Report of the meeting of Eastern European campaigners
The getting together of the countries of Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Balkans, which took place on Friday 10th May, was one of the priorities of the organisers in Vienna. It was a first step in the integration of the social movements into the ESF process. Actually it was an important first, given the isolation of these movements up until now, not only those of Western Europe but also those of the other countries of the region. Twelve countries were represented by about 40 people. In Hungary, before Vienna there was a preparatory meeting of the social movements, which was, in this country too, a promising first. The remarkably high degree of representation was largely due to the proximity of the meeting (in the corridors several participants expressed their worries about being able to continue participating at subsequent preparatory meetings for financial reasons).
The problems brought up concerning the region were : the lack of representation and democracy ; the harmful effects of the projected widening the EU on salaries (Socialist Alternative , Czech Republic) ; the inequalities generated by neoliberalism (Bankwatch, Croatia) ; and the weakness of the social movements, in particular the union movement (Alternative, Russia).
The participants suggested that the ESF should develop alternatives concerning the environment (Bankwatch, Croatia ; Attac Hungary ; Balkan Social Forum, Croatia) ; development policy (Bankwatch, Croatie ; Attac Hongrie), and that the Forum should emphasise the demand for the right to work, to equal distribution of working hours, to access to culture (Attac Hungary) and to health protection.
Several initiatives were presented for reinforcing cooperation between social movements in the region : a summer university in Korcula (Serbia-Montenegro) ; a conference on globalisation and on the specific problems of the countries of the former Soviet bloc (Russia) ; an inventory was done country by country of the problems created by the policies of structural adjustment in the areas of health, education and employment legislation, which was afterwards summarised and published by ATTAC Hungary.