Sarajevo, 27.-30.11.2014

Otvoreni Univerzitet



Vaska Emanuilova Gallery, the fridge & Social Center Xaspel








Stara mestna elektrarna, Ljubljana 29.4-03.05.




Ljubljana, Stara mestna elektrarna

"Samo jednom se ljubi"

17.10.2014 | 17-18.10.2014 net.culture club MaMa, Zagreb
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
Until not too long ago, even amongst parts of the...

RLS Southeast Europe

Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung - SouthEast Europe

Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung's (RLS) project work in Southeast Europe began in 2002, with two projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since early 2009, we have been working with partner organizations in Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria. Our plan is to expand our activities to other countries in the region. In September 2010, RLS has opened a regional office in Belgrade, which coordinates projects in Southeast Europe.

In Southeast Europe we support projects that advocate,
– Social justice and strengthening of trade-union rights of employees;
– Overcoming of ethnic segregation and nationalism and the promotion of peaceful coexistence;
– Equality of women in public and in private life;
– Creating the possibilities for political participation of youth and for representation of its interests;
– Critical confrontation with the past and elaboration of modern leftist politics.

The political situation in Southeast Europe is contradictory. On the one hand, it’s been ten years since the wars in former Yugoslavia ended. During that decade, these societies made a progress in many areas. Armed conflicts came to an end. Those societies are more open and provide greater citizen participation in comparison with the situation during the 1990s. Regional cooperation has also improved. The European Union has substantially liberalized the visa restrictions. Significant progress has also been made in European integration of this region.

On the other hand, political and economic situation remains extremely difficult. Almost everywhere in the southeast of Europe, in spite of general progress, social hegemony has been taken over by a particular mix of nationalist, neo-liberal and clerical political forces. The wars of the 1990s took more than a hundred thousand human lives and turned hundreds of thousands of people into permanent refugees, but they also destroyed a large portion of the economic infrastructure.

During last decade, under the pretext of „transition“, the neo-liberal political models have been imposed, aggravating the marginalization of this region and its social disintegration at many levels. In countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia, the average monthly wages amount to little more than 300 E. Almost half of the working population is unemployed or underemployed. Employees are often completely disenfranchised. It’s not uncommon that the salaries are not paid for months. Public health care and education systems are underfunded and decaying. The corruption and abuse of power are rampant. People often cannot exercise their legal rights, because the judicial system and state institutions don’t function. Daily struggle for survival often doesn’t encourage solidarity among people – only fierce competition.
Although today the focus remains on social problems, the immediate consequences of the war have not yet been overcome. Several thousand refugees still waiting to return, but this is often blocked for political reasons. In many areas returnees still fear of attacks. Nationalist groups still have strong threatening potential. In some countries, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, the society is still ethnically divided. Ethnic divisions are sometimes even increasing. The trend of retraditionalization and clericalization of public and private life also cannot be overlooked. These tendencies are not only directed against the common multi-ethnic life, but also against the emancipation of women and sexual minorities. The young generation has no experience of multiethnic co-existence from the days of socialist Yugoslavia; this youth comes of age under the strong impact of war and its consequences.

In such conditions, the commitment to social justice and democratic society, and to the emancipation of women and discriminated groups, such as the Roma, represents a major challenge. The Democratic Left in this region is isolated. Trade unions are weak and fragmented. Progressive social movements exist only in traces. At the universities, the neo-liberal and conservative forces prevail. Critical social analysis and science are often possible only outside the official framework of the University.

In such a complex situation, the RLS office for Southeast Europe focuses on cooperation with NGOs, women’s and youth organizations, as well as with trade unions. One of the goals in our current project work is the overcoming of ethnic segregation in public educational system in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the country where at the beginning of the 21st century students of different ethnic backgrounds attend separate schools. Another focus of our project is put on the support of feminist organizations which oppose the trend of retraditionalization of society and advocate for political and economic equality for women. We also insist on cooperation with trade unions and grassroots political groups that advocate for social justice and the rights of employees.

Finally, the RLS office for Southeastern Europe aims to contribute to the creation of networks of left-wing initiatives and organizations beyond national borders and ideological trenches. At the same time, we want to open a space for critical scientific discussions and elaboration of new left-wing policies and practices that could meet the challenges of contemporary world.