Natalya Belitser. Xenophobia and (In)Tolerance in the Black Sea Region


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Natalya Belitser. Regional Meeting of the BSPN, Istanbul, 10 -11 December 2011. Xenophobia and (In)Tolerance in the Black Sea Region

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  • Natalya Belitser. Xenophobia and (In)Tolerance in the Black Sea Region

    1. 1. Xenophobia and (In)Tolerance in the Black Sea Region Regional Meeting of the BSPN, Istanbul, 10 -11 December 2011 Natalya Belitser, Pylyp Orlyk Institute for democracy, Kyiv, Ukraine
    2. 2. General trends <ul><li>Racism and intolerance are becoming rooted in European societies as the economic crisis gives strength to extremist messages – warns the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), Strasbourg, 16.06.2011. </li></ul><ul><li>The far right is on the rise across Europe as a new generation of young, web-based supporters embrace hard-line nationalist and anti-immigrant groups (a study by British Demos think tank, 6.11.2011). </li></ul>
    3. 3. Regional Specifics: is BSR “The Region”? <ul><li>Countries of the Black Sea Region are very diverse in terms of their historic background, cultural tradition, ethnic composition, dominant religions etc. to be regarded as a coherent entity </li></ul><ul><li>The differences between the BSR states are yet aggravated by former belonging to multinational Empires – either to metropolitan countries or to their “vassals”, as well as by the legacy of the Cold War </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, in the BSR, effective counteraction to Europe-wide rise of xenophobia and intolerance is complicated by the lack of a common “regional identity”, shortage of horizontal links between national CSOs and underdeveloped cooperation between them </li></ul>
    4. 4. Widespread Forms of Xenophobia <ul><li>Although there are numerous manifestations of xenophobia, intolerance, and discrimination of minority groups, only some of them will be addressed, namely: </li></ul><ul><li>-- Islamophobia </li></ul><ul><li>-- Anti-Semitism , and </li></ul><ul><li>-- Migrantophobia </li></ul><ul><li>While focusing on Ukraine , neighbouring Romania and the Republic of Moldova are also included for comparative reasons </li></ul>
    5. 5. Islamophobia: Ukraine <ul><li>In Ukraine, Islamophobia, although reflecting some general world-wide trends, is also determined by the widely acknowledged existence of the autochthonous, indigenous Muslim population – Crimean Tatar people </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, anti-Muslim rhetoric of the far right targets most often not them, but – in line with their West European “senior brothers” – the members of new immigrant communities </li></ul><ul><li>In Crimea, anti-Islamic xenophobia and intolerance is inherent in activities and propaganda of a number of pro-Russian organisations and movements, in particular, those of the so-called “Crimean Cossacks” </li></ul>
    6. 6. Crimean Cossacks Picket, 2010 The text on the poster: “We demand public execution for this bastard Ibragimov!” (suspected by them in committing a “ritual murder” )
    7. 7. Recent Decline of Far-Right Popularity <ul><li>It should also be taken into consideration that over the last year, popularity of the Ukrainian politically far-right radicals sharply declined even in their stronghold – regions of Western Ukraine (see below) </li></ul>
    8. 8. Islamophobia: Romania <ul><li>Although in Romania, overwhelming majority of population are Orthodox Christians, general level of Islamophobia is rather low , and members of the more or less “traditional” Muslim communities – like, for example, Crimean Tatar Diaspora – do not feel being abused or discriminated against, or targeted by hate speech </li></ul><ul><li>Positive changes in effective counteracting acute forms of xenophobia and discrimination of minorities have occurred during Romania’s preparation for joining the EU, and with substantial assistance from the latter </li></ul><ul><li>Although problems of intolerance towards members of some vulnerable groups persist, today, Romania has the most advanced legislative and institutional frameworks in the area of anti-discrimination and minority protection </li></ul>
    9. 9. Islamophobia: Republic of Moldova <ul><li>In contrast to Romania, in neighbouring Republic of Moldova anti-Muslim passions are fuelled by both Orthodox Church and Moldovan communists </li></ul><ul><li>Situation of Moldovan Muslims has been a matter of concern for the Council of Europe, but: </li></ul><ul><li>when the Moldovan new Government – Alliance for European Integration – officially registered the first Muslim organisation , the protests intensified </li></ul><ul><li>In particular, Metropolitan Orthodox Church defined this as a “humiliation of the whole Moldovan people”, whereas the leader of Moldovan communists Vladimir Voronin praised the fact that in Moldova, “not a single Mosque had ever been erected”, and accused both Orthodox Churches of Moldova of a “too weak” reaction </li></ul>
    10. 10. Anti-Semitism: Ukraine <ul><li>For Ukraine, anti-Semitism is a sensitive and painful issue because of the often re-iterated labelling of Ukrainians as an “anti-Semitic nation” </li></ul><ul><li>However, widespread fears that Ukraine’s independence would lead to pogroms of Jews didn’t come true, and the consequences of the Soviet-time, state-supported anti-Semitism were overcome with a remarkable rapidity </li></ul><ul><li>Nevertheless, such manifestations of anti-Semitism as vandalism in cemeteries, hate speech and even direct physical attacks on people with the pronounced Jewish appearance , have been reported by a number of monitoring NGOs </li></ul><ul><li>But recent trends and dynamics are rather positive : in 2011, there were not a single case of direct violence, fewer cases of vandalism, also continued and steady decline of a number of anti-Semitic publications: 13 in 2011 compared, for example, with 676 in 2006 </li></ul>
    11. 11. Anti-Semitism: Romania <ul><li>For Romania, this issue is also rather topical and sensitive, because it is widely believed that anti-Semitism is deeply rooted in its history, being connected, in particular, with periods before and during World War II </li></ul><ul><li>After the fall of communism, such charges usually referred to a revisionist history movement that tried, inter alia, to portray Marshall Antonescu as a national hero </li></ul><ul><li>However, after the independent commission headed by the Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel completed its 400-pages report on Holocaust in Romania and Romania-occupied territories, official apologies for his country’s role were presented by the then President Iliescu; from that time, 9 October has been announced the Day of Holocaust Commemoration . </li></ul><ul><li>  Nevertheless, accusations of this kind emerge once and again, as it happened recently at the initiative of the Jewish Committee of Ukraine – exactly at the time of a visit to Ukraine of the Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    12. 12. Anti-Semitism: Republic of Moldova <ul><li>In 90s – early 2000s, anti-Semitism in Moldova was often perceived in the context of Romania-oriented nationalists </li></ul><ul><li>However, it seemed that the “Unionists” are not the only ones to be blamed: it is known that pro-Russian extremist groups such as a branch of the National Bolshevik Party (NBP) of Russia emerged in Moldova, promoting their fascist and Stalinist ideas </li></ul><ul><li>These negative trends have become especially visible in 2009 – 2010; some analysts relate them to certain destabilisation of the political and social situation in the country after the end of a long-lasted rule of Moldovan communists, strengthening of the national democratic forces, and the intention of the former to compromise new, Europe-oriented, Government – the Alliance for European Integration </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    13. 13. Migrantophobia/Racism <ul><li>In Ukraine , a though actual number of immigrants, including illegal ones, is far from reaching some “critically high” level or “creating a threat to national security”, xenophobia targeting “visible minorities” and other members of immigrant communities, continues to grow </li></ul><ul><li>An alarming increase in racist attacks, targeting asylum seekers, refugees, immigrants or foreign students belonging to visible minority groups, has been recorded; their dynamics is a matter of a grave and growing concern for CSOs and international organizations </li></ul><ul><li>The situation is aggravated by the lack of a reliable and comprehensive legislative base, as well as a system of state institutions focused on issues of combating discrimination, acute forms of xenophobia, hate speech and hate crime </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    14. 14. August 2011, Incident in Sumy city
    15. 15. Migrantophobia/Racism (2) <ul><li>Especially upsetting is extremely negative role played by law-enforcement bodies, especially police, whose staff members are often involved not only in extortion of money from foreigners, but also in manifestations of racism/ xenophobia while dealing with representatives of visible minorities </li></ul><ul><li>The main role in counteracting those negative trends belongs actually to civil society actors, whose activity in this field has intensified and become more consolidated ( establishing coalitions, consortia, social networks etc .) </li></ul><ul><li>In Romania and Moldova , violent Migrantophobia is not especially pronounced; however, further globalisation processes, including the ever-increasing rate of migration, might create certain problems there, too. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Some Reflections – Instead of Conclusions <ul><li>Coming back to the first slide, the widespread perception of the rise of xenophobia and intolerance as being caused – mainly or exclusively – by the deterioration of socio-economic situation, can be doubted </li></ul><ul><li>Obviously, there are a number of other causes and reasons that need additional, in-depth, multidisciplinary approach and research </li></ul><ul><li>In case of Ukraine , one of the reasons for the increased popularity of the far right can be such a phenomenon as Ukrainophobia that sharply intensified over the last two years. </li></ul>
    17. 17. October 2011, Dnipropetrovsk
    18. 18. Recommendations <ul><li>To CSOs of Ukraine – use the opportunity to contribute to the development of a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and state policies aimed at the effective protection of minorities; </li></ul><ul><li>To civil societies of countries – participants of the Black Sea Peacebuilding Network – invigorate cooperation between partner organisations engaged in preventing and combating manifestations of acute xenophobia and intolerance in our societies; </li></ul><ul><li>For this, common research projects should be initiated, sharing experience for lessons of both good practices and failures be learnt; also, more attention be paid not only to the monitoring aspect of the CSOs activities, but also to the in-depth analysis of possible roots and causes at local, national, and regional level; </li></ul>
    19. 19. Recommendations (2) <ul><li>Take into full consideration the experience of developing advanced legislative and institutional frameworks to counteract negative phenomena relating to racism, extremism and discrimination of members of different minority groups, in particular, that of Romania which might be of special interest for neighbouring Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova; </li></ul><ul><li>For this, awareness-raising and advocacy campaigns are to be organised at the national and regional level, bringing together local and national authorities, international organisations, media and other actors of civil society; </li></ul><ul><li>Use the existing regional Internet resources for wider coverage and spreading of information about the BSPN events, activities and further planning; </li></ul><ul><li>To sponsors and management of the BSPN – look for the additional opportunities to ensure further strengthening and development of the Peacebuilding Network by engaging other interested parties into scheduling and co-funding, thus reaching synergistic, cost-saving effect on the activities conducted according to the agenda of separate projects and programmes, and avoiding unnecessary parallelism and duplication. </li></ul>
    20. 20. <ul><li>THANK YOU! </li></ul><ul><li>Natalya Belitser, Kyiv, Ukraine </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>