The session started with small breakout groups in which we reported on the different media stereotypes in our countries about (other) peripheral countries, i.e. on what the Lithuanian and Spanish media write about the Balkans, and what the Balkan and “northern” media (Polish, Danish and Estonian) write about Greece.
Interesting points in relation to Greece included a reflection on how the Greek crisis is given less attention in non-euro countries such as Poland and Denmark, and how the media narratives about Greece in euro-countries in the eastern euro-countries complain about these countries having to pay to support a country that on many counts remains richer than them.
Challenges for thinking cross border solidarity in relation to the popular imaginaries co-produced by the media thus include:
– The difficulty of relating with any sense of urgency to countries that are not integrated within the same institutional structures.
– Overcoming the easy comparisons in terms of absolute deprivation by referring to the ways in which different countries are equally submitted to the same structures of domination.
– The fact that Eastern European countries suffered violent structural adjustment programmes in the 1990s – and some of them several times since – without much resistance, is often easily sold as an argument against supporting the Greek resistance. So, how to affirm the Greek resistance to structural adjustment without too arrogantly saying that this is what Eastern Europeans “should have done”?
Other interesting points:
– Romanian media relate critically to the ways in which Italy is taking advantage of cheap Romanian labour. How to relate the critique of western exploitation of Eastern European labour, with a critique of the failed labour markets in the east? (The Marea Granate has done something similar for Spanish migrants in northern Europe).
– Romanian and Bulgarian annoyance: How come Greece is receiving so much solidarity from other countries when we received nothing when we were going through a similar violence of austerity and privatisations?
– In Slovenia it is possible to talk publicly about how Greece is submitted to the same financial colonialism as (ex-)Yugoslavia was.
– In Southern Europe, there is a desire to “return to normality”. In most of Eastern Europe there is no concept of a “return to normality”, but a continuously muddy situation since the fall of the Eastern bloc.
Contributions on centre-periphery logics
In this part we had every interesting contributions from several people, some of them letters from people who couldn’t make it to the meeting.