The Democratic Left in Southeast Europe (#DemLeftSEE) was designed as an open process of networking, coordination and position-building between activists from throughout the Southeast Europe region. The FES works with the conviction that through coordinated action and joined-up movements across the region, activists can have the ambition to change the political direction of their countries towards truly just, prosperous, democratic, egalitarian and green societies.
#DemLeftSEE intendet to link up with other initiatives to make joint proposals concerning the future of the European continent as a whole. The process invited new and more established political actors, initiatives and organisations, and was open to a dialogue amongst equals with the political parties on the Left from the region. FES believe that more open, participative and bottom-up policy processes are the future for democracy.
Under the umbrella of Democratic Left SEE, FES Dialogue Southeast Europe organized activists fora since 2016 in Tuzla, Skopje, Cluj, Napoca, Prizren, Niš, Tirana, Rijeka, Sarajevo, Athens and Mostar, and continues to work with activists throughout the region. During these fora, activists throughout the continent have identified several positions as priorities for advancing their societies, and these positions are still available bellow, and you can download the full texts from our DemLeft library.
The #DemLeftSEE continues today, organized and produced by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Dialogue Southeast Europe, in a new format, but the goal remains the same: giving activists across the region opportunities to amplify the voice of their struggles!
No justice, no peace! (Macedonia)
Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own! (Serbia)
Zagreb is ours! (Croatia)
We are hungry in all three languages! (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
We march for justice! (Albania)
Everywhere is Taksim! resistance is everywhere! (Turkey)
Under these slogans and others, people throughout our region have risen in recent years to demand that politics work in the interest of the many and not only the privileged few.
There have been some successes which can give us hope: the colorful revolution contributing to a change of government in Macedonia; the stopping of the gold mine in Rosia Montana; the Zharreza people march banning fracking in Albania; the election of the Zagreb is Ours! party to the city council in Croatia's capital; the inspiring plenums experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina or the Gezi park movements in Turkey, to name only a few.
But there are also overriding frustrations and fears throughout much of the region; at captured political institutions and processes; unjust neoliberal policies driven by international capital; sectarian animosities provoked by elites for personal gain and exploited by international actors for the sake of geopolitics. Authoritarian tendencies of both domestic and international powers are on the rise, and with them the need for civil resistance is more urgent but also more difficult and dangerous.
After more than 25 years of ‘transition’, we live in societies where a powerful few profit through theft or by capturing state resources and institutions, most seek to escape, and many are just trying to survive. Whilst some of our countries have moved forward in terms of overall wealth, we have all moved backward in its distribution: inequality is high and growing, and yet social grievances are often ignored or manipulated. And whilst some of our countries have progressed when it comes to democracy, we are far from popular sovereignty or people having genuine control over their future. The “stability” that is so prized by elites in the region, and their associates in the EU, increasingly seems like a hopeless trap. It feels like trading the hopes of a richer, more meaningful, and more humane civic life tomorrow for the experience today of being exploited and dispossessed in a perpetual interregnum.
We need a new Democratic Left for the region which is proud of its commitments to democracy, human rights, social justice, universal education and culture, gender equality, minority rights, environmental protection, public space, labor organization, civic empowerment and egalitarian production and allocation of wealth. Therefore, we came together to analyze, but also to try and consolidate the underlying issues in the region and beyond under one banner with the aim of formulating actionable positions and policies for the betterment of the lives in the region, where we want to stress and create a stronger community among activists and go beyond reactive struggles.
We need a Democratic Left which is not afraid to call-out corruption, discrimination, inequality, or exploitation, is not afraid to take the side of the weakest members of society, and is not afraid to lay out positive alternatives to the status quo. We need a Left which ensures equality both in law and in fact.
We stand for the principle and practice of working together, in the region and in a wider European context, and believe that it is the only means for the Left to grow stronger. Different movements can learn from, support, and inspire each other. In an age where the decisive drivers of change are transnational corporations, elites, and international organizations, only by gathering together across borders do we have enough collective force to not only resist the erosion of what remains of social democracy and the welfare state but to create new alternatives for the 21st century.
Kupreška 20, 71000 Sarajevo
Bosnia and Herzegovina
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