[pullquote]There are no more or less safe countries, meeting planners will just have to get used to the new normality and react to the situation in a moment.[/pullquote]Tanja Fajon, Slovenian member of the European Parliament from Brussels: “Weapon against terrorism is not fear, but courage, and not hatred, but a clear message: we will not surrender.”
The Istakali Street was surprisingly quiet, nothing resembling the usual crowd of more than 3 million of tourists and locals. A day later, shortly after my departure from Istanbul, there was a dreadful bang and it seemed like for a long time I haven’t been so close to the reality of the New Europe.
Only three days later a new reality struck again in the heart of Europe. The same Europe which until now has seemed distant from reality and which did not have adequate confrontation and reaction to the crisis and has now in Brussels became the victim again.
If the event in Paris was a surprise, the events in Ankara, Istanbul and Brussels were predictable. I wonder what follows in addition to the increase of security, closure of borders and creation of an atmosphere full of fear and xenophobia. Will we like in an action film be rescued by a 007 agents of new generation specialized for emergency situations. False sense of security is a testing ground for tightening rights and an attack on the basic rights of citizenship. Therefore it is really important to strive for an open and tolerant society, because this is the only way to a better world and the heart and essence of the meetings industry.
Years ago, in the period before the communication-information age, when similar events happend the destinations and meeting providers took years to cover the damage and pick up where they left. The memory I have is after the period of Slovenian independence, which stopped the congress business in CD Cankarjev dom for a decade. The first International Congress was re-gained only in 1998. Today information circulates more rapidly and the decisions of the participants and the organizers are taken in a shorter term. For some time now we will have to accept stricter controls at the border and we can only hope that these measures will be only temporary.
I’m not afraid. Life goes on, I will not let the politicians or the media drive me into a state of panic. Positivity and strength of the meetings industry can be found in a professional, intercultural dialogue, in establishment of new boarders and this the terrorists cannot take away. The meetings industry is our job, our lives.
Therefore, the salon reaction to the event and radicalization in any way does not help much. The meetings industry must continue to function and this is the only way we will really defeat terrorism. As we have already stated several times, we, congress organizers, will have to honestly consider all safety procedures and protocols for the events we organize to provide participants with a sense of security.
The editorial board of Kongres magazine expresses its solidarity with the victims of the attacks in Ankara, Istanbul and Brussels calls for peace and humanity.