International Conference in St.Petersburg Warns Against Revival of the Extreme Right Wing Ideology
An international conference „Neo-Fascism in Europe: 70 years later” took place in Saint-Petersburg on March 30. The conference was organized on the personal initiative of Dr.Vladimir Yakunin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Center of National Glory and the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, President of Russian Railways and Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress. Increasing support for Neo-Nazi and Neo-fascist movement and parties in Europe raised the concern of the initiators and more than 100 participants from different European countries and also from the USA, Canada and Israel, including European Jewish Congress, Center of National Glory, the Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economy and International Relations, the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, the “Youth Time” international movement and the local authorities.
Before the International Conference’s start, its participants assembled at the Piskaryovskoye memorial cemetery in Saint-Petersburg, where they attended the official commemorative ceremony of laying wreaths at the base of the Motherland monument. More than 500,000 people found their final resting place in the mass graves of the the Piskaryovskoye cemetery, which was used for burying many of the Leningrad citizens that had starved to death or fallen prey to the fascist aggression.
The conference expressed the firm commitment of the participants to fight any attempt of spreading neo-fascist ideologies and their influence on society and pretences on power. The conference participants appealed to all governments and parliaments to prevent and bloc activities of neo-fascist organizations, not to permit glorification of fascist of the past and to prohibit Nazi manifestations. Parliaments from all over the world, in particular in Europe, were asked to organize public hearings on the danger of rising neo-fascist and extreme right movements.
Clear concern was expressed during the debate by participants, among them former Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer, about the participation of an extreme right wing party such as “Svoboda” in the Ukrainian government.
Participants stated that neo-fascism that is now growing more and more frequent in certain European countries and all over the world.
Meyer Habib, member of the French Parliament has commented: “70 years later Fascism, anti-Semitism are raising everywhere in the world. Evils against Jewish people increased in France. It happened a murder in Jewish school in Toulouse, it was an extremely hard murder. The killer Mohammed Bellary made crimes in many neighborhood cities of France. He started from Anti-Semitic graffiti and then started killing of children and adults only for nationality. He also killed some French militaries because France that time was engaged in military activities in Afghanistan. In 2006 a barbaric act of anti-Semitism had shocked the whole France, a student Alam Khalemi abducted, tortured and killed Jewish people in Paris, it was confiscated a huge quantity of weapons from him. In 2013, the number of such crimes has decreased according to official statistics, but in fact many victims are simply afraid to contact the police. Recently one of the humorist has posted a series of videos, scored a huge amount of hits, one of which mocks the Holocaust. And it happens not only in France. In Ukraine we have “Praviy the sector”, where are the number of Nazis, also called as «Svoboda”. In Greece we have «Golden Dawn», the “Jobbic” party in Romania, Nazi organization in Hungary and other European countries”.
Further, a rather disappointing statistics was presented. Over the past 10 years there has been an explosive growth of neo-fascism in Europe. According to the data, presented by Vyacheslav Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, in 2008-2009 there was a sharp 12 times increase of serious anti-Semitic manifestations if compared to 1989. It is mainly explained to world economic crises and mass unemployment. Viacheslav Moshe Kantor also said: “Today, in the peaceful and prosperous Europe, we are once again witnessing a surge of xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Our fathers and grandfathers could not have thought this was possible after the end World War II. And as a European citizen, I would like to understand the reasons behind this abrupt return to the medieval hatred towards other peoples”. According to the speaker, it is exceedingly troubling that the classical neo-Nazi parties are gaining more and more support in Greece and Hungary and that social extremism is on the rise. He insisted that combating neo-fascism should become Europe’s new driving force.
Vladimir Yakunin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Center of National Glory and the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, said the following in his conference address: “As we can see today, the cage that trapped fascism after World War II and the creation of the UN is now opened once again. And fascism, in its new reincarnation, in a modified form, is making itself more and more visible”. He pointed out that while economic problems and youth unemployment has always provided fertile soil for the seeds of extremism in society, the key factor is still the same: the loss of historical memory – “historical amnesia”. Speaking on the subject, Mr. Yakunin stated that those who declare S.Bandera to be the hero of today’s Ukraine either do not know history at all or distort the facts deliberately.
In turn, Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General of the Council of Europe from 1999 to 2004, has said: «Does it mean that the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann was right, when he wrote, that history is always teaching lessons, but it never finds anyone to learn it? We all should say “Never again”. Never again of solving conflicts with military means, never again of genocides, never again of raises policies, never again of dictatorships, never again of suppression of national minorities, never again of anti-Semitism, but also never of islamofobia”. In order to prevent this, according to Mr. Schimmer, we should suppress extremist ideas, educate today’s younger generation and support cross-cultural dialogues in Europe. As a positive example of such work Mr. Schwimmer mentioned intercultural educational schools, supported by Russian Railways and UNESCO, that teaches young people intercultural and interreligious dialogue.
With regard to the current situation in Ukraine, Mr. Yakunin emphasized that the Maidan’s movement against corruption and social injustice had been virtually tainted by the neo-fascists. He drew the attention of conference participants to the fact that today, Kiev is witnessing demonstrations under Bandera’s flags and with antisemitic and rusophobic slogans and catchphrases, which must not be tolerated by the society. This tolerant politically correct approach to such symptoms would lead real fascism to raise its ugly head.
As Yoram Dinstein, Professor Emeritus, Tel Aviv University, commented: “There is no reason to be tolerant to intolerance”.
The conference also included other speeches, dedicated to the problem rising neo-fascist and neo-Nazi movements in the European countries, in Ukraine and the Baltic states and to fighting the symptoms of neo-fascism; it was suggested that the discussion be continued as part of an anti-fascist forum.
In an unanimously adopted resolution the participants recalled that World War II was caused by the Nazi Regime and led to the death of 65 million Europeans. They denounced any manifestation of racial, national, religious and ideological intolerance and stressed their adherence to the principles of democracy, rule of law and the protection of human rights. They emphasized the richness of society by diversity of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups and the need of minorities protection.
On recent events the participants deplored the toll of human lives in Ukraine in the last two months and confirmed their adherence to the sovereignty and independence of the country.
In conclusion the conference decided to continue as a public initiative against neo-fascism and neo-Nazism and to create a permanent steering committee.
The full text of the resolution you can find here.