We and Europe’s diversity
By Bardhyl ZAIMI
As never before, the elections in the European Parliament have woken a wide interest. These elections were a kind of testing of the European idea, which was previously caused by strong discourses by nationalist and populist forces. The echo of these political polarizations in the European space was also downgraded to the fragile political spaces of the Balkan countries. They happened in a situation of waiting for the EU integration process, the Western Balkan countries have not once politically “interfered” with the events in the EU. Political parties in these countries, depending on their position of articulation, have problematized the European elections, hoping to improve their political weight in relation to the electorates they are targeting.
In general, political battles in the Western Balkan countries are dictated by the report they have on European integration. The very fact that most of the citizens of these countries aspire towards the European Union dictates the construction of discourses about the integration process. Continuously, this report is limited to two discursive spaces, appropriate reforms made by a particular government, and attacks on the delays which remains a sign of the opposition parties.
The elections in the European Parliament followed by strong Eurosceptic discourses during the election campaign and other populist ideas that hung the idea of enlargement were also considered as moments of electoral transformation and political gains in the Balkan countries. Also, there was no lack of opinion that with the new reality of representation in the European Parliament everything could be changed in the approach to continue simultaneously with the process of integration of the countries of the Western Balkans, especially Macedonia and Albania, who are already waiting for a start date for the negotiations for membership. This seems to be a hypothetical fog that has been widespread in the political space of the Balkan countries, that prefer to remain in “discursive operations” for the momentary benefits, rather than consolidate the political scene based on specific visions for the citizens.
European Parliament elections once again reaffirmed the fact that, despite political polarization, the European idea remains alive and rooted among European citizens. After twenty years, the largest turnout of more than 50% is registered in Europe, although European analysts say that this percentage is unsatisfactory.
It is precisely this biggest turnout at these elections that is seen by various European media analysts in terms of unusual polarization during the election campaign dictated by the most populist parties that were thought to have a good result to change the balance of European policies.
Strengthening these discourses in the European political space a few months ago sparked the reaction of 30 international writers, including Albanian writer Ismail Kadare. Through a manifesto published in prestigious international media, they reacted to the “waves of populism”, which they regard as a danger to the European idea itself.
In the array of this intellectual reaction, Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, one of the signatories of this manifesto, told The Guardian that the idea of Europe is also important for non-Western countries. “Without the idea of Europe, freedom, women’s rights, democracy and egalitarianism is hard to defend in my part of the world”, Pamuk said.
In fact, the idea of united Europe before it is concretized in the institutional reality, as we know it today, was promoted by many writers, but also by the very essence of the cultural exchange of European countries that never knew the borders. Whenever potential hazards appeared, the writers did not remain indifferent. Endangering the European idea has always been facing the cultural and literary vision of European communications, but also the common heritage of the continent.
In this sense was also the appeal of the European Writers’ Council of 2004, which emphasizes precisely this common European heritage that has had the dimensions of literature since antiquity. This appeal opens with a brilliant statement by Italian dramatic author Giorgio Strehler, saying that “Europe is an idea of man, long before the creation of a form of government”. However, the recent EP elections testified that the European idea is now more sensitive and far less vulnerable than populist discourses, which could jeopardize it. According to many European analysts, in these elections, however, they triumphed over pro-Western parties, which received votes from more than two-thirds of the electorate. Although populist parties won in some countries, the coherence of the idea of the European Union remains undefeated.
In fact, the whole essence of the European idea remains in the wide plurality that it has in itself. Diversity that gives meaning to the entire institutional functioning of the EU. The very European institutions are built precisely on these differences, over this broad and deep political and cultural pluralism. These diversities are the value of the European idea, but also the substance of the whole constitutive vision for Europe as a political, cultural and economic entity.
It is no coincidence that in the DW’s commentary on the EP elections, Bernd Riegert says “The EU remains what it always was: a highly heterogeneous mixed bag of people, who will continuously have to find compromises. That is its fate and burden”. And Europe can manage these varieties, because with time it has created a functional system that absorbs them as values. Earlier it was already said by the European minds that the more the European idea is attacked, the stronger it paradoxically becomes.
In the meantime, it seems that happiness and burden for all of us who live in the Balkan countries, despite the polarization that takes place in Europe, it remains to incorporate more values that bring us closer to this system, which finally recognizes the variety, the dignity of all and the vision to be part of a common idea. The European idea is a system of values, smooth cultural and democratic nurturing.
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