18 June 2014

 

Sometimes a simple idea has the potential to have a lot of impact. Here is one simple idea for the day, split into three concrete recommendations:

a. the European Commission – and in particular DG enlargement – ask all Western Balkan countries to take the regular PISA tests of the OECD, as one important way to assess whether in the future their economies will be able to “withstand competitive pressure” – which is one of the 1993 Copenhagen criteria.

b. the European Commission includes the scores of PISA as one of its main indicators in the annual progress report section on economic criteria – and includes a table comparing the performance of countries in the region with the rest of the EU.

c. civil society organisations in Balkan countries use this as a trigger to launch a broader debate in their countries on the quality and importance of education in national debates. Both of which are currently – to put it mildly – sub-optimal for countries trying to converge with a much more prosperous European Union.

This morning I met senior people in DG Enlargement in Brussels and made this proposal. I also made it in many recent presentations with EU ambassadors and EU officials in Paris, Skopje, Zagreb, The Hague, Berlin, Rome, Ankara and Istanbul. And as a result of some feedback I am increasingly hopeful on the first and second recommendation above. (This in turn will help with recommendation three.)

For more on all this see our forthcoming report on how to assess in future progress reports whether a candidate has a “functioning market economy”. For those impatient now, here are a few core facts:

Background: candidates, potential candidates and PISA

It seems obvious: one of the most important factors contributing to future development of an economy is the quality of the national education system.  And one of the most straightforward ways to launch a debate on this is to look at the OECD’s PISA tests, taken since 2000, every three years in some 65 countries.

Take a look at some recent findings:

PISA results – mathematics 2012

Taiwan (top country)[1]

560
Netherlands (top EU15 country) 523
Estonia (top EU13 country) 521
Croatia 471
Serbia 449
Turkey 448
Bulgaria (lowest EU country) 439
Montenegro 410
Albania 394
Bosnia and Herzegovina -
Kosovo -
Macedonia -

PISA results – reading 2012

Japan (top country)[2] 538
Finland (top EU15 country) 524
Poland (top EU13 country) 518
Croatia 485
Turkey 475
Serbia 446
Bulgaria (lowest EU country) 436
Montenegro 422
Albania 394
Bosnia and Herzegovina -
Kosovo -
Macedonia -

PISA results – science 2012

Japan (top country)[3] 547
Finland (top EU15 country) 545
Estonia (top EU13 country) 541
Croatia 491
Turkey 463
Serbia 445
Cyprus (lowest EU country) 438
Montenegro 410
Albania 397
Bosnia and Herzegovina -
Kosovo -
Macedonia -

 

These tables raise many fascinating and important policy questions:

1. How can Albania and Montenegro close the serious gap (serious even compared to other countries in the region)?

2. How can all these countries learn from Estonia or Poland, some of the best performers among former communist countries?

3.  Where would Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina stand if they took the test? (Macedonia took the test in 2000: 381 in math, 401 in science, 373 in reading – abysmal scores I discussed in a recent Rumeli Observer; it is now taking it again for the first time this year).

Of course it would also be useful to have other credible education statistics from ALL candidates and potential candidates that allow for EU-wide and Europe-wide comparisons.
Here are some good statistics which already exist for the EU and some of the candidate countries. Again, they raise interesting policy issues.

They might also – if properly highlighted – trigger more important policy debates.

 

4 YEAR OLDS IN SCHOOL

How many 4 year old are in primary or pre-primary education? In the EU

91.7 % of four year-olds were in pre-primary or primary education across the whole of the EU-27 in 2010. Participation rates of four year-olds in pre-primary or primary education were generally high — national averages of over 95 % in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom; as well as in Iceland and Norway. By contrast, Greece, Poland and Finland reported that fewer than 70 % of four year-olds were enrolled; lower rates were also recorded in the EFTA countries of Liechtenstein and Switzerland, as well as in the acceding and candidate countries of Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey.”

Only national data are available for Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (data for 2010), where rates stood at 57.4 % and 24.0 % respectively. More than half of the 25 level 2 Turkish regions reported that less than 20.0 % of four year-olds participated in pre-primary or primary education in 2011. The lowest participation rate was recorded for the southern Turkish region of Gaziantep, Adıyaman, Kilis (9.7 %), while the second lowest rate was recorded for İstanbul (10.9 %).”[4]

17 YEAR OLDS IN EDUCATION

“The number of students aged 17 in education (all levels combined) in the EU-27 in 2010 was 5.2 million, equivalent to 91.7 % of all 17-year-olds. The age of 17 is important as it often marks the age at which young people are faced with a choice between: remaining in education; following some form of training; or looking for a job. The number of 17 year-olds in education relative to the population of 17 year-olds exceeded 80 % in the vast majority of the regions within the EU in 2011, and this pattern was repeated across all of the EFTA regions … As such, for one reason or another, the vast majority of young people aged 17 remained in the education system at or even after the end of compulsory schooling.”

This indicates, for instance, a clear problem in Turkey:

“Among the acceding and candidate country regions, the proportion of 17 year-olds who remained in education was above 80.0 % in Croatia (national data) and three Turkish regions (including the capital city region of Ankara and two north-western regions of Bursa, Eskişehir, Bilecik and Tekirdağ, Edirne, Kırklareli). There were four Turkish regions where the proportion of 17 year-olds who remained in education was 50.0 % or lower — they were all in the south and east of the country, namely: Sanlıurfa, Diyarbakır; Mardin, Batman, Sırnak, Siirt; Ağri, Kars, Iğdir, Ardahan; and Van, Muş, Bitlis, Hakkari. The lowest ratio of 17 year-olds remaining in education was recorded in Van, Mus, Bitlis, Hakkari, where the share was only slightly more than one third (35.5 %) in 2011.

“An indicator that presents information about early leavers from education and training tracks the proportion of individuals aged 18–24 who have finished no more than a lower secondary education, and who are not involved in further education or training: some 13.5 % of 18–24 year-olds in the EU-27 were classified as early leavers from education and training in 2011, with a somewhat higher proportion of male early leavers (15.3 %) compared with female early leavers (11.6 %). Europe’s growth strategy, Europe 2020, has set an EU-27 target for the proportion of early leavers from education and training to be below 10 % by 2020; there are individual targets for each of the Member States that range from 5 % to 29 %.”

Tertiary education:

“Tertiary education is the level of education offered by universities, vocational universities, institutes of technology and other institutions that award academic degrees or professional certificates. In 2010 (the 2009/10 academic year), the number of students enrolled in tertiary education in the EU-27 stood at 19.8 million; this was equivalent to 62.7 % of all persons aged 20–24.

In candidate countries:

“In Turkey there was a particularly high concentration of tertiary students in Bursa, Eskişehir, Bilecik — this may be attributed to there being an open university in Eskişehir, where a high proportion of students are enrolled on distance learning courses. Otherwise, the ratio of students enrolled in tertiary education to residents aged 20–24 was below 60 % for all of the remaining regions in the candidate and accession countries.”

Tertiary attainment

“In 2011, for the EU-27 as a whole, just over one third (34.6 %) of 30–34 year-olds had completed tertiary education. These figures support the premise that a rising proportion of the EU’s population is studying to a higher level — in keeping with one of the Europe 2020 targets, namely, that by 2020 at least 40 % of persons aged 30–34 in the EU-27 should have attained a tertiary level education.”

Again Turkey is backward:

“Bati Anadolu (23.6 %) — which includes the Turkish capital city of Ankara — was the only Turkish region to report that more than one in five of its residents aged 30–34 had attained a tertiary level education. By contrast, the lowest ratios … were recorded for the north-east of Turkey (Kuzeydoğu Anadolu), where only just over 1 in 10 (10.2 %) of the population aged 30–34 had attained a tertiary level education.

 

One thing should be obvious: if PISA rankings and such tables are seriously discussed in candidate countries, everyone would benefit. And if the EU can manage to encourage a focus on such issues – through its own regular assessments – everyone would gain.

So let us hope that this simple idea will indeed be picked up.

 


[1] Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong excluded as cities.

[2] Sic.

[3] Sic

[6] Croatia, 2002; Serbia, 2004.

[7] Albania, 2007.

[8] Albania, 2009.

 

7 June 2014

ЗОШТО МАКЕДОНИЈА НЕ Е ФИНСКА

Една од државите во светот за која сигурно очекувате да биде на врвот на сите национални рангирања сигурно е Финска. Не е важно што се мери – среќа, креативност, одржливост, родова еднаквост, благосостојба на децата…Финска секогаш завршува како глобален лидер.

Минатото лето патував во Финска за да научам повеќе за финската експертиза во менаџирањето на границите. Патував низ земјата со еден фински генерал и ги посетувавме границите со Русија, крајбрежната стража и аеодромот во Хелсинки учејќи за новите технологии и алатки за меѓународна комуникација во регионот на Балтичкото море.

Тоа беше една импресивна демонстрација на финската компетенција и потсетник за тоа како една мала нација е изложена геополитички со векови. Но, отвори и прашања – како финската нација станала толку просперитетна? Дали нивната приказна на напредокот и просперитетот содржи пошироки лекции и за други мали европски држави со проблематично минато и комплицирано соседство? Што би и требало на Македонија (Косово, Албанија, Босна или Србија) за да станат богати и просперитетни како Финска во некое време во иднина? Зошто Македонија не е Финска?

Во обид да „ископам“ што е можно повеќе за Финцките се обидов да ја најдам и прочитам сета достапна литература на германски и англиски. Се надевам дека моите фински пријатели ќе ме поправат доколку текстот содржи површни импресии и коментари и ќе ги додадат и своите гледишта.

Колку за споредба

Прво, нешто околу тоа како се мери успехот на земјата. Ако проучувате колку многу и колку различни интернационални рангирања постојат, сигурно ќе бидете во право ако решите да не ги земате пресериозно. Како и да е, земени како група рангирањата можат да раскажат интересна приказна. Еве една колекција од повеќе интернационали рангирања кои ги погледнав за минатата година пред да тргнам на пат кон Северот.

Постои Индексот на среќа на Обединетите нации кој е базиран на работата на Глобалниот институт на Џефри Сачс.

„Според извештајот за среќа на ООН од 2 Април Финска е рангирана како втора најсреќна земја после Данска“

Потоа, тука е и Индексот за просперитет од 2012 година каде што Финска е седма:

1 Норвешка
2 Данска
3 Шведска
4 Австралија
5 Нов Зеланд
6 Канада
7 Финска
8 Холандија
9 Швајцарија
10 Ирска

Потоа го имаме Индексот на одржливост на општествата каде што Финска повторно е во првите десет:

Човекова благосостојба Економска благосостојба
2006 2008 2010 2012 2006 2008 2010 2012
Исланд 5 4 4 1 Швајцарија 9 1 1 1
Норвешка 2 1 1 2 Шведска 4 3 2 2
Шведска 1 2 2 3 Норвешка 12 9 3 3
Финска 3 3 3 4 Чешка 8 5 4 4
Австрија 6 5 5 5 Данска 1 6 6 5
Јапонија 4 6 6 6 Финска 6 7 7 6
Швајцарија 13 9 9 7 Естонија 5 2 9 7
Холандија 12 14 14 8 Словенија 3 4 5 8
Ирска 9 8 7 9 Австралија 11 13 10 9
Германија 7 7 8 10 Луксембург 2 12 8 10

Глобалниот индекс на креативноста се однесува на технологијата, талентите и толеранцијата. (Финска е прва во првите две категории):

1. Шведкса
2. САД
3. Финска
4. Данска
5. Австралија
6. Нов Зелан
7. Канада
8. Норвешка
9. Сингапур
10.Холандија

Индексот за благосостојба на децата на УНИЦЕФ ја рангира Финска во првите 5 земји:

1. Холандија
2. Норвешка
3. Исланд
4. Финска
5. Шведска
6. Германија
7. Луксембург
8. Швајцарија
9. Белгија
10.Ирска

Финска е и првата земја во светот која на жените им го дала правото на глас и правото да бидат бирани во парламентот. Првиот фински парламент во 1906 има 19 жени од 200 пратеници. Овој процент не беше достигнат во Турција се до 2011. Последниот Индекс за родовите разлики од 2012 покажува дека Финска се уште е лидер во однос на правата на жените и рамноправност на половите:

1.Исланд
2.Финска
3.Норвешка
4.Шведска
5.Ирска
6.Нов Зеланд
7.Данска
8.Филипини
9.Никарагва
10.Швајцарија

Дури и неодамнешнио Индекс на земји со пријателска инфраструктура за велосипеди ја сместува Финска во топ петте земји:

1. Данска
1. Холандија
3. Шведска
4. Финска
5. Германија
6. Белгија
7. Австрија
8. Унгарија
9. Словачка
10.Обединето кралство

 

Конечно, рангирањата кои допринесуваат најмногу за тоа Финска да биде глобална сензација се ПИСА тестовите, односно Програмата за меѓународно оценување на учениците спроведена од Организацијата за економски развој и соработка (ОЕЦД). Тестовите мерат писменост, математика и научни вештини на 14 и 15 годишните ученици низ целиот свет. Финските резултати од овие тестови од 2001 наваму буквално донесоа илјадници делегати во северната земја кои сакаат да видат во што е тајната на финскиот успех.

Да, но зошто?

Накусо, на Финскаи оди добро. Очигледното прашање за Македонците, Албанците, Босанците и Србите кои гледаат на овие рангирања е дали тие воошто имаат некаква релевантност во нивните општества.

Која е причината и ефектот од ваквата успешна приказна? Дали е изненадување дека во општество во кое децата живеат добро и се здрави, растат во семејства чии родители живеат и работат во креативни градови и исто така, имаат добри училишта? Зарем не е очигледно дека држава каде што девојчињата живеат во околина која негува рамноправност на половите ќе биде подобра држава во однос на образованието што им се нуди на жените отколку патријархални општества каде што жените не можат да наследат земја како што е во случајот на Косово?! Дали финскиот успех е резултат на нивниот добар образовен систем…или е обратно?

Позади ова навидум нерешливо прашање лежи друго, поголемо прашање. Дали некој знае друга држава чиј што јазик го разбираат многу малку странци, а кои што успеале да произведат корисни патокази за домашните реформи?

“Ако племето од другата страна на реката преминало од камено во бронзено доба, тогаш вашето племе се соочува со изборот или да се држи до својата компаративна предност од каменото доба или да емулира со соседното племе во бронзената доба…стратегијата на емулација беше задолжителна премин-точка за сите нации кои денеска важат за богати“ (Ерик.С. Рејнерт)

Земете го образованието. Досега многу е напишано на тема „лекции од Финска“ и нивниот успех на ПИСА тестовите. Финските деца одат на училиште помалку часови од другите деца било каде на светот: 5.500 часа на возраст од 7 до 14 години споредено со повеќе од 7.000 часа во другите земји членки на ОЕЦД. Италијански петнаесетгодишник ќе оди на училиште две години подолго од негов фински врсник. Тие, исто така, тргнуваат две години порано на училиште. Италија е рангирана 32 во математика и наука и 27 во читање на ПИСА тестовите. Очигледно, успехот не е механички резултат на часовите поминати на училиште.

Ова покренува многу прашања. Што да се емулира? Што Финските ученици учат, кога тие не се во училиште? Во цело поглавје во неодамнешната книга за финското образование  се опишува за учењето во не-училишната средина,   улогата на музеите и библиотеките. Во 2010та година имало 790 главни  и филијални библиотеки во Финска. Годишно, имало по 53 милиони посетители во библиотеките, а просечниот број на  кредити по предметите годишно за секој Финец е 18. Би било интересно да се споредат статистиките од Македонија или Косово, почнувајќи со бројот на народните библиотеки и споредувањето на читателските навики Експертот за образование Паси Сахлберг, напиша:

Што прават учениците во Финска кога часовите им завршуваат порано за разлика од другите земји:? Во принцип, учениците слободно можат да си одат дома во попладневните часови, освен ако не им се нуди нешто во училиштето. Основните училишта се охрабруваат да организираат  активности за најмладите  после училиште и едуактивни или рекреативни клубови за постарите.

Тој додаде дека две третини од учениците на возраст од 10 до 14 години се дел од најмалку една младинска асоцијација.

Што се лекциите на политиката: Дали се тоа деца во земјите каде што има многу креативни симулации надвор од училиштето, па не треба да трошат премногу време за часовите… но, дали реверсот е точен во земјите кои немаат музеи или јавни библиотеки?  Дури и во  интернет ерата книгите и мрежата на јавни библиотеки е важна кога станува збор за симулирање на љубовта кон читањето? (Или, можеби  е уште поважно кои видови на детски книги ќе се најдат на нивниот јазик, откако тие стапнале во библиотека?

Од друга страна, ако сѐ работи, бидејќи „тоа трае село да се едуцираат дете”, дали учењето на поединечните аспекти  на финската политика нуди водич за македонскиот, косовскиот, албанскиот или босанскиот  Министер за образование?

Всушност, вистинската лекција – главната поента е да се нагласи и дискутира  од балканска  перспектива – може да биде поинаква и многу базична. Не дека е  најважен овој или оној аспект од финското образование, јавната администрација или социјалната политика. Тоа е општиот став кон напредокот и развојот, во смисла на она кои прашања најмногу значат, која обликува како да распределите дел од највредните ресурси … времето и вниманието.Реалната и значајна разлика меѓу Македонија и Финска се интересите на луѓето  – носители на одлуки, родителите, наставниците – со што тие сметаат дека е доволно важно за да се борат  сѐ додека не најдат поединечни подобрувања.

 

Sculpture in Helsinki overlooking the Baltic Sea Title: Happiness

Добро е познато дека финските учители се извонредно образовани. Во Финска наставниците во основно училиште мораат да имаат завршено магистерски студии и мораат да имаат направено вистинско истражување во образованието во рамки на студиите. Од нив се очекува да размислуваат сериозно за активностите во кои се впуштаат. Од нив се бара да размислуваат за основното образование, да поставуваат поинакви и нови прашања за тоа на што се базира и на што може да се базира успехот. На овој начин тие заземаат простор во широка национална диксусија.

Дали ова е дел од образованието на учителите низ Балканот? Дали учителите во Македонија или Косово имаат мислечки педагошки вештини? Дали образованието како такво е главен субјет на нивното образование?

А што е со креаторите на политики? Дали дебатите за образовните политики во Западен Балкан се продолжуваат на база на емириски истражувања? Дали реформите се темелат на реалните проценки на статус-кво? Дали образовните политики се дискутираат сериозно во националните парламенти?

Мислам дека повеќето од вас кои го читате ова ќе се посомневате дека воопшто постојат одговори на овие прашања. Но, како овие состојби можат да се променат? I

Да ги земеме резултатите од ПИСА од 2012 година и да ја споредиме Македонија со Финска:

ПИСА ресултати математика – 2012

Шангај – топ држава 613
Холандија (топ ЕУ 15) 523
Естонија (топ ЕУ 13) 521
Хрватска 471
Србија 449
Турција 448
Бугарија (најслаба ЕУ држава) 439
Црна Гора 410
Албанија 394
Босна и Херцеговина -
Македонија -

ПИСА резултати – читање 2012

Шангај 570
Финска (топ ЕУ 15) 524
Полска (топ ЕУ 13) 518
Хрватска 485
Турција 475
Србија 446
Бугарија (најслаба ЕУ држава) 436
Montenegro 422
Albania 394
Bosnia and Herzegovina -
Macedonia -

ПИСА резултати – наука 2012

Шангај – топ држава 580
Финска (топ ЕУ 15) 545
Естонија (топ ЕУ 13) 541
Хрватска 491
Турција 463
Србија 445
Кипар (најслаба ЕУ држава) 438
Црна Гора 410
Албанија 397
Босна и Херцеговина -
Македонија -

Во 2012 Финска има најдобри резултати во наука и читање од сите членки на ЕУ. Полска и Естонија, исто така, имаат добри резултати. Србија е полоша од Турција. Албанија помина навистина лошо.

А Македонија? Воопшто и не зема учество на тестот! And Macedonia? It did not even take the test! Сето ова е сè повеќе и повеќе збунувачки со оглед на драматичните резултати кога Македонија го направи тестот, еднаш и за последен пат, во 2000 година:

“На најдолниот крај од скалата, 18 отсто од учениците од земјите на ОЕЦД и над 50 отсто од учениците во Албанија, Бразил, Индонезија, Македонија и Перу имаат Ниво 1 вештин или подолу. Овие ученици, во најдобар случај можат да се справат само со најосновните задачи на читање. Студенти кои учествуваа во тестот не се случајна група”, се вели во известувањето од тестот на ОЕЦД.

Процентот на студенти со сериозни потешкотии при читањето во 2000 е следниов:

 

Level 1 and below!
Финска 7
Полска 15
Унгарија 23
Грција 25
Бугарија 40
Македонија 63
Албанија 71

Има и пошокантни детали:

под ниво 1 ниво 1 ниво 2 ниво 3 ниво 4 ниво 5
Македонија 35 28 24 11 2 0
Албанија 44 27 21 8 1 0
Бугарија 18 22 27 22 9 2
Грција 9 16 26 28 17 5
Унгарија 7 16 25 29 18 5
Финска 2 5 14 29 32 18
Полска 0 15 24 28 19 6

 

(Македонија токму сега по 14 поминати години реши да го земе учество во тестот по втор пат. Дали е ова можеби почеток на една поинаква дебата?)

Сите лидери имаат лимитиран буџет на внимание. Кои се мислите на премиерите и министрите кога си легнуваат навечер и кога се будат наутро? Кои прашања им ги поставуваат на странските гости? Таткото на модерниот менаџмент Питер Дракер, еднаш напиша:

“Ние со право сакаме да задржиме што е можно повече топки во воздухот како циркуските жонглери. Но, дури и тие го прават тоа околу 10 минути и не повеќе. Ако жонглерот пробуваше да го прави тоа подолго, сигурно кога тогаш ќе ги испуштеше топките“.

Најпосле, единствениот тотално нефлексибилен ресурс кај секој поединец е времето – родител или премиер – тоа е времето. Ова е се разбира точно и за политичката класа. На кои активности им се посветени? Што се дебатира во парламентот, во локалната самоуправа, во здруженијата на родители или наставници, што? Ако обрзованието не една од овие теми, тогаш е разбирливо зошто Македонија не може да фати чекор со остатокот од Европа. Може да се претпостави и дека моменталната генерација на млади кои излегуваат од училиштата нема да можат да се натпреваруваат со своите врсници низ Европа.

Но, како воопшто едно општество станало толку опседнато со човечкиот капитал, образованието и поттикнувањето на креативноста како што е оваа мала нордиска нација?

 

 

Во суштина, приказната за просперитетот и развојот на Финска е приказна за прераспределба на време и внимание. Тоа е приказна за фокус, за тоа како  со текот на времето, делумните промени можат да доведат до драматични трансформации.

Финска не е  отсекогаш успешна приказна за каква што ја знаеме  денес. Овој успех е резултат на визијата на националната политика. Тоа е приказна за неверојатен успех.

“Финска без дилеми може да претендира за еден од најголемите успеси на модерната ера,” вака почнува предговорот на Дејвид Кирби во книгата „Кратка историја на Финска“.

Тој додава:

“Трансформацијата на она што безмалку еден век претставуваше лошо земјоделско земјиште на северната периферија на Европа во една од најпросперитетните држави на Европската унија денес е една извонредна приказна, но тоа воопшто не значи дека приказната е спокојна”.

Фред Синглтон ја започнува својата Куса историја на Финска вака:

“Денес Финците се една од најпросперитетните, социјално прогресивни , стабилни и мирољубиви нации во светот“.

Но, ќе запише Синглтон „домот на Финците од прва воопшто не ветуваше дека може да биде база за една успешна држава“.

Зошто успехот на оваа држава се именува како „неверојатен“? Повеќето пресметки за предодреденоста на успехот започнуваат со епската тема – природата. Фред Синглтон за ова ќе забележи „во текот на историјата Финска не можеше да привлече освојучи или трговци во една далечна земја на езера и шуми со студени зими“.

Со други зборови, природните богатства не можат да објаснат зошто Македонија е полоша од Финска денес. Ниту пак, климата. Финска има долги, темни и студени зими. Тогаш морето, главниот начин на транспорт, замрзнува во 90 проценти па мора вештачки да се одрзмнува за да може да биде функционално. Оваа клима претставува сериозно ограничување во земјоделството. Во северниот дел снегот ја покрива земјата дури 22 дена.

Успехот не е ниту прашање на суровини. Во споредба со своите соседи, Норвешка и Русија, Финска има ограничена природни ресурси, настрана шумите од бор и смрека  кои покриваат половина од територијата. Поради студот, овде се е поскапо – од изградба на транспортни мрежа до фабрики за греење. Во 1918 година Финска уште беше првенствено земјоделски општество. Половина од нејзиниот БДП добиени од земјоделството. Повеќето не-земјоделски активности се фокусирани на дрво и пулпа.

А геополитиката? И дали балканските нации не се подеднакво „проколнати“ со својата географија?

Всушност, и геополитиката во Северна Европа во 20 век не е баш за оние со слабо срце. Со векови контролата врз Јужна Финска е од стратешко значење во големите борби за власт: помеѓу Шведска и Русија во 19 век; помеѓу Германија и Советскиот сојуз во 20 век.

Финците, исто така, се соочуваат со уште еден предизвик познат на балканските народи: јазичен конфликт. Со векови па до модерната ера, финскате елита зборуваше шведски. Финска икона од 20 век, генералот Густаф Манерхајм или финскиот ататурк – зборуваше многу подобро шведски од фински. На Финска и треба време за нејзината култура да биде признаена дури и од своите наблиски соседи, Швеѓаните.

Финците добиваат еднаков статус во администрацијата со Швеѓаните единствено во 1863. Кога еден барон во 1884 година на имот на благородништвото ќе се обрати на фински, тоа ќе предизвика сеопшт бес. Во 1880 помалку од една третина од училиштата се на фински јазик. Во 1900 тие се само две третини.

Реалноста на неодамнешното економско минато на Финска почива на длабока сиромаштија. Финците се соочуват со катастрафални времиња на глас во 1860 од кој што стотици илјади умираат. Слоганот по кој се живее во 1860 гласи „Природата го истура бесот врз нашиот народ. Емигрирај или умри!“ На почетокот на 20 век Финска е дом на земјоделци без земја и безимотни работници. почетокот на 20 век Финска беше дом на многу станари земјоделците и Безимотните работници. Во 1910 година повеќе од половина од фармите се помали од пет хектари, односно помали од минимумот со кој според прописите на Сенатот може да добијат субвенции. Ова ги потхранува политичките тензии и ги зголемува фрустрациите. Финските сиромашни селани се подготвени да ја излеат одмаздата кон побогатите земјоделци, па сето ова води до граѓанска војна веднаш по независноста во 1917 година.

Историјата на раната финска демократија е во знакот на конфликтите. Веднаш штом станува независна од руската импреија, Финска се втурнува во граѓанска војна помеѓу „Црвените“ и „Белите“. Исходот од војната само потврди дека германските трупи неминовно доаѓаат во Хелсинки. По инвазијата од страна на Русија во 1939 година, Финска беше принудена да ја отстапи територијата на посилниот сосед и да прифати поместување на 400.000 бегалци од Карелија. Потоа следи катастрофалниот сојуз на финската демократија со германските нацисти кога заедно се втурнуваат во „света војна„ за завземање на Карелија. Ова доведе од друга загуба на советсктите војници во 1944. Следи уште една војна против германските војници во Лапонија. На овој начин, во правата половина на 20 век Финците се бореа во три војни.

По втората светска војна Финска мораше да плати огромни репарации кон Советскиот сојуз. Повоена Финска беше принудена да расели стотици илјади, а остана и надвор од маршаловиот план и не доби американска помош. Финска дури не се ни приклучи кон Советот на Европа се до мај 1989 година.

По втората светска војна или непосредно пред навидум невозможната трансформација на грдото пајче во величествен лебед, финските лидери решаваат да ги напуштат сите поголеми геополитички аспирации. Тие се откажуваат од таканаречениот “Концепт на Голема Финска.” Нивните лидери сега го дефинирани финскиот национален карактер преку прагматизам. Манерхајм, генералот кој тогаш станува претседател, го предводеше патот:

“Манерхајм сфати дека Финска веќе не би можеле да биде бастион за судирите помеѓу христијанската цивилизација и варварските орди на болшевизмот. Немаше повеќе простор за крстоносните војни против исконските непријатели. Наместо тоа, имаше трезвени благодарност за тоа што ако Финска требаше да преживее и да успее како едно демократско општество, тогаш мораше да најде начин мора да опстојува во мир со џиновскиот источен сосед”, ќе забележи авторот Синглтон во книгата.

Синглтон ќе ја опише оваа точка на пресврт како вртење грб на романтичниот национализам.

Финска мораше „да се соочи трезвено и без илузии со мрачната вистина дека единствениот пат кој опстанокот води во обратна насока од оној кој претходно го следеа. Романтичниот национализам од 19 век кој одигра витална улога во формирањето на финскат нација повеќе не можеше да понуди ниту комфорт ниту поддршка“

Сега финските елити се фокусирани на растот, и покрај несигурното геополитичко соседство. Земјата систематски ги развива своите компаративни предности од дизајнирање на апарати за домаќинство до развивање дрвни продукти. Синглтон ќе забележи:

„Емерсон сигурно би можел да мисли на Финска кога рекол дека „ако човек може да ја напише подобрата книга или да направи подобра стапица за глувци од неговиот сосед, тој, дури и ако ја изгради својата куќа длабоко во шумата, светот ќе бетонира патека до неговата врата“.

Клучно за една од „подобрите стапици за глувци“ е финскиот образовен систем сам по себе. Во 1952 година 9 од 10 Финци имаат завршено само основно образование (7 или 9 години). Кон крајот на 1970 три четвртини од возрасните Финци имаат завршено само базична форма на образование. Финска беше извозник на работна сила се до 1980 кога  бројот на Финци кои работат во Шведска изнесуваше 750.000 луѓе или најголемата емигрантска заедница во таа држава.

Да се образоваат луѓето најдобро што може, да се позајмуваат најдобрите идеи од другите и да се мотивираат луѓето во воспитно-образовниот процес….сето ова е центарот на финскиот идентитет. Класичната финска литература е интерпретирана токму во ова светло. Финската национална приказна е приказна за триумфот на образованието над сиромаштијата, триумф на умот над материјата. На наставниците во основните училишта се гледа како на носители на националните идеи. Тоа е наратив граден на морална бајка. Дури и финското национално движење од 19 век е интерпретирано низ образованието. Дури и на приказната од финскиот национален еп „Калевала“ се гледа како на славење на менталната агилност. Првата финска новела „Седум браќа“ е четиво кое ја слави вредноста на учењето.

Една симболична не-херојска приказна за креативноста насочена кон подобрувањето на животот доаѓа од учителката Маију Гебхард. Таа пресметала дека финските домаќинки поминуваат 30.000 часови од животот во перење и сушење на садови или еднакво на 3.5 години од нивниот живот. Така таа го измисли плакарот за сушење алишта кој денеска е инсталиран во секој фински дом. Финската фондација за иновации ова го смета за еден од најзначајните фински изуми на милениумот.

 

Креативност и секојдневен живот

 

Всушност, финската приказна е како бајките – од партали до богатство. Како детските приказни за обичните луѓе кои се отпишани од сите како помалку вредни, а кои одеднаш застануваат под светлото на сцената и се испоставува дека се исклучителни.

Се уште не знам многу за Финска, но чувствувам дека нивната приказна вреди да се раскажува на Балканот. Во овој пост-хероиче наратив на една малечка земја, образованието се смета за тајната состојка на националната трансформација, еквивалент на спанаќот кој го трансформира Попај морнарот или магичната ламба на сирачето Аладин.

Тука е и централната лекција која нема ништо заедничко со бајките. Штедење на време и напор преку едноставни изуми за секојдневниот живот, креирање елегантна керамика за домаќинствата, промислување на сите аспекти на образовниот систем – сето ова бара време, но и уште повеќе внимание. Фокус. Фокус од страна на лидерите, интелектуалците и обичните луѓе.

 

Скопје 2014

А сега погледнете го Западен Балкан низ призма на раниот 21 век.

Погледнете ги нештата со кои се опседнати лидерите во Скопје. Големи престижни проекти на кои се фокусирани нивното време и внимание.(Да, некој можеби ќе рече „ете и тие позајмуваат нешто од соседите Грци, но, сепак, модерна Грција не е Финска со причина).

Погледнете ги нештата за кои дискутираат интелектуалците, академиците и политичарите во Босна и Херцеговина. Многу ретко тие дебати се за „правање подобра стапица за глувче“, а многу повеќе – ако постоеја бајки ние ќе имавме нов устав и сите одеднаш ќе бевме среќни.

Погледнете како се насочени времето, енергијата и парите на Косово. Колку споменици на војници се направија…а колку се направија библиотеки каде што би можеле да се образоваат идните генерации?

Веројатно сега можеме да дадеме одговор на прашањето зошто Македонија не е Финска. Недостига национален наратив кој ќе го слави прагматизмот, обичниот човек, образованието и просветителите како нациоални херои на иднината. Македонија застана онаму каде што беше Финска пред еден век во однос на зајакнувањето на позицијата на жената. Македонија не бега од националниот романтизам, туку напротив, се уште го слави.

Еден ден на Западен Балкан ќе се појават лидери со кои ќе се гордееме, лидри кои ќе градат музеи на науката и дизајнот наместо храмови на мртви воини и бандити. Но, кога ова ќе се случи, останува да видиме.

 

 

Filed under: Education Policy,Finland,Macedonia — Gerald @ 12:00 am
26 May 2014

A morality tale – Part II

For Part I please go here: Why-macedonia-is-not-finland-rankings-and-the-pisa-gap

 

At its heart, the Finnish development story is a story about reallocating time and attention. It is a story about focus, about how – over time – incremental change can lead to dramatic transformations. Finland was not always the success story it is today. This success was the result of a national policy vision. It is the story of an unlikely success.

This is certainly the consistent theme in all modern history books on Finland. David Kirby opens his Concise History of Finland as follows:

“Finland can fairly lay claim to have been one of the big success stories of the modern age.”

Then he adds:

“The transformation of what less than a century ago was a poor agrarian land on the northern periphery of Europe into one of the most prosperous states of the European Union today is a remarkable story, but it is by no means an uneventful one.”

Fred Singleton starts his Short History of Finland like this:

“Today it is one of the most prosperous, socially progressive, stable and peace loving nations on earth.”

Then he adds:

“The homeland of the Finns is not, at first glance, a likely base for such a successful state.”

Why was success unlikely here? Most accounts begin with nature, the epic theme of wresting a living from the soil in Europe’s northernmost country, a third of which lies within the Arctic Circle. Fred Singleton notes that throughout history “there was little to attract conquerors or traders to this remote land of lakes and forests with its harsh winters.”

In other words: natural endowments do not explain why Macedonia is worse-off today than Finland. Nor does climate. Finland has long, dark and cold winters. Then the sea – across which 90 per cent of exports are transported today – freezes over (necessitating ice-breakers to permit traffic). This climate poses severe limitations for agriculture. In the north of the country the snow covers the ground for up to 220 days.

Nor is it a matter of raw materials. Compared to its neighbors, Norway and Russia, Finland has limited natural resources, aside from pine and spruce forests that cover half the territory. Due to the cold, everything is more expensive here, from building a transport network to heating factories. In 1918 Finland was still primarily an agricultural society. Half of its GDP derived from agriculture. Most non-agricultural activities focused on timber and pulp.

How about geopolitics: are Balkan nations not uniquely cursed by their geography? In fact, the geopolitics of the European North in the 20th century was not for the faint-hearted. For centuries control of Southern Finland has been central to the great power struggles in the North: between Sweden and Russia until the early 19th century; between Germany and the Soviet Union in the 20th. (During the Crimean war in the 1850s Helsinki and other coastal towns of Finland, then within the Czarist Empire, were bombed by the English fleet).

Finns also faced another challenge familiar to Balkan nations: linguistic conflict. For centuries, well into the modern era, elites in Finland spoke Swedish. Finland’s iconic 20th century hero, General Gustaf Mannerheim – the Ataturk of Finland, voted the most important Finn ever in a recent survey – spoke much better Swedish than Finnish. It took a while for Finnish culture to be recognised even by its closest and friendliest neighbor, Sweden. As the editor of Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s leading daily, put it in the 19th century:

“it took centuries for Swedish culture to lead the Finnish people, whom it had taken under its care and protection, to civilization, self-esteem and independence.”

Finnish only obtained equal status with Swedish in the administration in 1863. When a baron spoke in Finnish in the estate of nobility for the first time in 1894 (!) it caused a furor. In 1880 less than one third of grammar schools were in Finnish. By 1900 it was still only two thirds.

The reality of Finland’s recent economic past is one of deep poverty. There were truly disastrous famines in the 1860s – hundreds of thousands died then, Finland suffered “shockingly high mortality rates” (Kirby). In the 1860s, a slogan was “Nature seems to cry out to our people: Emigrate or Die!” Early 20th century Finland was home to many tenant farmers and landless laborers. In 1910 “over half of the holdings were smaller than the five hectares deemed by the 1900 Senate commission on land tenure to be the minimum size for subsistence.” (Kirby). This fed political tensions, with rising frustrations, and  “a large number of poor Finnish peasants were prepared to resort to desperate measures against the richer farmers in order to wreak vengeance upon those who had oppressed them.” It also lead to civil war immediately after independence in 1917.

The history of early Finnish democracy was conflict-ridden. Once independent from the Russian Empire Finland plunged immediately into civil war between Reds and Whites. The outcome was only determined when German troops reached Helsinki. Invaded by Russia in 1939, Finland was forced to cede territory to the mighty neighbor, and to accept the displacement of four hundred thousand Finns as refugees from Karelia. Then there was a disastrous alliance of Finnish democracy with Nazi-Germany to fight a “holy war” (Mannerheim) to retake Karelia. A doomed effort to hold on to Karelia followed. This led to another loss in 1944 to Soviet troops. Another war against German troops in Lapland followed. In the first half of the 20th century, Finns had thus fought in three wars.

After World War II, Finland had to pay huge reparations to the Soviet Union. Post-war Finland was forced to resettle hundreds of thousands, forced to pay huge reparations to the Soviet Union, forced to abandon a peninsula outside Helsinki to the Soviets until the 1950s.  It also stayed out of the Marshall Plan and did not receive US aid. It did not even join the Council of Europe until May 1989!

It was only after this ordeal that the transformation of the (seemingly) ugly duckling into the majestic swan takes place. For after World War II something crucial happened. Finland’s leaders abandoned all greater geopolitical aspirations. They gave up on what Singleton called the “Concept of Greater Finland.” Their leaders now defined the Finnish national character through pragmatism. Mannerheim, the general who now became president, led the way:

“Mannerheim realized that Finland could no longer pose as a bastion for Christian civilization against the barbarian hordes of bolshevism. There was no more talk of crusades against the hereditary enemy. Instead there was a sober appreciation that, if Finland was to survive and prosper as a democratic society, a way must be found to live at peace with the giant eastern neighbor.”

Singleton described this turning point as turning away from romantic nationalism:

Finland had to “face soberly and without illusions the bleak truth that the only road to survival leads in the opposite direction from that which had previously been followed. The romantic nationalism of the nineteenth century which had played a vital part in the formation of the Finnish nation could offer no comfort or support in the world of the mid twentieth century.”

Now Finnish elites focused on growth, despite an uncertain geopolitical neighborhood. The country systematically developed its comparative advantages, from designing household appliances to developing forestry products. Singleton notes:

“Emerson might have been writing about Finland when he said ‘If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.’ Finland’s ‘better mouse-traps’ include ice-breakers, glassware, ceramics, pharmaceutical products, high-quality textiles, pre-fabricated houses, sports equipment, electronics, cruise liners, and a whole host of other specialized products …”

Crucially one of these “better mousetraps” was the Finnish education system itself. In 1952 nine out of ten Finns had only completed 7-9 years of basic education. As late as the early 1970 “for three-quarters of adult Finns, basic school was the only completed form of education.” Finland was a net exporter of labor until the 1980s with some 750,000 people going to work in Sweden between 1945 and 1994, turning Finns into the largest migrant community there.

Educating everyone as best as possible, borrowing the best ideas for this from others, motivating educators … all this now came to be seen as central to Finnish identity. Classical Finnish literature was interpreted in this light, the Finnish national story told as a story of the triumph of education over poverty, mind over matter.  Primary school teachers came to be seen as standard bearers of national ideals. It is a narrative that resembles a morality tale. The Finnish national movement in the 19th century was interpreted as being centrally about education. The stories in the Finnish national epic Kalevala were seen to celebrate “mental agility”. Finland’s first novel – Seven Brothers – was read as a story about the value of education.

One symbolic story of un-heroic and life-improving creativity is that of the teacher Maiju Gebhard. She calculated that Finnish housewives spent 30,000 hours in life washing and drying dishes. That was equivalent to 3,5 years of life. So she invented something uniquely Finnish: the astiankuivauskaappi (or dish draining closet – see photo) installed today in almost every Finnish kitchen (but in no other countries). This was then “developed in the Finnish Association for Work Efficiency from 1944 to 1945. The Finnish Invention Foundation has named it as one of the most important Finnish inventions of the millennium.”

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Creativity and daily life

An invention by teacher Maiju Gebhard: the astiankuivauskaappi (or dish draining closet), still found today in every Finnish household.

It is a riveting rags-to-riches story. It is like the children’s story of an ordinary person, dismissed by everyone as of little account, who suddenly steps to the center of the stage and turns out to be exceptional. The story of the obscure squire who, without effort, pulls the sword out of the mighty stone in the churchyard; the ungainly duckling, ridiculed for its clumsiness, who becomes a swan; the story of Clark Kent, the bespectacled reporter, who suddenly transforms into ‘Superman’.

I still do not know much about Finland, but I do feel that this is a story worth telling in the Balkans. In this post-heroic narrative of a small country, “education” came to be regarded as the secret behind a national transformation, the equivalent to the tin of spinach that transforms Popeye, the ineffectual sailor; or the magic lantern that helped the little orphan Aladdin rise up in life.

And there is the central lesson, which that has nothing to do with fairy tales. Tinkering with mousetraps, saving time and effort through simple inventions in daily life, designing elegant ceramics for household, thinking through all aspects of the national education system all takes time. Attention. Focus. By leaders, by intellectuals, by ordinary people.

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Skopje, 2011

Now look at the Western Balkans in the early 21st century through this prism.

Look at the issues that obsess leaders in Skopje, the great prestige projects they have focused their time and attention on. (Yes, they are in some ways just copying their neighbors … but modern Greece is no Finland either, and for a reason).

Look at the issues that intellectuals, academics and politicians most like to discuss in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is rarely about how to design better mousetraps, but usually about how – if there would be a magic fairy – a new constitution would suddenly appear and all would be well.

Look at leaders’ allocation of time, energy and money in Kosovo. How many monuments to warriors have they built … and how many libraries to instill the love of books in the next generation?

Perhaps we can now answer the question of why Macedonia is not Finland. It lacks the national narratives that celebrate pragmatism, ordinary people, education and teachers as the national heroes of the future. Macedonia has not followed where Finland led one century ago in the field of women’s empowerment. It is not turning away from romantic nationalism but celebrates it.

One day leaders will emerge in the Western Balkans who take pride in building museums of science and design instead of temples to dead warriors and bandits. But when this will happen remains to be seen.

 

Finnish impressions – a post-heroic nation

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Reminder of a complex neighbourhood: the Russian church in Helsinki

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A national trauma and its consequences – losing Eastern Karelia, twice, to Russia in the 20th century

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Gustav Mannerheim. His life reflects his country’s dramatic 20th century history. From a Swedish-Finnish family, growing up in the Czarist Empire, he volunteered for service in the Russian-Japanese war. He then became a spy in the “Great Game” in Asia. Following the revolution in 1917 he returned to Finland and led the Whites in the civil war against Finnish revolutionaries. He came out of retirement to fight in the Winter War in 1939. He was decorated by his own country, by the allies (French Legion d’honneur), by neutral Sweden and by the Nazis (receiving the Iron Cross; the surprise guest at his 75th birthday in Finland was Hitler). He then ended his political career as president of democratic Finland.

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Rumeli Observer in Helsinki

Filed under: Finland,Macedonia — Gerald @ 5:44 pm

A morality tale in two acts – Part I

One country in the world you expect looks forward to every new international ranking and comparison must surely be Finland, a small Nordic European nation of 5 million. It does not matter what is being measured – happiness, creativity, sustainability, gender relations, the well-being of children, even bike-friendliness: Finland always ends up as a global outlier.

Last summer I travelled to Finland to learn more about Finland’s special expertise in border management. I travelled around the country with a Finnish border general, visiting the Russian land border, the coast guard headquarters and Helsinki airport, learning about smart borders, new technology and international cooperation in the Baltic Sea. It was an impressive demonstration of Finnish competence, and a reminder of just how geopolitically exposed this small nation has been for centuries. It was also puzzling. Why was Finland so prosperous? Did this story of democracy and prosperity in the 20th century hold broader lessons for other small European countries with a troubled past in a complicated neighborhood? What would it take for Macedonia (Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia or Serbia) to become as wealthy and prosperous as Finland anytime in the future? Why is Macedonia not like Finland?

As a novice to all things Finnish I dug into reading whatever I could find in English and German. I hope Finnish friends will correct my necessarily superficial impressions and comment and add to these reflections.

 

A matter of comparison

First, a word on how to measure a country’s success. If you study how various international rankings are put together, and how many there are, you are certainly right not to take any single one of them too seriously. However, considered as a group, rankings can tell an interesting story. Here is a collection of international comparisons I looked at last year before setting out on my trip to the North.

There is the UN World Happiness Index, based on work by Jeffrey Sachs’ Earth Institute:

“FINLAND has been judged to be the world’s second happiest country in the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, which was released on 2 April. Denmark took top spot.”

There is the Legatum Prosperity Index 2012: here Finland came seventh.

1

Norway

2

Denmark

3

Sweden

4

Australia

5

New Zealand

6

Canada

7

Finland

8

Netherlands

9

Switzerland

10

Ireland

There is the Sustainable Society Index, with Finland again among the top ten:

Human Wellbeing Economic Wellbeing
2006 2008 2010 2012 2006 2008 2010 2012
Iceland 5 4 4 1 Switzerland 9 1 1 1
Norway 2 1 1 2 Sweden 4 3 2 2
Sweden 1 2 2 3 Norway 12 9 3 3
Finland 3 3 3 4 Czech Republic 8 5 4 4
Austria 6 5 5 5 Denmark 1 6 6 5
Japan 4 6 6 6 Finland 6 7 7 6
Switzerland 13 9 9 7 Estonia 5 2 9 7
Netherlands 12 14 14 8 Slovenia 3 4 5 8
Ireland 9 8 7 9 Australia 11 13 10 9
Germany 7 7 8 10 Luxembourg 2 12 8 10

The Global Creativity Index looks at technology, talent and tolerance (Finland comes first in the first two categories):

1. Sweden
2. United States
3. Finland
4. Denmark
5. Australia
6. New Zealand
7. Canada
8. Norway
9. Singapore
10. Netherlands

 

The UNICEF Child well-being index looks at the welfare of the youngest:

1. Netherlands
2. Norway
3. Iceland
4. Finland
5. Sweden
6. Germany
7. Luxembourg
8. Switzerland
9. Belgium
10. Ireland

Finland was famously the first country in the world to grant women the right both to vote and to be elected to parliament. In the first Finnish parliament in 1906 there were 19 women MPs out of 200. This percentage was not reached in Turkey until 2011! The most recent 2012 Global Gender Gap index shows that Finland has not lost ground since:

1.      Iceland
2. Finland
3.      Norway
4.      Sweden
5.      Ireland
6.      New Zealand
7.      Denmark
8.      Philippines
9.      Nicaragua
10.  Switzerland

Even a recent index on bike-friendliness puts Finland in the top group in Europe:

1. Denmark
1. Netherlands
3. Sweden
4. Finland
5. Germany
6. Belgium
7. Austria
8. Hungary
9. Slovakia
10. UK

(See: European Cyclists’ Federation Cycling Barometer. Based on daily cycling levels, bike sales, safety, cycle tourism and advocacy activity).

Finally, the rankings that contributed most to making Finland a global sensation are the OECD’s PISA tests, measuring the literacy, math and science skills of 14-15 year olds across the world. Finland’s PISA success since 2001 has brought literally “thousands of delegations” (Pasi Sahlberg, who wrote a great book on the topic) to Europe’s North to find out how Finland achieves these successes.

 

Yes, but why?

In short, Finland is doing well. The obvious question for a Macedonian, Albanian, Bosnian or Serb who looks at these rankings is whether this has any relevance for their own societies.

What is the cause and effect in such a success story? Is it surprising that a society where children live well, are healthy, brought up by parents who live and work in creative cities, also has good schools? Is it not obvious that a country where young girls grow up in an environment of exemplary gender equality is better at educating the female half of the population than a patriarchal society where women still do not inherit land, as remains the case in Kosovo? Is Finland’s prosperity the result of its good education system … or is it the reverse?

Behind such unresolvable chicken-and-egg questions stands a bigger one. Can one look at any other country – especially one whose language very few outsiders understand – and derive useful roadmaps for domestic reforms? On the other hand, has not all progress since time immemorial be based on emulation, imitating in order to equal or excel:

“If the tribe across the river has taken the step from the Stone age to the Bronze Age, your own tribe is faced with the choice of either sticking to its comparative advantage in the Stone age or trying to emulate the neighbouring tribe into the Bronze Age … a strategy of emulation was a mandatory passage point for all nations that are presently rich.” (Erik Reinert)

Take education. A lot has already been written on the “lessons from Finland” and its success in PISA tests. Finnish children famously attend school for fewer hours than children anywhere else: 5,500 hours between ages 7 and 14 (compared to more than 7,000 hours in many other OECD countries). Italian 15-year olds have attended at least 2 more years of school than have their Finnish peers between ages 7 and 15. They also start school two years earlier. Yet, Italy ranks only 32nd in maths and science and 27th in reading. Clearly success (as measured by PISA) is not a mechanical result of hours spent in school.

This raises many questions. What is one to emulate? What do Finnish pupils learn when they are not in school? One whole chapter in a recent book on Finnish education describes the non-school learning environment, the role of museums and libraries. In 2010 there were 796 main and branch libraries in Finland. There were 53 million library visits a year, and the average number of loans was 18 items per Finn annually. It would be interesting to have comparable statistics from Macedonia or Kosovo, starting with the number of public libraries and comparing reading habits. Pasi Sahlberg, an expert on education, also wrote:

“With school days running shorter in Finland than in many other countries, what do children do when their classes are over? In principle, pupils are free to go home in the afternoon unless there is something offered to them in school. Primary schools are encouraged to arrange after-school activities for youngest pupils and educational or recreational clubs for the older ones.”

He added that two thirds of 10 to 14 year olds belong “to at least one youth association.”

What are the policy lessons? Is it that children in countries where there is a lot of creative stimulation outside of school do not need to spend too many hours in class … but the reverse is true in countries without museums or public libraries? That even in the age of the internet, books and a network of public libraries matter when it comes to stimulating a love of reading? (Or is it perhaps even more important which kinds of books children find, in their own language, once they set foot in such a library?)

On the other hand, if everything matters, since “it takes a village to educate a child”, does studying any individual aspects of Finnish policy offer guidance to a Macedonian, Kosovo, Albanian or Bosnian (cantonal) minister of education?

In fact, the real lesson – the main point to underline and discuss from a Balkan perspective –may be altogether different and more basic. It is not this or that aspect of Finnish education, public administration or social policy that matters most. It is the general attitude towards progress and development, the sense of what issues matter most, which shapes how to allocate one’s most precious resource … time and attention.

The real and significant difference between Macedonia and Finland are the issues people – decision makers, parents, teachers – consider important enough to wrestle with until they find incremental improvements.

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Sculpture in Helsinki overlooking the Baltic Sea
Title: Happiness

It is, for instance, well known that Finnish teachers are exceptionally well-educated. In Finland all primary school teachers require a master’s degree from university, and need to do real research into education issues as part of their education. They are expected to think seriously about the activity they will engage in. They are asked to think about primary education, to ask different and new questions about what constitutes success. In this way they take part in a wider national conversation.

Is this kind of reflection part of the education of teachers in the Western Balkans? Are teachers in Macedonia or Kosovo taught pedagogical thinking skills? Is education itself the main subject of their education?

And what about policy makers? Do debates on education policy in the Western Balkans always proceed on the basis of empirical research? Are reforms grounded in real assessments of the status quo? Are education policy issues discussed seriously in national parliaments?

I think most of you reading this will suspect what the answers to these questions are. But how might this state of affairs be changed?

Let us take a look at 2012 PISA rankings again and compare Macedonia and Finland:

PISA results – mathematics 2012

Shanghai (top country)

613

Netherlands (top EU15 country)

523

Estonia (top EU13 country)

521

Croatia

471

Serbia

449

Turkey

448

Bulgaria (lowest EU country)

439

Montenegro

410

Albania

394

Bosnia and Herzegovina

-

Macedonia

-

PISA results – reading 2012

Shanghai (top country)

570

Finland (top EU15 country)

524

Poland (top EU13 country)

518

Croatia

485

Turkey

475

Serbia

446

Bulgaria (lowest EU country)

436

Montenegro

422

Albania

394

Bosnia and Herzegovina

-

Macedonia

-

PISA results – science 2012

Shanghai (top country)

580

Finland (top EU15 country)

545

Estonia (top EU13 country)

541

Croatia

491

Turkey

463

Serbia

445

Cyprus (lowest EU country)

438

Montenegro

410

Albania

397

Bosnia and Herzegovina

-

Macedonia

-

At the time Finland did best in science and reading among EU members (For more background look at Pasi Sahlberg on Finnish education). Poland and Estonia also performed well. Serbia performed somewhat worse than Turkey. Albania did very badly.

And Macedonia? It did not even take the test! This is all the more puzzling given the dramatic results when Macedonia took the test, once and for the last time, in 2000. As the OECD found then:

“At the lower end of the scale, 18 per cent of students among OECD countries and well over 50 per cent of the student population in Albania, Brazil, Indonesia, FYR Macedonia and Peru perform at Level 1 or below. These students, at best, can handle only the most basic reading tasks. Students at this level are not a random group.”

The share of students with serious difficulties in reading (PISA 2000) was as follows:

Level 1 and below!
Finland

7

Poland

15

Hungary

23

Greece

25

Bulgaria

40

Macedonia

63

Albania

71

Or, in even more shocking detail:

Below Level 1 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
Macedonia

35

28

24

11

2

0

Albania

44

27

21

8

1

0

Bulgaria

18

22

27

22

9

2

Greece

9

16

26

28

17

5

Hungary

7

16

25

29

18

5

Finland

2

5

14

29

32

18

Poland

0

15

24

28

19

6

Level 1 “represents those students who have serious difficulties in using reading as a tool to advance and extend their knowledge and skills in other areas.”

Level 5 “indicates those students who are able to manage information that is presented in unfamiliar texts, show detailed understanding of complex texts and infer which information is relevant to the task, and critically evaluate and build hypotheses with the capacity to draw on specialised knowledge and concepts that may be contrary to expectations.”

(Macedonia has just now, after 14 years, taken the test for the second time. May this be the start of a different debate?)

All leaders have a limited budget of attention. What are the issues foremost on the mind of prime ministers and ministers when they go to bed or wake up in the morning? What questions do they ask foreign visitors? It was the father of modern management studies, Peter Drucker, who wrote once:

“We rightly consider keeping many balls in the air a circus stunt. Yet even the juggler does it only for ten minutes or so. If he were to try doing it longer, he would soon drop all the balls.”

After all, the one totally inflexible resource of every individual – parent or prime minister – is time. This is also true for the political class. What activities do they allocate it to? What is being studied and debated in parliament, local governments, parent-teacher associations, in detail? What issues are being studied seriously and empirically?

If education is not one of those issues then it is not surprising that Macedonia has not been catching up with the rest of Europe. One might also then assume that the current generation of pupils emerging from its schools will not be able to compete, as they should, with their peers elsewhere in Europe.

But how does a society even begin to obsess as much about human capital, education and fostering creativity as this small Nordic nation?

To be continued HERE  … mousetraps-and-romantic-nationalism


 

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The Baltic Sea near Helsinki

Filed under: Education Policy,Finland,Macedonia — Gerald @ 5:23 pm
1 April 2013

One decade has been lost. What about the next one?

Op-ed by Gerald Knaus (for Koha Ditore)

 

In Athens, spring 2003

 

One decade ago, in spring 2003, the New York Times published an appeal by four Balkan leaders, the presidents of Croatia and Macedonia and the prime ministers of Albania and Serbia. Its title: “The EU and South-East Europe need each other.”[1] The occasion was a special Balkan meeting of the World Economic Forum in Athens where all these leaders also came together.

I was there too at the time, and I remember both the appeal and the atmosphere in Athens well. In fact, together with my friend Misha Glenny, I drafted it. There was a sense of urgency in the air, and of anticipation. Zoran Djindic, the prime minister of Serbia who had delivered Slobodan Milosevic to the Hague tribunal, had been assassinated by ultra-nationalist members of the Serbian security forces. Croatia had handed in its application to join the EU, the first Western Balkan state to do so. The host of the meeting, Greece, then the EU’s rotating president, pushed hard to get a European commitment to continued Balkan enlargement.

Shortly before the Athens gathering Boris Trajkovski, the president of Macedonia, invited me to draft an appeal that he planned to ask other leaders to co-sign. He knew that the region would receive a better hearing if it spoke with one voice. He was concerned. His own country had recently been on the verge of civil war. Serbia was on the edge, its ultranationalists growing in confidence. The future of Montenegro and Kosovo was not yet settled. Would the EU, following its 2004 enlargement to Central Europe – then just about to happen – get tired of further expansion? The Balkan leaders’ appeal warned: “Until the whole Southeastern Europe is safely integrated into the European Union, the job will not be complete. And until it is, Europe cannot feel secure about itself.”

One decade later, where do we stand? Today, when EU leaders talk about crises in South-East Europe they think of Athens not Skopje, of Nikosia, not Belgrade. Europe does not feel “secure about itself” but it is not the Western Balkans or the threat of renewed conflict that keeps EU leaders awake, literally, at one crisis summit after another.

Montenegro and Kosovo are independent states; the fear of armed conflict in the region has never appeared more distant. And yet, despite these important breakthroughs, it is hard not to regard the years since 2003 as a lost decade for the Balkans. Boris Trajkovski tragically died in an airplane crash in the Bosnian mountains, on his way to submit Macedonia’s own application for EU membership. His country has been stalled for years now by a Greek veto (a threat which did not appear real in 2003 in Athens). Serbia, ten years after the death of Djindic, has still not even opened EU accession talks. Albania is not an EU candidate yet. The Greek foreign minister in spring 2003, George Papandreou, became prime minister, only to be swept away by the Greek economic melt-down. 2003 was perhaps the last success of Greek diplomacy. At the European Union summit on the Balkans in Thessaloniki in summer EU leaders stated their “unequivocal support to the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries. The future of the Balkans is within the European Union.”[2] Croatia used the past decade, opened accession talks, closed them, and is today on the verge of accession. And yet, it is likely that ten years from now in 2023 Croatia will still be the only Balkan country inside the EU.

Rereading the Trajkovski appeal today highlights a further disappointment. It contained a specific proposal: to make EU regional and cohesion funding available to the region, so as to help it catch up economically, rather than fall further behind. The appeal warned that “the long-term stability of Southeastern Europe depends on the region’s economic health, but this does not mean the usual plea for more money … We are committed to opening our markets to our neighbors and to the EU. We have made huge progress in curbing inflation. And we are now greatly encouraged by the proposal by Greece … that the Thessaloniki summit meeting focus on the possibility of applying cohesion and development policies in our region.”

This was a hope that has not come true. The Western Balkans remains one of the poorest regions of Europe. In Serbia today less than half of the working-age population is actually employed. Unemployment levels in Macedonia and Bosnia are disastrously high. Foreign direct investment in the region, which had transformed the economic structures of Central European countries, has fallen to very low levels. And yet, if a focus on underdevelopment in the Balkans has never been more urgent, the EU’s confidence in its ability to bring about convergence and growth in its own periphery has rarely been lower. The 2003 Trajkovski appeal stated that “The EU has a remarkable record of triggering economic success by helping poorer regions — Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal have experienced veritable revolutions in social and economic development in the last 20 years.” It is hard to imagine anybody writing like this today, in the wake of bail-outs, bank failures and rapidly rising unemployment in Spain or Greece.

EU leaders no longer worry about war in the Balkans. They are no longer confident in their ability to bring about economic convergence. They fear the weakness of democratic institutions in Romania or Greece. They worry about inadequate regulation in Cyprus or Spain. Given this state of affairs: what arguments can sway them to open their institutions to accept even poorer states, with even weaker institutions, and even worse images among the public and political elites in Berlin, Paris or The Hague?

Perhaps Greece will prepare for its EU presidency in 2014 by changing its policies on Skopje and Pristina.  Perhaps Serbia and Kosovo will soon reach an agreement that allows both countries to move beyond their confrontation. Perhaps Albania will manage to hold free and fair elections this summer. Perhaps Bosnia’s leaders will soon be able to put together a credible application for EU accession. Perhaps Macedonia’s leaders will be capable of renewing the national consensus to focus on EU integration that existed in 2003. Perhaps politicians throughout the region will wake up late at night worrying about youth unemployment and the inadequacy of vocational training, about export opportunities and the best way to use scarce public resources for growth, rather than about building  statutes or wasting public money on prestige infrastructure of little proven economic benefit. And then, perhaps, a successor of Boris Trajkovski will invite all his regional counterparts to an informal meeting to seriously discuss what they might do together to correct the image of their region, driven by the recognition that the whole region has dropped out of the focus of the rest of Europe.

If Boris Trajkovski would be around today, and would propose drafting a new appeal for Balkan leaders to sign and publish, what could it say? Appeals are expected to end with proposals, a sense of hope, recommendations. But sometimes it is better to resist this temptation. To acknowledge just how steep the wall is that one has to climb. To recognise that before any new appeals to the EU a whole series of steps have to be taken by the region itself. To recognise that time matters; and that April 2013 is another crucial moment which Balkan leaders miss at their peril. I believe Trajkovski would have realised this. Will his successors?

Perhaps this is not a time for appeals at all, but for a blunt and honest recognition: a decade has been lost. The next might be as well. And it is not by formulating words on paper that this can be prevented.


13 December 2012

Macedonia and accession: how the arguments of supporters of early accession talks prevailed

As EU member states gathered last week to discuss Council Conclusions relating to Macedonia two camps of member states emerged with two versions of these conclusions. To understand whose arguments prevailed – and how to judge what happened – it is important to go beyond facile conclusions and take a closer look at both proposals.

On the one hand there was a majority of member states who favored very positive language. These states were hoping to encourage a proactive Commission to take the initiative and to prepare the ground to launch EU accession talks with Macedonia already in June 2013. They were  hoping that in the end both Greece and Bulgaria would agree that this was also in their interest … that this was truly an issue where all sides could win.

In this group’s draft of the Council Conclusions a concrete date – June 2013 – is given for the possible opening of accession negotiations. This version states that the Council examines further progress in Macedonia on the basis of a Commission report before June 2013. It asks the Commission to submit “in due time” (i.e. at its own discretion, meaning it could start work on it right away in early 2013) a proposal for a negotiations framework, to be ready by June. It also invites the Commission to begin the “analytical examination of the acquis” (screening) right away.

Here are the key paragraphs of this maximalist proposal, backed by most member states and the Commission last week:

3. The Council largely shares the Commission’s assessment that the political criteria continue to be sufficiently met and takes note of its recommendation that accession negotiations be opened with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

5. With a view to the possible opening of accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in June 2013, the Council will examine progress in the implementation of reforms in the context of the High Level Accession Dialogue, on the basis of a report to be presented by the Commission in the first half of 2013. The Commission is invited to submit in due time a proposal for a framework for negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in line with the European Council’s December 2006 conclusions and established practice, which also takes into account good neighbourly relations. Taking into account the new approach to accession negotiations as regards the chapters on the judiciary and fundamental rights, and justice, freedom and security, the Commission is also invited to carry out the process of analytical examination of the EU acquis on these chapters.

Faced with this France, backed by a much smaller number of other EU states, put a counter-proposal on the table late last week. This version assesses progress in Macedonia less positively (the Council no longer “largely” but only “broadly” shares the Commission’s positive assessment). The minimalist proposal removes any reference to any concrete date. At an unspecified future moment, the European council would once again have to decide and invite the commission to submit a proposal for a negotiations framework.  This would happen only “once all the conditions are met”, which is not explained. The minimalist version states that in order to start screening another Council decision would be needed to task the Commission to do so. For now the commission gets no mandate to do anything until further notice.

Here is the full text of the minimalist version:

3. The Council broadly shares the Commission’s assessment that the political criteria continue to be sufficiently met and takes note of its recommendation that accession negotiations be opened with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

5. Before opening accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a decision which will be considered in due time by the European Council, in line with established practice, the Council will continue to examine progress in the implementation of reforms including in the context of the High Level Accession Dialogue. Once all conditions are met, the European Council will invite the Commission to submit a proposal for a framework for negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in line with the European Council’s December 2006 conclusions and established practice, which also takes into account good neighbourly relations. Taking into account the new approach to accession negotiations as regards the chapters on the judiciary and fundamental rights, and justice, freedom and security, the European Council will also invite the Commission to carry out the process of analytical examination of the EU acquis on these chapters.

So what actually happened? In all EU negotiations there is usually a give and take. However, if one takes a look at the final text of the Council Conclusions one sees clearly that the maximalist proposal emerged largely victorious.

In the final text the following was agreed:

- the council “largely” (not “broadely”) shares the Commission’s positive view that Macedonia was ready to open talks (the maximalist version).

- The council tasks the Commission already now to produce a report “in spring 2013” “with a view to a possible decision of the European Council to open accession negotiations”.

-  The council commits that it will assess this report “during the next presidency”, i.e. before July 2013.

-  Provided that the assessment is positive, the Commission will be invited to submit “without delay” (i.e. as quickly as it can) a framework for negotiations.

-  Provided that the assessment is positive the Commission will be invited to start screening two chapters, i.e. before accession talks begin.

-  The Council even “takes note” that the Commission “will conduct all the necessary preparatory work in this respect” … which means that Commission can start preparing both the negotiations framework and screening right away.

Look at the finally agreed text of the conclusions and the answer whose arguments won the day is obvious:

40. The Council largely shares the Commission’s assessment that the political criteria continue to be sufficiently met and takes note of its recommendation that accession negotiations be opened with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

42. With a view to a possible decision of the European Council to open accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Council will examine, on the basis of a report to be presented by the Commission in Spring 2013, implementation of reforms in the context of the HLAD, as well as steps taken to promote good neighbourly relations and to reach a negotiated and mutually accepted solution to the name issue under the auspices of the UN. In this perspective, the Council will assess the report during the next Presidency.  Provided that the assessment is positive, the Commission will be invited by the European Council to: (1) submit without delay a proposal for a framework for negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in line with the European Council’s December 2006 conclusions and established practice; (2) carry out the process of analytical examination of the EU acquis beginning with the chapters on the judiciary and fundamental rights, and justice, freedom and security. The Council takes note of the intention of the Commission to conduct all the necessary preparatory work in this respect.

The original plan of the Commission and of the member states who supported the maximalist version was to create a new momentum emerging from this Council. In this they succeeded.

-  The Commission can immediately begin to prepare its “spring report” which the Council will assess before July 2013.

-  The Commission can immediately begin to prepare for the analytical screening of two chapters and draft a proposal for negotiations.

-  Once the Council accepts a positive Commission report the Commission will submit the framework for negotiations “without delay”

One basic reality has obviously not changed: Greece will have to agree to the opening of accession talks. Expecting anything else was always unrealistic. The hopes of the friends of opening accession talks were to kick-start a process of finding a solution to the name issue in the first few months of 2013. Both supporters of opening talks soon and minimalists agreed on this paragraph without arguing:

41. As set out in the European Council conclusions of June 2008, maintaining good neighbourly relations, including a negotiated and mutually accepted solution to the name issue, under the auspices of the UN, remains essential. There is a need to bring the longstanding discussions on the name issue to a definitive conclusion without delay. The Council welcomes the momentum that has been generated by recent contacts/exchanges between the two parties, following the Greek proposal for a memorandum of understanding. The Council is, moreover, encouraged by recent contacts with the UN mediator.

The important point is this: if there is a positive European commission report following enough movement on the name issue and on good neighbourly relations all preparations will have been  made to launch accession talks in 2013 without delay.

Clearly the pressure has increased further for a serious effort to find a breakthrough in early 2013. This is pressure on everyone: on the Commission, on interested EU member states, but above all on Skopje and Athens. The fact that Greece accepted these conclusions, however, is another small positive sign.

The European Commission’s hope from the very beginning was to energize the search for a mutually agreed solution to the name issue.  The commission and most member states wanted a date in the conclusions when accession talks would possibly be opened. Now there are two dates in the conclusions: a report by the commission on progress by “spring” (April) with a view to start accession talks; and a Council assessment of this “before the next presidency” (before July).

An additional paragraph was also inserted upon the initiative of Bulgaria:

In light of the overall importance of maintaining good neighbourly relations, the Council also notes the recent high level contacts between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria and looks forward to their translation into concrete actions and results.

This means: if there is an agreed solution on the name issue soon, and if there are ‘concrete actions and results’ from high level meetings with Bulgaria till April, the goal to start accession talks in 2013 “before the next presidency” or very early in it remains alive. These are one big and one (slightly) smaller if. But a focused effort by the Commission and by member states supportive of opening accession talks soon has prepared a more promising playing field for a breakthrough than there has been in a while. What is needed now is a serious and imaginative solution to the name dispute before the commission reports “in the spring”; a solution that allows both Athens and Skopje to unlock the current destructive stalemate in a manner that both governments can defend before their domestic constituencies.

The Council was a warm up exercise. Now the real game begins. Athens and Skopje face a prisoners dilemma: if neither side believes that a solution is possible, and acts on this, both will lose. If both sides take a calculated risk to take the search for a mutually acceptable solution seriously both can win.

By spring 2013 we will know the outcome … sooner rather than later.

Filed under: Enlargement,Greece,Macedonia — Gerald @ 3:04 am
30 November 2012

A few months ago I visited Macedonia to present EU diplomats, ambassadors, the Macedonian prime minister, the foreign minister and party leaders a slighly revised version of the ESI proposal for overcoming the stalemate in the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece.

I also presented this proposal once again in Brussels, Berlin  and in other EU capitals.  I gave everyone a paper copy of the revised proposal. Since then it has circulated among EU diplomats.

It would be foolish to be too optimistic that anything can help overcome such a complicated dispute. And yet, there are a number of reasons to be more optimistic this time than in a long while. I remain convinced also that nothing can be forced by outsiders on either party, not now, not later. It will take  a compromise that national leaders can present to their publics in both Skopje and Athens as a step forward for their side; and one where both sides retain their leverage until actual EU accession of Macedonia.

Then, earlier this month, the Macedonian weekly Gradjanski reported the following:

drawing on unnamed diplomats, reported that Brussels was working on a‘date for date’ strategy about the country in December: start of membership negotiations would be announced for next June with Skopje being obliged to deliver by then tangible results on good neighbourly relations (improved ties with Bulgaria and Greece, including essential reviving of the name negotiations). The sources stressed the importance in this context of a constructive response of Skopje to Greece’s memorandum, which would offer ideas, but also pointed at the government being reserved about the plan. The weekly also reported on an upgraded 2010 proposal by the European Stability Initiative that the name issue be resolved in the early stage of membership negotiations but the referendum on the solution take place at the end of the process, i.e. together with the referendum on EU membership. According to Gragjanski, the upgraded document, which is reportedly supported by an influential lobby group in Brussels, foresees for the new composite name to immediately replace the current reference and its wider use to enter into force together with EU accession. Constitutional changes are expected from Skopje in order to accept the new name for international use; the constitutional name will remain official name of the country in its official languages and the use of the adjective ‘Macedonian’ will not be called in question, says the proposal.”

I have since been asked by a number of people to share the new version of the proposal. This then is the latest version in full:

Breaking the Macedonian deadlock before the end of 2012

What is needed is a way forward that accepts the bottom lines for Athens and Skopje. This can be achieved through a constitutional amendment in Skopje that changes the name of the country with a geographic qualifier today: to replace Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where the latter is currently in use, allowing Athens to support the start of EU accession talks and to sending an invitation to join NATO later this year or early next year, but which foresees that the change will enter into force permanently and erga omnes on the day Macedonia actually joins the EU.

Such a solution is possible if the following happens:

1. There is active mediation between both sides which focus solely on finding a compromise name for the country with a geographical modifier, dealing with the issues of RM NATO accession and the opening of EU
accession talks.

2. Greece and RM agree on a compromise name, XYZ, with a geographical modifier. This will immediately replace F.Y.R.O.M. wherever that is currently in use in international
relations.

3. Greece commits to allow RM to join NATO under this new provisional name XYZ and an invitation to join NATO is extended.

4. RM changes its constitution to say something like this:
“From the day the Republic of Macedonia joins the European Union the international name of the country will be XYZ, used erga omnes in all languages other than the official languages of the country.”
The promised referendum on EU accession at the end of the negotiation process becomes thereby de facto the real referendum on the name issue (there was no referendum for F.Y.R.O.M., and until accession the new name is used only in place of F.Y.R.O.M.).
Leaders in RM replace one name their citizens do not like (referring to a state that has disappeared decades ago, Yugoslavia) with another name they do not like, both used in the same way.

Neither side loses leverage in the future. If future Greek governments block EU accession of RM or make additional demands judged unacceptable in Skopje this would also delay the entering into force of the core provision of this compromise. Greece shows its EU partners that it remains actively in favor of Balkan enlargement. Greece also keeps its leverage until the very end of the accession process

Filed under: Balkans,Enlargement,Europe,Greece,Macedonia — Gerald @ 3:13 am
31 October 2010

I have spent the past month travelling through the Balkans (Skopje, Tirana, Pristina, Belgrade) and visiting Sweden, Bratislava and Chisinau. I presented on and drafted texts about a lot of different issues: debates in Greece and Macedonia about identities; debates in Turkey about Turkish Christians and their rights; debates in Germany about Islam and Turks; Swedish, Slovak and European debates on the future of Balkan and Turkish enlargement. In all these seemingly unrelated debates there was one common thread, however, always leading back to the question of what is at stake in the future of EU enlargement today: why enlargement matters.

For some time I have wondered whether the current discourse on the importance of South East European enlargement, its significance for the European project (and not just for the 20 some million people of the Western Balkans) has not become stale, unconvincing, full of wooden language and cliches.

If EU enlargement is to go ahead and not to turn into an agonizing technocratic exercise, in which very few people actually believe, a different narrative is needed. European leaders and thinkers have lost the vision of enlargement, and it is vital to recapture it (on the charge that this might be too elitist a way to think about this political project more later).

To try to explain this let me start from where I sit at this moment: in a cafe on the pier of Izmir, looking out at at the Aegean Sea and Mount Pagus.

Gerald Knaus

The Destruction of Smyrna

If you arrive today in Izmir, the leading city of Aegean Turkey with 2 million inhabitants, the standard guidebooks tell you little. To quote what I first read, arriving here three days ago: “despite a long and illustrious history, most of the city is relentlessly modern – even enthusiasts will concede that a couple of days here as a tourist are plenty”; this is a city “not entirely without interest” due to its natural setting and ethnological museum. No wonder most of the tourists who flock to the Aegean coast do not pause here on their way to Ephesus or the coastal resorts.

However, there is one way to make any visit to Izmir unforgetable. Chose a day like this Sunday, when sun sets gloriously over the mountains of the Bay of Izmir. Then pick up Giles Milton’s gripping account of the fate of this city in the early 20th century: Paradise Lost – Smyrna 1922 – The Destruction of Islam’s City of Tolerance.

One century ago Izmir, then known as Smyrna, boasted 11 Greek, 7 Turkish, 4 French and 5 Hebrew local daily newspapers; it had a Greek population of some 320,000, at least twice that of Athens at the time; it was famous for its large Jewish, Armenian, European and Turkish quarters; and it was reknown for a cosmopolitan business elite which included multilingual Levantine families (to find out more about who these go here: www.levantineheritage.com) ; a city which had

“long been celebrated as a beacon of tolerance – home to scores of nationalities with a shared outlook and intertwined lives. It was little wonder that the Americans living in the metropolis had named their colony Paradise; life here was remarkably free form prejudice and many found it ironic that they had to come to the Islamic world to find a place that had none of the bigotry so omnipresent at home.” (Giles Milton)

Even skeptics, of which even then there were many in Europe, were vulnerable to the appeal of Smyrna:

“Visiting European intellectuals were fascinated to observe such a racially mixed city at close quarters. When the Austrian savant, Charles de Scherzer, had visited Smyrna in 1874, he brought with him a most negative image of the Turks, yet he went away with all his preconceptions shattered. “In matters of religion”, he wrote, “they are – contrary to their reputation – the most tolerant people of the Orient.”

And yet, as we all know, one century ago cities like these – fin-de-siecle Czernowitz or Vilnius, Wraclaw, Vienna or Prague, late Ottoman Thessaloniki or Istanbul – lived under a dark shadow, cast by the dominant ideology of the age: romantic nationalism.

Early 20th century Smyrna was a majority-Christian city located in majority Muslim Anatolia, a land increasingly torn by religious and ethnic hatreds. At that time European leaders were about to “turn off the lights” for a century and allow a descent into collective madness. Those decisions were taken in Berlin, Vienna, Moscow and Paris, but they directly impacted on Istanbul, Athens and the people of Smyrna

In today’s terms Smyrna was “multicultural”: many communities living side by side, interacting, mingling, while preserving with some pride their own identities. It was multicultural at a moment in European history when the future belonged to nationalists, promising ethnic purity, the creation of nation states, and the need to assimilate or expel minorities, not to tolerate differences and live with them. It was an age which looked at pluralism with suspicion, where minorities were increasingly looking nervously to their mother countries for protection, and were simultaneously viewed by their co-citizens as fifth columns and security threats.

All of this was already clearly apparent in Anatolia at the time, where hatreds were fueled by the military defeats of the Ottomans in the Balkan wars in the early 20th century.

When the Ottomans lost control of all of Macedonia during the six-week long Balkan war in autumn 1912, a large number of Muslim refugees was expelled from the Balkans. This led the leaders of the Ottoman Empire to cast aside all ideas they might have had as late as 1908 about creating an Ottoman citizenship, and to embrace instead an increasingly racist and exclusivist vision of their state as a land of the Turks.

Anatolia’s hatreds erupted again during World War I. And they exploded into a savage war with the 1919 Greek invasion to annex Western Anatolia and the atrocities committed by the Greek invading army, dreaming of recreating a Byzantine Empire. This is a complex, but familiar story with one key theme: the idea that brutalities were permitted to destroy multiethnic life in order to create modern nation-states.

And thus it came that in September 1922 multicultural Smyrna literally went up in flames. 70 percent of the city burnt down following the reconquest by Turkish soldiers. The entire Christian population fled in terror. The destruction of Smyrna coincided with the uprooting of all of Anatolia’s Greek population.

And just as many of the Muslim refugees who had streamed into the Ottoman Empire following the Balkan wars had come from Macedonia, so many of Anatolia’s (and Smyrna’s) Greeks were directed to settle in Greek Macedonia following the tragic loss of their homeland.

More on that, and on the relationship between the debate on multicultural democracies and enlargement in Europe today, in my next entry.

Filed under: Balkans,Enlargement,Greece,Macedonia,Turkey — Gerald @ 7:06 pm
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