 1999. Seven complex lessons in education for the future. EDP-99/W/3 Translated by N. Poller 1993. Paris: UNESCO Publishing. [pdf] Available at: <http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/001 1/001177/117740eo.pdf> [Accessed 26 August 2013] Muñoz, F., 2006. urBANALización: la huelga de los paisajes. In Mata, R; Tarroja, A., 2006. El paisaje y la gestión del territorio Colección “Territorio y Gobierno. Visiones” núm. 5, Barcelona: Diputació de Barcelona. pp.143-163. Nadal, F., 1990. Los Nacionalismos y la Geografía. GeoCrítica. Cuadernos Críticos de Geografía Humana XII(86) [online] Available at: <http://www.ub.edu/geocrit/geo86.htm > [Accessed 26 August 2013]. Pérez, C.; and Bolaños, A., 2008. Zapatero asume la crisis. El País, [online] 24 June, 2008. Available at: <http://elpais.com/diario/2008/06/24 /economia/ 1214258401 _850215.html> [Accessed 29 August 2013]. Relf, E. 1976. Place and placelessness, London: PionSpanish Geographers Association (SGA), and Colegio de
“…Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people Living life in peace... nation-state, democracy, globalisation, integration, identity, Europe
The essay strives to portray some of the relationships between state, nationalism and identity within the current European integration process. It will be argued that, since its origins, the latter has suffered from some sort of alienation conducted by a socio-economic establishment ruling an organised political and economic system, the state capitalism, which results in many contradictions. On the one hand, it may be said that it has permitted European nations and citizens to become closer and to share some spaces; in both its physical and abstract senses. On the other hand, this system has progressed by reproducing intrinsically structural features and behaviours that confront the mentioned integration process. Nevertheless, it is believed that Europe, regardless its wide socio-economic and cultural differences, could perform better towards real integration. It is believed that changes are needed and therefore some alternative ideas are presented. The contents of this essay partially converge with others the author is working with on the Research Group on Geography and Regional and Urban Development (Andalusian R&D programme, HUM-177).
You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will be as one…” Extract from Imagine, by John Lennon (Imagine LP, 1971).
Relations between nationalism, state and identity are extremely complex and explaining them requires a social sciences multidisciplinary approach. To do so, this paper adopts a geohistorical standpoint – in which geography and history do not overlap, but are dialectically interwoven (Soja, 2010) – striving to give an alternative and brief insight into their current configuration. This is done following critical thinking in geography combined with ideas taken from anthropology, economics, political science and psychology. This latter science is a commending point to start from. The theory of social identity was postulated within the field of social psychology in the late 1970s. Its objective is the investigation of dynamic relations between psychological processes and social contexts. One of the main hypothesis aims to analyse people’s motivation to categorise and identify themselves with a certain group and in this way oppose themselves against others. The psychological structures that lie behind this in-group behaviour, and the depersonalised self-perception that follows, are also studied. In order to understand this broad selfcategorisation process, Turner and Oakes gave a key role to social norms, defining them as: “…the basis and main product of influence: a response is persuasive to the degree that it represents and participates in some shared, consensual reaction stereotypically associated with an ingroup self-category and hence is perceived as valid, correct and
competent… which in turn leads to its perception as appropriate, desirable, expected and something one ought to believe or do…” (1986, p. 246) Turner and Oakes went on to explain group polarisation using these ideas. At the same time, they drew some hypotheses as to the source of influence that leads to the definition of social norms within groups. The contradiction between the current production of these social norms by the European nationstates in a context of both supranational integration and globalisation as well as the legitimation of that nation-state by enforcing a democratic, allegedly free and just system, is my departing hypothesis. The principal aim is thereby to analyse who, throughout history, has defined and structured these social norms, how the nation-state has developed and which implications can be found today in Europe. Since it is believed social norms are a product, it is safe to deduce that they are shaped by dynamic sociocultural processes that generate in bulk in-group self-identification. The theory exposed and defended is that it has been the national capitalist state and its rulers who, through adaptive ideological domination and the consequent practical influence on every aspect of life, are one of the causes – if not the main cause – of individuals’ strong national self-categorisation. That is, an ongoing process of identitymaking by reinforcing the nation-state that diverges from the European integration process.
The origin of nation-states and nationalism can be traced back to the modern age, while three milestones are to be mentioned in particular. Firstly, the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, widely known as the maiden international law agreement which recognised state sovereignty over territories it claimed for its own. Secondly and thridly, both 18th century American and French Revolutions had marked consequences. The latter symbolises the transition from the Ancien Régime to a new one, where political (national) secular features came to light in opposition to the absolutist dynasties ruling Europe. Though the revolution occurred in a
specific space-time, the continent was already developing a European consciousness thanks to the Enlightenment’s thinkers (Anderson, 2011). This movement also had a major role in stimulating the liberal imaginary: including principles such as free-market, private property, and territorial sovereignty. These ideas converged with the dissatisfaction of the bourgeois, the social class which controlled, to varying extents, the means of production and existing capital, and, in some cases had amassed fortunes by appropriating surplus. In short, the bourgeois had accumulated the economic power. However, the political power remained largely in the absolutist state, whose autocratic system shaped a rigid established economic, social and political organisation that gave the bourgeois reasons to look for major, if not radical, changes. As Hobsbawm (1962) noted, notwithstanding the bourgeois’ economic power, they would have never succeeded without the participation of the proletarian class. The ideology the bourgeois created and used to overthrow the absolutist state was nationalism, stemming from both the Enlightenment’s rationalism and the Romanticism’s exaltation. Nations were legitimised by their liberal corollary (exemplified by the triad: liberty, equality and fraternity). These ideas had already spread over society during the 18th century and in so doing, had started to transform social norms. At this point, it is essential to define social class. I accept the definition given by Thompson, who considered that: “…class happens when some men, as a result of common experiences (inherited or shared), feel and articulate the identity of their interests as between themselves, and as against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs. The class experience is largely determined by the productive relations into which men are born – or enter involuntarily” (1963, p. 10-11). It is indeed productive relations that demarcate the belonging to a class throughout history. As Mandel (1964) observed, the capitalisation of society1 is the process that, through the centuries, fostered private property and individualism, while redefining social roles towards a particular categorisation by recasting social and labour regimes. The two main categories consist roughly of ‘exploiters’ – owning and controlling political and economic power, not always at the same time – and ‘exploited’. Simultaneously, Thompson describes class-consciousness as “…the way in which these experiences are handled in cultural terms: embodied in traditions, value-systems, ideas, and institutional
forms…” (1963, p. 11). He used the verb “to handle” because he was assuming that the bourgeois – again, to different extents – had taken advantage of their economic privileged position to influence social and cultural shifts to move in a direction that benefited only their own class interests. Yet to succeed, it was necessary to make those interests universal in order to dismantle that identities being shaped on labour grounds; therefore producing in-group self-categorisation on a basis different to the strictly economic, political or socio-cultural grounds. It is here where the national rhetoric emerged. Anderson (1983) referred to this as the coming of the imagined communities, inventing characteristic discourses underpinned in certain artefacts projected in the state scale. If industrialisation and its rapid urbanisation recast lower classes identities’ based on labour and new localities, nationalism worked to alter these latter by redefining social norms, traditions and custom. The described process is dynamic as a result of the interaction of people’s beliefs, experiences and behaviours within a given space-time. Many of these social norms were usually unwritten and historically structured on a local scale. It has been the nation-state, through institutionalisation, that has turned (or jumped the scale of) many of these norms into law, making them official within a wider (national) territory and enforcing them by a monopoly on violence. That is, what Weber described as the “monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force” (1919, p.84). In order to overcome the absolute power of the ruling European monarchies, the bourgeois defended the theory of the state not as a consequence of divine will, whose unique head was the monarch, but as a consequence of citizens, who were called nationals and therefore giving back sovereignty to the nation. Despite this self-determination process, the aforementioned reproduction of old regime parameters is continued, for instance, from who were called nationals under this new regime. An example is the first Constitution of Spain (1812, cited in Tomás y Valiente, 1979) which considered nationals (españoles), as persons with fully recognised rights, only those free men born on Spanish territories (including Spanish America) and their sons2. The expansion of that new regime also suffered cycles which are closely related to the performance of the capitalist economy. Neither is the geohistorical development of the Industrial Revolution – including Africa’s and some Asian areas’ colonisation – a coincidence, nor is the rapid growth of nationalisms and
imperialism after the early-mid 19th century revolutions (see Harvey, 2003). All in all, the way such ideas could catch on with the impoverished and illerate lower classes has not one single explanation. However, the standing power of the promoters, i.e. the control the bourgeois effectively exercised at different scales of social life was undoubtedly essential in this endeavour (see Arendt, 1945). The elite of this class managed to alter the geometry of power, using Massey’s (1993) concept. Hobsbawm also pointed out its recentness as a consequence of its swift success: “…because the nation itself was historically novel, it was opposed by conservatives and traditionalists, and therefore attracted their opponents” (1990, p. 40). The rise of the nation-state is thus full of contradictions; two of which are very obvious. Despite their mentioned novelty, nations expressed a necessity of differentiation that drove them to adopt a cultural discourse which went back, in some cases, to ancient history. Whereas it proclaimed a transition towards a modern socio-political system, it required tradition to sustain its foundation and in turn fostered the maintenance of a sort of economic ‘natural order’. Simultaneously, it based its secular legitimacy on the imitation of some religious patterns, such as the creation of symbols and rituals. The adoption of a state education system was crucial for the standardisation of a national language and the dispersion of its propaganda, i.e. flags, anthems and any other cultural artefacts (see Anderson, 1983). Its adulteration of history towards the desired past can also be viewed in the aligned treatment given to cultural heritage (Jover-Báez and Almisas-Cruz, 2015). The process of rapid intracountry cultural homogenisation and the simultaneous creation of intercountry difference based on a ‘mass production of traditions’ between 1870 and 1914 as identified by Hobsbawm (1983), led to two World Wars in the first half of the 20th century. Yet, in this period the nucleus is shaped for what would later be called the welfare state in Europe. Following Poulantzas (1978), the conquest of civil and human rights – which are pivotal in the development of the current western democracies and this welfare state – as we know them today, were not fought by individuals in opposition to the state, nor was a concession given by the state. It was a long struggle carried out by lower and oppressed classes. In fact, the production system that imposed the capitalist modern state increased class difference and tried to diminish, if not conceal, its
socio-economic impact by using the cultural artefacts that nationalism brought to the fore. This can be described as some of the ‘ideological state apparatuses’; as Althusser defined the associated function of these transformed social norms and old and new legal norms through repressive, technical and ideological institutions playing a key role in the aforementioned legitimisation of the state (Harnecker, 1969). Even though the state presented itself as neutral, the upper classes managed to channel their interests as the state’s common wealth. In the process, working classes had to agree by giving their partial consent, as Godelier (1984) noticed. That is, the degree of acceptance the ‘dominated’ (or exploited) are adding to the power that ‘dominators’ (or exploiters) already have on them. The manner this consent has been and still is manufactured, in Herman and Chomsky (1988) words, is directly related to the instrumentalisation of feelings towards nationalities (production of patriotism) by the state and the mass-media (owned by the wealthy) through control and manipulation: generation, alteration, suppression, of culture and identities within a designated territory. Production and control over scales have been crucial to achieve this given that; “scale is… not socially or politically neutral, but embodies and expresses power relationships” (Swyngedouw, 1997, p. 140). Such relationships are still unbalanced nowadays, as is illustrated in the support of a particular interwoven production and political system, of which some of its unjust socio-economic consequences are being analysed in the next section.
“The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society… The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe… The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country…” (Marx and Engels, 1848, p. 38). In this extract of the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels had already noticed the uneven spatial expansion of what was thriving as a new international (cosmopolitan) socioeconomic system. In fact, what was being simultaneously constructed (and
struggled with) was the foundation of the national-states as democracies alongside the referred capitalisation of society. The changes introduced have been intensifying ever since the 19th century, affecting all areas of life including the self, and its relationship with the state. It is here where, adding globalisation to the equation, I would like to set the focus. In terms of the self, the capitalisation of society has brought theories about the homo economicus. That is, individual agents constantly seeking their own welfare by maximizing their preferences, making economic rational choices using a cost-effective scheme, and thus achieving satisfaction (see Hargreaves Heap, et. al., 1992). This has been theorised as being pivotal for the proper function of the capitalist system, since it claims that the common wealth is guaranteed if every member of society adopts that utilitarian behaviour. A result already institutionalised by the liberal governments in the 1830s is illustrated by the fact that “…the man who had not shown the ability to accumulate property was not a full man, and could therefore hardly be a full citizen” (Hobsbawm, 1962, pp. 197-198). Hence, what the described process has also effectively inserted, through the centuries and more recently by neoliberal thinkers, are several changes of personal preferences. The extreme materialistic sense given to life by the generation of new constant needs, presently resulted in the reification of personal relations and the design of one-dimensional people, in Marcuse’s terms (1964), within the consumer society (see Featherstone, 1991). For the sake of the economy, citizens are no longer people, but (mass) consumers. To achieve this, the nation-state has been instrumental. Hirsch and Kannankulam have indicated that: “By means of a process of socialisation that takes the form of a state, members of the exploited classes are disorganised as individual citizens. Simultaneously, the state constitutes the terrain on which the development of a shared policy to be pursued by the ruling classes… becomes possible...” (2011, p. 16). It is indeed the desired dismantlement of any type of organisational formation outside the state apparatuses towards the realm of the individual that the system, i.e., the elites who run it, have sought through the last centuries. That process is currently combined with institutional strategies of depolitisation (see Wilson and Swyngedouw, 2014). Evidence is found at different scales, for instance, on increasing legal restrictions on rights such as free speech in public spaces (Mitchell, 2013). Citizenship, as a synonym of nationality, therefore
expresses the self-submission to the interwoven political-institutional and socio-economic (neoliberal) capitalist system. The lack of in-group belonging that the theory here explained would have brought to societies has been substituted for a broader selfcategorisation, which succeeds alternatively due to the reinforcement of individual freedoms, globalisation and the cultural power of the national symbols, among them, the territory. It is not only the local community where people are born and/or brought up, nor is it only that local spatial and cultural entities to be identified in, but it is also, and specially, a larger space, a territory produced under capitalist rules, abstractly represented in the nation and institutionalised as a state. European democratic welfare states, as mentioned above, are political products of contested socio-spatial processes. In that geohistorical configuration, a turning point was the emergence of the post-industrial society (see Bell, 1973), which altered social, labour, and economic relations at the same time that electronics and informatics throve (Castells, 1996). This phenomenon was defined by Harvey (1989) as a time-space compression. It was precisely during the 1970s and 1980s that neoliberal financial capitalism successfully expanded (with the connivance of the state; see Harvey, 2007) towards many economic sectors, becoming hegemonic. Its effective financial control is run mainly through indebtedness, as Peet (2011) proves. He, like Ferguson (2012), also highlights the intimate relationships between large corporations, the wealthy, state governments, and supranational institutions like the World Bank, the IMF or the ECB, which in turn illustrates modern class exploitation. The system has restructured itself, including the role given to state’s national discourse on differentiation and the way democracy functions. I shall start explaining the latter. After all that has been said, the nationstate can be viewed as both cause and consequence of the capitalist system and its development. Thus, it is not surprising that the nation-state’s evolution suffered since globalisation took off, with a sequential decrease of states’ power in relation to the market. It cannot be forgotten that it is the state which is intended to ensure, guarantee and watch over democratic principles. The process by which that is done could also have suffered alterations, as Harvey noticed. What the state does is translating abstract principles: such as equity, freedom, tolerance, solidarity, etc., into law within a territory, but this “…act of translation offers a moment of
liberatory as well as repressive possibility” (2001, p. 199). The state as an institution has a privileged position from which advantage can be taken to manipulate the meaning or the degree of intensity of these principles. The new alteration of the geometries of power caused by globalisation and its neoliberal ideology has modified state sovereignty (see Sassen, 1996; Smith, 2005). If the liberal revolutions in the 18th century turned sovereignty from the private to the public (from the Ancient Régime to the nation-state), neoliberalism is acting conversely. Power is being transferred to private (today corporate) hands, instead of maintaining it in the state, in the public. Though institutions still exist, they are being hollowed out since its political (democratic, plural) nature is denied by identifying it with the governance. The nation-state raison d’être is questioned and therefore the rule of the majority, democracy, is currently being threatened (Harvey, 2007). The role of the state in this globalised society no longer seems to be that of the preservation of democracy and the social principles that it represents, but rather the maintenance of a system ruled by the market. Here, social injustice, is partially concealed by a national affiliation discourse and the orchestration of a neoliberal ‘cultural hegemony’, which, following Gramsci draws a sort of ‘common sense’ (as opposed to a ‘good sense’; see Harvey, 2007). This means a sort of domination, “...no longer directly based on military force, but on forms of ideological consent that call for new kinds of political and cultural resistance” (Anderson, 1998, p. 120). How has this alteration of the geometries of power by globalisation turned into such a hegemonic scenario? One of the theoretical answers is found on the re-scaling of the national discourse and the new goals given to nationalism. For instance, national differentiation that used to be fostered within Europe a century ago, has shifted towards mutual recognition of national cultures, especially after the Second World War and the necessity of an integration process in Europe. Nonetheless, the global capitalist system needs state structures and state economic competition, so integration has limits. While this is contradictory in a society which is more globalised every day, it explains why differentiation discourses in Europe are still alive, normally pointing towards other objectives, while national discourse is nowadays structured differently, but is still feeding from the culture of fear.
Fear, like love, is incredibly powerful. The neoliberal nation-state has also benefited from reinforcing fear among its citizens to maintain its sociopolitically privileged position. If there is an enemy, an antagonist, the national rhetoric is managed and designed in opposition to it (or usually, them), which at the same time helps to consolidate in-group (intra-country) sentiments. However, nationality has not been exclusively used, but rather, a wide range of discourse, lately based primarily on ethnicity and religion. Todorov (2008), in his Fear of barbarians, defends the plural and dynamic identity of individuals and the two main inherent characteristics of cultures: their plurality and variability3. Precisely, these concepts, in their pure essence, cannot be totally accepted under the capitalist system as it is conceived today, because what is constantly evoked is the exclusive belonging to a nation, a religion, a race, a group, etc. This neoliberalised national discourse is ideologically hegemonic and thus, as a general rule, unlikely to be pluralistic, being at the same time opposed to any sort of universality (see Maalouf, 1998). In order to legitimise the difference in that new global scenario, that hegemonic discourse (always strongly mediatised) has adopted innovative tactics. A classic example, is the employment-related speech, by which others (immigrants) are coming to our country to steal our jobs, which belong to us as nationals (please notice emphasis). Albeit it is a discourse on ethnicity and religion, as I was saying, it is usually connected to illegal activities, the one that has a deeper impact in Europe. In a work about fear and terrorism, Altheide writes: “It is not fear of crime… It is what this fear can expand to, what it can become… The major impact of the discourse of fear is to promote a sense of disorder and a belief that “things are out of control”…” (2009, pp. 57-58). At the end, the objective is remarking on difference, and is persuasively used – without forgetting, by those who are in power – are forms of non-physical violence. Appadurai reminds that it is in “…events of extreme collective violence [non-physical, and especially physical, such as terrorism or foreign military intervention] that we can see the spiralling loop which produces predatory nationalisms” (2000, p. 138). In a recent work, Merrifield points out that: “The people can’t be wrong, Rosseau always insisted, but they can, he warned, often be deceived, deceived into acting for what isn’t in their own interests. One of the most effective forms of deceiving people is fear, and today a big perpetrator of fear is austerity”
(2014, p. 127). Merrifield refers to austerity measures that are currently taken by the elites and the political and economic establishment across Europe through the policy regime, as Peet (2011) calls it. Such measures in times of crisis provoke, among others, scarcity in the labour market and the reinforcement of the discourse of fear of immigrants ‘stealing’ jobs, following the previous example. It is a discourse driven by fear and focused on individualism and difference to others and carries first scepticism and distrust, followed by isolation, discrimination, and xenophobia. This can ultimately be done thanks to rescaling nationalisms to make them politically and culturally hegemonic within the globalised neoliberal state capitalist system4.
In the preface of the Statute of the Council of Europe, also known as the Treaty of London, signed in May, 1949, the states that first joined stated, among the reasons to sign, the necessity of: “Reaffirming their devotion to the spiritual and moral values which are the common heritage of their peoples and the true source of individual freedom, political liberty and the rule of law, principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy”. The momento when the treaty was signed cannot be forgotten: after the end of the Second World War, in the context of the increasing Cold War. Shortly after, in 1952, what would be the European Union embryo was established: the European Coal and Steel Community. What I want to be emphasised is that the economic grounds of the current EU diverges from the democracy-based Council of Europe motivation. That is why it is not difficult to state that the EU project has had a biased economic cause since its foundation. Maintaining peace was essential, but it was mainly thought and done through the sharing of a common market for goods. In contrast, EU citizenship is only a twenty year-old phenomenon. Belina explains how this economic, neoliberal character of the EU is sustained and fostered by a triad fetishisation working at the same time: the fetishisations of credit/debt, competitiveness, and territories. Nowadays these processes “…hide relevant aspects of the politicaleconomic reasons for the current Euro crisis and the way in which it is dealt with politically” (2013, p. 33). In this context, compromises towards sociocultural and economic integration within Europe are encountering major difficulties. Identity seems to be crucial.
Déloye writes in general that “European identity is… offered up as compatible with the cohabitation of preexisting national identities within a public multinational European civil society” (2008, p. 103), which is in turn, following Déloye, defined by the common democratic culture. The problem is that the EU’s final objectives are not entirely socio-cultural, but economic, and that consequently affects European democracy and European identity. For instance, the Title IV of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU (European Union, Lisbon Treaty, signed in 2007) assures the ‘free movement of people, services and capital’, all at the same scale. Yet people are to encounter more difficulties to move within the EU than capital5. As a result, a survey-research conducted by the Pew Research Centre in 2012 about European unity in some different EU countries shows that EU favouritism has decreased in some countries up to 20% between 2007 and 2012, coinciding with the crisis. The neoliberal measures undertaken by the European institutions, especially the ECB, reaffirm the biased economic character of Europe, giving more importance to certain companies and banks than to people. To illustrate this, the example of the policy changes on the banks’ required minimum ratio of reserves can be mentioned. Banks have to maintain, by law, an amount of metallic money (ready cash), which is formally called the cash deposit requirement, and that is decided by central banks, such as the ECB in the Euro zone. As Navarro and Torres-López (2012) denounce, cash deposit requirements have shifted from 30% in the seventies to approximately 10% nowadays, due to financial sector lobbying. That shift gives a broader capacity of action to banks and financial corporations, since they can manage a larger amount of money to
lend in loans or mortgages as well as invest in all types of markets and in so doing, make profit. This system of creation of money (bank money or abstract money, not ready cash) allows them to strengthen their power, endow them to take higher risks, and permits them to encounter less, if not totally avoid, public control. Here is an example of the sovereignty transfer mentioned above, which has moved from the nation-state to private corporations and to supranational institutions. Some of the latter – like the European Parliament – are presumably controlled by citizens, and some others – like the ECB – are not6. The question therefore could be: who is benefiting from this situation? Definitely those elites ruling the system, who are never entitled to lose their investments, no matter how large the credit crunch would be7. Simultaneously, austerity measures are imposed in countries such as Greece, Portugal, Ireland or Spain (the so-called PIGS), which means public policies are almost exclusively made of cutbacks in their social welfare systems. As a consequence, national culture is now – with different spatial extent – acting as a catalyst for anti-europeanism. Especially worrying is the increase of power of Greece’s extreme right autocratic, separatist, racist and homophobic party Golden Dawn, having entered the Parliament (18 deputies out of 300) with 6.9% of votes in the elections in June, 2012, although this was reduced to 17 seats during the most recent elections in January 2015. It is therefore not surprising that in these countries (in the following example, Spain and Greece) most people do not trust the free market economy anymore. Even the ECB is seen plainly in an unfavourable light. The political-economic neoliberal regime created in Europe has also received a serious warning in the last
European parliament elections. It is not a coincidence that extreme right is increasing in countries such as Greece, Bulgaria or Hungary which rank in the lowest positions of a recent report on social justice within EU countries (Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2014). Yet far right or populist, anti-european parties have significantly increased also in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, among others8. These organisations whose concept of democracy is rather exclusive if not nonexistent are gaining power thanks to European institutions and their neoliberal policies. They have emphasised market integration instead of democracy (people’s) integration, being instrumental in the deregulation of the national economies and privatisation of state (public) welfare assets and resources, while rescaling nationalism and fetishising competition and territories instead of building a project based on collective, universal, plural and just principles.
Many ideas have been mentioned through this paper and it is obviously not the intention of the author to cover all of them, as this would be impossible. However, some conclusions can be reached. Class dominance exists. It is no longer a dichotomy between bourgeois and proletariat, but a redefined, well-planed structure in which the upper class reproduces itself ad infinito to remain in power: they are the elites, the powerholders, the 1%. In this article, a geohistorical approach ending in a brief analysis of our current situation in Europe shed light on this. The expansion of the capitalist state towards a democratic welfare state brought prosperity to Western Europe for decades. Seeking a broader welfare
fear and difference displayed in the interest of the dominant class. Only the interrelated processes studied are able to explain the turning of values suffered by European society in the last decades, which has been especially rapid since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Henceforth, individualisation sought by the consumer culture in globalised societies built and rebuilt new schemes around people’s self-categorisation parameters, raising the importance, for instance, of constantly shifting fashion in many aspects (architecture, music, clothes, etc.) which people could identify with. Concurrently, globalisation triggered new interlinked spatial processes: concentration in and gentrification within cities, urban sprawl, mass-tourism and brandification of historical urban areas, massive migration flows, etc.; many of which reinforced national characters even if the states would not have pursued it. Herein lies one of the most dangerous features of nationalism: its power to take out patriotism, instrumentalised by adulterated sentiments of belonging, and usually seized by fear given particular circumstances that are beyond the control of the nation-state that holds it and benefits from it. In fact, patriotism has suffered changes through the last century at a similar rhythm as culture, yet it seems to be healthy –probably because it is constantly reproduced in that globalised context. Perhaps the most visual example can be massive sport events, such as Olympic Games or football World Cups.
was key for the EU integration process to start. However, it has developed as a process dominated by globalisation, in which neoliberal nation-state rhetoric conducts the political, spatial and cultural domination exercised in almost all scales benefiting European elites. Nationalism is constantly fuelled, while the market has no nation but profit, allowing capital and goods to move with freedom. The economic preponderance over other spheres of life is strikingly outstanding, despite people’s commitment to subvert this situation. That commitment is usually organised in social movements or subaltern collectives, which struggle for influence and control at several scales. Nevertheless, neoliberal ideological supremacy commands the economy, which, through the market forces, controls many of these scales: supranational, national, regional or even local institutions, policy strategies
and daily decision-making. An international example can be given: whereas consensus on Human Rights in supranational scales such as the United Nations has been achieved, there are still some issues to be tackled, i.e. some countries to ratify important agreements. In contrast, agreements concerning the market are usually smoothly reached and protected. Developed countries’ reluctant behaviour to implement taxes on international transactions, such as the Tobin tax, give evidence of this. Unfortunately, it seems that, when it comes to making profit, everything is possible, while human lives are secondary. The hypocrisy, selfishness or lack of democratic principles lying behind these situations can be explained by the effectiveness of the capitalisation of society and the role of the culture of
The most remarkable of these changes are the strives and achievements to transform from a working classoriented collective feeling towards a global-oriented individual self whose in-group necessity is satisfied alternatively by fashion, global trends and national symbols. In the process, many local, physical and mental structures were attacked, adapted, mutated, and substituted by fresh builtup identities linked to other scales of belonging, the nation being the principal one. The paradox raises today as the nation seems to be useful because neoliberal capitalism, symbolised by class interest, needs to reflect its ideological hegemonic discourse in order to maintain the intra-country, socially unjust and thus democratically weak status quo, and the inter-country competition and power distribution which, in turn, allows the system to keep working by breeding extremely uneven spatial, social, labour, and productive economic relations. In the latter, exploiters and exploited can be easily identified, especially in non-developed areas of the world. In any case, deeper studies
on these related topics must be carried out in the future, always adhering to a multidisciplinary approach. Referring specifically to the EU integration process is therefore not totally positive. It seems difficult to make real achievements once the system places economy over democracy, and uses nationalism as a weapon to ensure that this occurs by constantly replicating difference. Experiences such as the IDEA Seminar that encourages this paper are crucial to turn over the situation. Simultaneously, it is necessary to raise awareness on the configuration of the historical and current roles played by every actor in our continent’s scenario. European integration, in my opinion, means the deconstruction of nationalisms as they are understood today, whilst recognising and respecting difference and searching for wider social justice in socio-economic terms. That clashes with the interests of the upper class minority governing the system, and produces ongoing multiscale and hardly ever loud, usually silent, figurative fights. These are, in essence, fights for which principles must rule our lives, whether they are those which are ethically universal to humanity and ensured by social-based democracy, or those which had kidnapped and altered the latter so as to impose their neoliberal imaginary. Solutions to overcome this historically rooted situation in relation to European integration therefore begin by criticising the current mass consumer culture, as well as using creativity to dismantle our national mental structures – and its barriers, fears and prejudices, i.e., to emancipate ourselves. Being aware of our real needs, not the ones fostered by the system, is therefore crucial: money will always be a means to life, never the objective. At the same time, being conscious of the historical trajectory of nations and nationalism as have been explained is considered vital, given their ideological exclusive discourse and therefore their discriminatory nature. On the contrary, working locally as an alternative, appropriating of the public spaces of our regions, cities, towns, villages, etc., in order to share knowledge and experiences in our spatially closer scopes, i.e., generating community from below, are ways in which to augment integration. Large-scale national as well as global identities that still produce differentiation, that are using their power to divide in cultural, ethnic, religious, or national blocs, are normally lacking of direct human interaction. They are usually benefiting
from the network society to bolster their hegemonic, and intrinsically unjust, position. Our virtual lives are important; they help us to share abstract spheres we would have never thought possible years ago. We need to keep doing this, as a necessity for the cohesion of the plural people of Europe: EGEA is a fabulous example of this. However, it is also important to be conscious of the manifold class control, not easily perceived, exercised in that abstract spaces as well as the physical ones. It is important in both, to organise ourselves, to cooperate, and exchange; that is how empathy, tolerance or critical thinking increase. Belonging to and working in our localities, or regionalities, always bearing in mind the importance of shared democratic principles governing our relations, creates a community where everyone can feel involved, and could boost our vision towards another Europe. Because at the end the integration needed is the one of European people, not European biased institutions: they are the means, but we are who must decide what future we want for our continent.
In fact, family heritage was also taken into account; a characteristic of European liberal states in the 19th century as an example will show later. Foreigners could obtain citizenship by parliamentary concession, and freemen could acquire it if they were liberated –since the Constitution still recognised slavery (see Tomás y Valiente, 1979). 2
The Bulgarian-French philosopher focuses, in some parts of his book, on criticising works of those who have conceived and supported either from politics or academia “the clash of civilizations”, such as Hirsi Ali or Samuel Huntington, who coined that concept. 3
Please note the rescaling of the nation by the neoliberal state does not exclusively apply to that done by nation-states, but also other territories which have their own state history before modern nation-states,. Nowadays many of them have some sort of institutional (regional, federal) autonomy, such as Scotland, Catalonia, the Basque Country, etc. (see Sabanadze, 2010). 4
For example, an official draft report released in March 2014 proposes to limit residence permits for EU immigrants in Germany up to 3 months of stay without having found a job. Yet it is not law, the discussion on the welfare state abuses in the first economy of the Eurozone is on the table. (German Federal Ministry of the Interior and German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, 2014) 5
This article was written in the summer of 2013 and corrected one year later. I want to firstly thank the editors of the European Geographer for their extraordinary work: corrections and comments that undoubtedly improved the quality of this paper. Secondly, I am grateful to my entity friends of EGEA Sevilla – Guadalgea and my fellow organisers, as well as all the participants, of the EMRC 2013: your personal and scientific contribution has been essential. More concretely, I would like to dedicate this article to Alejandro Martín for teaching me, among other things, that life has infinite paths waiting to be discovered, and to Justino Losada for his everstimulating and insightful comments. And last but certainly not least; this article is dedicated to Iris van Beers, for her help with language and logistics, support and inspiration. Of course, I alone remain responsible for its content.
It should be reminded that Eurozone citizens do not directly elect the president of ECB, while the institution is obviously political. Furthermore, the lack of citizens’ sovereignty is also related to doors between public and private institutions usually spinning (see Ferguson, 2012; Merrifield, 2014). The better example might precisely be the current head of the ECB, Mr. Mario Draghi, who came on power from the private sector: concretely from Goldman Sachs, a bank that had a key role in the unfolding of the 2008 crisis. 6
Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman, in the NY Times on-line defined the picture of Europe as “…a European policy elite always ready to spring into action to defend the banks, but otherwise completely unwilling to admit that its policies are failing the people the economy is supposed to serve.” (2013) 7
Capitalisation of society refers to the acceleration process of using capital in particular ways from the early Modern Age onwards, the industrialisation, and the consequent effects in society. It does not refer to the existence of capital itself, which can be dated as ancient as mankind, since it has been always intended to the satisfaction of human needs (Hobsbawm, 1962). 1
An interactive map on the topic can be found on The Telegraph online: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl 8
dnews/europe/eu/10828567/EUElections-2014-the-rise-of-the-newEuropean-Right.html [online] [accessed 14 September 2014].
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This is the result of EGEA's IDEA seminar held in Zagreb in July 2013.
Published on Sep 16, 2015
This is the result of EGEA's IDEA seminar held in Zagreb in July 2013.