Future of Europe
Beyond the crisis: what kind of Europe to give people a future?
What kind of Europe will help the millions of Europeans hit by the crisis get to the end of the month? It might sound extreme, but the lively discussion that took place at the European Parliament on October 2nd can be summed up in this question.
The debate on the Future of Europe was convened by Greens’ Group co-presidents Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Rebecca Harms, and saw the participation of national Green parties leaders and members of national parliaments. In the run up to 2014 European Elections campaign, the Greens have been focusing on solutions to the current crisis, and the discussion of what role is there for the European Union is at the core of the debate.
A paper drafted by the Greens’ Group at the Parliament was widely discussed, and some relevant suggestions were made by representatives of the European Green Party, in particular co-chairs Monica Frassoni and Philippe Lamberts, who currently work on a draft resolution on the Future of Europe which has been prepared by the party’s working group, and that will be voted at the forthcoming Greens’ Council in Athens next November.
A large consensus on tax harmonization measures brought together the participants, who agreed that this is where Greens need to concentrate their efforts. The state of the debate is also about the unfair fiscal competition, an old debate, where progress has been very slow so far.
Several participants pointed to the importance for Greens to deliver a response on adequate social measures.
Philippe Lamberts insisted that Greens must come forward with a strong social message. “Europe must be able to provide a safety net, do we want to say something about the social dimension of a better European Union? Do we want an integrated social union? Perhaps it is the time to push for minimum standards across Europe. If we don’t have serious answers ahead of 2014 elections, we will not be successful”, he stressed. You can listen to Philippe’s interview here.
The relevance of a social European dimension was endorsed by national representatives who confirmed that, from their national perspective, if we don’t see Europe connected to social justice, it will be a major failure at European level. This should be one of our priorities as Greens, as we put people’s interests on the agenda, not just banks’ interests.
A selection of interviews on the topic of the Future of Europe and national perspectives is available at the EGP's youtube page.
The urgency of concrete actions, the lack of adequate responses to be brought back to people, and the inadequacy of the European system at the time of the crisis were summed up by Irish Greens’ leader Eamon Ryan: “At the moment we are in a rafter, we are trying to survive. Some of the debate here is equivalent to say that in a few years we will build a saving boat. But we need it now, not in a few years. We need measures that will allow us to sail again properly”. Eamon’s interview is available here.
“People in countries hit by the crisis cannot make ends meet anymore, they don’t have means to live, and they don’t see Europe as the solution. Even if their perception might be wrong, or biased, this is what people see, and if Greens want to be successful, they must be able to change the public perspective. What people think is an important element of the resolution to the crisis and we must address that”, said Juantxo Lopez De Uralde of EQUO.
In Spain for instance, with unemployment rates over 24%, people are looking at ways to leave the country, to go somewhere where they can have a future. “The Spanish boat is sinking and we must do something to show that the European boat is helping”, said Uralde.
So far bailouts helped banks, not people. Massive amounts of money were injected into the Spanish banking system, with no effect on the quality of life of individuals.
In Spain people feel alienated from political classes, and from Europe: “We must find a Green position much closer to what people need and think. The European idea is very much in decline. There seem to be two kind of Europe, one on high-speed and the other in decline. If we don’t stand side by side with people, we have no chance to get the message across. A banking union…taxation… they are all good things, but we must stay on the side of citizens, or we will miss the boat”, said Uralde. Listen to Juantxo’s interview (Spanish) here.
People must be listened to, supported, they must feel they are not only part of the debate, but the most important actor because it is not something abstract we are talking of when we sit in meetings in Brussels and Strasburg. It is people’s lives, their jobs, their financial ability to take care of their families, of providing decent lives and a possible future to their children. The importance of recognizing the role of citizens was central to the afternoon discussion, with MEP Gerald Häfner underlining that Greens “must have the political courage to give citizens more power in the democratic process”.
The Future of Europe, and in particular which kind of Europe and which social dimension, is the focus of a resolution developed by the EGP working group that will be tabled for voting at the Autumn Council in November, as part of an ongoing discussion to pave the way to the 2014 European Elections campaign.
Boardroom quotas for women
The Greens in the European Parliament, in an open letter to Commission president Barroso and vice-president Reding, urged the Commission to publish planned legislation introducing boardroom quotas for women as soon as possible. Women’s current gross under-representation in decision-making in the private sector is undemocratic, inefficient and contributes to broader inequality between men and women.
The Greens also criticised the initiative by a group of EU member state governments seeking to block the proposals before they had even been published, and called on the Commission to present the draft legislation and submit it to the European Parliament and Council as part of the EU's democratic decision making process.
Commenting on the letter and the situation, Greens/EFA co-president Rebecca Harms said that: "The Commission must not give in to the bullying tactics of certain member states on boardroom quotas for women and should present the draft legislation as soon as possible. The EU has a long established legislative decision-making process, involving both the European Parliament and Council, and it is essential that these overdue proposals for boardroom quotas are submitted to this democratic process."
Despite years of rhetoric, the percentage of women on boards of large European companies remains appalling, with the share of women in the highest decision-making bodies of the largest publically-listed companies at a mere 14%. This is certainly not because of a shortage of qualified women, with 60% of university qualifications in the EU in 2010 being awarded to women.
The issue of gender and gender quotas was addressed by the 4th European Green Party Congress in Paris in November 2011, when the Gender working group, chaired by EGP Committee member and Vienna city Councillor Monika Vana put forward a number of recommendations to further enhance the involvement of women in the EGP and its constituent working groups and networks. Moving from a 40% minimum of female representation, the EGP committee will now have at least a 50% female representation, as some member parties, including the Austrian Greens, have had for a while. National delegations must now adhere to the gender balance criteria in order to be eligible to claim the available participation funding.
You can read a debate on the gender quota issue, and a Q&A between Monika Vana and MEP Philippe Lamberts, EGP Co-chair here.
Time to register
The Athens Council is only weeks away, and preparations are in full swing! But the Council needs all of you to be a success: the European Green Party Council meetings are open to the public and we would like to welcome as many participants as possible. So please go online at the Athens Council website and register without delay. Partial registration is also available.
How can you register?
1) IF you are a DELEGATE or IF you are attending the WHOLE COUNCIL please fill in the full registration form here.
2) IF you are NOT attending the WHOLE Council or if you are a local participant please proceed through the partial registration form available in English and in Greek
Remember also to communicate your arrival time through the registration form as we are trying to organize shuttle services from the airport to the hotel at night time - otherwise the hotel can be reached by public transport.
We encourage you to book your hotel accommodation as soon as possible to have a better cancellation policy. It would be great if you decided to stay with us, the EGP team, at the Divani Caravel because you will help EGP to fill in the reserved block room, and because we opted for a "all-in-one” option to be all together - and avoid traffic problems due to the Athens marathon that is held on Sunday 11th November.
The programme is taking a consolidated shape, and you can find the latest updated version online here. We are also working on a PDF version that we will make available shortly both online and through email.
Among the latest additions to a rich and exciting programme is the planned visit to a detention centre nearby Athens, which will give the opportunity to bear witnesses and discuss in concrete terms the issue of migration with representatives of the UNHCR and of the media.
Riding to Athens with the EGP
We are going to Athens by train!
The Athens Express departs Brussels on 31st October to arrive a week later in Athens. Different networks of the EGP - the Individual Supporters' Network in cooperation with the Federation of Young European Greens and the European Network of Green Seniors - will travel together, and meet with Green activists along the way.
We will make stops in Prague, Zagreb, Budapest, Bucharest, and Sofia before we arrive in Athens. In all those cities we plan to do some support activities for the local greens: an action, an event, a workshop, or a press conference. We are working closely together to get the best result of these actions, and preparations are in full swing at the moment.
If you would like to hop on the Athens Express, don't hesitate and send an email to email@example.com. But do this quickly, because there are only a few seats left.
Follow us on our tour through Europe via the blog on the EGP website, we will post all events, photos, videos, and stories there. For more information, go to the Athens Express page, where you'll find more details about the dates and the route.
A new section is available as of this week on our weekly newsletter. Blogs from Greens and Green-minded people across Europe will be posted here, on issues relevant to topics we are working on or concerned about.
This week we host an analysis by Ann Bland, member of the Finnish Greens, on her party heading towards local elections in Finland on 28th October
and a contribution by European Greens Secretary General Jacqueline Cremers, who reflects on her visit to Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan Green Party last September:
Anti-nuclear activist banned ahead of referendum
Anti-nuclear campaigners from Belarus Tatyana Novikova, a Bellona contributor, and Nikolai Ulasevich were banned from entering Lithuania this week, on the grounds that the Baltic country had declared them “personae non grata” and potential threats to the national security of that and other European Union states. This arbitrary and unjustified decision comes only days ahead of the 14th October referendum about the construction of the Visaginas new nuclear power plant in Lithuania.
"It is an unfair and unjustified decision, totally disproportionate and not based on any factual justification", said Monica Frassoni of the EGP. "In Lithuania, the nuclear industry has exercised something that cannot be called anything but intimidation. The Lithuanian Government clearly favours industry's calls above democracy, by trespassing on the basic human right of freedom - freedom of opinion and freedom of movement - thereby violating the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights it promised to abide by".
"The Lithuanian Greens have strongly opposed this new nuclear reactor. Cross-border action and solidarity are needed since the development of these nuclear power plants affect security across countries, and energy issues have impacts across national borders. We demand the European institutions - the Parliament and the Commission - to act promptly with the Lithuanian authorities in order to rehabilitate Novikova and Ulasevich without further delay".
Belarussian antinuclear activist and reporter Tatjana Novikova enjoyed widespread public support in Lithuania for her anti-nuclear campaigning, but as soon as she started giving public statements against the upcoming Lithuanian nuclear power plant she was declared persona non grata. Being persona non grata in one EU country will affect Novikova's ability to travel in the entire Schengen area, and effectively block any freedom of movement.
Novikova and Ulasevich, in a statement they sent to international environmental organisations, have issued an appeal to the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reverse the decision against them entering the country, and for the Lithuanian parliament to appropriately review the decision. The NGO Bellona has also launched a petition urging the Lithuanian government to lift the persona non grata status from Novikova and Ulasevich.
Activists and some members of the government have long questioned the Visaginas plant, which would be built by Hitachi Europe. An opinion poll last August indicated that 48 percent of the country’s voters would come out against its construction during the referendum. Earlier polls have suggested 65 percent would vote against the plant.
Plans for the plant have also caused high-level political struggles. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius called for Parliament to reject the referendum, calling it “not necessary.” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, however, said the referendum would be “another opportunity and obligation for the government to better introduce the public to this project.”
Neighbouring Belarus and the Russian exclave of Kalininingrad are also planning nuclear plants of their own with Russian funding.
Georgian Green Party back in parliament
Election day in Georgia October 1st brought the Georgian Green Party (Sakartvelo's Mtsvaneta Partia) back in Parliament after thirteen years. A Georgian Green was elected on the list of the Georgian Dream coalition of nine different parties from the wide political spectrum, united in their opposition to the governing United National Movement of sitting President Saakashvili.
After a heated election campaign, in the weeks before the election protests erupted after the release of a series of shocking videos from the Georgian prisons, showing inmates severely mistreated by prison guards. Georgian Dream came ahead in the polls, the coalition kept increasing the momentum, which eventually resulted in winning the Parliamentary majority.
The Georgian Greens can be proud of their contribution to what is expected to become the first non-revolutionary turnover of power in post-Soviet Georgia. In their first contact with EGP, Lela Kiknadze of the Georgian Greens thanked her European colleagues and especially the Swedish Greens for their long-term support and cooperation with the Georgian Green Party. Challenging times are ahead now, wherein the ideologically disparate parties will have to form a united government, and the leader of Georgian Dream Bidzina Ivanishvili will be Prime Minister, facing President Saakashvili, who is likely to keep his seat until the Presidential elections in 2013.
The Georgian Green Party has engaged in sharpening environmental regulations of the new government’s policy. It wishes to re-establish the Ministry of Natural Resources, and wants to abolish a set of laws that have contributed to the destruction of biodiversity and natural resources in the past years. Furthermore, they will fight for human rights and for respect of the law, as the guarantor of the democratic development of Georgian society.
Greens enter the final stretch of local election campaign
MEP Bart Staes is campaigning in Antwerp with the Green Flemish Party Groen for the forthcoming Belgian local elections on 14th October. In this video, he explains how mobility and transport are the core issues for a big city like Antwerp, which is overwhelmed by cars and lorries from the harbour area. “We need another kind of economy, where we create wealth, and not just logistics. Logistics doesn’t create wealth”.
Listen to Bart’s interview here.
Greens call for GMO hearings
Ivan Karić, a Member of Parliament and the president of the Greens of Serbia, has addressed the Committee for Environmental Protection of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and called for a public hearing on the impacts of GMOs on the environment and human health.
The initiative comes only days after the publication of a scientific research by Seralini (LINK), which shows the results of a two-years study on the effects of GMOs on rats, the first research of such duration ever conducted on the impacts of GMOs. The maximum duration of previous similar toxicological experiments was three months and the majority of these tests had not been bound and systematically applied in industry.
The results were extremely worrying: increased mortality in all groups of rats fed with GMOs, increased liver and kidney disease and development of large tumors, especially in female. Most of these changes began to appear after the fourth month of testing. These data made the current practice of quarterly testing completely invalid.
«The latest scientific evidence requires us to re-examine the way in which we estimate the safety of GMOs before they reach the market», said Ivan Karić of the Serbian Greens. «This study is the signal that a total ban on the production and marketing of GMOs in Serbia is long due. Our people should not become hostages in the hands of GMO producers for mere economic interests and faulty laws».
The Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament urged Mr. Dali, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, to refuse all requests for approval of breeding and trading of GMOs. It also seeks to revoke the issued license for MON810 corn, Amflora tomatoes and all imported soybean.
Groenlinks starts their rebuild after electoral disappointment
The recent electoral defeat of GroenLinks in the last national elections has taken its toll. Jolande Sap, party leader, stepped down on Friday, followed by the resignation of the party board at the Party Council on Saturday. Their collective position became untenable after mounting dissent and discontent that was partially expressed through the media.
Today, the GroenLinks parliamentary group elected Bram van Ojik as its new leader. He is a long-standing member of GroenLinks who recently chaired the process that defined the future perspectives of the party. More than anyone else, van Ojik is considered able to unite the parliamentary group with the party base and revive the image of GroenLinks with his mature, humorous and politically intelligent way of operating.
GroenLinks result was the poorest result since their first election in 1989. They went from 10 to four seats in the second chamber of the national parliament. A recent leadership struggle was considered partially responsible for this result. Sap felt she had to resign because she no longer had the confidence of the party board that she would be able to steer the party from the current setback.
The party board felt the party needed, at this moment, a new leadership to revive the party with new vitality and therefore resigned as well. The moves has given space for new people and has put closure on a difficult period for the party.
The supervisory board will appoint an interim party board that will prepare for the member’s Congress that will discuss an evaluation report that is currently being prepared by ex-MP, current alderman in Amsterdam and very highly respected politician, Andree van Es. The Congress will also elect a new party board.
The analysis of the causes of the current position of GroenLinks and advice on the way forward, is now up to the evaluation commission, headed by Andree van Es.
Although the recent happenings are not positive, the GroenLinks now has every chance to find its way back to the voters and regain the voters trust.
Luckily the strength of GroenLinks is based upon a very strong presence at the local level. GroenLinks participates in four out of the five major cities and has a strong electoral base and support on the local level.
Global Day of Action for Decent Work
Banish the word ‘precariousness’ from the dictionary
On Sunday, October 7th, trade unions and NGOs worldwide mobilised for the Global Day of Action for Decent Work, a mobilisation which has received the support of Green MEPs, in particular from EELV. This is a symbolic day, of particular relevance while the global economic crisis has exhausted the morale of employees threatened by multiple social plans and has affected young people, who are unemployed, underpaid and uncertain about the future.
The event promotes respect for human dignity and recalls that, when it comes to employment issues, it should not be the profits that control employees, but human dignity must prevail.
“During the last decade, both in France and Europe, professional pride and the taste of a well done job were regarded as archaic concerns”, said Karima Delli, EELV MEP, Member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. “The culture of ‘results first’, placing financial outcomes above anything else, has encouraged contempt towards labour itself. A blind assessment of collective creation has promoted a sad mass individualism.
On the government side, the labour question was buried, the only worry concerning employment figures but disregarding completely the content of the job”.
At European level, Greens have called on the European Commission to make proposals and policies for solid legal working conditions. This includes a European strategy on health and safety at work which is coherent and ambitious.
Malika Benarab-Attou, EELV MEP, Member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs said: "We often speak of a ‘European social model’, but isn’t it threatened when facing the financial crisis and the austerity policies? The 27 EU countries have very different social systems, and sometimes they end up putting people in competition against each other. In addition, unemployment rates are extremely high. Insecurity in Europe affects too many people: being employed today provides neither income nor a decent quality job. This is not acceptable!
We must be ambitious and revive the European dream to allow everyone a good quality of life. How can we do that? By harmonizing social protection systems and creating a common set of core social rights for all citizens."
Future of Europe
Daniel Cohn-Bendit launches new book, 'For Europe'
For Europe!, the book co-written by Greens Co-President Daniel Cohn-Bendit and former Belgian Prime Minister and current leader of the ALDE Group Guy Verhofstadt was launched in Brussels on 1st October, and will now be presented in six more European capitals.
The authors defined the work a manifesto for a post-national revolution in Europe, calling for the establishment of a European federal union.
The book and theories presented have received mixed appreciation, also among fellow Greens politicians. A note (English, Dutch) by MEP Philippe Lamberts, EGP Co-chair, and MEP Bart Staes raises questions on the kind of Europe that the two authors call for:
“The crucial question remains, however, whether, after analysing what is wrong with the European Union (the why and the how), you should then simply insist on more Europe? Because the ‘more’ that Guy and Dany are insisting upon—the evaporation of the nation state and the proclamation of a United States of Europe—may be an attractive perspective, but shall continue to be a distant dream.
Yes, we need a federal Europe, but we will never build this without or against the will of the Member States and their governments. And the other crucial question that remains is: what kind of Europe? Verhofstadt wants to unite people regardless of their ideology. But talking about Europe is about real substance and making political choices—so it’s really not all that neutral.”
Lamberts and Staes conclude: “That’s why we need a Europe based on shared values of solidarity, redistribution, cooperation and responsible sustainability. More federalism is certainly necessary to monitor the financial industry and to allow true fiscal integration to be achieved under democratic control. But we need more because Europe has other fish to fry in order to restore a relationship of trust with its citizens.
Europe is not making progress. Europe is dragging its feet. European leaders, who are mainly Christian democrats and/or liberals, are not proposing a hopeful way out of trouble. Citizens only get to hear that we need to save, save, save. That’s why citizens who want a different kind of Europe should vote for different leaders”.
Europe is at the core of Greens’ concerns and politics, and another interesting reading on the issue is Joschka Fischer’s blog “Europe’s trial by crisis”, with a conclusion worth reflecting upon: “This crisis offers a tremendous opportunity for Europe. It has defined the agenda for years to come: banking union, fiscal union, and political union. What remains missing is an economic-growth strategy for the crisis countries; but, given mounting unrest in southern Europe, such a strategy is inevitable. Europeans have reason to be optimistic if they recognize the opportunity that their crisis has created – and act boldly and decisively to seize it.”
Over the past months, the European Greens have been devoting much energy and work to the drafting of a resolution on this issue. Under the leadership of EGP co-chair Monica Frassoni, a dedicated working group has been preparing a resolution on the future of the EU that will be discussed and voted at the forthcoming EGP Council in Athens in November.
Nuclear Stress tests
European stress tests point to the French safety issues
The results of investigations carried out on 134 European nuclear reactors were made public by the European Commission this week, and point clearly at risks not being taken into account, with the cost of compulsory integration in France being overlooked.
France in particular is in the line of fire of these stress tests. While the French nuclear capacity represents 40% of the European overall magnitude, more than half of the works to be performed in Europe will concern the French nuclear sites. According to the EELV MEPs at the European Parliament, this is the logical consequence of France’s chronic under-investment in terms of maintenance and nuclear safety.
For Michèle RIVASI, Green MEP founder of Criirad and specialist in nuclear safety, this report confirms the ever-increasing costs of nuclear power.
Environmentalists, as well as the French Nuclear Safety Authority, were already aware of the defects of our old plants. Several issues had already been singled out, in particular the most dangerous, like the lack of effective measurement instruments in seismic stations, an absence that would prevent the automatic shutdown of the plant in case of a heavy earthquake.
Even worse is the issue of protection of rescue instruments, which are poorly protected in the event of an accident and could not function properly. This concerns in particular the backup generators aimed at operating cooling systems in the event of loss of power supply.
“We must also be aware that these stress tests evaluated only the bare minimum. They didn’t even manage to detect microcracks on Belgian reactors, and they do not include the risks of a terrorist attack or a plane crash, which are treated separately because they relate to security and not to safety isues", said MEP Michèle Rivasi.
"In short, works will be numerous and an estimated 30 to 200 million euros will be spent per reactor. The final costs will exceed 10 billion euros for France alone. Here is a very basic and simple lesson to learn: the most vulnerable and older nuclear plants must be shut down as a priority and for good”.
Yannick Jadot, MEP specialised in energy issues said that "The findings of this report don’t come as a surprise. It is worrying to see that all 19 French reactors suffer from ‘security failures’. Despite the pressure of the nuclear lobby, the authorities have not taken into account all the risks. In fact, they merely assessed the risk for France to see a “Fukushima-type accident” (earthquake and flood), when what we asked was an exhaustive and thorough risk assessment (risk of fire, explosion, malicious actions, a plane crash, human error or a combination of several of the above). Today, we are well aware that the safety of nuclear installations is a myth, a fortiori in France, where the lack of transparency is the norm. Not only the costs of maintaining the French nuclear capacity will constantly increase in the coming years, but France will also have to invest very quickly hundreds of millions of euros to improve safety. "
The only responsible attitude is to include the strengthening of the security and safety of reactors within a broader policy to eliminate the nuclear risk, ie a gradual but permanent phase-out of nuclear power. Such an issue is more than ever due on the agenda of the general debate on energy promised by the President of the French Republic.
Green European Journal
3rd Edition: Beyond Growth/Degrowth, and the future of the EU
With the third edition of the Green European Journal, we aim to look beyond and challenge the polarised growth vs. degrowth debates. Aurélie Maréchal, working with MEP Philippe Lamberts, proposes in her article “No growth. In search for another path for Europe” that both growth and degrowth are equally unsustainable.
'No Growth in search of another path for Europe'
Thus the search for a different economic paradigm must begin, one that takes into account both the recognition of the physical limits of our planet and the need for a more egalitarian society.
Looking closely at an example of alternative economy, Camden Green councillor Alexis Rowell and Sarah Nicholl, founder members of Transition Belsize and members of the Green parties of England and Wales, discuss in their article “Green v. Transition town: same aims, different means” the chances that the transition town movement stands at changing people’s minds towards opening up to resilient local economy solutions.
'Green Transition - Same aims, Different Means'
Last, but not least, as economy and democracy are highly intertwined, the third edition also discusses the democratic challenges Europe is facing. In the article “What democratic Europe?”, French philosopher Etienne Balibar affirms that what European democracy needs is a real tax revolution, a kind of New Deal or a Marshall Plan, something like a social movement and maybe a step aside from the structures that were designed to exclude it.
'What Democratic Europe - response to Jurgen Habermas
Pirates and Populists - How the Greens react to new parties in Finland and Germany
Despite existing in many European countries for over 30 years, the Greens are usually portrayed (and portray themselves) as a ‘new’ political movement. Linked to this is the idea that the Greens should be the automatic choice for disaffected, anti-establishment voters.
How then do the Greens respond when new parties come on the scene, or when populist parties start to encroach on the Green’s anti-establishment space?
In the Campaign Handbook, we examine two Green parties – the Finnish and respectively German Greens - that had to confront the sudden rise of new or populist parties. In both cases, the Greens struggled to come to terms with this new political landscape, but eventually managed to respond successfully and continue to grow as a party.
GEF Campaign Handbook: Pirate Parties and populists; how the Greens can respond to new parties
FYEG condemns cancellation of Belgrade Pride Parade
LGTBQ organisations and activists from Serbia had worked hard to organise the Gay Pride Parade planned for Saturday 6th October in Belgrade, Serbia which, for the second consecutive year, has been cancelled for alleged security problems.
The Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) and Zelena Omladina (ZOS) - FYEG´s Serbian Member organisation - were strongly supporting the planned Pride Parade.
For FYEG and ZOS, it is completely unacceptable that the Pride Parade has been banned. Katarina Pavlovic, co-spokesperson of ZOS, said, "We are part of a civil society movement that is striving to change the situation in Serbia and that rejects violent threats against people who are demonstrating their support to the LGTBQ population. Since a peaceful Pride Parade has been banned once again in Belgrade, additional forms of a unified struggle and fight against repression have to be found. This fight needs to be continuous, and not only during the Pride Week, and preparation of the Belgrade Pride."
Nikola Mladenovic, Member of the Serbian Young Greens, added that "The Serbian authorities have shown their lack of understanding of the importance that this event has for people all around Europe. The Belgrade Parade could have been a sign of hope for the LGTBQ community in Serbia, and throughout the Balkan region. The Serbian authorities failed to provide even this hope. However, we will not stop our fight for equal rights and emancipation for LGTBQ people everywhere!"
FYEG and ZOS, together with the Green European Foundation and the Heinrich-Böll Foundation, have organised a seminar with more than 50 activists from all over Europe on the topic of Queer Theory in Belgrade, that was intended to coincide with the parade. More information on the GEF seminar can be found here.
"We are more than disappointed that the Pride Parade in Belgrade was cancelled for yet another year," said Terry Reintke, co-spokesperson of FYEG. "This is a sad day for all LGTBQ movements all over Europe. Once again homophobes have succeeded in preventing a non-violent protest from happening. Nationalist and homophobic parts of society cannot have such a power over the freedom of speech and assembly!"
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