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Jovan Okanovic


I am convinced that if there was sufficient political will, integration problems could be solved. Unfortunately, instead we see a political movement exploiting people’s fear of the unknown and the other. I sometimes ask myself if the problem with foreigners arose, because the West needed a scapegoat after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Because of Yugoslavia’s geographical position between the eastern and western blocks, many Yugoslavs perceived themselves to be the ones to promote reconciliation in the world. Children were taught songs about peace, because peace was seen as the actual purpose of their upbringing, and this commitment made me proud. I wanted proper Yugoslavian communism based on peace, so I took to the streets and protested against the democratisation and liberalisation process which took place during the ‘70s. It came as a shock to me that my protests resulted in my having to leave the country that I so adored. In Denmark I found out that many of the ideals, which I had fought for, were already implemented in Western European democracies. But it bothered me that people in developing countries were the ones to pay the price for our privileges. I wish that there was a stronger political will to create an equal world, but I envisage a huge potential for change in the social media.

Historically the elite has always had monopoly on the truth, but today anyone with an internet connection can have their say. This can potentially lead to an amazing time where people inform each other and bypass the elite. On the other hand, social media also pave the way for a more dangerous future. Even the most racist person can spread messages via his phone, and how do you distinguish between real and false facts?

70 years / male / in a relationship / children / retired journalist / Frederiksberg / from Yugoslavia / came to Denmark in 1974 / residence permit in 1978

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