Debates on Europe VI-X

Sarajevo Debate on Europe

26.4. - 27.4.2017

Twentyfive years ago, in 1992, the Maastricht Treaty was signed: Twelve member states joined to form the European Union, an important step towards European integration. Also in 1992 the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina began, an event which marked the final disintegration of Yugoslavia. A short time ago the dissolving of the so-called Eastern Bloc had removed the cold war border that had cut through Germany and the whole subcontinent for so long. A new reality seemed to dawn. Excepting the inhabitants of the Balkan countries most people in East and West thought a Europe of peace, prosperity and democratic freedom immanent.

Today, in 2017, these earlier certainties and hopes seem highly questionable. Hardly a country is without its fierce debate about the desirability of membership within the European Union. The utopian hope for an open European community seems to have evaporated leaving behind a space apparently threatened from within and without; the very project of a common Europe is questioned. In many of these controversial discussions “identity” has become a key word. “Identity”, in ist populist version reduced to something held to be singular (historically, culturally, confessionly), feigns a safe special position to withdraw to. The democracies of Europe face these challenges under widely differing circumstances, but the challenge in every case wants to suvbvert the hopes once connected with the European project: hopes for a manifold unity.

The “Sarajevo Debate on Europe” offers a space to discuss questions about the difficulties and chances of the European project, in an open exchange of views. Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, seems an especially apt place for this discussion about the coexistence of religious, cultural and national identities, about the handling of conflicts and the role of influences from abroad. Participating will be authors and scientists from several European countries.

The meeting is part of the continuing series “Debates on Europe” organized since 2012 by the S. Fischer Stiftung, the Allianz Kulturstiftung and the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung in different cities across the continent: so far in Budapest, Bukarest, Athens, Belgrade, Berlin, Narva, Minsk, Charkiv and St. Petersburg.

Tarik Haverić
On the Sarjevo Debate

Between Walter Bröcker’s essay Europeology of 1978 and that by Jürgen Habermas called On the Constitution of Europe (2001) lie thirty-three years during which the philosophical discourse on the continent’s political and cultural identity has changed. For Habermas Europe is not simply defined by a common culture, but specifically by a common political culture: it is a »community of democratic legal procedure«. In my lecture I attempt to show that democratic legal procedure is the very cause of the current difficulties the European project finds itself in. The European Union is, so to speak, a victim of its own success. Because the French and the Dutch have voted according to democratic procedure against the European Constitution of 2005 it could not be installed, just as the demos of Great Britain decided to leave the Union. We see that a demos that always decides reasonably is just a useful fiction of political philosophy without any base in empirical politics. A correct democratic procedure neither guarantees that decisions will be morally right nor that they will lead to the maximal common good. In this the will of the demos isn't any different from the will of the individual. Walter Bröcker has warned: »What man really wants is something we cannot define generally nor is it something we may derive any postulates from.« It is the same with the demos: A people may want good things or bad things, may opt for projects realizable or unrealizable – or for those attractive in the short term but à la longue damaging to itself. The European project went forward through an executive federalism defined by a certain democratic deficit and it entered its crisis when the final decisions were outsourced from the parliaments to the »peoples of Europe«.