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- II COUNTER-SUMMIT OF THE PROCESS OF BOLOGNA
Just few months ahead of EEES complete implementation (based on official agenda) in the 47 signatory countries, the II Counter-Summit has taken place in Vienna on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the Ministers of Education from the Bologna Process undersigned countries. With a strong international mobilization of European activists from countries as diverse as Croatia, Italy, Turkey, Germany, Greece, Lithuania and others, thousands of students have closed ranks in order to repeat their total reject to the EEES in several and different ways: a massive demonstration, street blockades as well as workshops of all kind; all these on March 11th thru 14th.
The main meeting places of the so called “Alternative- Summit” were the Academy of Fine Arts and University of Vienna Campus. The Academy of Fine Arts is placed at 10 minutes southwest to the “red zone”, giving housing to many of the activists, with a well-known Italian majority. The place also gave shelter to workshops as well as to the organization of the official blockades. But the neuralgic center was the University of Vienna Campus, on District 9, at the downtown outskirts. The Campus is divided in 3 main buildings: C1 building, where the “Information Point” was located, serving also as a housing zone and meeting place for many workshops, general assemblies and festive activities, as live concerts. The Transnational Coffee, a comfortable space to rest and share experiences in an “unofficial” way. Equipped with a great projector, a bar where it was possible to consume different soft drinks and spirits, an environment of electronic music and multitude of armchairs and mattresses. There was also one more building placed opposite to C1, where some workshops were performed. The most outstanding workshop was “The International Forum”, which aimed to explain the situation of the different countries where Bologna Process is being applied. There was a high participation level and it was very useful for many activists to understand and share the situation of other companions. Between these two buildings there was a great tent, where it was possible to eat warm almost 24 hours a day. Option was tried, with great success, to give vegan and vegetarian meals, always with a spicy taste indeed.
The main demonstration took place on Thursday 11th. It began at 03:00 p.m. at Western Station Square -“Westbahnhof”- and its tour lasted for three hours. It intended to arrive to “Palace Hofburg”, the center of the red zone, but the police did not allow it. It was a festive and massive demonstration, of almost 20.000 people. Demonstration was organized by blocks of trucks and vans providing entertainment with electronic music and “batucada” groups. It was a very colorist demonstration, with ‘clown armies’ performances and filled with messages in posters in different languages. Many groups were made up based on the language or native land. A climax arrived when two activists climbed up the huge cathedral walls to hoist some flags.
At the end of the demonstration the official blockades started. These were divided by color flags. Every demonstrator received a color paper that indicated the flag to follow. The blockades tried to cut strategic points to prevent the “meeting party” of the Ministers at 09:00 p.m. The final goal was not achieved, but there was a confirmed delay of one hour on the meeting schedule and a big traffic chaos in the center of the city. The blockades were quite chaotic, with the exception of number 6, which managed to cut a main avenue during a long period of time. During the blockades, several police blitzes took place, with five activists under arrest. Nevertheless, violence was not as tough as many expected. The blockades lasted until midnight and many of them were entertained by “clown armies” and batucadas that smoothed the police strong presence.
After the meetings in Budapest and Vienna, the Ministers included in their public communication an allusion to the protests, recognizing that these are taking place and admitting that “some of the aims and reforms of Bologna have not been well developed and neither have been fully explained”. In their 13 points declaration, they have included the reports presented by the Students’ European Association, while mentioning:”We recognize and we will bear in mind the critical voices that have got up between the professorship and the students”.
The workshops, as almost everything, were very well organized. They used to start on time and the topics were interesting and draw to participation. There were theoretical workshops as well as practical. As usual, the foreign language was a handicap for the Spanish activists group. According to some participants, the practical workshops proved to be for beginners and the theoretical workshops and debates sometimes showed to be political speeches, for inattentive public and scarce participation. Also the different ways of organization from the different countries became an important obstacle for a fluid dialog, resulting in misunderstandings and unsuccessful activities like, for example, the frustrated occupation of “Nig” building on Wednesday night, as well as the useless organization of the affinity groups to carry out the unofficial blockades.
We should mention the exquisite logistic organization of the Alternative Summit, where nobody lacked of warm food or a place to sleep. The information point was a great source for activities and distribution of ideas coming from different countries. The booklets were edited basically in German and English, but also in French, Spanish or Italian languages. There was a great deal of media to cover the whole Counter-summit, from demonstration to workshops and blockades. Likewise, the legal information was very well covered and distributed, within reach of anyone, through means as diverse as chats, the information point and a large-scale distribution of pamphlets with the most necessary information.
As a final conclusion, we can assert that this II Counter-summit of Bologna Process has proved to be useful to join and create more nets of the student European movement, to connect all the social movements involved, to learn and share experiences, to support and legitimize activist companions to turn this fight for a popular and quality education into a strong, active and true movement and to show the Ministers and Governments from the 47 signatory countries that the students do not agree with Bologna Process. For this last objective, it seems that something has been achieved.
Press Commission of the Platform Fucking up Group
Translation for: Consuelo Paciencia