TC Maribor


What is nationalist extremism, its relation to populism and their role in the shaping of contemporary WB and EU – Slovenia

Duration: 7. – 11. 6. 2021

The activities of the Training course What is nationalist extremism, its relation to populism and their role in the shaping of contemporary WB and EU took place from 7th to 12th June 2021 in Maribor, Slovenia. 2 participants per country gathered in Roma youth station to educate about the nationalist extremism, it’s relation to populism and their role in the shaping of contemporary WB and EU.

From the very first day, the participants were eager to share their views about the contemporary challenges not only through the workshop activities, but also during the informal time. During the workshop activities, the introduction to the history of nationalism was made, that included manifestations, it’s relation to populism as well as it’s impact on the coexistence of different national and ethnical groups.

On the first evening, when the participants were enjoying free time in the Youth Centre, the debate occurred between one Serbian and one Albanian participant, of which both live on the territory of Kosovo. Serbian participant explained that since his birth, he changed 5 countries without moving anywhere (Yugoslavia before the war, Yugoslavia after the war, Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia without Montenegro, Kosovo) and that from his point of view, territory of Kosovo is Serbia. The Albanian participanted explained that this is insulting for him. As the debate went on, Albanian participant wasn’t willing to elaborate on the arguments. After the Serbian participant left the venue, Albanian participant stated, vividly stressed, that “it has been ages” since he had spoken with Serbian “counterpart”.

Second day, we have dived in-depth with the examples of nationalism in the Western Balkans area, with the special focus on the question of Kosovo, accompanied by examples from other regions. Lecture on Izraeli – Palestinian conflict was done by Palestinian immigrant, as well as by Slovenian expert on Izrael. Lecture on intercultural dialoge was made with the special focus was put on the impact of the rising nationalism and populism on the process of European integration.  The relation of youth to national extremists was explored, together with the factors that influence youth to adopt the extremist ideologies, which can be found also among the current political developments.

As the training course went on in quite intensive atmosphere, the “Mediation” workshop was done by the professional mediator. The participants were separated in pairs according to the nationality and faced with real-life challenges between their nations. As the workshop went on, one of the Slovenian volunteers with fewer opportunities (mental disorder) entered the place and said the statement: “Kosovo is Serbia”. Albanian participants were shocked and decided to leave the workshop on-spot.

As we later figured out, the Slovenian volunteer was provoked by the Serbian participant to make this statement and was not aware of the consequences. fHowever, we discussed with Albanian participants, that we do understand their position and we apologize for situation, but we still encouraged them to participate in activity. Since this “provocation” came from unaware mentally disabled person, it would be too much to react in such a way. Hence, we continued with activity, aware that it is important to react appropriately to different sorts of provocations and categorize them on the surroundings. If we react emotional to each and every publicist statement, we will dive further into division.

To provide solutions for the seemingly never-ending conflicts, the participants made an overview of good practices where different cultures get along. Different factors were mentioned that included various regions and socio-economic contexts.

As the management of cultural diversity teaches, cultural differences per se don’t cause conflict, but the conflict is more possible within the certain context. Slovenia was in this context perfect hosting environment for the training course, especially for it’s “colourblindness”. Slovene people had much less traumatic experience during the creation of the nation and the formation of the independent country. Thus, there was no tension between hosting organization and any other national groups, as well as the youth workers are not emotionally affected by the topic itself, therefore they are more likely to avoid the prejudice.

The training course ended with the breakfast, where significant thing happened: Albanian and Serbian participant from Kosovo were sitting together at the table, agreeing that both of them would love to live in Maribor and hugged each other for goodbye. Thus, we believe that the societal context is crucial to avoid the conflicts, where cultural differences are used as the excuse.