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March 21, 2011

Statement about the crisis of multiculturalism in Europe is the conflict with Muslim radicalism

The leaders of the number of European countries (Great Britain, Germany, France) one after another made a statement that the policy of multiculturalism failed in their countries. What does this statement really means? Does the alternative to multiculturalism exist? Is there the similar threat in Ukraine? The Institute of Human Rights and Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia (IHRPEX) gathered the experts’ opinions. 

Iryna BEKESHKINA, director of the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation: “Over the centuries, Europe was built on the principles of cultural unity, tolerance, women’s equality, respect for freedom and other European values. Exactly these values ​​united it. And mass immigration was allowed, based on a pragmatic reasons - someone has to work in a places, where the Europeans do not want to work, and for money, for which Europeans do not want to work. As a result, a critical mass of people accumulated in Europe, which was culturally different from Europeans. And no distinct policy of coexistence of these two different cultures was developed. Problems began to grow. But I would not say that this is the failure of the policy of multiculturalism. Nevertheless, these cultures coexist more or less peacefully yet. As for Ukraine, we can say we have a problem of some of isolationism. Ukraine is almost mono-cultural country. There is almost no large groups of other cultures. And differences in the Ukrainian and Russian culture in everyday life are unimportant. There is a problem of everyday intolerance to some ethnic groups, and mostly to those who do not live in Ukraine”  

Oleg RYBACHUK, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for European Integration (2005), Head of the Board of the public organization “United Actions Centre”: “In fact it is the conflict with Islamic radicalism. There were numerous discussions on this subject in France. There are facts in the history of Germany and the UK when their citizens - the highly educated immigrants from Arab countries who were born in these countries and have obtain a better education - at some point went to terrorist acts. It shocked the public, and politicians are the clear tuning fork, reacting to public opinion. The second point is the crisis. In times of crisis, egocentrism always worsenes, countries forget about the rules, about their common house and common interests, and each individually rigidly defends its own interests. All these three states faced the display of an hostile attitude towards them of a narrow sector of Islam, its radical wing. But it is a path that has no exit. When under the pretext of combating radicalism, the line is crossed and the fight against dissent and other culture begins, the social tension is transferred to innocent people, which are devout Muslims who condemn radicalism. There is no other choice except multiculturalism coexistence of different peoples. Otherwise, one of them begin to destroy the others, and Nazi Germany or Stalinist genocide is an example of that. More than a hundred nationalities live in Ukraine, and if each nation will protect their rights this way, it will result in a global multi-cultural Chernobyl disaster”. 

Borys TARASIUK, the Head of the Parliamentary Committee for European Integration, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (1998-2000, 2006): “This is the reality of life. Will the host country manage to ensure that the representatives of other nations, other races integrate to it? This problem is serious, and it exists. I think it makes no sense to talk about the failure or the failure of multiculturalism policies. It can be as well subjective estimations of what was not done. It can be as well inadequate policy and actions of the host country. There may as well be objective questions of cultural, religious and historical differences that cannot be overcome within a generation. There is no single answer. All of these countries were colonial states in the past, metropolitan countries, which could not avoid the overflow of residents of their colonies, and that happened over the centuries. So what does it mean? That for centuries there was no such problems, and they appeared suddenly? Statements about the failure of policies of multiculturalism are superficial assessments that are rather of a political implication, then verified researches.”

 Volodymyr TSYBULKO, political expert, writer: “This policy begins to die out in the European Union. Probably, the objective fear of the erosion of national identity of titular nationalities worked. The balance that existed in Europe in the prewar period, is disturbed by many migrants from Africa and Asia. If, for example, Germany accepted the first wave of immigration from Turkey rather tolerantly, then the following waves are rather serious social irritants. All the mentioned declarations are nothing but forming of the basis for closing the EU borders, preparing for a more regulated migration regime or tightening of the requirements for citizenship obtaining by new migrants. As for Ukraine, even with our poverty, we are an example of tolerance. For many nations, our country is the basis of residence, for example, the Crimean Tatars, Karaites and Azov Greeks. Therefore, we should distance ourselves from such sharp European impulses. Of course, the Ukrainians still need rehabilitation after the Soviet period, but in no event it should occur at the expense of other nations” 

Yurii YAKIMENKO, Director of Political and Law Programs of the Razumkov Centre: “The main problem faced by these countries was a low level of dialogue between representatives of different cultures, because in some cases the state even encouraged their separate existence. Obviously, this was the initial cause of insufficient degree of relations, integration between the cultural communities created as a result of immigration and cultural communities of titular nations. It is clear that the other moments must not be excluded, first of all, different hierarchies of values ​​in different cultures, the degree of their compatibility. Matrices of “intercultural differences” could be superimposed on the socio-economic, property stratification of relevant societies. Communities inequality according to this criterion could also be a source of tension. The global political processes, conflicts between countries belonging to the Islamic or Christian civilization, the struggle against terrorism, etc played also their role. But the question, could the further developments in these countries be different, in principle, remains open. This problem is not critical for Ukraine yet, but there are certain areas of tension. So, Razumkov Centre reserches, dedicated to interethnic and interconfessional relations in the AR of Crimea, showed a rather high level of alienation, and even the existence of a certain potential for conflict between the Crimean Tatar community and the Slavonic population of the peninsula. There’s also a shortage of dialogue, which is a very important tool for mutual knowledge, understanding and closer relations. I would like the domestic authorities and the political elite as a whole to learn from the mistakes of others, helped to establish intercultural dialogue in Ukraine, and not separate representatives of different nationalities and cultures by different political camps”.