New Year’s Greetings from the Director of the European Affairs Fund of Autonomous Province of Vojvodina

Dear friends, it is quite certain that the year is coming to an end, leaving a rather heavy burden for the next one, which, even without new problems, would require exceptional activity of the international community in overcoming existing dilemmas, disagreements, open conflicts and latent hotspots. The coronavirus is dramatically changing lives around the world. Our idea of normalcy, public life, social interaction – all this has been put to the test. In such a situation, each of us carries many questions and thoughts on how to proceed. We live in a time of deep value rethinking.

The virus is forcing humanity to see itself as a large community in need of change. It forces us to understand that, like parts of the body, we depend on each other, that we need each other. For a long time, there have been challenges that we feel, but only to a certain extent can we clearly identify, and they concern all of us: the consequences of globalization, the aging of society, the growth of people on Earth, depletion of resources, climate change…

Current, but also future pandemics, with the obvious deep climate changes we are witnessing, will accelerate the qualitative changes of the international order. Undoubtedly, we have entered a new era. Global society is connected like never before. Business, ideas, technologies, people and, unfortunately, infectious diseases, are crossing borders with unprecedented speed and intensity. We are thrilled with the new information age, but at the same time we are afraid of ecological disturbances of global dimensions. Business practices, technologies, and the age structure of the population are changing rapidly. New possibilities are emerging, but new dangers are lurking.

The future is, of course, completely uncertain and there is no way to predict it with exact precision, but the current pandemic increasingly acts as an event that will define this era. A return to some old life habits, however, will not mean a return to the old. It will be a new world, with new economic rules and a recession that will change the order of things for entire future generations. The geopolitical consequences will be profound and lasting.

In just a few days, everything changed radically. Habits, needs … Demands have become relative. We all found ourselves in the status of potential refugees. The pandemic has shown us the extent to which we are all vulnerable, how much we depend on the responsible behavior of others, and thus how we can protect and strengthen each other by acting together. Every day we learn to appreciate things we have ignored, neglected, forgotten, or even considered superfluous. Before the current pandemic, we were in a chronic lack of time. History teaches us that crises can serve as turning points in society. In that light, we have been given time. Time to think about a new beginning. Time for a new beginning, which will, I hope, bring us intriguing battles for ideas.

More than a century ago, the inimitable George Bernard Shaw lucidly characterized his own worldview: “Other people see something and ask themselves – Why? … I, however, dream of things that never existed and say:” Why not ?! “It is this quality, this extraordinary combination of hope, belief and imagination that is needed today more than ever. Apparently, the world’s problems cannot be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited, almost concreted, by the existing ones. We need people who dream about what never existed and shout “Why not ?!”

With the wish that the New Year, personally and professionally, will overcome this, in many ways worthy of oblivion, in all ways, on behalf of the European Affairs Fund and on my own, I wish you a successful 2021.