Czech and Slovak ministers call for ways to combat radicalism
Europe must provide people with prospects for the future so they will not decline into radicalism - that was the thesis agreed upon last week at a conference on the future of the EU attended by Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (Czech Social Democratic Party -ČSSD) and Slovak Foreign Mnister Miroslav Lajčák. The heads of diplomacy appeared on a panel with the Austrian Ambassador to Prague, Alexander Grubamayr.
They see growing radicalism as a global problem, the solution to which must be approached in concert. According to Zaorálek, the rise of radicalism is connected with globalization, which in many people is sparking uncertainty about their own future and fear of falling into poverty.
Reactions to previous 20th-century phases of globalization, in his opinion, involved the expansions of both communism and fascism. "We have a grave, important task before us now: To find a way to avoid similarly serious consequences," he said.
The Czech Foreign Minister also spoke about the connection between education and the radicalization of society. In his view, people are attempting to impact public affairs more and more thanks to their access to education and information.
When they do not prosper because of big economic differences in their countries, some groups lose their prospects. Such people then easily succumb to radicalization and represent a threat.
"A big part of the population has lost faith in the idea that change can also be for the better and that political leaders are capable of keeping their promises," Zaorálek said. Despite this, he believes the elections that will take place this year in several EU countries could mean a breakthrough towards a positive development.
Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák emphasized that if European society wants to defeat radicalism because security is deteriorating as a consequence of it, then it must work on advocating for and bolstering its own ideals. "Nobody is born a violent extremist, people learn to become that way," he pointed out.
The task for Europe is to combat hatred and violence through integration and to offer people meaningful alternatives to the allegations made by extremists and populists. "Reacting to terrorism with force is not enough," the Slovak Foreign Minister declared.
"We must do our best to forestall fighting and violence and to focus on prevention," he said. "Peace is not sustainable if we do not manage to suppress extremist narratives."
Lajčák also warned that the world is in danger of falling into a dangerous downward spiral. "When people don't have enough prospects for a better tomorrow, they succumb to radicalization more easily," he warned.
"The actions of the radicals then deprive others of prospects," the Slovak Foreign Minister explained. In his view Europe must take care of conditions beyond the continent as well, or the radicalization of populations elsewhere will also endanger the European set-up.
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