On 1 June, SOLIDAR and SOLIDAR Foundation organised a European Peace Conference with the aim to bring together its membership and partnership in a process for charting a path for common security in Europe. With interventions from representatives of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of civil society from Ukraine and Russia, as well as from MEP Pierfrancesco Majorino, the discussions were meant to draw the common lines across the membership of SOLIDAR and SOLIDAR Foundation in order to set the basis of a European Peace Movement. The work of the SOLIDAR network has always been spearheaded by peace, with all efforts to ensure social justice for the Europeans and beyond leading up to the creation of a safe environment in which people can thrive while accessing all their rights. The existing threads connecting the work of SOLIDAR and SOLIDAR Foundation shall serve as the basis for the development of common positions in relation to militarisation, military alliances, peace education, sanctions and on so on. As SOLIDAR Foundation, the focus will fall on peace education, as 2022 already has ‘Peace’ as an annual theme with work being done to develop a policy paper on peace education.
The crucial element coming out from the Conference, and on which the success of the SOLIDAR Foundation work on peace education hinges, is the fact that action must be taken swiftly but in a coordinated manner, with all members joining to support each other and allowing the others to support them, in order to build a common voice. To a certain extent there are difficulties to achieve this considering that some members have different starting points in terms of the support that their country of origin receives from the EU. Members from North Macedonia, Serbia and Albania have been working on the accession of their countries to the EU for years, and the war in Ukraine should serve as a clear message about standing together. This, however, implies that countries in the accession process are meaningfully integrated beyond the soundbites of ‘standing together’. In the absence of full EU membership, the gaps are widening, with the analysis of the most recent edition of the Citizenship and Lifelong Learning Monitor revealing how education for environmental sustainability is lagging behind in North Macedonia and Serbia compared to other European countries, while the civic space has been shrinking. North Macedonia has experienced a surge in expedited decision-making as of the pandemic, with CSOs being excluded from this process, while the Serbian context is revealed in the Progress Report on Serbia Accession Talks as making no progress on the situation of the civic space. Now is the time for the EU to boost the support for the Western Balkans to ensure that they can speedily meet the requirements for membership, as everyone must join together and work against senselessness and in the benefit of peace.