Prospects for Development of Green Politics in SEE
Denis Kajić – International conference “Green – the Color of the Future: Potential for Reform Politics in the SEE” was held in Sarajevo on October 6 – 7 under the organization of the “Heinrich Boll” Foundation, in cooperation with “The Green East-West Dialogue” and “The Green European Foundation”.
Before saying anything else about the green policies in the region, we should point out to the local public perception of green policies. The green policy is not seen as politics but as protecting the environment through NGO activities. Aside from that, it is perceived as a luxury appropriate for modern and rich societies, i.e. countries that are envied for their actions relating to green areas, climate changes, and the ozone holes. However, the local political agenda has no room for that since the main issues are still matters regarding the status of Srebrenica, Kosovo, a third entity and other subjects the politicians dispute about but to no end.
However, green politics is not about the environment alone. It comprises the political principles of the global Green Charter – including the environment, sustainable development, social justice, democracy, non-violence, and respect for all differences. Although considered by many to be on the left wing politically, those who advocate green policies see it as an alternative to traditional and classical political ideologies such as socialism, conservatism, and liberalism.
Although unknown and marginalized by political actors, green policies do exist in the SEE region. This Conference proved to be an excellent opportunity for presenting the green policy background and development and the present situation, as well as to exchange experiences with EU colleagues. The Conference was opened by Ralf Fucks, the President of the “Heinrich Boll” Foundation. There were many invitees which included some of the most prominent protagonists of green policies in Europe coming from various fields of action – official politics, NGO sector and the media.
The Conference started with presentations on green policies in the SEE countries, i.e. Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. The presentations were given by Zoran Gavrilović, sociologist from Belgrade; Adnan Rodnić, journalist from Sarajevo; and Srđan Dvornik, from Zelena lista – Zagreb. Each one of the countries is specific in some way but they share some common elements such as the importance of green policies in comparison to the so-called existential concerns. The green policy in the region has developed mainly through the development of the civil sector and NGO activities that lead to the creation of “green” political parties and their participation in the elections.
The Conference participants were also able to hear the presentations of two European Parliament Members – Gisele Kallenbach from Germany and Ulrike Lunacek from Austria. They presented the experience and development of green movements but they also mentioned civil, peace, and women movements in their countries respectively, and the importance of ‘green’ political parties.
Their presentations were followed by a debate which was time-limited so many issues could not be elaborated enough. There were many topics open for discussion: lack of national strategies, local-based focus of NGO activities, the need for green parties, transfer of personnel from the civil sector to political parties, the capital resisting green policies, ‘green’ values recognized and adopted by the right wing ….
Panel II started after a lunch break: “New/Old Green Europe – Green Security Prospects in the Region”. The speakers were Joost Lagendijk – European Parliament Member from the Netherlands, Gordan Bosanac from the Center for Peace Studies (Zagreb) and Srđan Gligorijević – ISAC Fund, the Center for International and Security Relations (Belgrade). The topic was a security situation in the region from the “green” point of view, and the perception of security policy that is mainly connected to the military, intelligence, and state aspects. Srđan Gligorijević spoke about the possibilities for protection from natural disasters as a part of green security policies, and about the lack of coordination concerning security policies in the region, and the potential of the “green idea” in constructing a security culture in the Balkans.
There has been some talk about Kosovo as well, the burning issue of the region.
Gordan Bosanac from the Center for Peace Studies initiated a particularly interesting debate resulting from his presentation on security where he mentioned the upcoming entry of Croatia into NATO. In his opinion, this process of entry was not preceded by any form of public debate; hence NATO was represented as the only option available despite the opposition of the majority of the Croatian public. As a former peace activist he spoke of alternatives to NATO and the peace-building politics as a Croatian trademark. This was followed by a debate on NATO as a global security phenomenon, and the sense of its existence.
The second day of the Conference started in the morning with a new topic “Energy and Economy – Great Development Challenges”. The speakers were Mirza Kušljagić – Tuzla Faculty of Electrical Engineering; Ralf Fucks – President of the “Heinrich Boll” Foundation, and Aleksandar Kovačević – energy expert from Belgrade. The focus of the discussion was the restructuring of the electrical power sector and the development of the power market in SEE. Another focus was the electrical power sector development and its environmental impact, electrical power export, and sustainable development management. The following conclusions were made: the electrical power sector development should be based on the sustainable development concept; the power sector development strategy should include and define the implementation mechanisms (deadlines and bearers of responsibility); it is necessary to create a more democratic decision making process in the power sector which is the sector of public interest.