“I believe in Gandhi dream of ‘One World’, one single world with many cultures. But this means that we are all equally responsible for all that happens on our planet, for everything that affects our lives, for the bomb that explodes in Tel Aviv and those who die of hunger in Rwanda”. With these words, the Iranian philosopher Ramin Jahanebgloo explained in a video-chat room what he considered to be the Mahatma Gandhi’s spiritual, cultural and political legacy, expressing his thoughts on Friday September 26th on the Telecom Avoicomunicare.it website.
Dialogue of Cultures
I have thus far taken the position of a sociological observer in trying to answer the question of why we can term secularized societies yet “post-secular”. In these societies, religion maintains lays claim to a public influence and relevancesignificance, while the secularistic certainty is losing ground that religion will disappear worldwide in the course of accelerated modernization is losing ground. Above all, three overlapping phenomena converge to create the impression of a worldwide ‘resurgence of religion’: the missionary expansion, a fundamentalist radicalization, and the political instrumentalization of the potential for violence innate in many of the world religions.
“Using a soccer term, it is nowadays very hard to “support” Bosnia. In 2005 the country had a chance to change, to reorganise its institutions and make way for its emancipation with the debate on reforming the Constitution and promoting EU integration. But that opportunity vanished. Nowadays, although there is some progress, especially at an economic level, Bosnia is at a standstill and reforms are slow. This emphasises its profile as a “country receiving aid”. These are the words spoken by Christophe Solioz, Secretary General of the Center for European Integration Strategies (CEIS) in Geneva, one of the most authoritative European think-tanks, involved in in-depth analysis and constant research on the Balkans.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia) will live. There are many problems, but saying that Bosnia is on the road to hell is wrong. This country will sooner or later become a member of the EU. The European path is the only one Bosnia can walk. That is the vision of Mr. Wolfgang Petritsch, Austrian Ambassador to Paris and Chairman of European Cultural Foundation, a prestigious Amsterdam-based association committed to bridging European gaps through culture. Also Chairman of the Geneva-based CEIS, Petritsch is an experienced diplomat who served as High Representative of the International Community in Bosnia. He also chaired the European team during the 1999 negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo. In Europe, he is one of the most respected experts on the Balkans. An interview by Matteo Tacconi.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) will not be closed. It is the right decision. But I am surprised that many optimistic opponents and pessimistic supporters of the AKP now seem to act almost as if a party closing did take place. The project of democratic innovation must go on, and the only road for it is that of constitutional amendments, indeed preferably a new constitution. But it can be achieved, in a divided society, where there is no political revolution, only by a highly consensual approach. Many supporters of the AKP seem to believe that no consensus is possible.
Soccer often alleviates the chronic evils of countries. It annuls ethnic divisions, or if there are none, it thwarts the rifts caused by politics. This script applies to all the countries in the world. All except Bosnia. In this Balkan country, devastated by the 1992-1995 war and still divided along the front’s old lines, soccer causes even greater divisions. The Serbs, barricaded in the Srpska Republic – one of the two federal regions – support the Serbia team. They feel Serbian, not Bosnian. And they consider Belgrade, and not Muslim Sarajevo, scornfully renamed “Europe’s Teheran”, their real capital. Bosnia is supported only by the Muslims.An article by Matteo Tacconi.
The country is imploding. Ethnic divisions, with continuous crossed-vetoes between ethnic groups and slow-moving reforms that risk condemning the country to eternal inaction. Bosnia, with an institutional structure that is the result of the Dayton agreements dated December 1995, marking the end of the conflict, is a federal state, with a central government (situated in Sarajevo) with not very incisive power, and two ethnic groups - the Srpska Republic (SR, Serbian) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH, Croatian and Muslim) - boasting rather significant functions and competences. At this point much also depends on whether Europe will act and try and draft a “Plan B” for Bosnia. This before the singular (Bosnia) is definitively replaced by the plural (Bosnias). Before disaster hits, with the disappearance of Bosnia.An article by Matteo Tacconi.
The borders between Algeria and Morocco have been closed since the early nineties. Every time I cross into the Schengen area I cannot hide my envy as I pass from one country to another without having to show any document at all. Why have Arabs failed in creating an Arab Union, whilst our European neighbours managed to create the EU out of the extremely tough aftermath of the Second World War? Founded in 1945, the Arab League is still an ineffective organisation. The essence of the problem is not the people but their leaders and the fact that we always revert back to the same issue: a lack of democracy in the Arab world.
Ireland has had enormous advantages over the past 35 years thanks to its EU membership. The country has changed from being an exported of butter, beef and Guinness to the place where some of modernity’s symbols are produced – ranging from Viagra to Botox, and including microchips. The Irish ‘No’ was the result of a complex mix of different kinds of generally unfounded fears. With a financial crisis resulting in pessimism, the EU has, even more than in the past, become the easy scapegoat. There is a need for new idealism, or perhaps it is precisely idealism (the sort that aspired to a new European Constitution) that has been rejected? A great deal now is in the hands of France, led by Nicolas Sarkozy, current President of the European Union. The time has come to establish whether there is still a will to move forward and above all in which direction.
“During any given day, most of the time I feel European, and this feeling has become stronger ever since my native country, Bulgaria, entered the EU”, says Tzvetan Todorov to Resetdoc. He sees the foundations of a European identity in the protection of diversity and in an “obligation of tolerance”. The French-Bulgarian philosopher and linguist, who recently published La Littérature en péril, says that he is “very proud” of being a European, and hopes for greater continental political integration, while believing that national traditions are not destined to disappear (“I do not think that we will ever speak ‘Europeanese’”). The author of The Conquest of America also hopes that Tony Blair will not become the President of the EU and asks us not to identify the culture of Muslim immigrants with their religion: “I do not think that there is such a thing as an encounter between the West and Islam”.
It is absurd to think that Islam cannot accommodate democracy or that democracy cannot accommodate Islam. It is not Islam per se, but religion tout court that stands in some tension with secularism and with democracy – a tension that is healthy rather than unhealthy in a free society. Like Christianity and other religions, Islam is a religion practiced in many cultures and societies, sectarian, stratified, schismatic and pluralistic. To the degree Islam is fundamentalist, so is religion in many places, because in our secular age religion is under siege and fundamentalism is above all a reaction to religion under siege.
“Unfortunately, after Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, we have seen a return of the stereotypes used in existential debates. The kind of discussion used in psychoanalysis. It is said that Europe is distant from its citizens, that it no longer has a mission nor the spirit of its founding fathers. This is not true. While there are no longer powerful post-war feelings, Europe has not disappeared from the consciousness of its citizens.” Giuliano Amato, former Italian Premier and Vice-President of the EU Convention, invites Europeans to avoid skepticism, and adds: “I share the idea expressed by Bronislaw Geremek and others, stating that our cultural identity exists, but it is not an unquestionable fact, but rather a task we must want to address, ensuring that our shared characteristics overcome our diversities.“