Pit Schultz on Mon, 29 Mar 1999 07:33:36 +0100

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Syndicate: Report from Leipzig: "Genscher is guilty too"

this is a brute force translation of an article which
appeared in the Berliner Zeitung (ex-east) today,
(sunday 28. march 1999), please excuse the typos
and other bugs:

Genscher is guilty too

A discussion about Europe and the War at the book fair in Leipzig

by Cornelia Geissler

If a certain word is not clearly defined for the West-European,
he buys himself a word book, explains the Bulgarian writer
Iwan Kulekow. "But the Bulgarian, traditionally not wealthy,
has to think about the meaning of the word for himself. So every
word has for us at least eight million meanings. The wish
to sucessfully communicate with each other, is the cause for
our desire for Europe."

Kulekow was asked, as many collegues from France, Germany and
Turkey, to explain his thoughts about Europe. As Nicole Bary
(of the French-German union of writers "Friends of the Erl-king")
planned the Discussion on the book fair in Leizig she thought
about a panel about the EU, about the limits and possibilities
of an East-West-Dialogue, but not about a war.

The NATO action in Kosovo has put the discussion onto a
completly different ground; and at the evening, when one had
left the halls, which covered any conversation with the routine
of book fairs, and moved over to the Institut Francais,
any relaxation had disappeared. Europe had become the
critical buzzword. The discussion was conducted in an exited,
partly nervous way.

"There is no european policy, these are all sunday sermons",
called Zafer Soncak, who was born in Turkey and lives in Germany
since thirty years. Iwan Kulekow, who showed so much humour in
his key-note lecture, said without any irony: "Today Bulgaria
is much farther away then two days ago when i departured
to Leipzig". With this he described also the dillemma, in which
the representatives of East-European states find themselves
at the book fair. They arrived to do some advertisment
for their literature, make contacts, and arrange fundings
and cooperations. Suddenly they are reduced to their
geographical origin and have to behave accordingly.

The tranlator of the bulgarian vice-minister of culture
Pantelei Zankow said during the afternoon, that she had
to translate the whole day the questions about the effects
of the war. The minister would answer every time:
"It is sad that the Kosovo-crisis overshadows the fair.
Nevertheless we all shouldn't forget that we arrived here
because of the books."

Daniele Sallenave from France tried to put her emotions
into words. She were not really with "her heart" in the
discussion. It appeared to her that with the military
intervention the East-Europeans had to be "colonized".
Her sentence: "It is a very uncomfortable feeling,
that European bombs fall onto Europeans", was replied
by the Japanese Hamburger Yoko Taeada with the commentary:
"If it wouldn't be European bombs and the air planes
came from somewhere else, it would be as sad as it is
now." For the Bulgarian Viktor Paskow the behaviour of
western Europe towards the Balkan appeared as "exorcism":
"like a teacher in the school the Nato-nations say to
Serbia: You have been bad, that's why you have to get
beaten. But death doesn't legitimize any war."

Zafer Senocak finally brought the dicussion to its peak.
He insisted to invest no sympathies into the Serbian
nationalism; and as well resist to a Bosnian, Kroationan
or Turkish nationalism. He sets the beginning of
the failure of European politics in the Balkan-crisis
ten years before. At this time, one should have tried
to transform Yugoslavia into a democratic state, and
not support the splitting into micro-states. "This
war has two fathers", he said, "about the one
everyone agrees: Slobodan Milosevic. But the other
one is called Hans-Dietrich Genscher." A part of
internationally mixed audience protested:
"Yugoslavia has been always an artificial construction!".

The audience participated strongly. The mood changed
between appreciation of the attacks, because trough it
the Serbian hegemonial interests would be stopped -
and the decisive refusal of any military means. At
the end one wished again for an "engaged literature"
which one believed has been put into the grave so
long ago.

[translation by Pit Schultz]