They just can’t understand I have friends from other countries
What role plays nationalism in your country? What role it plays among young people? And do you find it dangerous? That were questions we asked ten young participants of intercultural week in Cologne. They provided us with answers from different countries of the EU to develop general picture about notion of nationalism in Europe.
In Bulgaria, nationalism influence mainly older people, who are already retired. It is because there is not much tolerance between different social groups and older people are the ones who hate the most. I find it dangerous, because things that nationalists describe in their policy may be appealing. People think that they manage to solve all problems in Bulgaria, but it’s not so simple. If you want to solve all Bulgarian problems, you have to think about everybody in the country, not just Bulgarians.
In my opinion, nationalism is still very dangerous. Looking back to history, young people were, are and will be very easily manipulated. In Slovakia, the situation is not so positive. We have some radical politicians, for example Jan Slota, who call for struggle against gipsies and Hungarians in our country and youngsters are often tempted to join these radical streams.
I think that nationalism is still very important in Spain. We can see the problem on Catalan-Spain relations. During Catalan national days there were one million and half people demonstrating on the street for Catalunia’s independence. Of course, sometimes nationalism can be used for hiding certain things, for example economical problem, but I don‘t think that it is so dangerous. At least, I hope it isn’t.
Nationalism in Latvia plays a huge role, especially among young people. We have a party called National Alliance and they are quite extreme radical right-wing and supported by young people. From one side it is great that we have young people who loves their country and care for it, but in the same time, when there is question of different cultures, especially Russian people in Latvia, they are quite… conservative is a soft word. They can’t accept the fact that we are not living ninety years ago. We have to find other way how to live together in the new society. I don’t know whether it’s a question of education or experience but youngsters are not trying to understand that.
Nationalisms pull my country into difficult situation because lot of people all over the country have tendency to follow this ideology or they lean towards racism. My father lived in other country when he was child and I think that all people should be able to live together with foreigners, so that they don’t have problems with identity and religion. However, I still think that people need liberty of expression.
Extreme nationalism in Czech Republic is big problem, especially among young people. They are often leaning to the extreme left or to the extreme right. We have problems with gipsies, they hate gipsies so they are trying to join extreme political parties. Sometimes they say that they want to kill them, sometimes they separate themselves from them. I think it’s dangerous and youngsters should care more about people who are not integrated and not go to extreme political parties.
Antonis Triantafyllakis, Greece (31)
Nationalism has risen up much higher these days. It used to be a minority. We have Golden Dawn party, which is essentially neo-nationalism party. They reached about 7 % of voters in previous election and rumours say that it almost doubled now. You can see that raise of nationalism in Greece is extremely dangerous because it has certain similarities with rise of nationalism in Germany. I just hope that thanks to education and better informed people it will not result in another world war. Every kind of crisis provokes the notion that if you are in danger you have to hold on your head and fight other heads.
The majority of people in Romania do not care for their country because of poor management in politics and economics. They have really negative feelings about Romania, and students usually go to study in other countries because they don’t think that our educational system can offer them a good perspective. This is also happening with older people, who mostly leave to Spain, Italy, UK and Canada. Romanians don’t feel like they are part of a community, because our community is not united. Our sense of identity was lost during World Wars, when other powers influenced our politics and economy. However, there are Romanians that love their country and try to influence the others. They say that Romania can develop if people put their interest into building a better future.
I think Second World War is over but there are still groups which are big funs of Hitler. We have a party called National democratic party of Germany NPD and they are so called neo-Nazis. They don’t like people from abroad. It’s hard to say if it is dangerous. It certainly would be threatening if the situation is going to be like today, people from abroad are coming to Germany, they get jobs and NPD party gets more members.
I was participating on European exchange programs and also on Erasmus program in my city to help people to adapt. I could see that sometimes when I talk about my friends from Germany I hear notes that I shouldn’t hang out with them. They just can’t understand I have friends from countries we had a problem with. Also, we have only around 3% of foreign people in Poland so generally many of us don’t have a contact with different cultures and our knowledge is based on predictions.