Ghosts of xenophobia are roving over the world

By Dr. Lisen Bashkurti 

A lot is written and many stories are heard about the “Great Wall of China.”  At the same time, there has been widely written and many stories are heard about the “Berlin Wall.”  These are not histories of the past.  In our days such trends are repeating themselves.  Humanity is living through a heavy crisis.  Today, there is not a safer place in the world.

In our days we are seeing barbed wire going up in Macedonia, tall fences rising up in the sky throughout Hungary’s national borders, construction of concrete walls with electrical wires in Israel, installation of an ugly fence in the border between Norway and Russia, screams of death are heard by immigrants all over the Mediterranean Sea and frightening statements during the U. S. Presidential Campaign are made towards building physical barriers that would separate Mexico from United States…

Even more challenging are the referendum campaigns: the British electorate made a decision in regards to Brexit; popular parties of Italy and Holland are requesting an exit from the European Union.  National Forces in France are threatening even more the existence of European Union.  Moreover the German Chancellor Angel Merkel and her Party (CDU) are faced with a domestic and international thunderstorm.  The Alliance for Germany is demanding anti-emigrational policies and are self-centered towards European Union, while pushing for Germany to be closer with Russia.  The inherited philosophy of E.U. Founding Fathers, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Alcide de Gasperi and Konrad Adenauer is facing a new wave of ideology that is dominated by populism, nationalism and extremism.

At the core of populism, nationalism and extremism is xenophobia. What is the common denominator in their philosophy and psychosocial field interpretation of xenophobia? There are three ancient appearances in the philosophical and psychosocial character of nations: FEAR, HATRED, and HOSTILITY.

These three philosophical and sensitive characteristics are against the foreigners, different nationalities and the unbeknownst.  The roots of xenophobia have a political, national, religious, cultural and socio-economic character. Its final product is war among people, communities, nations, countries and races, religious and different socio-economic categories.

In modern sciences the appearance of fear, hatred, and animosity against a foreigner, against something different, towards the unknown are part of the so called XENOPHOBIA.  About the treatment of xenophobia in ancient times, in modern times and in the contemporary post – modern years there are established particular political philosophies, mainly those that are led by extremism, fanaticism, nationalist attitude, racist, segregationist and separatism of any kind.

At a time when development trends are unavoidably going towards the opening of minds and societies, borders and markets, information and communication; when integrations are not a theory anymore, but a reality; when globalization is a universality of worldwide relations – on the other hand xenophobia instigates nations and cultures to completely embrace the opposite. In this era of xenophobia, the Republic of Chad, has showed to the world that, despite its high levels of extreme poverty, the country’s threats from Boko Haram terrorists and drastic cuts of oil prices and with over 13 million inhabitants, it is home of 645 thousand immigrants who have fled their nearby war torn countries (South Sudan, Mali and Niger) due to armed conflict, and maltreatment.

Xenophobia is the modern anti – global order. Xenophobias are a contemporary anti-culture.  Xenophobias are the opposite of modern civilization.  Xenophobias are the origin of any kind of conflict that harm peace, security, democracy and prosperity.

In our time there is a tendency to pursue materialist benefits, after capitalism of any kind, after the financial markets, after many tangible matters, that are desired, that can be observed and be tasted. Obviously all of these also require an attention…

But above all in today’s world there is a priority to pay more attention towards the individual, community, national and global efforts to prevent, manage and extinguish all conflicts that are rooted in XENOPHOBIA.

Xenophobias are the most resistant walls of fear, hatred and animosity among nations.  And for as long as International Relations are above all “people to people relations,” meaning relations among people, xenophobia will be the main threat of these relations.

The level of xenophobias in the Balkans has not been reduced at all. They remain in a dormant state and explode time after time. Xenophobic explosions are revealed in football matches, in music festivals, in the attitude towards immigrants, behavior against foreign inmates in jail, in multi-ethnic schools, all the way to political parties and separatist referendum movements.

In Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina are seen many xenophobias based on ethnicity, politics and religion.  In Albania there is a xenophobia based on ethnicity.  Meanwhile in Kosovo there is a xenophobia based on ethnicity and religion.  Generally the politics and diplomacy in the Balkans, as well as schools and religious institutions, civil society and culture in this region have left xenophobia at the fate of spontaneity.  This is why peace and security in the Balkans are fragile.

In Europe the growth of populism and nationalism is producing a racist and religious xenophobia against immigrants that are coming from the Middle East, nationalist xenophobia against the integration of Western Balkans in European Union, it is inspiring Islamic xenophobia against Turkey’s integration to European Union and against Muslim population in general.

Even the United States are affected by the growing waves of xenophobia.  In the presidential campaign there were many ideas, were made xenophobic rhetorical statements, with nationalist characteristics against Latin American immigrants, there was a racist xenophobia against people of color, as well as Islamo-phobia.  Mainly these xenophobia statements were distinguished in the public rhetoric made by Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump.

In North Africa and in the Middle East there is a frightening revitalization of national xenophobia such as Arabo-phobia, anti-Semitism and Turko-phobia.  Meanwhile Ruso-phobia has been expanded mainly in Europe and Asia

At the global levels there is a reawakening of islamo-phobia mainly in the west, there is a growth of Americano-phobia in Islamic and Muslim countries, there is experienced a deep influence of Xenophobias with a cultural character in Asia, mainly Sino-phobia, or xenophobia based on socio-economic roots in Africa and Latin America.

The rebirth of xenophobia in today’s world order shows that the universe is experiencing a great insecurity.  While taking into consideration a series of Xenophobias that are the main reasons of the global crises, it means that in our time relations between people, communities, nations, countries, races and religions are shaken.

Meanwhile, the deepening of economic differences and of social layers among the wealthy and the poor, between east and west as well as between the north and the south has increased the level of xenophobia rooted in economic and social differences throughout the world, while corroding the inner foundations of political, economic and societal systems.

It is time for international politics and world diplomacy to prioritize the war against xenophobia of any kind and anywhere they resurface.  The objective must be to prevent Xenophobias because they ruin all human relations.  If human relations are destroyed it will be very difficult to sustain global peace and security.   If certain situations become toxic by xenophobia there will emerge: philosophical waves, political alternatives and societal movements that produce, crises, conflicts and inevitable wars.

Prevention, reduction and elimination of xenophobias in our time demands: legal national and international instruments, political means, language and diplomatic charisma, ideological and cultural arguments, and development of democracy and socio-economic justice.

If we don’t see an energetic response with all of these means and ways it will not be a surprise that one day the ghosts that we see roving above the world – the veil of xenophobia – will enter in our homes.  Then it will be too late.  War will knock in the gates of humanity. History is doomed to repeat itself…

Translation from Albanian by Peter Tase

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Lisen Bashkurti

Dr. Lisen Bashkurti is the President of Albanian Diplomatic Academy in Albania. Prof. Bashkurti has been a Chancellor in a number of Universities in the Balkan Peninsula. He is also the Global Vice President of Sun Moon University in South Korea. As a distinguished scholar of international relations he has received many international awards including: A “Gold Medal” for his research on US-Albanian Partnership,” “Four Silver Medals” for his great contribution during his service as Albania’s Ambassador to Hungary (1992-1993); appointed as “Peace Ambassador” from the International Peace Foundation, United Nations (2009). He is the author of more than 18 books that cover a range of issues including: International Affairs, Negotiations and Conflict Resolution, International Diplomacy, Multilateral Diplomacy and Diplomatic History. He is an honorary professor in many prestigious European Universities and an honorary fellow to a number of prominent International Institutions.

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