The International Seminar of Promoting Tolerance 2017
The 25th edition of the highlight programme Promoting Tolerance focused on how to confront bigotry and intolerance in the face of rising populism. The international two-day Seminar took place in June in Berlin, following the official ceremony for the 25th Anniversary of the Promoting Tolerance Programme.
For a quarter of a century the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) have worked together on the Promoting Tolerance Programme. Since its creation in 1992, the Programme has served as a platform for dialogue, aiming to improve the rights of minorities, to foster pluralism and diversity and to fight discrimination, racism and xenophobia. Every year the topic of the seminar changes and reflects current issues. In the face of rising populism, extreme nationalism, worrying signs of intolerance on both sides of the Atlantic, the choice of topic does not come as a surprise. The current wave of populism in both Western and Eastern European countries poses a great threat to constitutional democratic procedures, institutions and to the principle of Rule of Law.
Watch a short interview with the facilitator of the Programme for 2017, Enikö Gal, discussing the topic and goals of the Seminar.
14 emerging leaders from 11 countries in Central, Southeast and East Europe were selected to participate in this dialogue Programme. The fellows come from Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Dagestan and Kyrgyz Republic. The group has a diversified professional profile from economists, through lawyers and journalists, to teachers and communication experts. Some of the participants are actively involved in politics; others are very engaged in civil society organizations, while others specialize in think tanks and research institutes. The diverse background and expertise of the participants enriched the discussions and group exercises.
During an initial online phase, the participants were introduced to several aspects of populism, its root causes and impact on human rights and social diversity through assigned readings and intensive discussions. The two-day Seminar in Berlin gave the participants the opportunity to exchange their views and expertise with liberal minded fellows from Central, Southeast and East Europe as well as to search for solutions how to confront bigotry and intolerance and how to challenge the populist waves in their respective countries.
During the opening session of the Seminar, distinguished alumni of the Programme from Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Georgia, Croatia and Serbia, shared inspiring inputs of how the participation in the Programme influenced themselves and their work.
Furthermore, the origins and elements of the Rule of Law were discussed in depth during the Seminar, outlining the importance of this principle in preserving our fragile liberal democratic values and its utmost importance in fighting intolerant, xenophobic and discriminatory attitudes.
The method of a “revolving panel discussion” enabled the participants to share interactively their personal observations on the emerging roots, patterns and different approaches to confronting the current waves of intolerance and populism in their respective countries.
A series of “Mini TED Talks” showcased the different dimensions of the challenges of populism, bigotry and intolerance in Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland. Marek Tatala from Poland focused on the economics of populism and explained the dangers of the “populist trap”, a destructive populist competition between the major political parties. In his speech “Why don’t facts change our minds?” Murat Köylü from Turkey focused on the social-psychological reasons and aspects of populist agenda. Svitlana Osipchuk shed light on experiencing intolerance in everyday life in Ukraine. Marius Gorochovskis from Lithuania outlined the massive communication challenge and shared his concepts on “personalization” of politics and the rise of “tele-voters” society as the major root causes of this new wave of populism. Irakli Mikiani from Georgia introduced the participants to the concept of how people tend to artificially create “archenemies” and how populist politicians and populist forces use and abuse such imaginary concepts of “archenemies” to reach their own short-term goals.
The next step after the Seminar will be the study trip to the United Stated upcoming in November. As a conclusion to the Seminar, representatives from AJC Washington, New York, Dallas and Chicago shared with the fellows highlights of this upcoming journey.
Watch below voices of tolerance in a series of videos, devoted to the quarter of a century of the Programme. The videos include full recordings of the keynote speeches, the panel discussion and a series of interviews with high-level guests, alumni, panellists, current fellows, FNF and AJC representatives. All videos can be found in the YouTube playlist below on our FreedomTV Europe channel.
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