Countering the Far-Right: Regional and Local Approaches for Action

From 9th to 12th of June, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Dialogue Southeast Europe organized a workshop in cooperation with Institute for Democratic Engagement in Southeast Europe (IDESE) at Cres, Croatia. The workshop topic was “Countering the Far-Right: Regional and Local Approaches for Action”, and gathered prominent and proactive members from academia, civil society, think-thank industry and social movements from the entire Western Balkans.

The participants worked in the Moise Palace, a 500 year old patrician building, located on the island of Cres, that was owned previously by the Moise family. The reconstruction of the Palace was a joint effort of Croatia and the European Union to renovate the devastated building and dedicate it to being a social and educational center. Moise Palace today is a place of ideas and academic exchange. It was chosen as the venue to discuss one of the most important challenges of our time, from local to international levels, which is the mobilization of the far-right.

The event was organized with the purpose of structuring actionable items and recommendations around this issue. In addition, it was used as a starting point in initiating a proactive group in the region that would enable gathering of thoughts on how to counter narratives that are endangering the democratic development of the region.

During the workshop, organizers employed several discussion methods to subtract key-points when it comes to dealing with radicalized narratives around the region. A key point within the observations was systematization of the far-right, on several levels, starting from the affective level, as a basic level of experience-shaping, up to the ideological one.

The participants also worked on the questions of how the far-right is being organized and structurally supported. Perhaps most importantly, the discussion also opened the topic of how the far-right narratives received the space in the mainstream discourse and became, to an extent, normalized in our everyday lives as well as how they can be successfully countered.

As an outcome of the workshop, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Dialogue Southeast Europe and IDESE will work on a summary of conclusions and recommendations that were agreed upon during the workshop. The paper will be finalized later this summer.


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