EXPERIENCE, MEMORY AND THE HISTORY

 

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The relation of history and memory has been a favorite theme throughout the history of philosophy and it has been studied by various scholar including Sigmund Freud, Henri Bergson, Marcel Proust as well as Walter Benjamin. Besides, each scholar has approached the concept from different dimensions. Benjamin, for example, saw the decay of experience as one of the most important problems inherited from the Enlightenment and situated the relation of memory and history, developing a form of narrative which contains both experiences.  In his essay, therefore, my initial purpose is to provide an overview on the relation of memory and history through taking an excursion on the thought of Freud, Bergson, Proust by comparing them that of Walter Benjamin.

Starting out the essay with a short report on Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, I will attempt to give a way to understand Bergson’s analysis on memory. In his well-known work, Freud illustrates the consciousness as a protective shield which blocked out disturbing experiences and he describes the true memory as something which includes catastrophic and violent experiences that the individual has always tried to forget but which manifest themselves in neurotic fixations, compulsive physical symptoms as well as recurring nightmares (Meek, 2007).  In essence, Bergson’s theory of memory is quite similar with Freud’s analysis. Bergson describes the memory as an absolute motor of human activity and the intersection of mind and matter. Further, he argues that the memory is very much related with the conception of the duration and explained creativity of human experiences in duration. In Matter and Memory, Bergson poses a fundamental challenge to psychology in seeking to illustrate that memories are not conserved in the brain, and he claims that memory is not in the brain but rather in time, time is not a thing but it is duration because nothing can be in anything (Pearson, 2010). Thus, Bergson stands against the idea of penetration the memory into the inside of the brain and argued that the brain is not in the head but rather it is in the world and it’s only a small part of the life of the organism, which is limited to the present (Pearson, 2010). He famously puts it ‘The brain is part of the material world; the material world is not part of the brain. Eliminate the image which bears the name material world, and you destroy at the same time the brain and the cerebral disturbance which are parts of it’ (Bergson, 1896). In this context, memory is continues progress of importing to the past which constitutes a virtual dimension of present though producing and reproducing new memories at any moment and encouraging to creation of the future.

Proust had read Bergson’s Matter and Memory and heavily influenced by his readings of Bergson, especially about the conception of memory. However, he criticized Bergson’s analysis on memory and pointed out his own approach is very different from Bergson’s. In all his works, Proust had stated that there are two kinds of memory, voluntary and involuntary. While the involuntary memory is the most famous and is in the center of Proust’s interest since it causes aesthetic pleasure, voluntary memory does not have this special quality (Bartsch, 2005).

Proust, in his monumental novel À La Recherche du Temps Perdu or In Search of Lost Time, tries to produce experience, as Bergson imagines it and gives several examples how an action or a bodily event may cause a remembrance, even leading into an illusion. In the novel, Proust told a story about biting into the Madeleine cakes after dipping it of lime-flower tea when he was an old man, which makes his memory returns and brings into his mind a childhood memory about his aunt. And once he had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine which his aunt used to give him, suddenly the past in the present have coincided. This madeleine anecdote is considered one of the most important passages of the novel and explains the involuntary memory effect which triggers the past in an experience such as a taste or smell. Thus, Proust claims that the past is hidden in some material object or in a sensation that of material object give us, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment. And coming upon this memory, which is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, merely depends on chance (Proust, 1927).  In this context, involuntary memory, for Proust, is like a black hole in which we do not have very much control over it, but only by chance you may produce it. Benjamin has criticized Proust’s notion of memory which depends on a chance to catch up with the past which is left behind. And Benjamin argued that memory is not an instrument for exploring the past or something we must wait for time to come up. But rather memory is a medium. It is a medium which is experienced, lived synchronically, which is devoid completely of any temporality, though it depends on the lapse of time (Sinha, 1998).

Besides, Benjamin developed a theory of experience which is a synthesis of Bergson’s conception of memory with Freud’s theory of trauma. In Benjamin, like Bergson, while the past exists outside representation, it is actualized in images; Freud’s theory became an explanation of how cultural forms could be approached as carrying the equivalent of unconscious memory traces.  Further, Benjamin aligns Bergson and Freud through their shared understanding of consciousness as destructive of memory traces (Meek, 2007).

Additionally, taking the narrative oral tradition as his vehicle in his famous essay so-called The Storyteller, Benjamin attempted to draw attention the notion of storyteller in order to explain the decay of experience. Subsequently, the storyteller, for Benjamin, takes what he tells from his own experiences and makes it the experiences of those who are listening to him. And Benjamin argued storytelling was for a long time an artisan form of communication, which does not merely aim to transfer the pure essence of the thing, like a report or information. But today, just like memory having disappeared, the communicability of experience is decreasing and art of storytelling is reaching its end. The earliest symptom of the decline of storytelling is the rise of novel in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While the storyteller conveys experience, the novelist as a solitary individual has isolated himself. Therefore, the novel has appeared a new way of communication, just like newspapers which gives information. Indeed the value of information can only survive at that moment, it was new.  But a story is different. That is why we still remember the stories our grandmother told us when we were little kids while we cannot remember the headline of the newspaper that we had read yesterday.

All in all, Proust has defined two kinds of memory, the first voluntary memory and the second the involuntary memory which is the most famous one in Proust’s works, especially in In Search of Lost Time.  Involuntary memory is famously exemplified through the metaphor of the Madeleine cakes that Proust made as the trigger for nostalgia in his novel in order to define how some material object or in a sensation that of material object may cause a remembrance.  However, Benjamin rejected this approach of memory which depends on merely on chance and he defined the very notion of experience which is in a sense related with Bergson’s conception of experience in the duration. Through extending Bergson’s concept of duration, Benjamin rejected ahistorical approach of Bergson within human experience and provided understanding of consciousness as destructive of memory traces from the perspectives of Bergson as well as Freud.

 

Bibliography

Bartsch, R. (2005). Concept Formation, Remembrance and Understanding. In Memory and Understanding: Concept Formation in Proust’s A la Recherche Du Temps Perdu. John Benjamins Publishing.

Benjamin, W. (1973), “The Storyteller”, in his Illuminations, London: Fontana.

Bergson, H. (1896). Matter and Memory. London: George Allen and Unwin. Translated by Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer.

Freud, S. (1899). The Interpretation of Dreams.

Meek, A. (2007). Benjamin, Trauma and the Virtual. Walter Benjamin and the Virtual: Politics, Art, and Mediation in the Age of Global Culture, (15). Retrieved from: http://www.transformationsjournal.org/journal/issue_15/article_02.shtml

Proust, M. (1927). Swann’s Way. In Search of Lost Time. Retrieved from: http://genius.com/Marcel-proust-swanns-way-chapter-1-annotated

Radstone, S., & Schwarz, B. (2010). Bergson on Memory by Keith Ansell-Pearson. In Memory: Histories, Theories, Debates. Fordham Univ Press.

Sinha, A. (1998). The Intertwining of Remembering and Forgetting in Walter Benjamin. Connecticut Review, 20(2), 99-110. Retrieved from: http://www.wbenjamin.org/remembering.html

 

 

THE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OF HANNAH ARENDT

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Introduction

As one of the most original and influential thinker of the twentieth century, Hannah Arendt is not easily linked with a familiar topic. She did not set out her ideas in a systematic form, preferring what seem to be informal reflections. The books she did write are extremely diverse in topic, covering totalitarianism, the place of political action in human life, the nature of political freedom and authority. In essence, she became a political theorist by accident (Canovan, 1992). Hannah Arendt was born in Hannover, Germany, of German-Jewish parentage in 1906. She finished High School in Königsberg and then studies successfully at the Universities of Marburg, Freiburg, and Heidelberg. In her early intellectual life, she studied philosophy under the tutelage of Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers, and wrote a PhD dissertations on the thought of St Augustine. With the rise of fascism in Germany, however, things changed. She went to France as a refugee and then to the United States and began to work for an agency helping young Jewish refugees (Buckler, 2012). She began to reflect upon Jewish history and upon the catastrophe that was engulfing her people in particular and Europe in general. Thus, her attention as a thinker was drawn into politics for more than a simple revision of academic interest but rather a matter of urgency, because new considerations had come to light, revealed by the experience of totalitarianism. Published in 1951, in her study The Origins of Totalitarianism, she linked Nazism with Stalinism and made a concentration of political evil her subject of study. After the years of struggle as a refugee, totalitarianism made her famous and she became eligible for fellowships and awarded prices.

In the 1950s and 1960s Arendt was among the most widely read political thinkers and philosophers in the world (Calhoun, 1997). She was a Guggenheim fellow in 1952-1953, visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley in 1955, the first woman appointed to a full professorship at Princeton in 1959, and visiting professor of government at Columbia University in 1960. From 1963 to 1967, she was university professor at the University of Chicago. And in 1967, until her death in 1975, she served as university professor at the New School of Social Research (Horowitz, 2012). Since her death in 1975, Arendt’s work has been discussed more widely. In the present essay, I will try to concentrate on mainly two considerations that Arendt made to political theory. At first, I will attempt to analyze her concept of the political evil of the twentieth century, especially totalitarianism in its Stalinist and Nazis forms. And secondly her analysis of the excellence of politics, its greatness and the place of individual excellence in it, will be examined. Lastly, some questions will be asked regarding political philosophy of Arendt.

The Political Evil of the Twentieth Century

In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt claimed that, in spite of their differences, Nazism and Stalinism were both examples of a new and terrible kind of political system. For her, such systems have a common base in the leadership principle, in single-party politics based on mass mobilization rather than individual voluntary participation, and not at least, in a nearly insatiable desire to expand from nation to empire – whether directly through military adventure or indirectly through political infiltration (Horowitz, 2012). The fundamental characteristic of totalitarianism was terror carried out an enormous scale and justified in terms of an ideology. To Arendt, totalitarianism represents a new political phenomenon, quite different from familiar tyrannies. It is a kind of politics with no stability, no structure, and no limits in an endless process of conquest and terror (Cannovan, 1992). As Zaretsky (1997) explained, according to Arendt, the groundwork for totalitarianism is laid through the isolation of individual and the weakening of the juridical, ethical, and interpersonal relations that sustain individuality. Totalitarianism, in Arendt’s view, is an attempt to exercise total domination and demonstrate that ‘everything  is possible’ by destroying human plurality and spontaneity at all levels , and ironing out all that is human to make it fit a determinist ideology (Canovan, 1995).

Arendt’s view on genocide extended far beyond her Eichmann in Jerusalem volume. In fact, unconstrained by journalistic narrative, she developed a general theory of totalitarianism, in which genocide was thoroughly explored. The largest part of the work is in fact taken up with exposition and narrative: moving from the character of the German judicial system and its corruption under Nazism. The next large portion of the work is taken up with series of brilliant historical sketches of deportations. Arendt coined a phrase ‘banality of evil,’ in order to describe Adolf Eichmann during his 1961 trial in Jerusalem. These three words, along with her charge that the Jewish councils aided the Nazis’ mass murder of Jews, created an unprecedented scandal around the celebrated author of The Origins of Totalitarianism.

In The Origins of Totalitarianism Arendt obviously influenced by Marx but equally obvious is that she rejected the traditional Marxist explanations of the rise of totalitarianism (Zaretsky, 1997). Immediately after the completion of The Origins of Totalitarianism Arendt set to work on a projected second volume which was to investigate The Totalitarian Elements in Marxism. Nevertheless, the book on Marx was never completed since, as she worked on it, she became absorbed in analyzing the defects of traditional philosophy. These studies led her to the radical conclusion that political philosophy needed to be built again on new and more appropriate foundations (Cannovan, 1992).

The trouble with the great tradition of Western political philosophy, as Arendt saw it, was that it was a philosophers’ tradition, and the philosophers had always been chiefly interested in the life of the mind. They had never been sufficiently interested in material life to analyze it properly, and had been actively hostile to free politics. She came to conclusion that some of the most fundamental political experiences had been ignored by political philosophers. Arendt’s analysis of Marxism, therefore, led her to reflections that made her give up her book on Marx and embark upon a more fundamental enterprise. In order to see clearly where Marx and the philosophers before him had gone wrong, she attempted to an analysis of the basic human activities that bear upon politics. This book was The Human Condition, published in 1958, which she provides a fresh perspective on political life. She challenged at every turn our received ideas of what politics is and should be. In The Human Condition, Arendt says of Machiavelli that he was ‘the only post-classical political theorist’ who made the ‘extraordinary effort to restore its old dignity to politics’ (Human Condition, 35). Arendt’s project, therefore, is to take Machiavelli’s burden again.

 

The Human Condition: Theorizing Political Action

Politics was the central subject of The Origins of Totalitarianism which is derived by Arendt’s formative experience as a refugee, but it did not become clear until the publication of The Human Condition. By ‘politics’ Arendt meant a distinctive human activity based on the human potential for freedom, unlike totalitarianism (Zaretsky, 1997). As Buckler (2012) notes it, the totalitarian experience, in Arendt’s view, signaled a rupture with the past that simultaneously showed us the contingent character of the realm of freedom. Crucially, the need to make contingent realm of freedom our subject is no longer met by the finality and closure that historical narrative might once have promised. Now, in our political thought, a central emphasis needs to be placed upon spontaneity. As Buckler suggests, this can be understood by reference to Walter Benjamin’s image of ‘pearl diver’. Arendt opens her essay on Walter Benjamin which is titled ‘The Pearl Diver’ with a quotation from Shakespeare’s Tempest:

Full fathom five thy father lies,

Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
Nothing of him that doth fade

But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.

Upon this quotation, Arendt defines the theorist as a storyteller just like a pearl diver, who delve into past in order to recover events, who converts the memory of the dead into something ‘rich and strange’, and provide us with the kind of illumination that comes with the appearance as singular occurrences (Benhabib, 1994). Thus, Arendt builds an extended metaphor upon the quotation as a bold new form of cultural production, in which the father whose bones made of coral lie under the sea is the corpse of historical tradition. The pearls that were his eyes are quotations freed from the context of the historical tradition. The pearl diver who grasped such buried treasures from the corpse of history, who turned them around in the rich and strange clarity of naked light, was Walter Benjamin who is the break in tradition (Willis, 2007). In this context, Arendt specifically gives examples from the ancient world, specifically many references to the politics of ancient Greek city states, but not because she thinks ancient Greece to be best political regime which is free from brutal violence and systematic coercion of slaves, women and the others, or because she considers Ancient world as a source of traditional wisdom to provide the basis for a sense of narrative continuity (Buckler, 2012:84). Rather she appeals to the experience of ancient Greece, and to Athens in particular, in order to grasp the past images that ‘may remind the lost experiences and atrophied capacities that might help us to think with originality about our current condition.’ (Buckler, 2012:84). In the days of the early Greek polis, before academic philosophy had been invented, the citizens of Athens lived a life in which thought and action were united. This primordial unity was symbolized by the word logos, which meant speech as well as thought. Greek politics was conducted through this logos, and the significance of this went beyond the fact that action within the polis was carried on by means of persuasion rather than force. It also meant that in the citizens endless talk, action disclosed thought itself informed the actions of the citizens as they persuaded one another.  Within the public realm that formed between the citizens, reality could appear and be seen from all sides, while within this kind of politics, based on speech and uniting thought and action, the plurality and freedom of men had full play (Canovan, 1990).

Labor, Work and Action

In the light of these methodological concerns, Arendt analyzes the concept of vita activa and opposes the active life as a whole to the life of the mind. In this sense, Arendt distinguishes the various modes of the vita active as three human activities: labor, work and action, which are correspond to the three basic conditions under which humans live. They are essentially sensible occurrences that give rise over time to equally sensible outcomes. The life of mind is partly contrasted with the vita active because it does not appear before others; we learn of its nature and complexity by studying its sensible expressions in words, works, and deeds (McCarthy, 2012). Labor produces objects of consumption whose life-giving benefit is lost if they are not eaten or frozen. For Arendt, ‘labor is the activity which correspond to the biological process of the human body’ and labor is subject to ‘the natural ruin of the time’ (HC, 55). Labor arises out of the fact that at one level human beings are animals, having to live on the earth like other animals and to spend a great deal of energy staying alive and keeping the species going (Canovan, 1992). Although Arendt’s theory is thought of primarily as the service of biological necessity, she extends it to cover many functions in modern society such as production of consumer good, and the whole business of doing any job simply to make a living. With the development of what Arendt called ‘society’, politics has been taken over by the labor’s obsession with production and consumption, and the result is a monolithic community in which politics is nothing but natural housekeeping.

Whereas, work, for Arendt, ‘corresponds to the unnaturalness of human existence’ (HC, 7). Work fabricates durable and permanent things that serve as a common worldly bond uniting the deed, the living and the unborn. It is one of the ways in which human beings distinguish themselves from animals. Other species simply live in the earth, but human beings build a world of civilizations, a world made up of artefacts, buildings, institutions and works of art.

Arendt considered that traditional political philosophy had interpreted politics in terms of work, as a matter of creating and controlling a political structure. Modern political thought, on the other hand, including Marxism, interpreted it in terms of labor, as a matter of supplying material needs. Both approaches ignored the aspect of the human condition that makes politics both possible and necessary. In fact, Arendt agreed with Marx that politics had to be rooted in a conception of human condition, but she disagreed that ‘labor’ in Marxist sense was the basis of that conception. Thus, through a direct repudiation of Marxist orthodoxy, Arendt introduced another conception of the human condition: action. Arendt repeatedly criticized traditional theories for failing to provide an unprejudiced account of human action. She defined action –as creative, spontaneous, visible and unique acts – separated from work and labor. Action for her was the fundamental political activity through linking this concept to the public/private dichotomy.

New individuals are continually being born into the world, each with the capacity to do unexpected things, upset what is already there and embark upon news enterprises. Arendt refers to this human capacity for beginning new projects as ‘action’ and considers that it is very closely connected with speech. Action is essentially dynamic because it is always interaction. It is in the nature of this situation that no one can predict or control the outcome of events. Human action is inherently irreversible. Once an action has begun, it sets in motion a chain of reactions that initiating agent is unable to cancel or control (McCarthy, 2012). Whenever we act, it is deeply uncertain whether we will achieve our intended purpose or not. Accordingly, the result of action are essentially unpredictable. The speeches and deeds emerging from the action occupy a unique temporal position within the vita active. Unlike work and labor, action and speech leave no distinct phenomenal product behind. In this sense, politics, according to Arendt, is political action. Thus, for Arendt, ancient Greece was the classic example of a society where action is appreciated. More recent examples of the political action, she wished to celebrate occurred in the French Resistance and the Hungarian uprising of 1956. Since action in her sense involves taking unexpected initiatives, beginning something new, the examples she mentions tend to be exceptional political situations such as revolutions or demonstrations. In this context, action is unpredictable and irreversible. Overall, the reason for Arendt’s stress on action was her belief that political philosophy needed to be refounded to take account of it. Most elements of the great tradition of the political philosophy seemed to her to be seriously flawed by the anti-political bias of the philosophers who had constructed it, and she believed that fundamental concepts needed to be rethought in the light of human plurality and the capacity for action. As Zaretsky suggests, Arendt’s conception of action is located in relation to work and labor although she disparaged both of these in contrast to action. Perhaps most crucially, she connected the three activities as ‘the human condition’.

Arendt’s insistence on the public aspect of freedom played an important role in her reflections on the twentieth-century political thought. She criticized the liberal claim of the exclusion of individuals ‘from participation in the management of public affairs’. She asserts, thereby, ‘the individual loses his rightful place in society and his natural connection with his fellow-men’ and becomes an isolated subject and powerless in political matters. Also, the retreat of the citizen into the private sphere turned politics into a sphere of absolute obedience and political matters regulated by the state under the guise of necessity (Arendt 1972:141). Thus while for instance liberalism is most commonly associated with the intention to protect the individual against the state, Arendt’s modernity, by excluding the citizen from politics, made the state more irresistible than ever (Keedus, 2014). Arendt’s own positive proposal for a renewed understanding of politics – her theory of politics as action in a public sphere where men ‘act in concert’ (Arendt 1972:143) and make ‘new beginnings’. She defined public as political realm marked by the freedom of political actions. The public is essential to her view of freedom culminating in the claim that men are only truly free when acting in the public sphere. The public is also described by Arendt as the place of ‘widest possible publicity’ for human action, where everybody is witness. In short, for Arendt, the public realm in the most significant sense of the term is the place for human excellence.

Arendt’s Political Theory: Some Questions

Arendt’ account of political thought was always highly selective and deeply polemical. Ever since its publication, Arendt’s thesis of totalitarianism – the thesis that Stalinism and Nazism were essentially similar- is vulnerable to critical objection, particularly from historians of Germany and the Soviet Union (Canovan, 1995:60) since the book was ignore much of the historical evidence.

The Origins of Totalitarianism – a foundation stone of Arendt’s reputation – includes three parts, subtitled ‘Antisemitism’, ‘Imperialism’ and ‘Totalitarianism’. The final section of the book which presents Arendt controversial thesis of totalitarianism was the one has attracted most attention. The initial problem of this section was that it stands in a very curious and complicated relation to the rest of the book. As Margaret Canovan says, ‘the extensive discussion of the book on antisemitism and racism seemed to have little connection with the USSR, while the book lacked any corresponding discussion of Stalinism’s ideological roots in Marxism.’ In this context, Arendt’s likening of Marxism and Stalinism in her book have been widely attacked. However, she made very little effort to guard herself against critics.

It is questionable, and not at all certain, that Arendt’s view on genocide extended on her Eichmann in Jerusalem volume. In fact the problem inheres in the subtitle rather than the title: A Report on the Banality of Evil. There is a problem with the word ‘banality’ which strongly implies the mundane, the ordinary, the everyday vulgarities experienced by all creatures. Using such a term to describe Eichmann thus appeared as a form of clever apologetics, making him into an everyday functionary (Horowitz, 2012). The question thus arises whether the trial was actually intended to punish single person for his crimes, or a symbolic assault on the totalitarian regime that existed in Germany between 1933 and 1945.

Moreover, in her many books and essays, she regularly returned to the same themes and criticism. She asserts that philosophical reflection had failed action and speech by distorting their nature and purpose, that philosophers had denigrated political activities by denying the greatness of human affairs, that public realm had been invaded by biological concerns leading to the victory of economics over politics. She essentially criticizes Marx, especially on Marx’s philosophy of history. Arendt understands the tradition of political history as having culminated in the thought of Karl Marx. Tradition, in Arendt’s view has it beginning in Plato and Aristotle and its end in Marx. The end came with Marx’s declaration that philosophy and its truth are located not outside the affairs of men and their common world but precisely in them and that can be realized only in the sphere of living together, which is called society through emergence of socialized men. Thus, for Arendt, the end came when a philosopher turned away from philosophy so as to realize politics (Arendt, 1961). According to Arendt, Marxian identification of action with violence implies another fundamental challenge to tradition. Aristotelian definition of man attains his highest possibility in the faculty of speech and the life in a polis was designed to distinguish the Greek from the barbarian and the free man from the slave. The Greeks, living together in a polis, conducted their affairs by means of speech, through persuasion and not by means of violence, through mute coercion. To Marx, as Arendt supposes, the whole sphere of political action is characterized by the use of violence. Thus, for Arendt, Marx’s ‘glorification of violence’ contains the denial of speech. And she claims, ‘Marx’s theory of ideological superstructures ultimately rests on this anti-traditional hostility to speech and the glorification of violence.’ (Arendt, 1961:23). It is obvious that Arendt is not a Marxian and does not believe that freedom is the necessary result of revolution; but neither does she deny that freedom can be experienced in revolutionary action. And more obviously violence seems as a focal point in her presentation of speech, thought, and action in the public and private realms. In fact, she presents a utopian space characterized by the absence of violence. In this context, she situate violence as prepolitical phenomenon and outside of the political realm. Additionally, in Arendt’s view, violence is associated with necessity, with the natural-biological needs that she links the life of the social question (McGowan, 1997). In Arendt’s work, however, there is a political violence that cannot be linked to necessity. A question to be asked here why Arendt offers such a lucid definition of the violence without criticism. She evaluates violence as prepolitical which forces the laborers, family, and the slaves to stay in the private realm, where she thinks they belong, in order to enable free men to enter the public and political realms (Gines, 2014). In this very precise sense, Arendt appears to justify violence.

Although Totalitarianism has been perhaps the most widely read of Hannah Arendt’s book, it is The Human Condition that has attracted most scholarly attention (Canovan, 1995).  It is even regarded as her magnum opus. And it has been the subject of a good deal of analysis and criticism, especially regarding her account of politics. In this context, Arendt’s conception of political activity has had few important defenders. The majority of theorists have been more impressed by the limitations and dangers of action. As we have seen, action is irreversible, futile and often unpredictable. It is essentially dynamic because it is always interaction. It is in the nature of this situation that no one can predict or control the outcome of events. Whenever we act, it is deeply uncertain whether we will achieve our intended purpose or not. Consequently, the result of action are essentially unpredictable. In this sense, the desire to escape from action is a desire to escape from defining features of the human condition itself (McCarthy, 2012). As we have seen, especially in The Human Condition Arendt distinguishes between labor and work. She also distinguishes between the public and the private realms, specifically in the Greek polis, as premise of classical political thought had forgotten. In fact, as Zaretsky points out, the concept of public and private realm had not been forgotten but instead anticipated by the concept of state and society. In this context, Arendt reintroduces this distinction by arguing for the significance of political theory in preference to functionalist, behaviorist, sociological, or economic determinist explanations (Zaretsky, 1997).

Additionally, Arendt is commonly thought to have made more of the Aristotelian characterization than anyone else in the twentieth century, especially upon man’s nature. As we have seen, in The Human Condition, under the discussion of the public/private realm, she attempts to understand man as a social or a political animal. Then she argues that humans have found their greatest fulfilment in politics as political animals. In fact, it was Aristotle who characterized humans as the only animals in possession of logos, or the ability to reason and participate in philosophical thinking. Not only that, but he also valued dramatic actions as public gestures out of which an actor’s character emerges. These two ideas – the significance of human being’s ability to think and of public action- central to much of Arendt’s philosophy.

Therefore, Arendt remained in all her works the jurist, the legal analyst. Her concerns were to plumb the depths of legitimacy, not as an abstract discourse on nationalism, but as an effort to review the grounds that permit a people to survive even harsh and tyrannical conditions (Horowitz, 2012). She was totally uninterested in economics, and was concerned to create a political philosophy far from the influence of economic considerations. In this sense, Arendt was neither a conservative nor liberal, at least not in any conventional modes of those concepts. From the beginning, Arendt’ thoughts on political action, freedom and the reality of the public realm were motivated by her judgement that totalitarianism had brought about the total collapse of traditional conventions (Mewes, 2009). This complete breakdown in Western traditions led Arendt to a rethinking of both the ontological roots of politics and the place of political freedom within the framework of human condition. Thus, she tried to search an understanding of politics, especially in its meaning, by reexamining of the whole realm of politics in the light of elementary human experiences within this realm itself (Arendt, 1961:14)

Bibliography

Arendt, Hannah (1958). The Human Condition. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Arendt, Hannah (1973). The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Hartcourt.

Arendt, Hannah (1961). Between past and future: eight exercises in political thought. New York: Viking Press.

Arendt, Hannah (1972). Crises of the republic. New York: Harcourt.

Benhabib, Seyla (1994). ‘Hannah Arendt and the Redemptive Power of Narrative’ in Hannah Arendt: Critical Essays. Ed. by Lewis P. Hinchman, Sandra Hinchman. State University of New York Press, Albany.

Buckler, Steve (2012). Hannah Arendt and Political Theory: Challenging the Tradition. Edinburgh University Press

Calhoun, Craig & McGowan, John (1997). Hannah Arendt and the Meaning of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Canovan, Margaret (1990). Socrates or Heidegger? Hannah Arendt’s Reflections on Philosophy and Politics. Retrieved from: http://0eds.b.ebscohost.com.library.metu.edu.tr/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=78a4ba8d-baae-42fb-b7a1-dfaf89b5e1a6%40sessionmgr120&vid=0&hid=114 [21.06.2016]

Canovan, Margaret (1992). Hannah Arendt and the Human Condition in Political Thought since 1945: Philosophy, Science, Ideology. Edited by Leonard Tivey and Anthony Wright.

Canovan, Margaret (1995). Hannah Arendt: A Reinterpretation of Her Political Thought. Cambridge University Press.

Gines, Kathryn T. (2014). ‘Only Violence and Rule over Others Could Make Some Men Free’ in Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question. Indiana University Press.

Horowitz, Irving L. (2012). Hannah Arendt: Radical Conservative. Transaction Publishers.

McCharthy, Micheal H. (2012). ‘Our Tradition of Political Thought’ in The Political Humanism of Hannah Arendt. Lexington Books.

McGowan, John (1997). ‘Must Politics Be Violent? Arendt’s Utopian Vision’ in Hannah Arendt and the Meaning of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Mewes, Horst (2009). Hannah Arendt’s Political Humanism. Hannah Arendt-Studies 5. Peter Lang.

Keedus, Liisi (2014). Thinking Beyond Philosophy: Hannah Arendt And The Weimar Hermeneutic Connections. Trames, 4, 307–325. Retrieved from: http://0eds.a.ebscohost.com.library.metu.edu.tr/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f76e902b-c7de-43f8-bbcf-17c44f043c28%40sessionmgr4003&vid=0&hid=4203 [23.06.2014]

Willis, Mark (2007). Walter Benjamin: The Pearl Diver. Retrieved from: http://blindflaneur.com/2007/09/11/walter-benjamin-on-quotation/ [22.06.2016]

Zaretsky, Eli (1997). ‘Arendt and the Public/Private Distinction’ in Hannah Arendt and the Meaning of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

GERMANY IN A CHANGING EUROPE

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The Diplomatic Observer magazine has carried out an exclusive interview with Mehmet Okyayuz. The wide-ranging interview covers the structural exclusion of migrants and minorities, migration in Germany, pro-immigrant social movements, German Federal Election and Brexit.

 

Middle East Technical University

Nuran YILDIRIM

 

Mehmet Okyayuz is a university teacher in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Middle East Technical University in Ankara/Turkey. He studied Political Science, Philosophy and Sociology at the universities of Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg and Marburg.

He completed his M.A. at the University of Heidelberg and his Ph.D. at the University of Marburg. Some of his areas of research and education are labor migration along with Political Theory/Thought, Social Policy and Ideology Research. At present, he is teaching “Immigration Policies in Europe” and “Public Participation of Turkish Labor Migrants in Western Europe”. In addition, he is conducting research projects on “Return Migration from Germany to Turkey” and “Media Behavior of Turkish Migrants in Germany”. He was chairman of the Executive Board of the NGO Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM). He published texts (among others) concerning the issues of European and Turkish asylum systems, return migration, global migration and immigration policies.

 

Throughout Europe, tensions around issues of race, religion and national identity have been growing. And the meaning of migrants casts in the ambivalent conditions of modernity, as Zygmunt Bauman points out. In this sense, migrants have one dimensional existence, a peculiar position, as being neither inside nor outside, neither friend nor enemy, neither included nor excluded, which make the existential situation of the migrants is radically different, an opaque, not a transparent existence. Since the migrants are assigned no status inside the cultural realm, they want to make their own. The migrants therefore depicted the ambiguities which are troublesome and creating conflicts. Is it possible to overcome the structural exclusion of migrants and minorities so often lamented in mainstream discourses?

Let me first say that the relation between the ‘foreigner’ and the state has its most determinant basis in the immigration laws of the different states. Immigration Law is what we would call an exceptional legal system not fitting (politically liberal) principles such as calculability, rationality and transparency. Thus, this relation is asymmetrical in the sense that the state or (more concrete) the political actors defining, formulating and executing migration-specific issues do have a nearly unlimited disposition over the foreigners, and this even more if we consider the fact that public and political participation of these foreigners is limited if not totally ‘forbidden’ The things mentioned so far focusses on the structural dimension of (im)migration law and policies, and this dimension which is more or less independent from the actors, makes it categorically difficult for the migrants or – as formulated in your questionnaire – ‘foreigners’ to establish an understanding of their own living and working perspectives including the self determination of their ‘identity’. Nevertheless, there are periods within the German labour migration history after 1945 in which attempts to question mainstream understandings of what integration, multiculturalism, or identity could be were tried to be undergone by the migrants themselves. E.g., during the 1970’s the migrants tried to organize their own interests by becoming – may be the first time -self-conscious actors articulating themselves and their needs as part of the society. Up to that time they were solely objects of so-called migration research, but from this time until now they are aiming at attempting to be subjects of their concerns. This development was eased by the fact that a lot of migrants (foreigners) do possess the German citizenship which provides them a legal umbrella of protection. Unfortunately, nowadays there is a big gap between this political-legal aspect which is indeed of existential importance for the migrants, and the present social reality of a time in which xenophobia has become widespread in nearly all the European countries, particularly in traditional migrant-receiving countries such as Germany, France or the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, the only hope for a multi-layered conceptualization of integration and multiculturalism, in sum: of the possibility of living together rather than of living side by side, lies in the hands of the migrants themselves who should insist in articulating their interests as part of the interests of the whole society, and further more in informing the public of their new home countries about the structural reasons of population movements. It seems that in a World in which population movements have become a non-preventable part of international relations, this is the only realistic solution.

 

Germany is a sui-generis country in terms of immigration policies. In retrospect, Germany has been using immigrants for many years to support the country’s labor force, although it is often voiced especially by the politicians that Germany is not a country of migration. In this context, Germany is home to the highest number by far of all third-country nationals in the EU. On the other hand, despite the large share of immigrants in its population, Germany has long been one of the most restrictive in the EU in terms of citizenship policies. Could you give us a short history of citizenship and migration in Germany?

In most general terms we can divide German labour migration history after 1945 in four periods. The first period took place from the mid-fifties until the beginning of the 1970’s, more concretely spoken until the so-called recruitment stop of 1972/1973. In this first period foreign labour force was recruited from countries such as Italy, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Greece, (former) Yugoslavia to be employed in the traditional industrial sectors of Germany which’s main characteristics were uncomfortable working conditions in combination with relatively low wages. In the beginning the working contracts were based on the so-called rotational model according to which the recruited worker should work for one, or maximum, two years, and then return to his home country to contribute to the economy of the sending country. Behind this model we can state a conceptualization of each and every single worker as ‘human capital’ providing ‘innovative effects’. At least this was presented to the sending countries in the fore-evening of the bilateral agreements. In fact, this never happened in reality. According to the wishes of the German entrepreneurs, who were satisfied with the productivity of the labour migrants, the working (and resident) permits became extended. Even if migration has social dynamics immanent nearly impossible to control, and even if it became more and more evident during the sixties that most of the labour migrants would not return to their home countries, the fifties and sixties can be characterized as time period in which the social dimension of labour migration was in general neglected. In order to define this I use the formula: Immigration Policies as Labour Market policies. Thus, from the late sixties onwards it was more and more clear, that not only the majority of the recruited migrants would stay in their new homes, furthermore it was clear that they would bring their wives and husbands to Germany. By the way, it should be mentioned that nearly one third of the recruited labour force were women. To summarize one can say that until the recruitment stop Germany had in fact become somehow an immigration country. But until now this reality is more or less still not officially accepted. Until now this issue remains one of the taboos of German immigration policies, in addition with the refusal of providing labour migrants from Turkey with double citizenship. Even if after the establishment of the coalition between Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) new-born children are granted to possess double citizenship under certain conditions, for the vast majority of foreigners this still remains unreachable.

In the seventies we can state some positive developments. Some of them were mentioned within the framework of the answer of the first question. The foreigners more and more attempted to self-organize. Additionally we can state the debates of new issues, such as public and political participation of foreigners. Furthermore, at the end of the seventies, the first time official ‘voices’ began to discuss possibilities and necessities of double citizenship. The social dimension of migration was debated in public. Something completely new within the history of the relation between the foreigner and the state.

Starting with the 1980’s this partially positive development came somehow to stop as a result of beginning economic crisis symptoms of the Western European receiving countries, which provided the basis for an anti-migrant propaganda which is ongoing until now. The migration issue began to be formulated as a problem, integration was evaluated as having failed, the ‘foreigner’ itself was defined from ‘above’. Identity politics, this time, were not conceptualized by the foreigner it was directly executed from above by the state authorities. More and more the multi-dimensional and multi-directional approach to integration was replaced by a technical and formal one-sided approach, e.g. evaluating language courses as the solely mechanism of integration. The discourse of Migration Management shaped the mainstream content of immigration policies. Together with an increasing atmosphere of intolerance, xenophobia, and even open racism it is clear that the living and working conditions of the migrants get worse. Within the limited context of this interview it is not possible to list and analyze all the reasons for his negative process. I have therefore only mentioned the general cornerstones.

 

According to a report by Süddeutsche Zeitung based on data from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), about 55,000 migrants who were not eligible for asylum or were refused it left Germany voluntarily between January and November 2016. Why would thousands of people voluntarily leave Germany? Is it possible to talk about a serious threat against immigrants, especially by the government?

I am aware that part of my answer will include a certain level of ‘speculation’ due to the fact that no one really will know about the real reasons why people would ‘voluntarily’ leave a country where they have at least existential protection from dangers they would face in their home countries. But let me again speak of structural patterns shaping the attitude against asylum-seekers and refugees having come to a negative climax since 2-3 years when the so-called Syrian crisis did reach the borders of EU countries. Since 2 months refugee policies have become step by step more restrictive. Since then, the securitization of the state is openly dominant compared with human rights issues. Thus, in the first week of December 2016 in the party congress of the CDU principal suggestions were made in certain areas of immigration policies, such as an extension of the right of the state to deport refugees more easily. Furthermore it was suggested to deport so-called ‘tolerated’ people. These are persons whose refugee status determination process had ended in disfavour of them, but nevertheless – due to existential threats in their home countries – were granted to stay in Germany. Radical populist spokesmen of – not only – right-wing parties are aiming at deporting these people. It is possible to list more such steps to establish restrictive policies on asylum-seekers. The planned changes I mentioned above may be a sign that not – or not only – free will, but also indeed pressure, was the motor of the decisions to leave Germany.

 

In September 2017, Germany will elect a new parliament and Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been in power since 2005, announced her plans to run again for office. Yet, Angela Merkel has been facing criticism over her controversial open migration policy and her popularity is much weaker than it was months and years ago. So, is it possible that such voices in German public opinion can affect her campaign negatively and, thus, impact the election results? Additionally, a string of attacks and security alerts involving refugees and migrants this year has boosted support for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, which could damage Merkel’s re-election hopes. Far-right party the Alternative for Germany (AfD) has made gains in the wake of the migrant crisis and Brexit victory in the UK. How will the AfD perform in the election?

The voices mentioned in the question have already affected the political statements of Angela Merkel, even more if one has predictions in mind that the right-wing/populist AFD will continue to be successful in the next federal elections. Some journalists even claim that the AFD will get a least 10% of the votes Germany-wide. Within this context have in your mind that the CDU as a classical conservative party always has the trend to adopt right-wing slogans as part of their own politics in order to prevent these extreme parties from becoming too strong. Unfortunately, the prize paid for this is a drift from the center-right to more extreme positions. Let me give an example for such a development: In the mid-sixties the NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany), a legal extreme right party, had success in some regional parliaments. In these years the first time anti-migrant issues became politicized, and – like nowadays – paved the way for political ‘career’ of populist right-wing spokesmen. The CDU adopted a lot of political contents during these years. It might be concluded that Merkel will ‘repeat’ such an attitude by formulating restrictive politics even if this would somehow contradict with her ‘open-border-politics’ mentioned. On the other hand we have to see that the structuralization of immigration policies is shaped not only by the attitudes of parties such as the AFD, but also by the attitudes of ‘big’ economic actors’ such as the representants of big enterprises. For them migration means the possibility to more or less unlimitedly access foreign labour markets. Angela Merkel will have to position herself between these two main actors. But without doubt, even if labour market issues and the need to recruit foreign labour force will continue to be important, Europe will strengthen efforts to build up ‘Fortress Europe’, where Turkey is planned to play the role of a guard preventing people from going to Europe (e.g. see the readmission agreement between the EU and Turkey from last year, and the recently planned similar agreement between Switzerland and Turkey). Bi- and multi-lateral agreements, and furthermore ‘national’ restrictive policies as executed for example in Hungary, or latest planned to be executed in Malta, will undoubtedly affect Merkel’s policies to the disadvantage of foreigners.

 

Donald Trump officially became the 45th President of the United States on January 20. Trump campaigned for president on promises of imposing more severe restrictions on migration. In a joint interview with the Times of London and the German newspaper Bild, US President Donald Trump has said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made a “catastrophic mistake” with a policy that let a wave of more than one million migrants into her country at the height of the migrant crisis. Trump also said that if they (the EU countries) hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, EU wouldn’t have a Brexit. What does Brexit means for migration policy of Germany, in particular?

Concerning Brexit, I would not say that this has directly something to do with migration issues. By the way, it is propaganda that Europe ever opened the doors for people fleeing from war etc. to a broad extent. On the contrary, Europe including Germany, never had a real ‘welcome’ culture extending the level of political self-presentation. Trump’s words have to be understood within the context of his own anti-migrant populist discourse, and thus cannot be taken seriously. What can be seriously taken indeed, are actual numbers of asylum-seekers residing in EU countries which are ridiculously low compared to countries like our own, or countries such as Lebanon.

 

On the other hand, we can talk about some pro-immigrant social movements. So what are the dynamics of such social movements with a special emphasis on the “Refugees Welcome Germany”?

It is true, on the other hand, that a lot of individuals and organizations in countries such as Germany are trying to organize solidarity with foreigners and to inform the public about the structural patterns of migration enabling people to approach objectively to the issue and to overwhelm prejudices and fear. But in my opinion, more than the discourse of human rights concrete political steps should be done in favour of the foreigners enabling them to prepare for their new lives. A whole new approach to migration seems to be necessary.

 

Having regarded as the bedrock of the Nazi ideology, Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” was one of the best-selling books of nonfiction in Germany last year. According to the report published by the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, the new version of the book “Hitler, Mein Kampf, A Critical Edition” spent 35 weeks on Der Spiegel’s best-seller list and sold about 85,000 copies. Do you think the book would fuel nationalist sentiments and anti-immigrant propaganda?

Let me start to say that the publication of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is still prohibited in Germany. The recent publication is edited by the Institute of Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte) and is thought to be a critical scientific edition, and as such is including texts concerning the theoretical-historical framework of this book. Concerning this issue the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland) declared that “Mein Kampf must remain prohibited”, but that they would not object to a critical edition “contrasting Hitler’s racial theories with scientific findings, to be at the disposal of research and teaching”. More than this book actual texts from authors such as Thilo Sarrazin trying to ‘scientify’ racism will fuel nationalist sentiments and anti-migrant propaganda.

 

Thank you very much for joining us; we really appreciate it.

 

Note: This article was first published in the February 2017 issue of Diplomatic Observer magazine.

BULGARIA’S UNFINISHED PROJECT OF EUROPEANIZATION

 

Nuran YILDIRIM

Middle East Technical University, Ankara Turkey

 

Abstract

The collapse of communism in 1989 have changed the existing situation in the Europe and marked the opening of a new chapter of European history. Eventually, for the most of the countries belonging to the Warsaw Pact, this meant ‘a return to Europe.’ The post-Communist Bulgaria has followed a pro-Western foreign policy with its diplomacy being overall in step with the diplomacy of Western governments and organizations, including EEC/EU and NATO. Nevertheless, the most recent Bulgarian foreign policy seems to be in conflict with the EU’s agenda, for example, voters in Bulgaria elected a pro-Russian populist President on 13 November 2016. In this respect, this study is devoted to attempt to examine Bulgaria’s new pro-Russian foreign policy towards European Union by taking historical background of Bulgaria’s relations with Russia into account. It also provides a brief touch on the political life of the country. Thus, this study attempts to answer how Bulgaria disengaged from its proximity with the EU to adopt a pro-Russian foreign policy. Finally, conclusions are drawn with respect to the political and social prospects of Bulgaria within the EU.

 

Keywords: Bulgarian politics, pro-Russian foreign policy, the European Union, Presidential election

 

Introduction: Bulgarian foreign policy in New Europe

At a press conference on 22 January 2003, the US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has conceptualized Europe in terms of NATO membership and distinguished it into ‘old’ and ‘new’ categories. Rumsfeld, responding to a reporter’s question about how he saw European criticism of the US’s conduct over Iraq, stated:

“You are thinking Europe as Germany and France. I don’t. I think that’s old Europe. If you look at the entire NATO Europe today, the center of gravity is shifting to the East. And there are a lot of new members.”[1]

Rumsfeld associated ‘old Europe’ with all NATO member states which had gained membership into the organization prior to its expansion eastwards in 1999. On the other hand, ‘new Europe’ included states of the former Soviet bloc which had either recently joined or were to join NATO and they tended to support the US, especially towards Iraq (Sedivy, 2012:2).

In addition, the term ‘new Europe’ should not be regarded as neologism which was first used and conceived by the US conservatives. In fact, this dichotomy was developed and used for the political purposes (Longhurst, 2005:18). Rumsfeld’s statement expressed a view which was shared by many political commentators and publicists, already in the second half of the nineteenth century. For example, the President of Czechoslovak Republic Thomas G. Masaryk wrote a book so-called ‘The New Europe’ which stated ‘new Europe’ as territorial changes after the First World War, especially those in Central and Eastern Europe (as cited in Katsikas, 2012).

Following the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union, many Central and Eastern European countries experienced thoroughgoing transformation of their political, economic and social structures and they turned their foreign policy to the West, a shift symbolically represented as ‘a return to Europe.’ Indeed, the countries had to transform into a new identity and experienced serious economic problems caused by the absence of systematic market reforms. In many respect, Bulgaria faced similar challenges to other East European states in the post-Cold War period. Bulgaria has turned towards Western institutions and economic models accelerated after 1998, and the country became a member of NATO in 2004 and of the European Union (EU) in 2007. It had to consolidate the countries newly established

democratic system and ensure a smooth transition from the economic system of the Communist era to a free market economy (Katsikas, 2012).

Despite the similarities of the post-Communist Bulgaria’s foreign policy with other East European states, Bulgaria’s historical relations with Russia and the Soviet Union makes the Bulgaria’s case study unique. Bulgaria embraces Russia and the Soviet Union as a friend and liberator, a view other countries did not share. Hence, Bulgaria has continuously walked a tightrope, balancing its relations with Russia and its status as a member of European Union and NATO.[2]

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria held its first presidential election in 1990. The last presidential election held in Bulgaria on 13 November 2016 have resulted in an outcome that will deepen the political crisis of the country, especially regarding its relations with the European Union and NATO, since a pro-Russian candidate Rumen Radev swept to victory with 59.4 percent of the vote, compared with 36.2 percent for the candidate of the ruling centre-right GERB party, Tsetska Tsacheva. The last election featured the most contenders also because the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov announced that he would resign from the office if his candidate Tsetska Tsacheva was not elected as the President.

Communist ideology, based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism, was meant to play significant role in the political life of the socialist system, which Bulgaria adopted after the Second World War. At the very least, communist doctrine was used to justify policies a priori or a posteriori and for that reason (Katsikas, 2012:11) before examining Bulgaria’s the most recent pro-Russian foreign policy, it is necessary first to look at the historical legacy of Bulgaria, including two transformation from the most loyal ally of the Soviet Union in the former Warsaw Pact to a full member of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and then to see how Bulgaria disengaged from its proximity with the EU to adopt a pro-Russian foreign policy.

Historical Legacy of Bulgaria

In 1878, Bulgaria was liberated after almost five centuries of Ottoman domination and Bulgaria finally attained the freedom as a result of a Russian victory over the Turks in the Russo-Turkish war. The treaty of San Stefano, signed on 3 March 1878, established Bulgaria as an autonomous principality, encompassing nearly all the territories including ethnic Bulgaria, Thrace (south of the  Balkan Mountains) and Macedonia.

Nevertheless, Britain and Austro-Hungary regarded the treaty as a dangerous expansion of Russian influence and the Congress of Berlin in June 1878 forced through a drastic revision and the territory of Bulgaria was carved into five parts. Whilst the lands in the north-east were given to Romania and Serbia as compensation, Macedonia and Aegean Thrace were returned to the Sultan. The southern Bulgaria (named Eastern Rumelia) formed an autonomous province under a governor appointed by the Sultan. The rest formed the Principality of Bulgaria, including the territory in the region of Sofia and the north of Balkan Mountains. Within a few years, political, judicial and administrative system of the Principality of Bulgaria took shape. In 1879, Sofia adopted the progressive Turnovo Constitution which guaranteed individual rights and freedoms. In the following two decades, a number of political parties were established, including the National Liberal Party and the Bulgarian Agrarian Union (Bugajski, 2015).

In 1885, the Bulgarians made the first and only completely successful step towards unification of Bulgarian principality with the autonomous Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia. This act, which was a breach of the Berlin Treaty, met with strong disapproval from the Russian emperor, but was strongly supported by Britain and other powers (Pantev, 1996:16).  Following 1886, Bulgaria experienced deep divisions in Bulgarian politics between the Russophiles who felt that the country simply could not go against the wishes of its liberator, and the nationalist[3] who considered that Bulgaria had to pursue her own interest (Dimitrov, 2001:16).

Meanwhile, Sofia’s relations with Moscow broke down completely and in August 1887 a group of army officers carried out a coup d’etat on direct instigation of Russian diplomats. Stefan Stambolov organized a counter-coup; the pro-Russian orientation was soon counteracted by a pro-European one. During the Stambolov, the Prime Minister of Bulgaria from 1887 to 1893 and nicknamed as the ‘Bulgarian Bismarck’, modernization process catalyzed and the pro-European orientation reached its peak.

The country proclaimed its full independence from Turkey in 1908 after several revolts, including the Ilinden uprising in August 1903, centered in the Macedonian and Thracian regions. Bulgaria’s territorial claims contributed to fueling two Balkan wars. In 1912, Bulgaria joined Greece, Serbia and Montenegro in a war to drive the Turks once and for all from European soil (Otfinoski, 2004). The war ended in utter defeat for the Turks. The second Balkan War in 1913, Greece, Romania and Montenegro took the side of the Serbs against Bulgaria. Bulgaria was unsuccessful in its military campaign against Serbia and Greece and once again lost almost every inch of territory it had gained from the First Balkan war with the treaty of Bucharest. During the First World War, Bulgaria at first remained neutral but in 1915 it sided with Germany and Austria.  The end of the First World War left Bulgaria in total disarray, both politically and economically (Otfinoski, 2004). It was forced to accept harsh peace treaty at Neuilly in November 1919 and lost all access to the Aegean Sea.

The interwar period were mainly spent overcoming the traumatic effects of the war and Bulgaria witnessed social and political turmoil and economic crisis, particularly after the overthrow of the Agrarian government led by Alexander Stamboliyski in 1923.

During the Second World War, Sofia imposed a royal dictatorship and capitalized on the German occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece to forge an alliance with Berlin to regain parts of Macedonia and Thrace. On 1 March 1941 Bulgaria joined the Tripartite Pact, as much frightened by Germany’s might as attracted by the promises of the recovery of the Aegean coast and consequently Macedonia from its neighbors, but it was once again the mismanagement of foreign policy that led to a fundamental rupture (Dimitrov, 2001:20). Bulgaria’s territorial advances, including access to the Aegean coastline, were again reversed at the close of the Second World War, as Sofia found itself once more on the losing side.

Communist Experience

Communist forces, with Soviet military and political assistance, occupied Bulgaria in September 1944 during the closing stages of the Second World War. The occupation marked a fundamental rupture in the history of Bulgaria and led to the total repudiation of the political, social and economic system, attempting to construct an entirely new order (Dimitrov, 2001:22). For a few years after 1944, Communist forces eliminated all organized political and social opposition and held elections in order to legitimize their assumption of absolute power. A former General Secretary of the Communist International Georgi Dimitrov returned back to Bulgaria from the exile and assured leadership of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP). A new ‘Dimitrov’ Constitution was passed in December 1947. Under the Soviet supervision, Bulgaria was isolated from the West and conducted a full-scale drive towards state control over the economy (Bugajski, 2015).  After the death of Dimitrov in June 1949, Vulko Chervenkov, compromised as a hard-line Stalinist and had lived in Moscow, had returned to Bulgaria in the footsteps of the Communist forces. In April 1956, Chervenkov was replaced by Todor Zhivkov, but remained as the Prime Minister and one of the dominant figures of the country.

In 1989, Central and Eastern Europe experiences historic and unprecedented changes when a number of apparently well entrenched Communist regimes collapsed one by one (Giatzidis, 2002). As a result of the wave of public protest and increasing pressure against the communist regime, on 10 November 1989, the Bulgarian Communist Party’s (BCP) monopoly on power ended. Todor Zhivkov resigned and was replaced by foreign minister Peter Mladenov as head of the BCP. During this period under the chairmanship of Mladenov, Bulgaria experienced a series of domestic political changes, including political parties, think tanks and ethnic minority groups, to transform itself into a modern democratic state.

According to Vesselin Dimitrov (2001:35), Bulgaria’s transition to democracy began not as a result of internal evolution but rather as a part of an attempt by some of Zhivkov’s colleagues to save their power at a time when the communist bloc was collapsing around them. Thus, Bulgarian transition to democracy after 1989, was not based on political principle, but rather o the much more pragmatic grounds as well as on the personal interests of BCP’s governing Politburo and Central Committee members. The BCP also needed to renounce communism and adopted a new name: the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). The parliament, controlled by the BSP, elected Andrey Lukanov, who is ‘surprisingly’ the former minister of foreign trade.

By that time, Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) entered into the political area as the chief democratic opposition alliance and Zheliv Zhelev became UDF’s first leader. In addition, Turkish minorities established a party so-called Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). Meanwhile, especially by the reformist within the opposition parties, supported to the creation of a fully competitive democratic system and they argued that the country’s foreign policy should be turned towards the EEC/EU. Also, the relations with the Russian Federation and the other former Soviet Republics had to be kept at a level that would not negatively affect the country’s accession to the EU. Nevertheless, there was also a common belief that integration into the EU did not necessarily mean that Bulgaria had to become a member of NATO.

Return to Europe: Bulgaria’s New Foreign Policy

During the Communist era Bulgaria earned for itself the reputation of the most loyal satellite and has no need to formulate its own foreign policy. The dissolution of the Soviet Union left Bulgaria without an important patron which had until then guaranteed national security, internal political stability, social support and economic support. In this sense, the very notion of independent policy making has had to be re-created after four and a half decades of almost colonial dependence (Dimitrov, 2001:93).

Moreover, Bulgaria’s loyalty to the Soviet Union in the Cold War should not be seen as a kind of involuntary enslavement. Indeed, the relationship between Bulgaria and the Soviet Union was certainly beneficial for both side. Bulgarian communist regime’s loyalty to the Soviet Union secured the country’s industrialization with the substantial support received by the Soviet Union in terms of both financing and raw materials. Bulgaria also after the consecutive defeats in the Second Balkan War, the First World War, and the Second World War, found its alliance with the Soviet Union, the necessary security cover to guarantee its interest. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, found in Bulgaria the only devoted ally in a region where it traditionally had an interest.

The end of the Cold War, the break-up of the Soviet Union, the dissolution of the CMEA and the Warsaw Pact meant that Bulgaria had to seek a new identity in a totally unfamiliar environment. Bulgarian foreign policy turned to the West, and the return to Europe has become synonymous with social, political and economic reforms. In this respect, Bulgaria has made efforts towards securing entry to the European Union, which has emerged as the central institution of the post-Cold War Europe. Along with the EU, NATO has emerged as the parallel and complementary instrument of European integration. On a deeper view, joining EU meant embracing Western values such as liberal democratic politics and a free market economy (Giatzidis, 2002:134). In addition, the country like other post-communist countries had experienced serious economic problems caused by the lack of systematic market reforms. Importantly, unlike some other Central and Eastern European states, Bulgaria had almost no experience of democratic politics prior to the Communist period. Indeed, this lack of the democratic tradition and culture make Bulgaria one of the most interesting and unique case for study among the former Communist bloc countries.

In this context, he official relations between Bulgaria and the EC (from 1 November 1993 the European Union) established in August 1988 and in May 1990 a Trade and Co-Operatation Agreement was signed. The next step was the criteria membership, formulated by the European Council in Copenhagen in 1993, and the Association Agreements, which together identified a path for integration into European structure. Finally, on 1 January 2007, Bulgaria joined the European Union.

Europeanisation, for Bulgaria, has coincided with the process of modernizing its political, economic and social systems beyond the harsh reality of communism and the even more daunting consequences of post-communism. It is thus reasonable to claim that, as with the other EU applicant states even though with a significant time lag, the processes of Europeanization and integration coincide with the transition to liberal democracy and market economy (Bojkov, 2004). Transition in Bulgaria has been marked by a period of initial political instability. A huge stumbling block for reforms has been the continuation of former communists in political power in the first years of transition (Bojkov, 2004).

While analysts have often praised the EU for acting as a powerful ‘anchor’ to this process, by providing political guidance, the EU leaders hastened to complete the Fifth Enlargement by including Bulgaria largely unprepared. Following accession of Bulgaria to the Union, the European Commission was not exceptionally successful in pressurizing the government to deal with their unresolved problems because of the politically complicated post-referenda context in France and the Netherlands and the increasingly negative attitude of the West European public towards future enlargements (Andrev, 2009).

Bulgaria’s Unfinished Project of Europeanization

From the centrally controlled communist regime to a pluralistic market oriented democracy, Bulgaria’s relation with the Soviet Union and later with Russian Federation was not as stable and smooth as is widely believed. There were moments of disagreements and conflicts between the two countries. For example, the Soviet Union did not support the unification of Bulgaria in 1885. During the harsh time of the Balkan Wars, Bulgaria expected the Soviet Union to be a mediator, but it did not happen and Bulgaria lost most of its territories. In addition, Bulgaria fight alongside with Germany and Austria against Russia during the Second World War. Hence, the history of Bulgaria has been marked by the competition between different preferences and orientations in the foreign policy.

On the other hand, there are historical and cultural reasons which can explain Bulgaria’s political proximity to Russian Federation. Since the national independence from Ottoman rule, there has been a strong Russophile among a large section of Bulgarian society, including a sizeable part of the political elites. The common Slavonic language which employs the Cyrillic script, Orthodox religion, and a strong peasant-folk tradition can be regarded as historical and cultural ties between two countries. This thesis also seems to be supported by the result of recent presidential election in Bulgaria.

Voters in Bulgaria, on 13 November 2016, elected pro-Russian populist president, deepening the political crisis of the country even further. Pro-Russia, anti-migration candidate Rumen Radev swept to victory with 59.4 percent of the vote, compared with 36.2 percent for the candidate of the ruling centre-right GERB party, Tsetska Tsacheva at presidential elections in Bulgaria. Having been the former commander of Bulgaria’s Air Force, Radev was backed by the opposition Socialist Party and is considered a Russia-friendly newcomer to politics.

Radev used his victory speech to reiterate his opposition for declaring Moscow as an enemy and called for EU sanctions against Russia to be lifted.  He said “In his election campaign (Donald Trump), already elected, said clearly that he will work for a better dialogue with Russia. This gives us hope, a big hope, for a peaceful solution to the conflicts both particularly in Syria and in Ukraine and for reducing the risk of confrontation,” but Radev has also emphasized that an improvement relation with Moscow indeed does not mean a retreat for Bulgaria’s Nato and EU membership since there is “no alternative” for Euro-Atlantic values. Radev will take office on January 22 for a five-year term.

Overall, Bulgaria faces a political uncertainty amid political outsider Rumen Radev has won Bulgaria’s presidential run-off, inflicting a crushing defeat on the main ruling party’s candidate Tsetska Tsacheva, nominated by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. The results also constituted the first ever election loss of centre-right Prime Minister Boyko Borisov since the party was set up in the mid-2000s. Bulgaria’s pro-Europe Prime Minister Boykov Borisov said that “The results clearly show that the ruling coalition no longer holds the majority.” And he added “I apologise to those who supported us. I thought I was doing the right thing.” [4]

Thus, the results shows that the majority of citizens in Bulgaria still have the pro-Russian feelings while the West and Russia have been often regarded as two opposing others. In this respect, a transition from the communist regime to the EU, regarded as democratization and free market economy, may begin but never be completed since the overthrown of the old regime and the recovery of freedom are necessary but not sufficient conditions for the integration of Bulgaria to  the EU. In this respect, the collapse of the communist system in 1989 was not automatically leading to Europeanization.

Having analyzed the actual situation in Bulgaria with the hindsight of the past experience, one could assume that the former have largely moved beyond the point of significant post-accession mobilization of their domestic political and social forces. Thus, democracy has been reconfirmed as the ‘‘only game in town’’ and the preferred regime for a sizeable part of Bulgarian society after the European accession (Andrev, 2009). In addition, European integration has operated top-down, from the supranational to the domestic level.

Conclusion

The main goal of this study has been to examine Bulgaria’s new pro-Russian foreign policy towards European Union by taking historical background of Bulgaria’s relations with Russia into account. Overall, the collapse of communism in 1989 have changed the existing situation in the Europe and marked the opening of a new chapter of European history. The socialist states were completely destroyed, and its place, a welfare state of the West European type is being created (Baeva & Kalinova, 2010:57). Eventually, many Central and Eastern European countries experienced thoroughgoing transformation of their political, economic and social structures and they turned their foreign policy to the West, a shift symbolically represented as ‘a return to Europe.’  Most notably, nearly all states from post-communist Europe had to transform into a new identity and experienced serious economic problems caused by the absence of systematic market reforms. In many respect, Bulgaria faced similar challenges to other East European states in the post-Cold War period. However, despite the similarities of the post-Communist Bulgaria’s foreign policy with other East European states, Bulgaria’s historical relations with Russia and the Soviet Union makes the Bulgaria’s case study unique. Moreover, Bulgaria has been a distinct case regarding its apparent inability to swiftly deal with the political and social challenges cropping up after accession, as well as to adequately respond to the process of Europeanization because of the unfinished political and socio-economic Europeanization (Andrev, 2009).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Andrev, Svetlozar A. 2009. The unbearable lightness of membership: Bulgaria and Romania after the 2007 EU accession. Communist and Post-Communist Studies 42 (2009) 375e393. Available online at www.sciencedirect.com

Baeva, Iskra & Kalinova, Evgenia. 2010. “Bulgarian Transition and the Memory of the Socialist Past.” In Remembering Communism, ed. Maria Todorova. New York: SSRC Press.

Bugajski, Janusz. 2015. “Bulgaria: Progress and Development.” In Central & East European Politics from Communism to Democracy, eds. Sharon L. Wolchik & Jane Leftwich Curry

Dimitrov, Vesselin. 2001. Bulgaria: the uneven transition. London; New York: Routledge Press.

Giatzidis, Emil. 2002. An introduction to post-Communist Bulgaria. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Katsikas, Stefanos. 2012. Negotiating Diplomacy in the New Europe: Foreign Policy in Post-Communist Bulgaria. London; New York: I. B. Tauris.

Otfinoski, Steven. 2004. Nations in Transition: Bulgaria. New York: Facts On File, Inc.

Pantev, Andrei. 1996. “The historic road of the Third Bulgarian State.” In Bulgaria in a Time of Change: Economic and Political Dimensions, ed. Iliana Zloch-Christy, 7-22. Avebury: Athenaeum Press.

Sedivy, Jiri. 2005. “Old Europe, New Europe and Transatlantic Relations.” In Old Europe, New Europe and the Transatlantic Security Agenda, eds. Kerry Longhurst & Marcin Zaborowksi, 1-29. London; New York: Routledge Press.

 

Notes

[1] http://www.rferl.org/a/1102012.html  (Accessed on 11/12/2016).

[2] http://www.dw.com/en/opposition-candidate-rumen-radev-leading-in-bulgaria-presidential-elections/a-36284829 (Accessed on 09/12/2016).

[3] Bulgarian nationalists in 1880s considered the interests of Bulgaria, but they were not against Russia as such.

[4] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/14/pro-russian-candidates-win-presidential-votes-in-bulgaria-and-mo/ (Accessed on 07/12/2016)

[5] This article was first published in the January 2017 issue of Diplomatic Observer magazine.

INTERVIEW WITH AFRIM HOTI

afrim hoti

 

The Diplomatic Observer magazine has carried out an exclusive interview with Prof. Ass. Dr. Afrim Hoti. The wide-ranging interview covers the conflict in Kosovo, Kosovo’s independence, ethnic minorities, Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM), neighborhood policy and the EU.

 

Middle East Technical University

Nuran YILDIRIM

 

Prof. Ass. Dr. Afrim Hoti is University of Prishtina Vice Rector for International Cooperation, Professor at the Department of Political Sciences. Graduated at Law Faculty in Pristina and completed his Master Degree at University of Sarajevo/Bologna. Finally completed his PhD studies at Hamburg/Sofia University. Working at UP since 2004, Mr. Hoti held many other positions in Kosovo. He used to work as Director of the Legal Office of the Kosovo Prime Minister 2003/5 and different other positions within Kosovo institutions. He used to be Political and Legal Advisor to different ministries at Kosovo’s Government and the Parliament. In 2006 he served as Legal Expert at the Special Chamber of the Kosovo Supreme Court. Many other positions held within international organizations in the country like UNDP, EU Projects, USAID and so on. He is the author of the book “Principle of Self Determination and Its Evolution in International Law”, and author of the monograph “European Perspective of the Western Balkan Countries”. He also published a number of publications in the international journals. Participated at many conferences and events in country and worldwide. Born in 1.11.1975. Married and father of three childrens, Arrita, Tuana and Unejs.

 

Having burdened by competing, and often contradictory, historical claims, Kosovo is a very diverse country and the conflict in Kosovo has its own unique character. Whilstthe Serbs view the territory as the historic birthplace of Serbia and of its Church, Albanians insists that their ancestors had already inhabited in Kosovo long before Serbs tribes arrived in there. Could you give us a short history of the conflict and independence of Kosovo?

History of Kosovo is more complex than it seemed to be during previous centuries. Since nineteenth century and onwards, the opposing national actions of the Albanian and Serbian citizens of Kosovo increasingly shaped the history of this state. Viewed by the perspective of each party, Kosovo was associated by historical events, considered as fundamental for the development of each party’s national identities. Seen by Albanians part view, Kosovo played a vital role on development of the Albanian nationalism. At that time, in one of its southern cities of Kosovo, Prizren, the Albanian national identity experienced a significant increase. In Prizren, during one of the countless crises of South East Europe, which involved biggest European powers, the Albanians established, on June 10, 1878, a political organization called the „League of Prizren. The League, however, played an important part on fostering the Albanian national identity. The Serbians on the other part have historically considered Kosovo as the structure of their medieval Serb Kingdom; a land of monasteries, castles and the resting place of great kings. The legends and myths associated with Prince Lazar, the Serbian leader at Kosovo Polje, who played a role on linking relationship bridges between medieval kingdom and on establishing a modern Serb national consciousness of nineteenth century and onwards. It is often presented by Serbs as “cradle” of Serbian civilization. A paradox from its nature. A “cradle of Serbian civilization” with around 90% Albanians, means a “cradle with someone else baby”.

Kosovo, as a country which was so essential on views, for Serbian and Albanian national identity, would certainly become a contested territorial piece. Going to the earlier history, it is fact that Albanians who compose more than 90% of Kosovo population are the Illyrian descendants who inhabited the area between Helenian tribes to go north with German tribes, from the prehistory era since Serbs came in the Balkan peninsula with the Slavic tribes at the seventh century. When such kind of nationalistic conflicts happen, the demography has a crucial role in formulating claim and counter-claim. The ethnographic composition of Kosovo and its evolution, since nineteenth century, form an important setting to a contemporary conflicts arena between Albanians and Serbian fighting for getting the control over it. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the population of Kosovo had an Albanian majority, while the Serbians became a sizeable minority. Nowadays, the rate of population remains similar, where the majority community is Albanians, by covering over 92% and Serbians with 5%. Political and constitutional developments within the Yugoslav federation, where Kosovo used to be a constitutional unit, were of huge importance too. Once Yugoslavia went through the dissolution process, and having into consideration and oppression and massive human rights violations conducted by the Milosevic regime during the Kosovo’s war, it was clearly known that Kosovo has to go through the kind of independence and create its own state identity. Series of negotiations of the parties, Kosovar and Serbian authorities, with the mediation of triangle US-EU-RF, took part until Kosovo, finally declares its independence in coordination with the main stakeholders of EU, US and other countries worldwide, including Republic of Turkey.

 

Indeed, Kosovo’s independence has happened as the final stage of a process of disintegration of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia since 1991. The United States, most of the European nations and the Turkish government have officially recognized the independence of Kosovo, but other EU members – Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania – have said they will not. Thus the international community divided on the issue. Why are so many countries opposed to independence of Kosovo?

Well, I don’t think there are so many. 5 out of 28 EU members definitely constitute a minimum number of states who are resisting to recognize the country. Seems that, at least based on my contacts and discussions I have that those countries more than anything against Kosovo’s independence are concerned with their internal developments and claims from the different entities to create state entities. The history after the independence has shown that this argument is if not inexistent than is very week as there was no real claim in Europe to create state entity. Apart from the conflicts, provoked by Russian Federation, there was no precedent used in Europe based in Kosovo’s way to independence. Thus, Kosovo was and still is to be considered as Sui Generis case and as such the concerns expressed by those who are resisting to recognize Kosovo seems to be inexistent.

 

Unlike some other states of the region that still have not recognized Kosovo, Turkey have recognized Kosovo immediately, a day after it has declared its independence. How is Kosovo’s bilateral political relations with neighboring countries and Turkey since it declared its independence in February 2008?

Majority of neighboring countries did recognize Kosovo so far. All ex Yugoslav states recognized apart from Serbia and Bosnia and Hercegovina blocked by the Serb entity within the country. Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania did recognize while Kosovo established and is promoting neighborhood policy based on the mutual respect, peace and development. Relations with these countries are excellent since they are both contributing to the peace and stability for the region. At the same time, Greece is standing in a kind of neutral position because of the Cyprus case. But, apart from the formal recognition, Greece recognizes the Kosovo documents and communicates normally with Kosovo authorities. I would consider it as silent recognition of the country whereas a formal declaration might increase the internal nationalistic voices. I have no doubt that Kosovo and Greece will soon have state bilateral relations. Turkey is another story as Kosovo had support from Republic of Turkey continuously. Kosovo considered and still is considering Republic of Turkey one of its natural allies. In terms of bilateral relations, I can freely consider that relations between both countries are excellent in the political, economical, military as well as diplomatic aspects. Both countries are functioning with their respective diplomatic missions, there is a free trade policy introduced where the Turkish capital and investments are present in Kosovo. Actually, Republic of Turkey is also supporting Kosovo in a diplomatic front starting with the recognition, Turkey’s position at the General Assembly of United Nations, as well as support given to the membership at different international organizations. Arab and Islamic states are also kept in contact and Kosovo is trying to lobby for recognitions thanks to the support given by Republic of Turkey and its foreign policy.

 

In accordance with the competences given by the EU charter and the US, Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) was created in 25 August 2015 with an agreement signed by the governments of Kosovo and Serbia in Brussel. Nevertheless, the agreement indefinitely postponed over conflicts and ultimately cancelled in December 2016. What are the reasons behind the cancellation of the agreement?

Association of Serb Municipalities was foreseen to be created in Kosovo based on the Brussels talks for the normalization of the Kosovo-Serbia relations. It is not cancelled but somehow suspended at the Kosovo Assembly. Actually there was a hesitation from the opposition parties in Kosovo that this kind of association is not in line with the Kosovo constitution because more than an organization of municipalities it is representing an asymmetric and the third level of governance in Kosovo. As such it is directly inflicting the internal form of governance. A claim sent to the Constitutional Court made the last one to express the concern of the conflicting provisions of the Agreement with the Constitutional provisions. More than this, the Court emphasized that its recommendations must be seriously taken into consideration when the Statute of the municipality with be approved at the Assembly. As such, the decision was considering as “victory” for one respectively other part of the Kosovo authorities. There is a huge contribution given by the Serb authorities who through the political statements provoked the situation which led to the suspension of the SMA establishment. For sure it will be among the first items at the Kosovo Assembly agenda at the first months in the coming year.

Apart from the SMA, let me mention here that rights of Serbs in Kosovo are highly protected and promoted by the current political system. Kosovo still keeps on the positive discrimination for the Serb community in Kosovo introduced following the end of the war in order to attract all communities, in particular Serbian community be part of the state structures.

 

Also, Kosovo Serbs are the largest ethnic minority group of Kosovo, numbering around 150,000 people. How is the relation with Kosovo Serbs? Does Kosovar government have a special program to integrate them into society?

With around 5% of the total population Serb community is treated in the best way it could be. With the policy of “reserved seats” at the Assembly plus the seats won in the elections, Serb community constitutes the third biggest political party at the Kosovo Assembly. Apart from this Serbs are accommodated in different institutions in Kosovo. They hold a position of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kosovo Government, Deputy Head of the Kosovo Assembly, one judge out of five local judges at the Constitutional Court, as well as number of ministers and deputy ministers. As mentioned at the previous question it used to be and still is a concern of Kosovo government the position of the Serb community and its accommodation at the Kosovo society. A continuation of “positive discrimination policy”, keeping the reserved seats as well as 12% minority inclusion at the administration in Kosovo represents the best the commitment of Kosovo toward whole minorities, in particular the Serb one.

 

In Kosovo Parliament, tear gas released during a meeting of the Kosovo parliament’s foreign affairs commission. The opposition organized the tear gas attack in order to block the commission’s meeting on the border agreement between Kosovo and Montenegro. Hence the meeting was being canceled. Why are they opposed to agreement?

Demarcation of the border with Montenegro represents another hot point for Kosovo authorities. Together with the SMA represent two most sensitive cases at the Assembly agenda for this year. Opposition parties are concerned that demarcation is done within the territory of Kosovo thus country is losing part of its territory. Between the means used to prevent the approval of this agreement a tear gas was thrown during the plenary sessions of the Assembly, consequently the sessions were not held. Together with the establishment of the SMA, I think will be in the agenda in the first months of coming year. Apart from it, Kosovo has established and exchange diplomats with Montenegro and are cooperating based on the principle of mutual respect, peace and development.

 

Additionally, the attack was not the first since Kosovo opposition MPs have repeatedly set off similar attacks in the Kosovo parliament. Similarly, Vetevendosje movement MPs had sprayed tear gas and threw tear gas bombs during a meeting on 2016 budget drafting the recent months.

We are discussing for the same plenary sessions. Vetevendosje was not the only subject whose MP’s have thrown tear gas bombs. It was all the opposition MP’s active during these sessions but we are happy that we have overcome that situation which is not a situation we want to see but this was part of political difficulties country was going through. Apart from it, the political processes are going normally and country is going through consolidation and democratization.

 

It is clear that 2016 was a rough year for the European Union. The migration crisis, Syrian war, Russian aggression, Italy’s decision to reject constitutional changes on December and the most importantly Britain’s vote to leave the European Union on June 23. Although Balkan countries are not directly affected in the short term, these are likely to cause difficulties for the Balkan countries in the EU accession process. In the coming years, indeed, the EU will have to devote enormous energy in order to solve its own internal crisis. Under these circumstances, are there any concerns about Kosovo’s EU membership?

You are right but at the same time, apart from the enlargement of 1995, the other enlargement waves, more than fulfillment of criteria’s were responses to the certain crisis. The crisis you are mentioning are also of huge EU political, economic as well as security implication. These developments together with BREXIT represent serious concern about the EU integration itself. So far, Kosovo, just like other countries has no other priority apart of being part of European integrations. But, more than this, Kosovo is not aspiring to be an independent country because of the EU integrations. Independence comes as result of the will of people, irrespective from the future forms of cooperation with other states or organizations. As such, under current circumstances we look forward to become member of EU and part of the EU family. Under other circumstances, no one can predict the forms of governance in that part of the world just same as everywhere. Finally, the will and consent of people must be a substance of decision for whatever form within EU or out of it.

 

Montenegro has signed a membership protocol with NATO in recent months. After a process which can take up to a year, Montenegro will become the 29th member of the alliance. Nevertheless, in an interview with The New York Times, Donald Trump defined NATO as obsolete and old fashioned because it does not properly cover terror. And he questioned the United States’ involvement in NATO. Trump said that if Russia invaded the members of NATO, including the new members in the Baltics such as Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the United States should not automatically honor NATO’s core principle – mutual defense – and come to their military aid. He told reporters that there are many NATO members which rely on the United States to have their backs and aren’t paying their bills. The White House and Pentagon support Montenegro gaining membership but Trump could oppose it as president. In this context, does Kosovo have any plans for joining NATO? If yes, what are the motivations behind?

In era we are living there are no logical motivations behind the creation of an Army apart from saving, promoting and contribution to the peace and stability and of course country protection. As it is widely known, Kosovo stands in close cooperation with United States, Germany, Turkey and other NATO members. We do want of course, first of all to create Kosovo’s Army and once it is created than make it part of NATO. The core political objectives of Kosovo are mentioned in the principle of Euro-Atlantic Integrations, meaning becoming part of EU as well as NATO. The motivation is to fold: first, being member of NATO countries secure their sovereignty based in the NATO’s core principle – mutual defense, and the second an Army based on professional standards and peace oriented. Statements given by elected president Trump I hope have the political nature only – on the contrary it would represent the serious risk for the stability and peace for countries worldwide.

 

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for conducting the interview and allow me to great all your readers. As in the past, I hope Turkey – Kosovo relations will continue to strengthen toward mutual interests and serving to the peace, wealth fare and stability.

 

Thank you very much for joining us; we really appreciate it.

 

Note: This article was first published in the January 2017 issue of Diplomatic Observer magazine.

LUIS VIDEGARAY MEKSİKA DIŞİŞLERİ BAKANI OLDU

Donald Trump ve Meksika Cumhurbaşkanı Enrique Pena Nieto arasında yapılan tartışmalı görüşmenin ardından istifa eden Meksika Maliye Bakanı Luis Videgaray Dışişleri Bakanı oldu.

Cumhurbaşkanı Enrique Pena Nieto, Luis Videgaray’ı Meksika ile yeni ABD Başkanı arasında güçlü ilişkiler kurulması için en güvenilir isim olarak değerlendirdi.

Televizyonda ulusa seslenen Nieto “20 Ocak’ta Amerika Birleşik Devletleri’ndeki hükümetin değişmesiyle birlikte, ilk günden itibaren iki ülke arasında sıkı ilişkiler kurmak ve diyaloğu hızlandırmak için Videgaray Dışişleri Bakanı olarak elinden geleni yapacaktır” şeklinde konuştu.

Meksika Maliye Bakanı Luis Videgaray, Eylül ayında Donald Trump’ın Meksika’ya yaptığı ziyaretin başlıca sorumlusu olarak görülmüş ve olayın ardından istifa etmişti. Donald Trump, ABD’deki Meksikalı göçmenleri kınayan açıklamalarına karşın, 1 Eylül’de kısa bir Meksika ziyaretinde bulunmuştu.

Nitekim Eylül ayında Donald Trump Meksika Devlet Başkanı Enrique Pena Nieto ile görüşmüştü. Zira Pena Nieto hem Donald Trump hem de Demokrat başkan adayı Hillary Clinton’ı ülkesine davet etmiş, Clinton’ın Meksikalı liderin davetine nasıl bir yanıt vereceği henüz bilinmezken, Twitter hesabından açıklama yapan Trump, Nieto’nun davetini kabul etmişti.

Twitter üzerinden açıklama yapan Trump “Meksika’nın Devlet Başkanı Enrique Pena Nieto’nun davetini kabul ettim ve onunla buluşmak için çok sabırsızlanıyorum.” şeklinde konuşmuş, Nieto ise “İki ülke arasındaki diyalogun Meksika’nın dünyadaki çıkarlarını ve konumunu koruyacağına inanıyorum” mesajını paylaşmıştı.

Nitekim Meksika ziyareti Trump’ın seçim kampanyasının merkezinde olan bir konuda dramatik bir gelişmeyi temsil etmektedir. Zira göç meselesini seçim kampanyasının başlıca konularından biri yapan milyarder işadamı Trump, Meksika’ya karşı ırkçı söylemlerde bulunmuştu. Geçtiğimiz Haziran ayında New York’ta yaptığı bir konuşmada Trump “Meksika, bize sorunlu insanlarını gönderiyor. Bu insanlar, sorunlarını da beraberinde getiriyor. ABD’ye uyuşturucu taşıyor. ABD’ye suç getiriyor. Bunlar, tecavüzcü.” ifadelerini kullanmış ve seçilmesi halinde göçmenlerin kaçak geçişini engellemek için ABD-Meksika sınırına duvar örülmesini önermişti. Bununla birlikte örülecek olan duvarın masrafını Meksika’nın ödeyeceğini söylemiş, Mart ayında açıklama yapan Nieto ise Meksika’nın herhangi bir ödeme yapmayacağını ifade etmişti. Nieto aynı zamanda Trump’ın ülkesinin ABD’yle ilişkilerine zarar verdiğini belirterek, “Hitler ve Mussolini de bir zamanlar aynı taktiklerle güç sahibi oldu” diyerek Donald Trump’a ağır göndermelerde bulunmuştu.

Pena Nieto bu hamlesinin ardından Meksika halkı tarafından ağır eleştirilere maruz kalmıştı. Bununla birlikte Trump’ın Meksika ziyareti Nieto’yu ABD seçimlerinin içine sürüklerken, halkın Nieto’ya olan desteğinin daha da düşmesine neden olmuştu.

Trump’ın Meksika Devlet Başkanı Nieto’yla görüşmesinden bir hafta sonra, Meksika medyasında Ekonomi Bakanı Videgaray’ın Trump’ın Meksika’ya davet edilmesi fikrinin sahibi olduğunu ileri sürülmüş, Videgaray ülke ekonomisinin yavaş büyümesinden ve artan bütçe açığından dolayı eleştirilere maruz kalmıştı. Tüm bunların sonucunda Videgaray istifa etmişti. İstifanın ardından Twitter üzerinden açıklama yapan Trump, Videgaray hakkında “dahi bir ekonomi bakanı ve harika bir adam” paylaşımında bulunmuştu.

Öte yandan, Trump’ın başkan olarak seçilmesi özellikle Meksika için olumlu bir durum olduğu söylenemez. Zira geçtiğimiz haftalarda Ford Motors Michigan’da bulunan fabrikasını genişletmek amacıyla Meksika’da sedan üretimi için 1,6 milyar dolarlık fabrika açacağını duyurmuştu. Ancak, Trump seçim kampanyasında vurguladığı üzere özellikle Meksika ve Çin’e yönelik ekonomik açılımları durdurulmasını ve sanayi üretimini ABD’ye taşımayı ve istihdam sayılarını artırmayı planlıyor.

Bu bağlamda, Ford’un Meksika projesini duyurmasının ardından Trump Twitter üzerinden Ford yetkililerine çağrıda bulunarak, “General Motors Chevrolet Cruze’yi hiçbir şey ödemeden yerel mağazalarda satışa sunuyor. ABD’de üretin veya vergi ödeyin!” yazdı.

Bunu üzerine, şirketin CEO’su Mark Fields, bir basın toplantısı düzenleyerek, Meksika’da yapılacak olan projenin iptal edilmesinin planlandığını duyurdu. Söz konusu plân yerine, ABD’nin Michigan eyaletinde şirketin 700 milyon dolarlık yatırım yapacağını duyurdu.

Açıklamanın ardından, Meksika Pezosu ABD dolarına karşı yüzde 0,8 değer kaybederken, Ford’un hisse başına değeri New York borsasında yüzde 3,3 arttı. Donald Trump’ın yeni ABD başkanı olarak seçilmesi ile Meksika Pezosu dolar karşısında yüzde -10.9’luk değer yitirerek sert bir düşüş yaşamıştı.