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First International Forum of EYP Kosovo, Pristina 2012
setting up and setting off
privelge and duty
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state of the union
saturday in skopje
dear re ader,
It seems st whilst w range to write e’r so much a though w e so close to the end of th bout beginnings e’re just es g too, as e ditors, h etting into the sw ession. It feels as ave done here; ou some thi ing of things – w r first vi ng e sit to Ko our first sovo, ou s for the first tim time wo r first e rk German there’s a ing with this te inDesign crisis, ne am nung”. R oughly t xpression “Aller . In our native ranslated A with an it means nfang ist Begegencount er. eve with this session a Just so, our enc rything begins nd with o Kosova a unter with you , re just a Thank y beginnin ou for jo g. ining us, Sophie a nd Benn y
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setting up and setting off What is an intense four days for most of the session’s participants, has been months of hard work for Saranda Hajdari who gathered both funds and participants for this event. Marie Storli and Sam Skalla had a chat with the tireless young woman about the future of the initiative she founded.
his February Kosovo has seen its first National EYP Session. Since then, the organisers, and in particular Saranda Hajdari, have fully committed themselves to the realisation of an International Forum. According to Saranda, the most crucial aspect of the organisation of a successful session is securing the funds, a task in which she immersed herself from very early on. As the President of the EYP Kosova Initiative she worked tirelessly throughout the last three months to ascertain the necessary sponsorship deals and fundraising to make the session possible. After realising this initial goal she embarked on the process of training the organising team to be “session-ready.” This was particularly challenging considering the lack of experience derived from previous Kosova sessions and the short timeframe before the next session in May. Saranda expressed her good fortune and her appreciation of the “excellent team of officials” that have provided the necessary experience and European perspective for the session to come together so successfully. The Blank Page 6
Despite her successes, the future of EYP Kosovo hangs in the balance, depending on a successful vote in the next BNC (Board of National Committees) meeting in a few weeks to approve its status as a National EYP Committee. Saranda has made it clear that she has ambitions to extend the focus of EYP within Kosovo both on the European scale and on a more regional level. She noted that it is important for Kosovo to be more integrated within the EU and to further promote regional development through EYP. Furthermore, she expressed her desire to ensure that access to International Sessions for delegates from Kosovo will be as widespread as possible and not simply for an ‘elite’ group of young students. However, she recognised the importance of securing more funding to ensure a broader range of people from Kosovo is able to take part in EYP sessions. Another perspective on the current state of EYP in Kosovo and indeed the future of Kosovo’s EYP involvement is put forward by Dr Alan Flowers, who is a member of the Governing Body serving as an international board to our
organisation. He points out that the EuropeanYouth Parliament was ‘running out of countries’ within Europe and is confident that there is the potential for Kosovo to become the “hub of the region” facilitating further involvement for Balkan states within an EYP framework. If we consider the progress being made in Kosovo and further opportunities for the growth of EYP we quickly envisage a new problem. There will be a greater need for sharing information as well as a potential for increased tension between the National Committees. The danger is that with greater expansion there is a greater likelihood of instability within the EYP network. Showing strong parallels to actual EU governance, our approach to the expansion of EYP needs to be reconsidered. However, EYP Kosovo’s remarkable development and the optimistic perspective of its supporters would best be underpinned by a successful vote at the BNC meeting and as such we wish the EYP Kosova initiative and Saranda the very best. 7 The Blank Page
privilege and duty
f democracy is power trusted into the hands of the people, there naturally arises the need to find and appoint the right people to guard it. That might sometimes seem impossible. However, there is no reason to give up the fight. Our situation is not as hopeless as we think. Beside the ongoing financial crisis, we can also observe a crisis of spirit. Being constantly confronted with terrible news about violence and catastrophes served to us by popular TV networks, we tend to forget that we are doing pretty well. We are living in the age of comfort and over-consumption, which interestingly enough doesn’t automatically equal the age of happiness for everyone. When we look back on history there have never been better circumstances for living a happy productive life, than there are now. This is the privilege of 21st century Europeans. The European Union was created by great visionaries. It is a project with greater purpose than making directives about the production of cabbage. However every directive, resolution or agreement has its purpose. It is a step towards peace and prosperity of the old continent. The initial plan was to bond European states’ economies in order to prevent future conflict. And we’re doing great so far, there has been no war between the European countries for 67 years. This is the longest period of continental peace in the modern history. The initial dream of Robert Schuman, one of the fathers of the idea of the European Union, was fulfilled. Yet the worst thing to do right now would be to The Blank Page 8
In the age of freedom, comfort and overconsumption, Europeans have reached a quality of life unparalleled in history, yet Jan Janouch knows that democracy can never be taken for granted and calls on everyone to play their part.
rest on our laurels in comfort. With privilege there always comes the responsibility to move forward. To take advantage of our current condition is to make a difference in the future. After Maastricht and Lisbon, we are already knee deep in the integration process. Hence, there is no point in trying to take steps back and draw up borders again. We should bear these facts in mind, stop focussing on differences and crisis and start searching for common points of view and opportunity. This may sound unrealistic and difficult because of cultural, geographical and language barriers. However, the young generation, who has grown up after the Cold War in a globalising environment, proves the exact opposite. They are overcoming those barriers by themselves with the support from different intercultural initiatives. EYP is just one of many examples of such platforms. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that the more points of view we gather and the deeper our analysis of the given problem, we will simply be able to see more than “two sides of the coin.” The decision-making process will probably be more difficult, but the possibility of discovering the best solution will grow exponentially. Being a part of such an organization broadens your horizon as you get to meet people from all over Europe. You suddenly realise, that they are just like you and you feel that there is really some truth to the EU’s motto: “United in diversity.“ What we need is to believe in this idea and hope that the greatest socio-economical project ever to be launched on our continent will eventually succeed. Play your part.
While European leaders are portrayed as increasingly divided in the current climate of crisis, Benjamin Gradhand explores the internet’s role in bridging the cultural divides among Europe’s youth.
“If I had a penny for every time someone posted Lana del Rey or Gotye, I would feed the poor.” – Tom D., Facebook
f that was a quote I had actually picked up in person instead of the virtual maze Europeans between 16 and 24 spend half their days in, it could have marked the start of a thought-provoking discussion. Tom’s digital vexation can be read as a verdict about the state of pop culture. But what is much more interesting is the fact that it also reads as a statement about youth culture in general. A culture which nowadays may be equated – one could argue – with digital culture itself. Tom for instance is not a friend of mine in the sense that we have frequent face to face interactions and meet up to discuss personal matters. He is an acquaintance who became my “friend” on Facebook the day after we met. Just like five other people I met the same day. Admittedly, the fact that he lives in Croatia, 1000 miles away from where I live, would make it difficult for us to have face to face conversations. A status update on Facebook also addresses a lot more people than one could ever address face to face. And I am certainly just one among many “friends” of Tom’s who live miles away from his home. To sum up, Tom posted a statement on Facebook that referenced pop culture, digital youth culture and obviously the virtual activities of many of his acquaintances from all over Europe, if not from all over the world. All of which adds to the picture easily painted upon browsing social networks and other cultural outlets on the internet – pop phenomena are assimilated into the digital mainstream at an alarming and for people like Tom annoying speed. Debates about religious extremism, separatist and secessionist movements and different budgetary cultures in Europe provide a stark contrast. Besides their present-day ubiquity in more traditional media channels they also happen on the internet. In Europe cultural divides are everywhere you turn your head, is the common message all of the corresponding headlines seem to convey. United in diversity? Divided in unity is perhaps a more befitting motto for our ever torn union. But let’s leave the gloomy brooding to the cynics because it allows for some suspicion when journalists all over the continent bid their farewells to “failed” European ideals in unison. As the British Prime Minister Cameron and German Chancellor Merkel proclaimed that
virtually united “our multicultural society has failed”, European political leaders are joining the chorus. Are Europeans in fact culturally divided? If you dare to attend a cultural theory class, the first thing they’ll tell you and the last thing you’ll remember is that cultural theory is an array of fields of study and a way of studying these. To put this in plain English: there is a culture of everything. Politics, the economy, science, consumption, the media, budgeting. While it may be true that after a period of head over heels integration we have now reached a point in Europe at which some fundamentals are being called into question that would have been beneficial to discuss before e.g. introducing a common currency – it only leaves us politically divided. Culturally speaking the internet has caused quite the opposite. Since the outset of its popularisation in the 1990s it has made its way into every domain of human life and acquired 2.1 billion users globally. Despite this impressive figure there certainly still is a digital divide between different parts of the world and the population of some rural areas in Europe still suffers from limited access. However, 90% of young people between 16 and 24 within the EU are internet users, many of which are on Facebook. While the currently more than 8 billion internet sites allow for a highly individualised cultural experience and supply of information, social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter help if not ensure to bridge the gap. When a Belgian musician and a singer from New Zealand meet up in Australia to write and record an instant hit and when a young American uploads a few songs on youtube which go viral right away and is invited to perform on the popular American television show Saturday Night Live without having even released her debut album, the digital community will learn about it. Quickly and all over Europe. And they will want to tell all of their friends about it. As annoying as that might be for Tom. It shows the great similarity of the content we consume online. With the help of consumer culture the virtual also translates into a physical assimilation. As a matter of fact I am currently sitting on an international high speed train and I am surrounded by at least seven iPads, eleven MacBooks and probably twice the amount of iPhones. But this is an entirely different story because if you had the money people spent on all of these Apple devices, you could most definitely feed the poor. I’m sure Tom would agree. 9 The Blank Page
s most of you might not be aware, I spent the second day of Committee Work in Macedonia. I didnâ€™t go their for a short vacation but to join Dr Alan Flowers, a member of the EYPâ€™s Governing Body, in a meeting with a group of young activists trying to re-establish European parliamentary simulations in Macedonia. The purpose of our meeting was to present recent EYP events and find reasons for and possible solutions for the lack of activity in EYP Macedonia in the last few years. During our venture to the border we were initially struck by the almost infinite number of petrol stations but soon afterwards some breathtaking landscapes appeared and accompanied us to Skopje. Once in Skopje our driver insisted on extreme caution and only brought us within 5 km of our meeting destination arguing that we would be The Blank Page 10
a saturday in skopje Two participants of the International Forum in Pristina have spent their Saturday not in Kosovo but in Macedonia. Embarking on an adventurous trip Julian Kuci accompanied Governing Body member Dr. Alan Flowers to Skopje to meet young people who are striving to revive the EYP initiative in their home country.
attacked by Macedonians if went any further because of the Kosovan car licence plates. We decided to play it safe and continued our trek in another taxi. Once Dr Flowers and I had finally arrived at the meeting place an hour late, we were dismayed to find our mobile phones weren’t working. After spending hours under the sun in the middle of Skopje, with no one and no place to meet, I finally managed to send a text message to one of the Tanjas – there are apparently several in EYP Macedonia. Our prayers were answered and Tanja replied, only to break the news that she wouldn’t attend the meeting due to a misunderstanding when setting it up. She also pointed out that it was unprofessional of us not to have arranged for a meeting room. Needless to say, Dr Flowers and I had still no better idea of where, how and if this meeting was still going to take place. What was meant to be a series of well-planned appoint-
ments with different Macedonian EYP representatives became an adventurous, exhausting challenge. Under a burning Macedonian sun we were surrounded by a language, in which we knew only knew to articulate “Blagodaram” – thank you. Our journey through the narrow streets afforded us a view of the interesting traditional architecture, and culminated in a lengthy research of Macedonian EYP activities that we conducted from a bar to finally get out of the sun. At last we managed to meet up with two members of the National Committee – Alexander and yet another Tanja. After meeting at the Alexander the Great Fountain, the four of us ended up in a café, which fit right in with the informal framework of the day. Thankfully, Dr Flowers was able to receive some answers to his many questions as a member of Governing Body turning this chaotic trip into one that wasn’t spent in vain after all. 11 The Blank Page
There is a first time for everything. Being a chairperson at an EYP event can be a particularly nerve-racking debut to give. Henriikka Hannula and Julian Kuci have gathered personal accounts from the Pristina Chairs Team.
hen Anar was chairing for the first time, it took him half the day to say a sentence. Eventually he finally got back his ability to speak in the process and in the end it turned out to be a great experience. Johan confesses that he was a bit insecure the first time he chaired, which was at the Swedish National Selection Conference in Stockholm in 2010. Despite initially describing his feelings back then as â€œawkwardâ€?, he still had fun and enjoyed the session. For Max the 1st International Forum of EYP Kosovo has been his first chairing experience. Although the process is not over yet, he The Blank Page 12
has the feeling that it has worked out well since he managed the challenge and got a lot out of it. Chris’s first time chairing was in the International Session in Stockholm 2008. Generally he was happy with the experience as he had a very good committee that came up with a strong resolution for a very controversial AFET topic. When Monika attended her first EYP session, Chris was her chair. Later on her first time chairing coincided with the widely known Oxford-Cambridge boat race. With her studying in Oxford and her co-chair in Cambridge, they intensively followed the intermission results during the day. Fortunately they got along very well. Kerstin waited quite a while before chairing at an EYP session. She had been involved in EYP for four years before feeling ready to commit to it. When she did decide to chair, she felt very well prepared, excited and motivated. Before chairing she had already held a position as an official several times including having head organised an Interna-
tional Forum in Germany in 2007. However, she doesn’t really remember too much about the session as it took place five years ago. Many first time chairs share this great responsibilty with co-chairs. This may also cause problems, as cooperation, especially concerning chairing, is a complex thing. Johan told us that he didn’t really get to do anything as his co-chair handled the situation alone. Kerstin’s co-chair was 29 years old and thus apparently “ancient” in EYP terms, as she passionately describes the person. Evelin in turn didn’t agree on anything with her co-chair and she describes her first chairing experience as a “complete nightmare.” Besides the horrible co-chair, her committee didn’t know anything about the topic and naturally their resolution failed in the end. Luckily, in spite of serious reconsiderations about her future chairing career, Evelin continued chairing. She thinks that the difficulties she faced during her first time as a chair have indeed taught her how to be patient. 13 The Blank Page
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is filled by Henriikka Hannula, Jan Janouch, Julian Kuci, Marie Storli, Sam Skalla, Sophie Hall & Benjamin Gradhand.