2nd OPEN LETTER to the Panel of independent experts
of the project Novi Sad 2021 – European Capital of Culture
To members of the Panel of independent experts:
Sylvia Amann, Cristina Farinha, Agnieszka Wlazel, Ulrich Fuchs, Aiva Rozenberga, Pauli Sivonen, Beatriz Garcia, Jiří Suchánek, Suzana Žilič Fišer, Alain Hutchinson
In Novi Sad, October 15, 2018.
Dear Members of the Panel of independent experts,
We are addressing to you for the second time, and again with the Open Letter, since we did not receive the Panel’s response that would be worthy of the equal and respected participants in the dialogue. The problem that we informed you about in September is still unresolved and most likely it will not be resolved as long as citizens, their organizations and institutions, domestic and international, are not decisively committed to defending citizens’ rights to associate, organize and participate in local community institutions.
The problem is clearly exposed in the first Open letter, and the situation we are talking about is familiar to every politically informed, engaged and well-minded human and citizen. We have asked you to respond to our appeal, as well as to our letter, but we received the response of only one member of the Panel, Suzana Žilič Fišer, who did not inform us on that occasion that the second meeting of the members of the Panel with the representatives of the Foundation „Novi Sad 2021 – European Capital of Culture (ECoC)“ already took place in Novi Sad, in June this year. Our public until few days ago was not familiar with this fact, and we express our suspicion that the meeting was held in the format in which it was organized first time in Brussels in 2017 and whose report we had the opportunity to see in public. It was this report that we took into consideration with our remarks and requests that we have shared with you and invited you to help us and involve us in the conversations on the first occasion, considering that the monitoring visit has not yet happened, and that it has been officially announced as a continuation of the work of the Panel of independent experts in 2018.
In the attachment to the 2nd Open Letter, we are sending you a document distributed by the representatives of the Foundation „Novi Sad 2021 – ECoC“ to journalists at the press conference held on October 12, 2018, and which is now circulating in circles of interested public but without public and official announcement through the Foundation’s web site. From the provided, we can conclude that it is not a report, but a letter sent by a member of the Panel of independent experts to the director of the Foundation „Novi Sad 2021 – ECoC“, which he presents as the report, and which certain media, media engaged in the promotion of work of the Foundation and the ECoC 2021 project, treat as if it is the official report of the Panel. Therefore, we invite you hereby to make a statement on this issue, as our doubts in the good will of the participants in this project and the institutional international environment that supports and follows this project are getting firmer.
We hope that this missed encounter can be the reason for a more decisive action by the Panel, and for the beginning we expect your public statement of the problem we have introduced you to, turning to you as an association of citizens acting in the field of cultural production and civic activism in Novi Sad. For this reason, we remind you that the Foundation „Novi Sad 2021 – ECoC“ is implementing the project „New Places“ in local community institutions in Novi Sad and neglects the fact that they are closed for independently organized citizens, their initiatives and civil society organizations. Therefore, once again, we invite you to engage in solving problems related to the conditions of work and participation of civil society organizations in the social and cultural life of the community in which we live and which carries the title of the European Capital of Culture, and whose work as an independent expert body you follow and correct.
Hence, with this Open Letter we inform you about the situation in Novi Sad, from which it is difficult to work autonomously if neither the ECoC 2021 project is a chance for a decisive statement on the importance of the role of civil society and if there is no political will to advance with it the overall cultural, political and social potentials of the development of the Novi Sad for all the people who live and produce in it.
In the end we remind you that for many years, as a civil society organization, we are acting in domain of civic activism and in the field of independent contemporary cultural production, and from these positions we gain insight into the fact that the Foundation „Novi Sad 2021“ as a project implementer of ECoC 2021 project in this city, has no capacity nor the necessary degree of political autonomy to defend civil society, nor to appreciate the overall significance of culture in the processes of integration and democratic development of Novi Sad, and thus including wider European environment.
Group for Conceptual Politics
Novi Sad, Republic of Serbia