The conference took place on 17 and 18 July, 2014 in Sofia, Bulgaria involving 25 representatives of Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Ireland, UK, Germany and Sweden. Foresee Research Group was represented by Zsuzsanna Z. Papp.
The program of the two day meeting involved the following:
- An introduction to the goals of the RAN DERAD working group initiative.
RAN is set up by the European Commission as an EU wide umbrella network of practitioners and local actors involved in countering violent radicalisation and extremism with the aim of exchanging experiences, knowledge and good practices and to provide information to top level decision makers.
- Discussion of universal and country specific manifestations of ideological extremism and violent radical behaviours and the challenges it provides.
Political Science expert and former colleague of Political Capital, Kiril Avramov provided insight on the political and historical background of extremism in Bulgaria. In Greece and in Bulgaria the integration of the current immigrant flood was identified as one of the challenges. The need to study the narratives of various conspiracy theories and to monitor the mainstream tendencies in political narratives was also confirmed.
- Presentation of participating NGO’s work, sharing different methods and perspectives as well as best practices.
Many of the organisations work with young people. Ken McCue of the Irish Sport Against Racism and the Polish Jacek Purski representing the Never Again Association work against racism to promote multicultural understanding through sports, involving soccer players and fans. The Romanian YMCA Dobrich works for the intellectual, cultural and health development of the youth through cultural, education and sport projects. Teachers from Greece in their demo workshop introduced the so-called “Giraffe method” aiming to get immigrant students involved and help children learn non-violent ways to resolve conflicts in a multicultural environment. From Hungary, the work of Foresee Research Group in the field of restorative justice and community conflict resolution was presented and other positive initiatives, such as the Yellow Star Houses initiative and the Holocaust and My Family facebook group initiative to share personal stories of the Holocaust were also mentioned. Bulgaria was represented by government official Gergana Manolova and Andrey Momchilov of the Crime Prevention Fund who talked about their current projects such as the mediator training of police officers. The conference and the workshops were moderated by the chairs of the working group, Harald Weilnböck (Germany) and Robert Örell (Sweden).
The spirit of the conference was symbolized by the excellent location in Sofia in the “heart of tolerance” surrounded by an orthodox and a catholic church as well as a mosque and a synagogue. The spirit of the participants was fuelled by the enthusiasm of the Greek teachers who made us all dance the “Giraffe dance” and the energy was supplied by an abundant Bulgarian dinner with lively discussions over the table.
For more information please check out the RAN websites below.