“PROMOTING A CULTURE OF TOLERANCE IN EUROPE” - PES Democracy Network 11 March, Ljubljana



Europe is going through very difficult times, with the Schengen Agreement seemingly on the verge of breaking down, and EU values and fundamental rights challenged because of the recent crisis. As a result we are experiencing a populist backlash against immigration, which is moving towards anti-EU positions.

As socialists and democrats we believe we must promote a culture of tolerance and respect of fundamental rights. We need to foster good examples of reception and integration of refugees and positive multicultural experiences. Last week the PES Democracy Network was in Slovenia to see such examples in action.

Member parties, experts and academics gathered in Ljubljana on Friday 11 March to exchange opinions and best practices on the role of progressives in promoting a culture of tolerance. They brainstormed how social democrats can and should take a leading role in the democracy debate against the rise of extremist groups and ideologies. The event sought to address the following topics:

1.    The fight against the rise of extremist and populist movements and groups in Europe.
2.    Preventive measures against radicalization of young Europeans and migrants/refugees;
3.    Promoting a culture of tolerance for successful integration policies

Tanja Fajon MEP, chair of the PES Democracy Network, said at the event that “more than ever it is important and crucial to promote a culture of tolerance and equality in Europe. The social democratic family has to share what works when receiving and integrating refugees in order to counteract populist and extremist rhetoric.”

Three PES member parties: from Poland, Finland and Italy, represented by Andrzej Szejna, Krista Kiuru and Isabella De monte shared the situation in their countries with regard to the rise of extremist and populist movement and their presence on the political scene. Tamas Boros co-director and head of strategy of Policy Solutions but also member of the Scientific Council of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) gave an overview of the trends of populism in Europe; ; how populist behave in government, what topics, and methods they use, and how the left can fight against this.

The PES was honored to hear a keynote speech from Paul Nemitz, Director of Fundamental rights at the European Commissionon how we can promote a culture of tolerance and equality in Europe:

On tolerance we could appreciate the contribution made by Neža Kogovšek Šalamon, PhD, Director of Peace Institute and the experience of Faila Pašić Bišić, Co-founder the Humanitarian Charity Society UP Jesenice and Nevzet Porić, General Secretary of the Islamic Community of the Slovenian Republic.