Where poverty is, we have the biggest problem.
Not where the wealth is.
Dr. Hannes Swoboda

During the first meeting of the Board of Denk.Raum.Fresach on November 6, 2014 in Villach, the President of Denk.Raum.Fresach and former leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda spoke. Swoboda is currently in charge of mission and tasks of the European Tolerance Talks. Regarding social and political change, he said:”It will not get better, but only produce more conflicts. Immigration, refugees and exclusion are current issue. I have seen many positive projects, but also many negative examples of what happens when nothing is done and the distance is greater.”

Swoboda, most recently in the European Parliament responsible for the eastern and southeastern extension, working as EU rapporteur for Croatia, with a focus on Turkey, human rights, tolerance, speaks from experience: “The internal migration in Europe is strong, from outside Europe new conflicts are brought in which in turn prepare the ground for further conflict. There is no other concept than dialogue possible. Dialogue to overcome distance and exclusion.”

According to Swoboda, in the public debate currently there is a lack of commitment to intervene. Therefore those would win, “who have no scruples.” This would reinforce prejudices and strengthen those, which are already there. The major deficiency in the policy and the discouragement to work for things that are not as popular would have to be overcome.

There is a need for more voices for tolerance and integration, insists Swoboda, in politics and in the media. And he warns: If the prejudices not countered, a “hurtful tolerance” will develop. The argument must therefore already start in kindergarten and in teacher training. Nobody explained today why refugees come, and why Roma are traveling …

In this context Swoboda confirms, the importance of Denk.Raum.Fresach for communication and understanding, for the future of Europe: “The European tolerance conversations are an important forum for dialogue on overcoming fear, exclusion and xenophobia. Because: Where poverty is, we have the biggest problem. Not where the wealth is.”

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