24.05.2020 Druckversion  |  Schrift: vergrößern verkleinern 

Wird das "Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory Belgrade (IFDT" politisch gesäubert?

Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade under political attack from the Serbian government

If you want to sign this letter (as I have and as I encourage readers to do) please contact Dr. Zona Zarić from Les Archives Husserl, Ecole normale supérieure, Paris, who is organizing the letter:   zona.zaric@ens.fr.  Among the signatories already are Jurgen Habermas, Martha Nussbaum, Raymond Geuss, Axel Honneth, Seyla Benhabib, and many others.

The letter is below the fold:

Call for solidarity:
The Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade (IFDT) is in danger

The renowned Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory Belgrade (IFDT) can look back on a liberal tradition. It was founded by dissidents involved in the Yugoslav 1968 movement, in the 1990s it opposed the policies of Milošević. The reform politician Zoran Đinđić, who was murdered in 2003, a studied philosopher and the first Serbian head of government in the post-Miloševic era, worked at this institute for several years. 

The IFDT is now, it seems, to be put on a political leash. The Serbian government has appointed a new supervisory board, into which several highly controversial political figures have been elected: For example, Zoran Avramović is to be president of the board. In the 1990s, he held leading positions in the radical right-wing party of Vojislav Šešelj (who was found guilty of crimes against humanity by the Hague Tribunal). Avramović had already indicated what he thinks of the institute, when he obtained the suspension of the financing of the IFDT Regional Centre in Novi Sad. The current provisional director uses repressive measures that indicate what the future of the institute should look like (threats to suspend the salary, attempts to reduce the freedom of the institute's Scientific Council, young scientists who are put under pressure by him, etc.)

Democracy, and more specifically: the scientific and educational landscape in Serbia, is in an increasingly threatened situation. There are only a few free media. The attempt now to muzzle and perhaps eliminate an autonomous academic institution like the IFDT further weakens the Serbian democratic public. But publicity is not to the liking of either the politically installed supervisory board or the Serbian government. Freedom of opinion and freedom of science can be defended by European solidarity of colleagues and intellectuals. In this specific case, this happened once before in 1980 when Jürgen Habermas, Ernst Bloch, Iring Fetscher, Oskar Negt, and Albrecht Wellmer successfully called for support for the institute by addressing the then Yugoslav and Serbian authorities directly. Who would have thought that in 2020 philosophy in Serbia would again have to be protected from the state?

Given this development, we, the supporters of this appeal, demand the immediate replacement of the IFDT supervisory board with scientific experts, namely representatives of an open and democratic scientific culture; the wishes of the institute members should be respected in the election of the new institute director. Also, the Serbian government should not be able to force a new director of the IFDT on the institute by decree. The institute must regain its political and institutional independence. If the Serbian government seriously supports democratization and wants to position itself as a reliable candidate for EU membership, it will withdraw from this attempt at political alignment.

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