Petit Philosophy Association organized in December 2016 a seminar on minorities and media in Dalj, Croatia, for members of the Press and local policy makers. More than 15 participants attended the seminar, mostly representatives of local governments in two counties of Eastern Croatia, part of the country mostly struck by the Homeland War, 1991 – 1995, while some consider as end of the war to be at the beginning of 1998 when this part of the country was peacefully reintegrated in teritory of Republic of Croatia.
Our luck was that at the seminar were present some of local officials from that period, who actively participated in bringing the peaceful solution to end the armed conflict in Eastern Croatia. Back then, they had really bad experience with the media, both from Croatian and from Serbian side. Many of them confirmed that today, the situation is not really that much better. Mainstream media has an increase in hate speech within last two years, since right and centre right national government took power. Our guest speaker, Tamara Opačić, from Novosti minority newspapers from Zagreb, did a research on impact which major Croatian newpapers have and how they use and treat hate speech toward Serbian national minority in Croatia, where we witnessed terrible accusations and hate toward some political representatives of the minority in local governments and in national Parliament. Her research was thorough and wast, with many negative and some positive example of how to treat hate speech in media.
After her talk, a round table was organized for the participants, where we wanted to give space to participants to express their experiences, their views and ideas on the topic, on the SISUMMA project and on the main issues that the seminar questions. Unfortunately, even though we invited representatives of both minority and majority nations, Serbs and Croats, only representatives of Serbian minority showed up and express this as a repeating issue with these kinds of seminars – minority representatives always show up, but the only ones, without the presence of Croatian majority. How can there be any dialogue if one side never wants to talk and never shows up, they asked. We concluded together that this issue should encourage us to organize even more similar events where the issue needs to be discussed and where younger generation will have the chance to get to know each other, not through accusations and prejudgement, but in a spirit of togetherness and community, of welcoming one another with open mind and in willingness to discuss, share, invent and overcome any possible issues. Both minority and majority have the same existential problems, they share the same space and find themselves in same situation, living next to each other. What we need to do, not as two divided nations, but as human beings is to act together for the betterment of our neighbours and our community.
As an interesting outcome of the seminar, the idea of School of Peace for future generations once again came to table, after it was rejected many times before some ex local officials, as a possible future cooperation between Petit Philosophy and Erdut Municipality.