Everything seems impossible until it is done

Who are supposed to be the ‘climate-change refugees’? ‘Climate-change refugees’ or so called ‘environmental migrants’ are people who are forced to leave their home towns either temporarily or permanently due to sudden or progressive climate changes which compromise their well being and secure livelihood.

These changes may include increased droughts, desertification, sea revel rise, disruption of seasonal weather patterns such as monsoons, etc. Human activities like burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests contribute to global warming because they release greenhouse gases. Rising temperatures associated with global warming cause glaciers and ice caps to melt, which lead to droughts and desertification – the transformation of arable land to desert. These effects make it completely impossible for people in the region to feet on the crops and they are forced consequently to roam the world to look for better lives.    

Unlike the refugees who flee their homes due to conflict or political oppression, ‘climate-change refugees’ are not protected by international laws and may face greater political risks.

Unlike the refugees who flee their homes due to conflict or political oppression, ‘climate-change refugees’ are not protected by international laws and may face greater political risks. You have to admit, the word “refugees” should not be used in consideration of these people. It’s not them on whom we have to put the blame, because that is nature which caused it.

Nowadays, the problem of migrants is causing a great deal of wrangling in the whole world, including Europe. The European Commission has taken a comprehensive approach to tackle the refugee crisis in Europe, drawing on the various tools and instruments available at the EU level and in the member states. The European Commission gathers periodically at the summit to discuss these contemporary issues and to take corresponding measures. Statistics indicate that the number of migrants crossing Europe illegally by land and sea in 2015 has passed over one million. Of course, not all of them can be called the ‘climate-change refugees’. Some of them may migrate due to social instabilities, such as the terror attacks and the wars in the central and the Western Asia, although some people are migrating, simply because of the climate changes.Then what are the biggest challenges that ‘climate-change refugees’ are facing?

Firstly, wherever people happen to land, there would be significant traditional, cultural and religious differences. To adapt to the afterward circumstances, they would need sizeable amount of time. For example, if one has moved from Western Asia to Eastern Europe, traditional customs will have changed, from greeting others to food culture. This would affect everyone including youngsters and the next generations, trying successfully or not so to integrate into their new cultures.

Another challenge could be finding suitable jobs or finding themselves a place in the workforce.  Currently, migrant workers accounts for 150 million of the world’s approximately 232 million international migrants. Migrant workers contribute to the growth and develop in their countries of destination.
Especially having in mind the rising unemployment rate in the countries where they decide to reside. Furthermore, migration and the resulting unemployment rate have been one of the major issues in the traditional, as well as contemporary global economic scenario. And some criminal activities like robberies, thefts and various negative behaviors by unemployed migrants might arise and will disturb the public order in certain countries. To prevent these, the chances have to be given for refugees to be employed after the specific education system.

When properly managed, the refugees may have far-reaching potentials and their communities as well.

As Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous politicians said “Everything seems impossible until it is done”, other problems and challenges could occur that we might face. Yet we, as human beings have responsibilities to protect the refugees. When properly managed, the refugees may have far-reaching potentials and their communities as well. And consequently they would serve as part of the society which contributes for the economic growth of the country, overcoming ethnic differences and winning the fight for position among other people.

 

About the author:

Ri Kang Song (16) took part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the fifth prize of the writing competition.

The story of a Bosnian refugee

Foca - where it all beganThe town Foca

Zerina Karup is a Masters student at Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. She came to Ireland as a refugee when she was a baby. In March, she came to my school (Mount Temple Comprehensive in Dublin) to give a talk about her experience. This talk was organised as part of a series called Temple Tallks by the Mount Temple Amnesty International group.

Zerina was born in what was then Yugoslavia, a country which composed six republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro) and two provinces (Kosovo and Vojvodina). She described her life in a Bosnian town called Foca, with family around, the river nearby…it was a very normal life, which is important to remember.

People don’t leave their countries – their friends and families, traditions and customs – because they want to. They don’t go to a foreign country where they don’t know anyone, and they don’t know the culture, for no reason. People leave because they have to.

She explained a bit of background to the war: “It started in 1991, when countries started to become independent. Slovenia started, then Croatia wanted to become independent. Serbia wanted to form a new country, Greater Serbia. In addition to these different countries, or states within a country, there were also different religions; there were Catholics, Muslims, and Serbian Orthodox. So there was a lot of potential for tension and conflict.” In April 1992, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina started, and that was when Zerina’s family decided to leave. Initially they stayed within Bosnia, moving from Foca to Gorazde, but quickly realised they still weren’t safe and moved on again. They left just in time; right afterwards, Gorazde became a Serbian enclave (nobody could enter or leave the town; there was no water, no electricity, no food.) They went to Montenegro, and then after a couple of days to Serbia.

It might sound contradictory to go to the country of the aggressors. But in the beginning there was no war in Serbia, so it was safe. Also, Zerina’s family had friends who could accommodate them, because they didn’t have much money. They stayed there for two months, but then Bosnians began to be deported back to Bosnia, into concentration camps. Zerina’s parents decided they were no longer safe, and her family got a bus to Macedonia. At the border, a Serbian soldier checked the bus. Bosnians were brought outside, lined up, and separated into groups of men and women and children. All those people were deported back to Bosnia, to concentration camps. The soldier let Zerina’s family through, telling them it was only because of the young children. They were incredibly lucky.

In Macedonia the family quickly ran out of money, and had to live on the streets. They they weren’t granted refugee status, mainly because there were already too many refugees. However they had met a very kind man, who owned a shop and he gave them milk and breakfast every morning. This man brought them to a house, in a forest in Macedonia, where other Bosnians were living. They stayed there for 25 days before moving on again. They got on another bus and went through Bulgaria and Romania, up to Hungary, to Budapest where they lived on the streets. If they got hold of any money, they went to hostels for homeless people, where their only belongings were stolen one night.

Luckily Zerina’s uncle, who lived in France, was able to send some money so they stayed in a hotel for a few weeks. They then managed to get train tickets to Austria. Despite having no passports, nothing, they made it to Vienna. They stayed in a refugee centre for a few weeks: a massive factory hall, with hundreds of beds next to each other. Horrible conditions to live under for a long period of time, but fortunately they discovered that Ireland was accepting Bosnian refugees, so that’s how they came to Ireland.

There was a lot of media coverage at the time. Zerina’s family lived in a refugee centre for a year or two. Every family had their own room, which was, compared to Austria, luxury. Her parents were really grateful to be looked after. There were medical services, and entertainment, and volunteers who would interact with the Bosnian population there.

In the talk, Zerina said, “In Ireland, I never felt like a stranger. I always felt like one of the other children. I went to school, I had loads of friends. My parents had loads of friends. There were free English courses for Bosnian people and our neighbours would mind me and my sister while our parents were at school, so there was a great support mechanism within the community. And our neighbours, and everyone, really wanted to support us…I always felt very welcome.” Bosnians were provided with social services, community services, and training so they could get jobs more easily. There were two components. On the one hand, the Irish did a great job of integrating the Bosnian community. But the refugees were also given the chance to interact with people from their own culture. This was really important for people with a lot of traumatic experiences, coming from a war.

Going back was not an option anymore

When the war ended, every Bosnian was questioning whether to return to their country or not. For Zerina’s family, going back was not an option. Bosnia as it had been was divided into two parts: the federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Serbian Republic. Since it was one country before, there were mixed ethnicities, so Bosnian-Serbs lived in the Republic, and everyone else lived in the federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And their house was in the Republic. Zerina described going back there as being like an Irish Protestant living in the Catholic part of Belfast right after the Troubles, or vice versa. It’s just not going to happen. In Foca, she said, when you go back today, you’ll see pictures of war criminals that killed many people being praised as heroes, and graffiti saying that Bosnia belongs to Serbia.

For Zerina’s family, going back was not an option. Bosnia as it had been was divided into two parts: the federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Serbian Republic.

It wasn’t the home they once had; so they had to establish a new one. Eventually they went to Germany because they had a lot of family there and Germany is also, geographically, closer to Bosnia. Zerina went to school there, and she began to travel a lot…

When she was 15, the American Field Service, an organisation, came to her school giving a talk, after which she was absolutely convinced she wanted to do a year abroad. She got herself a scholarship and went to Argentina for a year, living with a host family – an “amazing experience”.

She returned to Germany where she started her Bachelor degree in Political Science, Sociology and Media and Communication Science, and while there she took part in an Erasmus programme. Her Erasmus took her to the University of Cadiz in Spain, where she had a great time and made great friends.

On her return to Germany, Zerina got herself an internship with the United Nations World Food programme, the largest humanitarian agency in the world. Their target is to end world hunger. She worked there for seven months and it fuelled her passion for development and humanitarian aid. And that’s how she’s back in Ireland, because she found a Master’s programme that appealed to her, in the field of development. She’s now studying a course called Development of Practice. She says she’s really happy to be back in Ireland because going to Germany was a tough move for her. This summer she’s going to Kenya for three months, again with the United Nations World Food programme, to research her dissertation on the socio-economic impact of home-grown school feeding programmes in Kenya.

Kenya 2016

Zerina says she considers herself very lucky, because she doesn’t think the life she has now would be possible if she hadn’t had those support mechanisms when she came to Ireland.

“When I see pictures like this, nowadays, it really touches my heart because that boy has the right to the same opportunities we have. Just because he’s from a different country, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be able to interact normally in society. I ask myself, will these children be able to reach their full potential, like I was able to? And if we continue doing what we’re doing at the moment, the politicians especially, I would say no. …These children can’t become the best versions of themselves if they don’t have the right support mechanisms.”

This talk demonstrated to me that support systems don’t merely allow people to survive, they allow people to thrive. They allow refugees to achieve their full potential, grow as people, and give back. It is a long-term investment.

Whether it’s in relation to the appalling Direct Provision system in Ireland today or the response of the world in general to the current refugee crisis, we need to up our game. As Zerina says, it’s our responsibility to implement a policy of zero tolerance towards intolerance.

born in ireland

About the author:

Carol McGillCarol McGill (17) participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Dublin in 2014. She is a student at Mount Temple Comprehensive and loves to write, mostly short stories, in her free time. Carol also enjoys history, drama and reading. Most of all, she would like to be a writer, but is also interested to be involved in promoting human rights and reducing discrimination. More…

Brussels Lockdown

alarm-959592_1920  Thirteenth of  November 2015. This date is still on the minds of many people around the globe as the dreadful day when a series of coordinated terrorist acts occurred in Paris and its northern suburb, Saint-Denis. Three suicide bombers struck near the Stade de France, followed by suicide bombings and mass shootings at cafés, restaurants and a music venue, the Bataclan theatre. The attackers killed 130 persons and injured 368. Seven of the perpetrators of the attacks also died. The attacks were the deadliest in France since World War II and the most fatal in the European Union since the Madrid train bombings in 2004.  They led French president François Hollande to declare a 3-month state of emergency and launch Opération Chammal, the most extensive French airstrike operation against ISIS to date. Counter-terrorism measures were also taken by other states in Europe and North America. In addition to triggering political reactions, the event resonated with people across the globe, especially on social media where the Twitter hashtag PrayForParis and the Facebook profile filter French Flag were launched so that people could show their support for France and the families of the victims of the attacks.

Many things can be said about the consequences of the attacks in France and elsewhere, but today I want to focus on some of the effects it has had on my home country, Belgium, and more specifically on Brussels, my hometown.

Some of the men that participated in the attacks lived in Brussels and one of the main perpetrators, Salah Abdesalam, who survived the attacks, is suspected to have crossed the French-Belgian border after the attacks. This prompted Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to announce a lockdown on Brussels by declaring a level 4 security alert, which is defined by the National Security Council as an imminent and serious threat. As a result, subway lines, schools, universities and many shops were closed down for several days. The Winter Market, one of the biggest annual attractions held in December in the center of Brussels risked being canceled and attracted substantially fewer people than previous years. Military personnel patrolled the city, police presence was increased, streets were empty, and the overriding message was to “avoid all crowded places and stay at home if you can”.

In addition to implementation of these security measures, a total of 20 arrests were made in Molenbeek, a neighbourhood in Brussels where some of the Paris attackers lived and where they may have been radicalized. The arrests were coordinated by Belgium’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Jan Jambon, who stated that he would “clean up Molenbeek”.  Molenbeek was scrutinized by foreign media for several weeks after the raids and many European politicians criticized Belgium for its lack of security and anti-terrorism intelligence.  A headline in the famous French newspaper, le Monde, read: “For Belgians, the Abdesalam brothers did not constitute a threat” and the British daily, The Guardian, stated that “Molenbeek was becoming known as Europe’s Jihadi central”.  Donald Trump, one of the Republican Party candidates for the US presidential elections, claimed that “the capital of Belgium had been adversely affected by its lack of assimilation from their Muslim residents”.

As a Belgian living abroad, I was often asked about the state of alert in Brussels and many individuals who were eager to discuss the issue with me had narratives similar to those proposed by the media. This prompted me to read news articles on the subject and talk to my parents and relatives living in Brussels. It brought me to the following conclusion: while these allegations may have some truth to them, it is important for people to carefully analyze the context of the situation before making assumptions about the gravity of the situation in Brussels, and particularly Molenbeek.

First, with the population increasingly feeling frustrated by the lack of public transport, closed shops and closed schools, the level of alert was decreased to 3 on the 27th of November, only 6 days after imposing security level 4. The decision was made without pointing out any real change in the situation, suggesting that the threat may not have been as prominent as had been claimed in the first place.

Concerning Molenbeek, of the 20 arrests made, 16 people were interrogated and 15 were released. This suggests that the majority of those  arrested did not constitute a direct threat to security and that the intervention was carried out as a show of power. Jan Jambon’s solution was to clean up Molenbeek. This is a simplistic solution that is overused by politicians when referring to the perceived threat that neighbourhoods of lower socio-economic standing pose to the general population. It is a dangerous term because it separates the inhabitants of the said neighbourhood from the rest of the population and treats them as the “problem”. It implies that  if something had to be “cleaned up”,  it must have been “dirty” in the first place. Further alienation of a stigmatized group of people can only increase resentment and lead to more violence.

My suggestion is to urge people around the world to carefully analyze the information they are exposed to by the media and political interests when they address the problem of terrorism. They should consult multiple sources of information with differing perspectives in order to have a more informed opinion on the matter.  Increased knowledge and awareness of the factors contributing to terrorism are essential for the initial steps that will hopefully lead to its eradication.

 

 About the author:

Fiorella pic newFiorella (19) attended our Brussels Workshop as a student of Collège Saint Michel. She is currently an undergraduate student in biological science at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Fiorella is interested in politics, arts & literature, sports (climbing), guitar and travel. Her dream job is being a veterinarian for wild animals in a national park. More…

 

KILIAN KLEINSCHMIDT

10151970_10152389200779878_6691647081628636959_n

With more than 800,000 asylum seeking refugees coming to Europe in 2015 only, the global refugee crisis has become one of the most sensitive and highly discussed topics of our time. The movement of undocumented migrants from various Middle East and African countries to the Mediterranean region that started in 2007 has now reached a critical point and evoked what is now called the European Refugee Crisis. The continent has proved itself not being politically, economically and culturally ready to deal with the influx of refugees who are seeking after humane living conditions and shelter from Syria, Afghanistan, Mali and other tense conflict areas. Dealing with the chaos of the sudden migration has been an ongoing concern and challenge of the European Union and other European countries.

As a European youth initiative, “My Europe” must be receptive and objective to the problems and challenges that regard our continent. Therefore, we encourage YOU to actively participate in the upcoming Live Chat and express your insights on the subject with a man who has almost longlived experience and expertise on the matter Kilian Kleinschmidt.

Mr. Kleinschmidt, the son of two teachers, grew up in Berlin, Germany. He did not become the “Good Samaritan” in an instant. Kilian Kleinschmidt started off as a carpenter and arguably found his calling for humanitarian work at the age of 26, after an aid worker invited him to help build a school near Timbuktu during Kleinschmidt’s motorbike trip to Mali. He has contributed his life and career to humanitarian purposes ever since.Mr. Kleinschmidt has been an active member of the United Nations and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for 25 years during which he developed an impressive list of achievements as a humanitarian aid worker. In between his work in Uganda, Kenya and Bosnia, Kilian Kleinschmidt helped organize a camp for the so called ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’ who were displaced and orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War; has been a liaison and a coordination of UNHCR operations in the Great Lakes Region which has long been exhausted by civil war and conflict; coordinated one of the largest humanitarian airlifts in history for Rwandans caught in the rain forest in Congo to name only a few. All of his hard work, charisma and tireless persistence has earned him the nickname of a “Crisis Manager” in aid circles. Maybe because of this binding title Kilian Kleinschmidt was offered another challenging position the Senior Field Coordinator or as he calls it the International Mayor of the second largest refugee camp of Za’atari in Jordan.

In 2012 at the day the Za’atari camp was opened it provided shelter for only 100 families of Syrian refugees, however, during 4 years time the camp has outgrown 120,000 people. With its’ rapidly growing number of residents the refugee camp in Jordan is a living proof of the horror of the Syrian civil war and the regime of Bashar alAssad. When Kilian Kleinschmidt joined his fellow humanitarian workers in 2013 as their leader, what he had found was a campmonster with no objective information about the number of refugees and aid workers within the camp, an increasing number of violent acts, protests and reports of crime and numerous humanitarian problems concerning accommodation, energy, nutrition and water supply that needed to be fixed. As Kilian Kleinschmidt admitted this is one of the most unruly places I have ruled.

The Za’atari humanitarian workers with the help of UNHCR managed to accomplish its’ task of providing first aid to the Syrian refugees, to save thousands of lives, but the precarious atmosphere in the camp did not change. That was the moment Kilian Kleinschmidt started to question whether the standard procedure of providing the people only with opportunity to survive was enough. What he, as the “International Mayor” of Za’atari, had to deal with was not only 100,000 refugees in need of food and shelter, it was also 100,000 individual stories of people who have lost their home, family, friends and dignity. According to Mr. Kleinschmidt we have learned through Zaatari that humanitarian aid tries to make us all equal same calories, the same liters of water, the same tents but it doesnt really look into us as human beings.

Discussions emerged and Kilian Kleinschmidt along with his team of aid workers, invited professional urbanists from all over the world to develop something he called a more organic and more peopledrivenplan of the camp that would successfully connect the space, culture and the services within the camp. The new approach allowed the Syrian refugees to individualise their settlement in Za’atari with marketlike shops, various business ideas, even shop in socalled “International Supermarkets” where they could receive their monthly food aid using vouchers and avoiding undignifying queues in the storage room. Kilian Kleinschmidt and his groundbreaking approach helped to start making Za’atari a city rather than a refugee camp.

As Mr. Kleinschmidt once stated What we learned through the camp, through the situation in Jordan, but also through the region, that we must think differently. We have to first of all comprehend the camps as living spaces, as temporary cities, whatever the duration is, and also where change can take place, where evolution of people can take place, and where, in fact, there is a unique opportunity to bring in different thinking and different concepts.

Kilian Kleinschmidt proved himself to be a true believer of change and came up with many bold and even rather controversial ideas. One of them was an attempt to set up his own Za’atari Fab Lab a workshop providing access to digital fabrication tools and 3D printers to the refugees. The idea of refugees using modern technology to create things they needed seemed too futuristic to some critics. “That whole concept that you can connect a poor person with something that belongs to the 21st century is very alien to even most aid agencies,” Mr. Kleinschmidt stated, adding that We have to get away from the concept that, because you have that status migrant, refugee, martian, alien, whatever you’re not allowed to be like everybody else.”

His position towards bringing the 21st century to the refugee camps were met with concern in the UN. Maybe that is why in the year of 2014 Mr. Kleinschmidt decided to leave the UNHCR and settle his own Innovation and Planning Agency in Vienna. His comment on the withdrawal from the UN work was that I left the the UN to be as disruptive as possible, as provocative as possible, because within the UN of course there is certain discipline. I mean I was always the rebel. Humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis. We’re doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the Second World War. Nothing has changed and according to Kilian Kleinschmidt our approach to the refugees MUST change.

What can be made to make the change reality? Let’s elaborate on this and many other questions that concerns You during the Live Chat. We kindly invite you to participate and do not miss out on an exceptional opportunity to discuss the global and European refugee crisis with one of the greatest experts in the humanitarian field Kilian Kleinschmidt.

 

Click HERE for direct link to the Live Chat!

 

About the author:

Picture Silvija Kalinauskaitė

Silvija (19) took part in our workshop in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 2014.  As many of her peers, she has not decided on a particular profession just yet; but Silvija would love to devote her life to a job that would serve the community, allowing her to challenge her abilities and intelligence. More…

Connecting Europe: the first step to change the world

Trust yourself! (Flickr: Jennifer/licensed under CC BY 2.0)

From an early age we are told our generation holds the future of this beautiful planet we call Home. And it gets me wondering: how can we play our part?

Through “My Europe”, I eventually ended up answering my own questions. I considered this activity a once in a lifetime opportunity to prove how I intend to change the world. Not only it allowed me to get out from my personal comfort zone, but it also provided me an unparalleled chance for my ideas to stand out among millions of others.

In my opinion, we have reached a crucial point where there is no turning back. Changing the route of humanity has now become critical. If we choose not to hold hands and not to get through this terrible transition as one, we might end up saying goodbye to Earth as we have known it until now.

Millions of people have the power to change the entire world. Is there anything more incredible than that? Who wouldn’t love to be a part of something this big? As we live in a century characterized by the evolution of technology and global connection, I believe teens with great communication skills and abilities to combine both speaking and writing in different languages should step forward to intervene. And this is where “My Europe” kicks in. As from now on we should be working with people of various nationalities, ages and backgrounds, I find extremely necessary that the elected ones have also an open-minded personality and a strong attitude.

“We need to start worrying, we have to start acting.”

It is not every day that you get to work on activities like this. This “youth movement” is simply the power to change the future of humankind being given to those with promising plans. As I write this small article, I get to understand how much these kind of programs can change where my future life will be heading to. An incredible journey awaits me. A path I will be crossing surrounded by so many different people with interesting future dreams and hopes, dozens of new cultures to learn about, work strategies to develop, self-discovery to overcome. Honestly I can’t think of a better way to get my position noticed and to spread the word about what, in my opinion, the future holds for all of us. It is easy to create strategies and to dream big, but when it comes to get your ideas to the next level, things get tough.

Nowadays, we may not be able to see most things because we leave our minds elsewhere, if I do say so myself. However, I don’t appreciate missing an opportunity to wonder every tiny aspect of the world. I look around and I see teenagers just like me. Boys, girls, all between the same age range. I think of how many have the power in their hearts to standout but won’t because they are afraid or because they weren’t given the means to do it. I walk to school every day hoping to step on some kind of occasion like this project to change my life.

We all are interconnected beings. We live each day full of need and faith, pain and hope, friends and love. We all should possess the equal value of life. Although some aren’t capable of facing struggle, others live to be their saviour. We need to start worrying, we have to start acting. In my opinion, “My Europe” will eventually end up being more than an idea of connecting Europe’s youth. It will be seen as the next big step towards change. Truth is, few things get me this much excited. This is something I would absolutely be thrilled to be a part of.

 

About the author:
Luisa Moreira
Luisa Moreira

Luisa Moreira (17, from Portugal) attended My Europe’s Lisbon Workshop in November 2014. She believes writing is the best way to make the most out of everything.

“For me, Europe is an open-minded society that supports self-improvement. It is a space where you can easily find a reason to be greater every single day.”

 

Time for Change

Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl Remix, Spotlight Europe
“It is time for change”, finds Prof. Dr. Pohl. (Picture: Remix by Spotlight Europe)

We have lost track of the trouble spots of this world. But you do not have to face the world´s problems in order to have doubts on a peaceful future. The very last days in Europe are enough to leave us stunned and make us shake the head in disbelief. Especially young people in Europe do not grasp what really happens here while all the political talk is done.

“One should send three young people to Minsk.”

The negotiations in Minsk have been a farce: Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and François Hollande talked for 14 hours without any real result to present at the end of the day. The vital question is, though: Have these politicians nothing else to do but to quarrel over an explicit breach of international law? Time can be used better. One should send three young people aged between 15 and 20 to Minsk. In one hour they would achieve a neat proposal for solution. But then: Who takes notice of the youth?

For sure not old tyrants like Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Viktor Orbán. It is up to the youth though to shape and be our future, not old quarrelling politicians.

In the second half of the 20th century, the disorder of the world has given way to the hope of building a peaceful world. Although communism and fascism are no serious issues at the moment, the gaining momentum of populist left- and right-wing movements threatens to pull down the fragile structure of peace and democracy and to destroy these hopes.

“Brussels clings almost desperately to its outdated system.”

Brussels clings almost desperately to its outdated institutional system and does not see the change that is needed. A change that can only come if the voice of young Europeans gains weight and is taken seriously! The youth’s system of values is much more credible than that of cautiously haggling politicians.

Thus, it is high time that the youth co-decides on the institutional framework of Europe. It is high time that the youth has its say on democracy. It is time for change.

About the author:

MP1Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…