20 years after Srebrenica's genocide,
in memory of Alexander Langer
Alexander Langer was one of the represenatitves of the European Parliament who most dedicated his work to the rights of minorities and to Europe's role in maintaining peace and promoting dialogue. In the last years of his life he put all his efforts to stem the most destructive and painful consequences of the war in the former Yugoslavia, between 1992 and 1995. His death happened a just few days before the assault of the Bosnian-Serb military forces against the city of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the 11th of July 1995, which caused the mass murder of more than 8,000 men who were hoping to find shelter in what should have been a safe zone protected by the United Nations.
Euromediterranea 2015, which will take place in Tuzla and Srebrenica the first days of July 2015, is dedicated to the memory of that event and to the figure and thought of Alexander Langer. The meeting is addressed to an international audience and will be an occasion of study, discussion and encounter, where one can measure the distance between yesterday and today and discuss what we can expect from the Europe we would like to call ours.
One of the key actors of the meeting will be the young people who, since 2005, lead the project Adopt Srebrenica with the support of the International Network for Srebrenica, promoted by the Alexander Langer Foundation. The work of the Adopt group is inspired by Langer’s words: a mixed group of “pioneer plants, mediators, bridges builders, wall jumpers and frontiers explorers”. They have been working for years on the ground to open spaces for dialogue among different stories and traditions in order to improve the future of their city.
Langer has always defined politics as the art of cohabitation, always trying to find new and creative solutions to promote dialogue and mutual enrichment. Starting from his original thought we can draw new ideas and encouragement to look at life today, beyond the most painful setbacks of the past.
Moreover, thanks to experiences such the Verona Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Former Yugoslavia, where civil society representatives from war-torn Yugolsav states had the chance to gather and discuss, it is possible to envision strategies on how to limit the most devastating effects of a war, how to reties bonds among people, or alleviate the most painful wounds. In this spirit, between the 3rd and the 5th of November 1994, Alexander Langer and Marijana Grandits, with the support of the local Forum of Citizens of Tuzla organized one of the most important conference promoted by the Verona Forum in the besieged city of Tuzla, entitled “Is it possible a Europe which is not multi-cultural?”.
By recalling some of the most critical moments in recent European history, such as the siege of Sarajevo or the despicable assaults on safe zones, we can look for answers to crucial questions: to what extent and in what forms it is legitimate to intervene to help victims of violence? What does it mean for Europeans to feel responsible for the fate of other Europeans?
Taking on this commitment has been necessary many times in the history of contemporary Europe, since the years preceding World War I, but it is even more compelling today, at the light of what is happening in Syria, Iraq and, closer to us, Ukraine. On all these questions the thought and actions of Alexader Langer still offer important bases for innovative considerations. Euromediterranea 2015 will offer the chance to deal with these themes and many others from multiple perspectives.
The first promoters of this event are the Alexander Langer Foundation, the Association Tuzlanska Amica, the Forum of Citizens of Tuzla, and the Municipality of Tuzla.