Journalists and Writers at Podgorica Plenum: Region needs politics of hope, and not politics of fear
The third panel of the Podgorica Plenum: “Quo vadis, Balkans?” organized by Regional Academy for Democratic Development, Center for Civic Education and Friedrich Ebert Foundation, featured journalists, writers and publicists. The key speakers were: Vesna Mališić, journalist and editor from Serbia, Montenegrin writer Andrej Nikolaidis, Bosnian journalist Dragan Bursać, journalist and director of the Center for Post-Conflict Research Velma Šarić, as well as professor at the Faculty of Montenegrin Language and Literature Vladimir Vojinović.
Journalist Vesna Mališić stated that one of the basic problems in the region is the fact that the hate speech is interpreted as a freedom of speech. She emphasized that the problem in Serbia is that the society is deeply polarized and radicalized. Radical voices, rhetoric and views appear to be the loudest and dominant in the media. She added that we have created an entire atmosphere that reinstalls the figure of the enemy, and a constant feeling of being threatened and endangered from all sides. It is an atmosphere in which right-wing ideas break through very easily. She added that she is not optimistic when it comes to the leftist or civic ideas becoming more prominent and significant in Serbia.
Bosnian journalist Dragan Bursac said that there are not many people who speak out against the nationalist structures in power in Republika Srpska and that they are exposed to constant attacks and threats, without any protection from the relevant authorities. He said that one of the key problems is that we are surrounded by people who basically do not distinguish good from evil. Bursac warned that for every young political representative of the Serbian people who said that the past was not important and that it should be left behind, in the end it turned out that they had a very clear agenda when it comes to these topics and concluded that these things are extremely dangerous and harmful. He said that the right naturally acts united and unique, while the left is not such by nature, but that despite that, it is necessary to act in a coordinated and very active way.
Professor Vladimir Vojinović emphasized that we have reached a situation where even literary awards in Montenegro are questionable and give reasons for dispute and that this indicates the depth of the crisis in which Montenegro finds itself. He added that the key problem of Montenegro is the danger of introducing religious education in schools and that it lies in the education system. Montenegro has a number of problems that manifest themselves in everyday life and that destroy the multiethnic essence of Montenegro and lead to segregation.
Writer Andrej Nikolaidis said that every great idea is ignored at first, then encounters violent resistance, and in the end it is accepted as something that goes without saying. He believes that the situation in the region is very bad and that there is no great hope for its improvement. He said that the idea of the left often seems like something that is dying, but that it always survives because it is a policy of hope, unlike the right which is a policy of fear. He reminded that this is not the first time in our time that we feel as if there is no hope and as if the situation is hopeless, but it turned out that there is still a way out and hope. Speaking about the influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the situation in Montenegro, he quoted Miodrag Perovic, who said that the Serbian Orthodox Church and its liturgies have exceptional emancipatory potential. He said that the problem is not that the Serbian Orthodox Church interferes in politics, but that it is actively involved in politics, and stressed that the church is the basic tool for cross-border expansion of Serbia’s influence in the region.
Velma Saric, a journalist and director of the Center for Post-Conflict Research in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that the role of religious leaders in shaping politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina is important and that instead of bringing peace and stability, they had long been factors in spreading hatred and destabilization. She stated that the law punishing the denial of crimes and genocide was imposed on Bosnia and Herzegovina by the High Representative and that it served as a mere excuse to fabricate the latest crisis by those who are constantly in the campaign of genocide and crime denial. She stated that in a country facing such serious social problems, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, such a law was much needed and that without it, Bosnia and Herzegovina would sink into an even deeper crisis and there would be no future for young people.