Archivi tag: EU

The other virus killing Europe 

There are two viruses circulating in Europe right now, and both are deadly in their own way. The first is an actual disease, the novel coronavirus. It is killing Europe in that it is killing its citizens – over 65,000 deaths from COVID have been counted on the continent, overwhelming its healthcare systems, destroying jobs and livelihoods, shutting down social life. The second virus is a complication that has arisen from the first, and it is killing the idea of Europe: it is the lack of solidarity which continues to characterize the continent’s response to this pandemic. Of course, calling it a second virus is rhetoric – but the situation is serious. Angela Merkel has called the current crisis the worst challenge we have faced since World War 2 – and this on a continent that has, in the last decade alone faced economic recession, austerity, a migration crisis and political polarization and radicalization.

There is no more Schengen zone these days. A political project must survive with one of its vital organs disabled: open borders and the free circulation of goods, services, capital, and people represented the heart of Europe. This is not to say temporary border closures and restrictions on who can enter the EU are unwarranted or disproportionate: as measures taken to contain a deadly pandemic, they may be well-justified as such. But they also symbolize something: the manner in which many member-states of the EU pulled up the drawbridge first is the most visible manifestation of an instinct to return to national thinking at precisely the moment cooperation was most needed.

Of course, a government’s first and foremost duty is to protect its own citizens, the electorate from which it derives its democratic legitimacy and political authority. And of course, healthcare policy is determined by national governments, not the EU. But when it comes to the economic fallout – the companies likely to go bankrupt over the next few months, the people who will lose their jobs and livelihoods – solidarity is needed. For selfish reasons, too: the German economy will not recover if none of its neighbours do. Yet the last few weeks have seen the re-emergence of a north-south divide within the EU, rather than a recognition that in such hard times, all must be on the same page. Some southern nations, including Spain and Italy, pulled out an old proposal which had been rotting in the drawers for years: Eurobonds. The Netherlands, Germany and other northern European nations strongly opposed the idea of such an instrument which would see the EU countries share or pool their sovereign debts. Instead, they proposed reactivating some of the mechanisms created in the time of the Eurozone crisis – evoking bad memories in Europe’s south of bailouts paid for with painful austerity measures.

While there are real arguments for and against the pooling of debt within the Eurozone, impressions matter, too. And the impression created by this protracted back-and-forth, as well as the EU Commission’s delay in putting together a response to the dramatic situation in Spain and Italy, was that this Union was missing in action, and, worse, that some countries were unwilling to come to the help of their struggling neighbours.  Last week saw an initial breakthrough, with the EU finance ministers agreeing to an aid package worth 500bn Euros, including funds from the crisis-era bailout fund ESM and the European Investment Bank. A majority supported Spain and Italy in keeping any conditions attached to loans to a minimum. The debate over Eurobonds was simply postponed. It is a very small step forward – more must follow, much more. And the EU institutions must be more present, more visible, in a crisis thus far dominated by the reactions of national governments.

The European idea has also suffered shipwreck in another respect these days: in its treatment of refugees (though perhaps this is a moot point – what can you expect of a Union that cannot even help its own?) On the Greek islands closest to Turkey, which for many migrants represent their first station in EU, 40,000 people are stuck in camps built to shelter less than 7,000. The conditions they live in are unsanitary, undignified – and unworthy of a union of nations supposedly bound together by their common commitment to human rights. After the chaotic and unmanaged influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants in 2015, the Union had half a decade to get its house in order, and accept that this issue requires a united response, a clear policy, and the sharing of burdens between member states. Instead, after signing a questionable deal that saw Turkey’s autocratic government become Europe’s gatekeeper, the EU leaders happily moved on rather than confronting this divisive but inevitable issue.

The Greek camps have been overcrowded for years – and yet attention was only drawn to this situation by Turkish President Erdogan’s recent stunt, sending thousands of refugees to the Greek border to pressure the EU to listen to his demands. Thousands of people, including families and children, have been languishing in horrific conditions for years, yet only now, with a global pandemic going on, do we talk about the health consequences of living in a camp where 1,300 people share a water point, 200 people a shower and 167 people a toilet. 

Last month, eight member states and Switzerland promised to take in 1,600 unaccompanied minors from the islands. This was never enough – there are an estimated 5,200 unaccompanied minors on the islands, and many others will need to be moved as well if living conditions there are to be actually improved. But, amidst the coronavirus pandemic (very conveniently, cynics might note), even the repatriation of this small number of children has come to a grinding halt. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, that global superpower, has now managed to get things moving again with a promise to resettle eleven children in the next week. Germany committed to flying in up to five hundred children, 50 of them “as a matter of urgency”. Yes, Germany, as all its neighbours, is dealing with a public health emergency which understandably takes priority. But the federal government has managed to repatriate over 187,000 German citizens stuck abroad in the past few weeks, on over 170 specially chartered flights. Some 80,000 Eastern Europeans will be allowed to come to Germany in the next few weeks to work on Germany’s farms. So what, exactly, stands in the way of getting an additional few hundred unaccompanied minors out of a living hell?

Meanwhile, the number of rescue ships operating in the Mediterranean has been drastically reduced as some NGOs transferred their staff to help with the coronavirus outbreak on land. The ship “Alan Kurdi” had to wait at sea for days with 150 rescued migrants while the Italian, Maltese and German governments argued over who should take responsibility for them (they have now been transferred to an Italian ‘quarantine ship’, rather than being allowed to disembark, as the Mediterranean country declared its own ports ‘unsafe’ over the virus outbreak.) With an expected uptick in departures from Libya with better weather, an increasing death toll in the Mediterranean is likely as not enough resources are available to respond to migrant boats in distress.

These are European failures, they cannot be blamed on coronavirus. The situation on the Greek islands has been catastrophic for years. The only reason so many charities had their ships patrolling the Mediterranean before this crisis hit is because they were filling the gaps left by the utterly insufficient EU sea missions. The supposed choice between helping the most vulnerable people – be they on unseaworthy fishing boats off the Libyan coasts or living in the mud of Lesvos – and addressing coronavirus is false. EU states will inject their economies with hundreds of billions of euros in the coming months and years to soften the impact of this crisis. Neither saving lives in the Mediterranean nor airlifting a few thousand families out of Greece would cost anything near that amount. It is not a question of money or resources – it is a question of political will.

If the European Union wants to survive, solidarity must mean action, not just talk. The richer members must help the poorer, and all together must help the most vulnerable.  United Europe stands, lives, rebuilds, gets through the crisis and eventually flourishes again. Divided, it crumbles, its values a hollow joke, its citizens easy prey for the nationalists and isolationists.

 David Zuther

Per conoscere la Sinistra Croata

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  • Presentati ai nostri lettori.

Zlatko Nikolić, 28 anni, da Zagabria, studente al corso di storia della Facoltà di Filosofia a Pola. Ho svolto temporaneamente diversi lavori manuali e attualmente ricopro l’incarico di Consigliere a rotazione per il partito della sinistra radicale Radnička Fronta (Fronte Operaio) nel Consiglio della Città di Zagabria.

  • Prima di parlare di Zagabria, della sinistra croata e altro, puoi elencarci quali sono i punti programmatici chiave del Fronte Operaio?

Il Fronte Operaio è nato nel 2014 ed è stato iscritto come partito nel 2015. Nasce come ampio fronte per mano di singoli individui di spicco della sinistra extraparlamentare, di piccoli gruppi di sinistra e di alcuni sindacalisti di lotta. Il Fronte Operaio si riconosce innanzitutto su posizioni anticapitaliste, nello specifico si intende la transizione della società nel socialismo. Altre istanze che sosteniamo includono soprattutto l’utilizzo della democrazia diretta nelle decisioni interne, una posizione esplicita e chiaramente antifascista e l’opposizione a quelle politiche mainstream neoliberali e liberali sostenute fino ad ora da quelle forze “civiche” che difendono lo status quo e che contribuiscono alla sempre più crescente disuguaglianza sociale.

  • Qual è la situazione a Zagabria e quali sono brevemente i problemi principali in città?

La città di Zagabria è la città più grande, con il più alto potenziale umano e economico, per questo motivo nella suddivisione del paese si considera come un’entità a sé stante. La città è gestita dal Sindaco tramite diversi uffici che funzionano come piccoli ministeri, sostenuti dal Consiglio Comunale, organo di rappresentanza e che tiene sott’occhio ciò che succede a Zagabria. I problemi sono molteplici e di grossa entità e su di loro potremmo scriverci un capitolo a parte, però il problema chiave è il Sindaco stesso che avendo stipulato un accordo con la destra nel Consiglio Comunale ha ottenuto la maggioranza. Maggioranza rafforzata dal sostegno incondizionato di criminali locali, magnati e imprenditori, tramite la quale gestisce la città in modo tutt’altro che trasparente. Una quantità enorme di soldi pubblici finisce in tasche private. L’altro problema è l’incapacità dell’opposizione di mettere fine alle metodiche poco democratiche di un singolo uomo che in più istanze hanno danneggiato in modo evidente la città, il bilancio e i cittadini. Se il Sindaco decide qualcosa, e solitamente questa decisione viene presa dietro a porte chiuse con qualcuno che potrà guadagnarci soldi o potere, allora non esiste altro organo istituzionale che possa fare da argine al di fuori del Consiglio Comunale. Consiglio che lo stesso Sindaco controlla appunto, tramite accordi con la destra e riposizionamenti dubbi da parte di consiglieri liberali in sostegno alla maggioranza. Il Sindaco di fatto detiene questo potere tramite una serie di casi giudiziari, allo stesso modo il partito che governa il paese esegue pressioni sul sistema giudiziario rendendo impossibile qualsiasi azione legale contro di lui. Si tratta della Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica (Unione Democratica Croata) con cui il partito del Sindaco sostiene nel Parlamento e con cui ha più volte mostrato di collaborare nel Consiglio Comunale. Se vogliamo generalizzare la città di Zagabria è uno Stato dentro allo Stato, indipendentemente dal numero di cittadini, di area e di bilancio, e il cui Sindaco si comporta da sceriffo.

  • In merito a questo, quali sono gli obbiettivi del Fronte Operaio nel contesto zagabrese?

Come prima cosa, il Fronte Operaio non partecipa alle elezioni parlamentari con qualche vano sogno che con esse possa avvenire qualche cambiamento massiccio, perché riteniamo che la democrazia parlamentare sia solo un’imitazione della democrazia. È una cosa a cui ho già accennato, le decisioni vengono prese altrove e poi vengono semplicemente votate in parlamento. Nel Consiglio Comunale non esiste alcuna discussione sui singoli provvedimenti, perché la maggioranza rifiuta di confrontarsi e di rispondere all’opposizione. Tutte le decisioni che sono state prese fino ad ora e che si riflettono su centinaia di migliaia di cittadini zagabresi, non sono mai state prese come volontà di questi ma si scelgono persone che decidano per loro. E in questo caso, lo stesso Sindaco, decide non per tutelare gli interessi dei cittadini ma per fare gli interessi di quei piccoli gruppi di persone che ricambiano la sua generosità finanziandolo in vista delle successive elezioni. Noi riteniamo che l’intero sistema politico della Terra debba essere ridefinito in modo da spostare le decisioni a livelli politici più bassi e piccoli che per loro definizione sono più vicini al popolo stesso. Il Fronte Operaio partecipa nelle istituzioni per sfruttarli come canali mediatici, in quanto ci permette di spingere le nostre idee socialiste che fino ad adesso sono state eliminate dalle discussioni. Allo stesso modo entrando nelle istituzioni otteniamo una quota di bilancio tramite la quale ci finanziamo e che sfruttiamo per altri obbiettivi. Tutti i nostri Consiglieri che non sono in pessime condizioni economiche, donano la propria quota da Consigliere al partito.

  • Una delle notizie che è arrivata ai media italiani è quella del cambio di nome della Piazza dedicata al Maresciallo Tito, puoi descriverci un po’ cosa è successo lì?

Siccome la coalizione tra il Sindaco e il partito dell’Unione Democratica Croata mancava di un numero di consiglieri per avere la maggioranza, il Sindaco stesso ha dovuto sottostare ad un’alleanza con un gruppo di estrema destra, il quale richiedeva il cambio di nome della Piazza. Ora questo rapporto è cambiato perché il Sindaco ha cacciato via questo gruppo e ha riconsolidato la maggioranza “convincendo” un gruppo di consiglieri liberali di appoggiarlo e ora ha il sostegno di 26 consiglieri contro 25 dell’opposizione.
I cambi di nome a piazze e vie, come la distruzione di simboli e sculture antifasciste e socialiste è un processo che dura ormai dai tempi della secessione del paese dalla Iugoslavia. In Croazia sono stati danneggiati o distrutti oltre mille monumenti dedicati alla lotta contro il fascismo o a chi è morto per mano del terrore fascista durante la Seconda Guerra Mondiale, di cui molti erano considerati di alto valore culturale e storico. L’estrema destra ha sempre agito sotto il patronato della sopracitata destra moderata dell’Unione Democratica Croata, cercando di rivisitare la storia e distruggendo qualsiasi conquista del periodo socialista in Iugoslavia, il motivo di queste azioni, riteniamo noi del Fronte Operaio, siano da attribuire al fatto che l’attuale élite politica ed economica non abbia conseguito alcuna conquista nell’attuale società se non quella di distruggere ciò che è stato conseguito nel periodo socialista. Sotto attacco sono anche gli ultimi pilastri dello stato sociale e ci aspetta l’annientamento della sanità, della scuola pubblica e della cultura. L’industria, le banche e il settore primario sono ormai da anni stati venduti e distrutti e anche l’infrastruttura pubblica sta lentamente passando in mano al capitale finanziario.

  • Ora parlaci un po’ della sinistra, quali sono le sue condizioni a Zagabria e quali a livello nazionale?

La sinistra è attualmente messa male, se escludiamo la forza liberale della “Socijal”demokratska Partija (Partito “Social”democratico) che in alcune istanze si è atteggiata più da destra della stessa destra. Infatti, è proprio questo partito in grossa parte colpevole della situazione attuale. Il Partito Socialdemocratico è l’erede della vecchia Lega dei Comunisti Croati, un po’ come il PD in Italia. Lo stesso partito ha intrapreso un cambio di rotta negli anni novanta come del resto quasi tutti i partiti della stessa specie che facevano parte dell’ex blocco socialista e comunista. Questo ha portato innanzitutto un cambio nelle politiche di visione internazionale ma anche economiche verso destra, con le quali il Partito Socialdemocratico ha impostato i periodi in cui è stato al Governo (2000-2003 e 2011-2016). Durante entrambi i mandati il Partito Socialdemocratico ha introdotto privatizzazioni selvagge e ha colpito duramente i diritti dei lavoratori, continuando quello che già avevano iniziato i precedenti governi dell’Unione Democratica Croata. In queste situazioni la sinistra non aveva un partito in cui riconoscersi e per questo ha dovuto costruire una propria piattaforma o un proprio partito tramite il quale poter agire. In questo modo è appunto nato il Fronte Operaio, come piattaforma per i lavoratori e le lavoratrici, i disoccupati, i pensionati, gli studenti (universitari e liceali), e per poter formare una proposta socialista, antisistema e anticapitalista.
Esiste un numero di partiti e iniziative di questo genere, ma sono tutte relativamente piccole. Proprio in questo momento siamo in coalizione con alcune di queste forze a livello locale a Zagabria dal 2017, e per la prima volta la sinistra ha ottenuto un buon risultato e per questo motivo la nostra coalizione “Blocco di Sinistra” nel Consiglio Comunale di Zagabria ha quattro consiglieri che sostengono in modo chiaro delle posizioni di sinistra. Allo stesso modo è successo ai livelli inferiori delle istituzioni cittadini, dove abbiamo diversi rappresentanti nei consigli di quartiere e per la prima volta nella Capitale è successo che ci fosse un consigliere proveniente da una forza dichiaratamente anticapitalista. Il Fronte Operaio ogni anno cambia il proprio consigliere comunale, infatti prima di me ci sono stati il compagno Mate Kapović, le compagne Miljenka Ćurković e Katarina Peović. Alla fine di quest’anno al posto mio verrà qualcun altro a sostituirmi nel mandato di rotazione.

  • Per quanto riguarda il contesto nazionale, sappiamo che le prossime elezioni sono quelle presidenziali e sappiamo che il Fronte Operaio ha una sua candidata, quanto sono importanti queste elezioni?

Il Fronte Operaio ha deciso tramite decisione assembleare di nominare come propria candidata la prof.ssa dr.ssa Katarina Peović per le prossime elezioni presidenziali che si terranno a fine di quest’anno. Abbiamo preso questa decisione pur essendo consci delle poche chance per avere un risultato di rilievo, perché così possano apparire le nostre proposte socialiste tra quelli che potremmo definire i circoli borghesi mainstream dei politici che provengono da partiti forti elettoralmente ma anche nei circoli dei magnati e criminali che si sono arricchiti con le politiche di privatizzazione. Allo stesso modo per la prima volta dopo la secessione dalla Iugoslavia, i cittadini della Croazia potranno votare per una candidata socialista che spenderà la sua campagna per gli emarginati, gli emigrati, i disoccupati e i bloccati (ndr. categoria di persone i quali conti sono bloccati). La stessa candidatura arriva come uno dei più grandi progetti dalla fondazione del Fronte Operaio per il quale dedicheremo forze e risorse per ottenere il miglior risultato possibile. Riteniamo che la stessa candidatura di Katarina possa essere utile per un nuovo processo di unificazione della sinistra, questa volta per le elezioni politiche che seguiranno l’anno prossimo.

Andrea Zamboni Radić

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Upoznajte Hrvatsku Ljevicu

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  • Ukratko se predstavi čitačima

Zlatko Nikolić, 28 godina, iz Zagreba, student povijesti na Filozofskom fakultetu u Puli. Povremeno zaposlen na različitim manualnim poslovima i trenutno obnašam dužnost rotacijskog zastupnika u Skupštini Grada Zagreba ispred radikalno lijeve partije Radničke fronte (RF).

  • Prije nego što krenemo o Zagrebu, hrvatskoj ljevici itd… možeš malo opisati koji su glavni stavovi Radničke Fronte?

Radnička fronta nastala je tijekom 2014. godine, a službeno registrirana kao politička partija u 2015. godini kao široko lijeva fronta i to od strane dijela istaknutih pojedinaca na ljevici koji su do tada djelovali izvan parlamentarno, od pojedinih malih lijevih grupacija i nekih borbenih sindikalaca. Radnička fronta stoji prvenstveno na pozicijama antikapitalizma odnosno na poziciji društvene transformacije u socijalizam. Neke druge politike koje se kod nas ističu je svakako direktnodemokratski unutarnji ustroj, beskompromisni stav oko antifašizma te suprotstavljanje i odmak od dosadašnje mainstream neoliberalne i liberalne politike ‘građanskih’ opcija koja čuvaju status quo u društvu i donose sve veću društvenu nejednakost.

  • Kakva je situacija u Zagrebu i koji su ukratko glavni problemi u Gradu?

Grad Zagreb je glavni i najveći grad s najvećim ljudskim i gospodarskim potencijalom pa se u teritorijalnoj podijeli zemlje uzima kao poseban entitet. Gradom upravlja gradonačelnik grada sa svojim gradskim uredima koja se ponašaju kao mala ministarstva za upravljanje uz posredstvo Gradske Skupštine kao predstavničkog tijela koje kontrolira ono što se u Zagrebu događa. Problemi su krupni i o njima bi se dala ispisati posebna crtica no trenutno goreći problem je sam gradonačelnik koji radi dogovora s desnom partijom u Gradskoj Skupštini ima većinu pa stoga upravlja gradom potpuno netransparentno uz masovna podilaženja lokalnim tajkunima, moćnicima i poduzetnicima. Ogroman javni novac se slijeva u privatne džepove. Drugi problem je i potpuna nemogućnost opozicije bilo kako stane na kraj da se nedemokratskim praksama jednoga čovjeka koje su u više slučajeva evidentno štetne i štetočinske po grad, proračun i stanovništvo grada. Ako je gradonačelnik nešto odlučio, a obično je nešto odlučeno iza zatvorenih vrata i u dogovoru s nekime kome će bilo kakva odluka donesti određen novac, moć ili utjecaj, onda ne postoji institucionalna mogućnost da se to spriječi osim u Gradskoj Skupštini, u kojoj isti kontrolira većinu radi različitih dogovora s desnicom, pretrčavanjem liberalnih zastupnika u njegovu većinu pod sumnjivim okolnostima itd. Gradonačelnik je to s cijelim nizom kaznenih optužnica, no partija na vlasti koja vrlo slično upravlja i državom vrši političke pritiske na pravosuđe te onemogućava sudstvu da mu stane na kraj. Radi se o HDZ-u s kojim je gradonačelnik sa svojom strankom u koaliciji i u državnom parlamentu, a odlično surađuju i u lokalnoj koaliciji u Gradskoj Skupštini. Ako ćemo generalizirati, grad Zagreb je država u državi s obzirom na veličinu, broj stanovnika i proračun Grada, a gradonačelnik se ponaša kao njen šerif na vlasti.

  • Vezano uz to koji su trenutno ciljevi Radničke Fronte u zagrebačkom kontekstu?

Prvenstveno, Radnička fronta ne ulazi u parlamentarnu borbu iz nekih velikih snova da će se preko parlamenta dogoditi neka krupna promjena, jer sustav predstavničke parlamentarne demokracije smatramo za samo imitaciju demokracije. To je nešto što sam već natuknuo, odluke se donose negdje drugdje, a u parlamentima se samo izglasavaju. U Gradskoj Skupštini o pojedinim odlukama nema niti rasprave jer pozicija odbija raspravljati i odgovarati na pitanja opozicije. Sve odluke koje se odnose na stotine tisuća stanovnika grada Zagreba nisu niti u jednom trenutku došle kao istinski odraz volje tih istih ljudi već se bira netko tko odlučuje za njih. A taj isti, u ovom slučaju gradonačelnik, gotovo redovito odlučuje ne u korist stanovništva, već u korist male interesne skupine koja mu njegovo dobročinstvo vraća u trenutku kada se treba napuniti kasa pred izbore. Mi smatramo da se kompletni politički sustav zemlje treba redefinirati i spustiti što više odluka i upravljanja na male razine i niža politička tijela koja su po svojoj definiciji bliža populusu samom.

Radnička fronta u političkim tijelima sudjeluje radi javne govornice kroz koju pokušavamo u političku sferu gurati socijalističke ideje koje su do sada bile potpuno izbrisane iz političkog i medijskog prostora. Isto tako ulaskom u politička tijela dobijemo i proračunskog novca kojime se financiramo i taj novac onda upotrebljavamo u druge svrhe. Svi naši vijećnici koji nisu u teškom financijskom stanju svoju naknadnu od sudjelovanja u vijećima doniraju partiji.

  • Jedna od vijesti što je došla do talijanskih medija je ona o promjeni imena Trga Maršala Tita u Zagrebu, možeš li nam malo opisati što se točno dogodilo?

Kako je lokalna koalicija između HDZ-a i gradonačelnikove stranke bila manjkava za napomenutu većinu u Gradskoj Skupštini, gradonačelnik je morao pristati na koaliciju s još jednom ekstremno desnom grupacijom čiji je jedini zahtjev bio micanje imena Trga Maršala Tita. Taj omjer se sada izmijenio jer je gradonačelnik tu grupaciju izbacio iz većine, no paralelno je uspio ‘nagovoriti’ nekoliko liberalnih političara da uđe u njegovu većinu te time ima omjer od 26 naspram 25 ruku u ovom lokalnom parlamentu.

Mjenjenje imena ulica i trgova, kao i devastacija antifašističkih i socijalističkih simbola i spomenika iz javnog prostora je proces koji traje još od secesije zemlje iz Jugoslavije. U Hrvatskoj je oštećeno ili uništeno više tisuća spomenika borcima protiv fašizma ili pak žrtvama fašističkog terora tijekom drugog svjetskog rata, od kojih su neki bili i s visokom kulturnom vrijednošću te priznati spomenici kulture i kulturna baština. Ekstremni desničari, koji su uvijek djelovali pod patronatom već navedenog ‘umjereno’ desnog HDZ-a, godinama rade na reviziji povijesti te uništavanju bilo kakvog pozitivnog naslijeđa socijalizma iz Jugoslavije, i to po stavu RF-a zato što se trenutačna polit-ekonomska elita nema čime u ovome društvu pohvaliti već samo destrukcijom već postignutog upravo u tom istom socijalizmu. Na udaru su i posljednji stupovi socijalne države, te nas čeka uništavanje socijaliziranog zdravstva, školstva i kulture. Industrija, banke i poljoprivreda su odavna prodani i uništeni, a i javna infrastruktura već polako prelazi u ruke krupnom kapitalu.

  • A sada malo o ljevici, kakva je situacija u Zagrebu, a kakva na nacionalnom nivou?

Ljevica u Hrvatskoj je na jako niskim granama, ako oduzmemo liberalnu ‘Socijal’demokratsku partiju (SDP) koja se u pojedinim trenutcima ponaša više ekonomski desno od same desnice. Upravo je SDP zaslužan za takvo stanje. SDP nasljednik je Saveza komunista Hrvatske, slično kao što je to PD u Italiji. Ista stranka provela je ogroman zaokret devedesetih godina kao i mnoge slične partije koje su pripadale bloku socijalističkih i komunističkih partija u Europi. To je prvenstveno dovelo do zaokreta domaće svjetonazorske politike i ekonomije udesno, a u čemu je i sam SDP sa svoja dva mandata (2000.-2003., 2011.-2016.) na vlasti i sudjelovao. Oba mandata SDP-a obilježile su privatizacije i udar na radnička prava stanovništva, čime su samo nastavili ono što su prethodne vlade iz HDZ-a činile. U takvoj situaciji ljevica nema neku stranku oko koje bi se okupila nego mora graditi nove stranke i nove platforme iz kojih će djelovati. Upravo tako je nastala i Radnička fronta, kao platforma radnika i radnica, nezaposlenih, umirovljenika te studenata i učenika, kako bi artikulirali socijalističke, antisistemske i antikapitalističke politike.

Postoji nekoliko takvih stranaka i inicijativa, no sve su još uvijek relativno male. Upravo smo koalicijom svih takvih na lokalnoj razini u Zagrebu 2017., po prvi puta za ljevicu ostvarili bolji rezultat, te naša koalicija Lijevog bloka u Gradskoj Skupštini Grada Zagreba ima četiri zastupnika koji beskompromisno stoje na pozicijama ljevice. Isto stoji i za niže razine u Zagrebu gdje imamo mnoštvo vijećnika u mjesnim odborima i gradskim četvrtima, a tada se za glavni grad po prvi puta od secesije Hrvatske iz Jugoslavije dogodilo da imamo gradskog zastupnika/icu koji dolazi iz redova otvorene antikapitalističke partije. RF rotira svoga zastupnika u Skupštini svakih nekoliko mjeseci, a ja sam došao iza druga Mate Kapovića, te drugarica Miljenke Ćurković i Katarine Peović. Krajem ove godine u rotacijski mandat umjesto mene dolazi netko drugi.

  • Što se tiče nacionalnog konteksta, znamo da su sljedeći izbori predsjednički i znamo da RF ima svoju kandidatkinju koliko su ti izbori važni?

Radnička fronta odlučila je Skupštinskom odlukom partije istaknuti svoju kandidatkinju prof.dr.sc. Katarinu Peović za predsjedničku kandidatkinju na idućim predsjedničkim izborima koji nam dolaze na kraju ove godine. To smo učinili prvenstveno svjesni u naše male šanse za zapaženiji rezultat, ali upravo iz razloga da se socijalističke politike napokon pojave i u mainstream krugu među buržoaskim političarima koji dolaze iz krugova moćnih stranaka ili pak krugova bliskim tajkunima koji su se obogatili u privatizaciji. Isto tako po prvi puta, od secesije Hrvatske iz Jugoslavije, stanovnici Hrvatske će imati mogućnosti glasati za socijalističku kandidatkinju, koja će svoju kampanju potrošiti pričajući o obespravljenima, iseljenima, nezaposlenima i blokiranima. Sama kandidatura dolazi kao najveći projekt RF-a od osnutka i angažirat ćemo znatne snage i sredstva u što bolji rezultat. Smatramo da sama kandidatura Katarine može doći kao jako dobar uvod u novo ujedinjavanje ljevice, ovaj puta za parlamentarne izbore koji nam dolaze po kalendaru iduće godine.

 

Andrea Zamboni Radić

27 + x ? 

As one prepares to leave, others are waiting to join:  the European Union has recently spent much of its diplomatic firepower on navigating the United Kingdom’s messy divorce from it, largely neglecting the question of when the Union may actually start growing again. Where such an expansion would take place is easy to answer, however: in Europe’s southeastern corner, the Balkans peninsula. When, in 2004, the ‘A8’ (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania; alongside Malta and Cyprus) joined the Union, it was seen as an important step, extending the Union’s promise of upholding democracy, human rights and the rule of law to millions of people whose countries had recently thrown off the oppressive mantle of communist rule. And just like central and eastern Europe, the Balkans, too, suffered unfreedom in the Cold War era. But not only that: in the 1990s, Yugoslavia disintegrated in bloody wars driven by nationalism and ethnic hatred. Europe’s first genocide after the end of World War 2 was committed in Bosnia. The last of the Balkans wars, in Kosovo, ended with a Western military intervention and an international presence that eventually led to a still-contested declaration of independence. 

What better place, then, to carry the flame of European solidarity, cross-border friendship and cultural exchanges to, than a region whose recent past has been defined by the worst excesses of narrow-minded nationalist politics? Where better to test the Union’s developing commitment to social progress, rather than mere economic cooperation, than in a region which needs perspectives? Or so one would think. But the enlargement process has stalled, and enthusiasm in European capitals for further expansions is ebbing. What happened? 

Europe’s leaders first identified the Western Balkans countries as potential membership candidates in June 2000, at the European Council in Feira, Portugal. Three years later, this perspective was reaffirmed at a Thessaloniki summit and in 2006, the European Council proclaimed that “that the future of the Western Balkans lies in the European Union”. That was over twelve years ago. 

Accession to the EU is not an easy process. The EU’s Treaties establish two preconditions for membership: candidate countries must be “European”, and they must be ready to respect and promote the Union members’ common values, that is “human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”. The criteria by which potential newcomers are judged now include the stability of the institutions guaranteeing the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights; the economy’s ability to cope with the competitive pressures of the internal market, and the candidate country’s ability to meet the obligations of membership and implement Union policies. Potential candidate countries proceed through various stages of cooperation with the Union, receiving technical assistance as they work towards the standards set by the EU. Once given official candidate status, a country must then take all the necessary steps to adopt the EU’s ‘acquis’ – the body of existing laws, rules, rights and obligations governing the bloc – separated into 35 chapters, from fisheries to fundamental rights. As of now, two countries are potential candidates for accession: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. One Balkan nation, Croatia, joined in 2013. Five countries are officially recognized as candidate countries: Serbia, Turkey and Montenegro have started negotiations. North Macedonia and Albania are waiting to do so. North Macedonia, a candidate since 2005, went so far as changing its official name to end a long-standing dispute with EU-neighbour Greece so that it would not stand in the way of successful negotiations. Albania, too, has worked to comply with the EU’s requirements, including with wide-ranging reforms to the justice sector. Yet when the decision about opening talks with both countries was due in summer 2018, the EU governments postponed it by twelve months. This June, they again delayed their decision, leaving it for fall. Why has the process stalled? 

The problems come from both sides. On the one hand, some recent developments in the Balkans are concerning. Albania, for example, has been in a deepening political crisis for months. Its Socialist Party Prime Minister Edi Rama vowed to take a German tabloid journalist to court whose paper had published wiretaps implicating Socialist party officials in vote-buying. The leader of the opposition party, which has been boycotting Parliament, is a person of interest to US prosecutors investigating suspicious donations to a Republican lobbyist. At the end of June, the nation seemed on the brink of chaos as the country’s President clashed with Edi Rama and his Socialist MPs over the date of local elections which were set for that month and which he wanted to postpone (in the event, the original date was backed by most of the international community and the vote happened peacefully, if with low participation).  Across the Balkans accession candidates, issues like organized crime, political corruption, weak institutions and minority rights persist at varying degrees of severity. Turkey’s accession is now a distant fantasy thanks to the Erdogan government’s authoritarian tendencies. 

Meanwhile, inside the club, all is not well – and that influences how EU leaders view enlargement. As the third anniversary of the UK’s referendum on membership passes by, the diplomatic headaches it has caused are still ongoing. The EU must grapple with climate change and migration, but these issues divide the member-states. Populist forces are a threat to the entire European project. In some of the most recent additions to the bloc – Hungary and Poland, for example – the rule of law is under siege. This last problem can take very different shapes, depending on the perspective from which it is looked at. In the candidate countries, it could well look like an instance of double standards: their judicial systems are probed and judged as not yet up to standard, while governments whose countries have been in the Union for years calmly dismantle democratic structures and principles while the EU (at least until recently) stands by doing little. For Western European governments, meanwhile, the Polish and Hungarian cases could be perceived as cautionary tales of the ugly surprises that await after the initial enthusiasm over enlarging the bloc. 

Some of the reluctance, thus, is understandable. But there are also real perils to keeping millions of Albanians, Macedonians, or Bosnians in the waiting area forever. Perils that the Union risks overlooking as its attention is held hostage by other trouble spots. Integration into the European project has so far been a key ambition for both the people and the governments of the Western Balkans, providing the necessary impetus for wide-ranging reforms. But years of delays and stalling are leading to increased exasperation in the region, while in the EU, domestic politics has polluted the debate (a good example: the hyperbolic fear-mongering about ‘imminent’ Turkish accession in the run-up to the Brexit vote 2016). In the 2019 Balkans Barometer, one-fifth of respondents from the six Balkans nations said they believed their country would never join the EU (another 28% said they believed accession would happen by 2025). So the hopefuls still outnumber the pessimists. But the EU’s actions have consequences: support in Kosovo for EU membership dropped from 84% in 2017 to 69% in this year’s survey, as the EU’s governments fudged a promised lifting of visa requirements. 

And where the EU leaves a vacuum, others are ready to step in: Russia, Turkey and China all have identified the Western Balkans as a region of geopolitical interest. In April, in Dubrovnik, China held the eighth summit of its project for cooperation with seventeen middle and Eastern European countries – 12 EU members, 5 Balkans accession candidates. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to win favor with Bosnia’s Muslim community. And while the West is eager to get Serbia and Kosovo to end their battle over the status of Kosovo, Russia appeals to the reactionary and nationalist elements in Serbian society, threatening to undermine any conciliatory approaches. Europe remains the region’s most important trading partner. But its global competitors are gaining ground. China provides loans which may at first sight seem more appealing than EU funds which come with tight strings attached. The price of such easy money will only materialize in the long term, making it convenient to ignore for now. 

The Western Balkans may not seem like the EU’s most urgent issue at the moment – but if the Union does not offer a realistic perspective for the region, the Balkans may well turn elsewhere. For now, there is still enthusiasm about Europe – but with each delayed decision, each broken or forgotten promise, it fades a little more, and the region inches closer to becoming an object of geopolitical chess games. There is much good that the European project could do in this corner of the continent. It would be a shame if the bloc’s leaders gamble it away.  

David Zuther

 

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Picture created by Cradel and found on WikiMedia Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

Vote for Europe

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European elections tend not to excite most people. Last time, in 2014, only 42% of eligible voters turned out across the EU and among the under-24-year-olds, it was an abysmal 28%. But this year’s elections may be too important to sit out. While the European news agenda has been overshadowed by Brexit for months (and could continue to be, as the UK prepares to participate in elections it never wanted to be in), the European project is faced with a number of challenges from the outside – dealing with migration, global warming, a collapsing world order – and an existential threat from within: the rise of those who want to take the sledgehammer to over sixty years of European integration and dance on its ruins. If there was ever a time when everyone’s vote mattered, it’s now.

Europe’s enemies are united.

For a number of years now, the rise of right-wing populism could be observed across Europe – France’s Rassemblement National (formerly Front), Germany’s AfD, Italy’s Lega. Their levels of support varied, as did their radicalism, but broadly they pursued the same agenda: anti-immigrant, anti-EU, nationalist, frequently Islamophobic and socially conservative. But while one could almost be resigned to the fact that such narrow-minded loudmouths were now a fixture of the European political landscape, the most recent developments have been most alarming. In several European countries, the far-right is now governing (either alone or in a coalition). In Italy and Austria, coalitions including right-wing parties have shown that they mean what they say – in Italy’s case exemplified by the almost weekly dramas involving refugee rescue ships being denied permission to land and being stranded on the sea for days, actual human beings being used as pawns or bargaining chips. In Hungary and Poland, right-wing governments are busy dismantling the fragile institutions of democracy and civil society that have developed there since the end of communism three decades ago. As of this year, Spain, previously thought of as immune to the appeal of the far-right after decades of Franco’s dictatorship, once again has a far-right force in national politics: the Vox party. And what’s perhaps most troubling of all: the enemies of Europe are all about cross-border cooperation. Fully enjoying the free movement rights the EU affords them, Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache jets to Budapest to meet his pal Viktor Orban, the AfD’s Joerg Meuthen visits his mate Matteo Salvini in Milan, and Marine Le Pen made time to see Santiago Abascal, now leader of 24 Vox MP’s in Spain’s Congress of Deputies, when he was in Perpignan in 2017. With the enemies of European unity so, well, united, so coordinated and integrated, those who believe the future does not lie in a return to narrow-minded thinking and nationalism must stand just as strongly together.

And there are things worth fighting for. The Second World War ended 74 years ago, but peace is not to be taken for granted – indeed, it is often said that Europe has been free of conflict since 1945, but this is not true: into the 1990s, the Troubles in Northern Ireland cost some 3,000 lives. The death toll from Yugoslavia’s bloody break-up in the 1990s is well over one hundred thousand, driven by the very forces of nationalism and hatred that the European project seeks to overcome. And for the past five years, Ukraine has paid a high price for the aggression of its neighbor, Russia. None of this means the European project failed – these were conflicts on the edges of Europe, where the developing European project’s reach was limited, while the central European nations that fought the gruesome wars of the first half of the 20th century and before – France and Germany, for instance – have been united in friendship and cooperation after 1945. What it shows, instead, is that peace is fragile, not guaranteed. The same is true for the increasing number of benefits that the people of Europe have accrued over the decades: the rights to travel, live, work, study and settle across an entire continent. The freedom of barely noticing when you cross a border – one which might have been marked by young men killing each other in trenches a century ago, or maybe one that thirty years ago was shut with walls, fences and armed guards. Compared to the rest of the world – indeed, to the European neighbours who are not yet Union members – this is a privilege that citizens of the EU now acquire by birthright. The risk is that we become complacent about what we have.

None of this means, of course, that everything about the Union’s current state is perfect. The low enthusiasm for participation in European politics can be attributed to Brussels being a major buzzkill: bureaucratism and the rules of the single market are neither what sparks people’s passions, nor what Europe is about at its core. There is much room for progressive critiques of the current model of European integration. If the project of ever-closer union is to be continued, it will at some point inevitably mean that the wealthier member-states commit to supporting the less fortunate ones in a serious way – solidarity cannot end at one’s national borders. Similarly, a Union cannot tout its commitment to human rights and show off its 2012 Nobel Peace Prize while people are drowning in the Mediterranean – or while it is funnelling money to Libya, where thousands of migrants are kept in detention camps under the most awful of conditions, subject to brutal abuse and exploitation, entirely rightless and now caught up in the most recent fighting (a scandal so depressing it ought to be on the agenda of everyone who professes to adhere to Europe’s most-loved values). Things do need to change. But there will be nothing left to reform if we let the enemies of Europe destroy this unique project. Europe has given us peace, it has given us freedom and rights, and it has given us a forum for cooperation – the only way to deal with the large-scale challenges of the future, such as climate change. In a volatile world, with a transatlantic partner we can no longer rely on, an increasingly aggressive Russia and unsolved conflicts in the Middle East, Europe is our best bet. Let’s defend it, and then let’s make it better. To take the first step in that direction, vote in these elections. One hundred percent of our generation will live in this future – so perhaps more than twenty-eight should come out and shape it.

David Zuther