FairCoop in South-East Europe (Western Balkans)
Since the end of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and the establishment of new states in the territory, the transition from an economy and politics based on monolithic socialism towards a capitalist or more liberal economy and a pluralism of parties –democracy- is still ongoing, and it sometimes seems like a never-ending process
A certain amount of progress has been seen in the western republics with former federal states such as Slovenia and Croatia becoming members of the European Union. Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a State located in the central parts of the former Yugoslavia and its constitution is very specific, being based on the Dayton Peace Framework Accord, as signed by all actors in the conflict under the supervision of the International Community and the neighboring countries Serbia and Croatia. In this contract, State of BiH is constituted of two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Srpska, and the Brčko District of BiH. So there are actually three entities.
In this political situation, it is really hard to have a productive economy, based on the usual understanding of entrepreneurship because of taxes, and corruption inside the political leadership. Thousands of people, even those with secure jobs inside the state structures, are now leaving the country and heading West, mostly to Germany, Austria and Scandinavia, looking for work and taking their families with them once they have settled down in the EU. Approximately 150,000 people have left the country in the last couple of years.
However, introducing people to the ideas and values of a cooperative way of working is something that is not unknown in the region, since we had a state that was founded on communism and later based on authoritarian socialism. For example, cooperative collectives were imposed on agriculture and the owners of the land had to donate a certain amount of products and services (using their own machines to work on the land). The resistance of the people to this was huge because of the unfair rules, laws, and certain customs such as the expropriation and state management of land.
The FairCoop values and principles are good seeds to start sowing on this land, as long as they are not presented in the old fashioned ways of the previous system, but we also need to be careful in approaching local merchants and individuals because they become very wary when you mention things like self-management, autonomy, or stateless democracy...
Cooperating and collaborating can be interpreted as a way of going directly against the State and a lot of people died in the last 25 years in the process of establishing the current statehood; but on the other hand, people are now getting tired of elected officials who become gradually more corrupt every time they get a piece of the electoral pie. So, there is space to introduce this new form of post-capitalistic FairCoop economy - values, principles, tools and a network that is made of real people - and the basic needs that can be satisfied through cooperation.
FairCooperating in the Region
Since the summer of 2017 cooperation started moving forward in the founding of new Local Nodes. Firstly, Local Node of Novi Sad, Vojvodina, Serbia become the cornerstone for spreading further the new green shoots in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina (founded at the end of October), and last but not least the Local Node of Sombor was founded recently.
There are new nodes now under preparation in Montenegro and Croatia. Collaboration and cooperation here has been great, and the Local Node of Novi Sad has had a major role in the setting up of new nodes, such as the basic organization of the Nodes, teaching in the use of FairCoop tools - GitLab, OCP and the establishing of PoE's (Points of Exchange), communication via Telegram channels, and most of all with some help from the Swiss Nodes we were able to understand much better how and why people should join the FairCoop community. Still, there is much more knowledge to be shared and learned, and more effort to be put into finding a way to approach local people, so that they accept the Values and Principles of the FairCoop vision and mission.
- Observation of any FairCoop influence in the Region should be made from the point of view that such a fair economy, along with its tools and network, would really help to improve relations between all new states in the process of regional coordination between local nodes.
- Circular Economy is going to be one of the reasons for people to come together in their usage of FairCoin, firstly as a tool for the sustainability of local economies, and from there it will eventually grow into something that all mankind would love to see –a fair and just world for every human being.
The first and most important items on the to-do list should be a publicity campaign in order to create a network of individuals and collectives, showing them the practical advantages of using FairCoin as part of a Fair Economy, offering them access to knowledge of the FairCoop ideas, values, qualities, principles and most valuable of all – the people involved in the movement.
Knowing the fact that a lot of people have lived in - at least for some time, or visited - Western Europe, and also as many of them currently have relatives living there should be a good reason for spreading the word about the fair economy and about FairCoop as a role-model for the future. FairCoop's future development in the Region depends on the inclusion of individuals who can and will accept cooperation and the common good as the goals they wish to fulfill- not only seeking material gain, but also in helping someone close to them to help themselves.