Bridging Europe – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.11 AEGEE Strengthens its Presence in the South Caucasus: EPM Yerevan 2018 – Bridging Europe /aegee-strengthens-its-presence-in-the-south-caucasus-epm-yerevan-2018-bridging-europe/ Sun, 15 Oct 2017 15:09:24 +0000 /?p=7192 On 8-12 March 2018, Yerevan will be hosting the European Planning Meeting 2018, which will be organized by AEGEE-Yerevan / Yerevan European Students’ Forum Youth NGO.

For the first time in its 32 years of history, the pan-European network of  AEGEE / European Students’ Forum will organise a statutory event  in the South Caucasus, marking the intention of AEGEE-Europe to enlarge the scopes of interaction with the youth of the non-EU member states and overcoming the existing barriers of youth mobility.

The EPM Conference welcomes 250 youth workers, government officials, as well as business, civil society, academia and media representatives from more than 40 the European Union (EU) and Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, in order to discuss key priorities of the EU’s Eastern Partnership strategy, and to draft the AEGEE network’s Action Agenda to tackle European issues that shape young people’s lives across the continent.  Participants will have the chance to take part in workshops, panel discussions and roundtable discussions before working in focus groups drafting specific youth-related recommendations.

The European Planning Meeting Yerevan 2018 creates a forum for integration of ideas, policies and common interests aimed at deepening and enhancing existing relations between the EU and EaP countries. The Conference will draw particular attention to the main topics of the European Agenda, including Europe’s current new forms of cooperation between the EU and its neighboring partner countries, youth unemployment, Erasmus+ Programme, youth participation in democratic transformation and the importance of the strengthening of the civil society capacity in the non-EU countries.

Considering Armenia’s Government intention for signing the Comprehensive Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the European Union in November 2017, the Conference will also focus on youth entrepreneurship, promotion of sustainable economic growth, unleashing youth potential in high technologies  and diversification of cooperation between Armenia and the EU including prospects of boosting people-to-people contacts and launching visa liberalisation process.

The participants of the EPM Yerevan 2018 will also get a chance to participate in thematic workshops and master classes held  by experts, as well as the Fair will be hosted for the Armenian students and the general public. In addition a special cultural programme will be organized for all international participants thus providing them a real-time opportunity to discover the long lasting and unique European cultural heritage of Armenia.

The European Planning Meeting Yerevan 2018 is the biggest thematic European youth event ever organized in Armenia, proudly marking the 2800th anniversary of the city of Yerevan.

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The shooting down of the flight MH17 in Ukraine should be a wake up call for Europe /the-shooting-down-of-the-flight-mh17-in-ukraine-should-be-a-wake-up-call-for-europe/ Fri, 18 Jul 2014 20:19:12 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1087 The shooting down of a Boeing 777 on July 17th is a shocking reminder of the fact that, while the international community divides its attention between the bombing in Gaza and the holiday destination of the German world champions, the situation in Eastern Ukraine has degenerated into a civil war whose consequences are unpredictable. AEGEE-Europe has been paying continuous attention to the situation and we are worried that this attack can lead to a crossing of accusations and an escalation of the conflict.

The current and the new boards of AEGEE-Europe would like to express their condolences to all families and friends of the 298 victims, and especially to the Dutch nation, that lost 189 citizens according to the first reports. The country declared Friday a day of mourning for the victims.

But this shocking attack has to be a wake up call for Europe. There are many other victims of this conflict that lasts for several months already: dozens of casualties on both sides, journalists, thousands of refugees that are fleeing the region because of fear or the lack of opportunities that have come as a result of this separatist conflict. Europe cannot leave Ukraine alone; it is the moment to make a big stand for peace and get involved in the pacification of the region. Cooperation with Russia is essential if we want to succeed in putting an end to this conflict.

However, the authorship of the attack is still unclear. Rumours point to the separatist faction, and the fact that they are putting obstacles to the investigation does not help their cause. Additionally, media has recently shown that the pro-Russian faction owned several units of heavy armament. In fact, several airlines have already been avoiding the aerial space over the Dnipropetrovsk region over the past months as a preventive measure, but Eurocontrol (the European air traffic management organisation) has not closed it for navigation until today.

AEGEE-Europe believes that transparency and extensive investigation of this and other incidents in Eastern Ukraine are necessary to determine responsibilities and find the key to solve the conflict, and therefore should be a requisite for the EU support to the Ukrainian government, in line with the 18th point of the Joint Motion of the European Parliament For A Resolution on Ukraine (2014/2717) issued on Wednesday, the day after the plane was shot down.

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Tense situation in Ukraine the days before their most important elections. /tense-situation-in-ukraine-the-days-before-their-most-important-elections/ Thu, 22 May 2014 09:56:12 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1059 Even though most western media have shifted attention from Ukraine, AEGEE-Europe / European Students’ Forum is still concerned about the situation in the country. We pay close attention to the Eastern regions, where several independence referendums were conducted some days ago. Regarding the absence of the international observers, and the lack of a legal framework to hold these consultations, neither the government of Ukraine nor the international community give validity to the results, but this seems to have little importance these days.

The situation in the country is very unstable. On the one hand, the provisional government (established once President Yanukovich fled Ukraine last February) is supposed to govern until the upcoming presidential elections scheduled on May 25th, but it was never fully recognised by the eastern parts of the country, which massively voted for Yanukovich during the elections in 2010. In addition, some of the proposals of the provisional government raised the tension with Russian-origin and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, such as the attempt of cancellation of the 2012 “language law” (that allows regions to adopt more than one language for official purposes if they are spoken by at least 10% of the local population) which was perceived as an attack to the Russian-speaking community. Even if interim president Oleksandr Turchynov vetoed this proposal before it came into force, the harm was already done.

On the other hand, the Russian intervention in Crimea, and its subsequent independence and annexation to the Russian Federation, created a dangerous precedent. The agreement signed on April 17th in Geneva by all parties to deescalate the conflict was never respected, with each party accusing the other of breaking it. As a result, the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk are following the break-away scheme and have become de facto independent territories. The Russian Federation has still not announced whether it will recognise them as independent or not, a prior step to the possible inclusion in the Federation later on. This uncertainty is allowing new illegitimate powers to take control over a huge part of the Ukrainian territory, and brings deeper instability to the region.

The last weeks had seen a dramatic increase in confrontations in those territories. The pro-independence groups have clashed first with the supporters of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and later and more violently with the police and army units deployed by the Kyiv government in an attempt to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine by stopping the independence referendum. The presence of these troops and the violence of the confrontations have been reported to have caused many indecisive voters to opt for the independence in the referendum, aggravating the problem they were supposed to solve.

AEGEE-Europe condemns all kinds of violence. In regions such as Donetsk, Luhansk and Odesa (especially in cities such as Sloviansk, Kramakorsk and Mariupol), confrontations have caused death of dozens of civilians, including gruesome acts such as setting on fire a building where a group of protesters had taken refuge, with more than 40 people burned alive. The role of the police and army troops has to be to protect citizens, and to prevent demonstrations from becoming violent confrontations that increase the number of casualties; but episodes of civilians being shot by police or army have been reported. This cannot be tolerated. Therefore AEGEE-Europe calls for an independent, big scale investigation to determine responsibilities and clarify the role of external powers and extreme-right groups such as the Pravyi Sektor in the radicalisation of the confrontations.

The situation in these regions is close to a civil war, with skirmishes from both sides and casualties on a daily basis. Another war, a media and propaganda one, is fought from both sides, making it extremely complicated to understand what is really happening in the region. The fact that journalists are among the victims of gunfire, and frequently threatened and kept captive, is another proof of how far the situation has arrived.

The days before the Ukrainian elections next Sunday will be extremely unstable, as the increase of victims in the past days after some relatively calm days cries. We express our will that the whole Ukrainian society refrains from any form of violence, in order to allow democracy to work free from external pressures. As part of a new project to support democracy in Europe, our organisation has sent a delegation of 21 members as International Observers, in cooperation with local organisations and after participating in OSCE trainings. We hope for a new, fresh leadership coming out of these elections, strong enough to put back Ukraine on track and to close this dark chapter of the country’s history.


Written by Miguel Gallardo, Comité Directeur AEGEE-Europe.
With the contribution of the Eastern Partnership Project of AEGEE-Europe and different members of AEGEE from Russian and Ukrainian locals.
Pictures from EaP project, @pmarsupia and @MaximEristavi

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Europe on Track 2 empowers European youth to become actors in the construction of the Europe of tomorrow /europe-on-track-2-empowers-european-youth-to-become-actors-in-the-construction-of-the-europe-of-tomorrow-2/ Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:30:08 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1022 AEGEE-Europe launched on Wednesday 9th April the project Europe on Track 2. After presenting the project in the press conference at the European Parliament, six ambassadors divided in two teams began their traveling by train all over the European continent during one month, with the objective of interviewing young people from various backgrounds about their vision of Europe.

To set the context, the results and the documentary from the first edition (winner of the 2013 European Charlemagne Youth Prize) were presented to the audience. Then the project coordinators introduced the features of Europe on Track 2, which this time focuses on encouraging young people to get involved as active citizens and capture possible ways of participating in the construction of the European Project.

At a time when European integration is being questioned, and when young people’s future prospects have become hazy, Europe on Track wants to act as a loudspeaker for the youth, bringing their opinion, their realities and their wishes to decision-makers” Réka Salamon, project coordinator, said.

The six travelers will visit 25 cities in 16 countries, reaching as far as the Baltics, the Balkans and Ukraine. In local events they will discuss about mobility programmes, youth employment, the European elections, youth participation and europtimism. All the discussions and insights will be documented with videos, pictures and articles shared in the Europe on Track blog and through social media.

In order to overcome the geographical and time limits, Europe on Track partners with Debating Europe to host two online debates on youth mobility and youth participation. “With this partnership we hope to spark online discussion that can add to the project’s results, engaging more young people and even not-so-young people from all European countries“, said Rocío Leza, project coordinator.

AEGEE also counts with the support of Interrail, who makes this ambitious project possible. Besides, our partner Youth For Public Transport supports the sustainable transport of the travelers by providing them with a carbon footprint calculator created especially for the project. “We thought that there was no better way of contributing to the project than supporting the sustainable transport of the ambassadors, providing them with the possibility to really think about their mobility choices!” in words of Jerome Kisielewicz, Y4PT.

Find more about Europe on Track:
We invite you to follow the upcoming events of ‘Europe on track’ on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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AEGEE-Europe celebrates visa-free travel for Moldovan citizens /aegee-europe-celebrates-visa-free-travel-for-moldovan-citizens/ Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:25:26 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1008 Promotion of youth mobility and related programs plays a significant role in the current policy of AEGEE-Europe / European Students’ Forum. The decision of the Council of the European Union on April 3rd, granting Moldova with a visa-free travel regime, brought on the hope that further developments in this sphere are to come shortly for other members of the Eastern Partnership program of the European Union.

Throughout its activities, AEGEE-Europe has always proved that Europe can be a border-less territory where democracy, respect for human rights and freedom are treated on equal terms. In regards to the decision made by the Council, we would like to asseverate that freedom of movement is an essential right that every European citizen should be granted with. Moreover, we believe it should not apply only to residents of the European Union. Within the mentioned framework, our emphasis is deservedly put on Moldova, the first Eastern Partnership country which has been given a chance to move forward with the integration processes.

The visa-free access to the Schengen area for Moldovan citizens with biometric passports is a result of the visa liberalisation dialogue between the European Union and Moldova initiated in 2010. Since then, the country has successfully implemented many reforms in areas such as the strengthening of the rule of law, combating organised crime, corruption, illegal migration and improving the administrative capacity in border control and security of documents. Although this meaningful sign of the European solidarity is highly welcomed by our association, we still assume all the Eastern Partnership countries as the integral parts of the European Community with a right to well-managed and secure mobility.

AEGEE-Europe has put an effort on the integration of the countries from the Eastern Partnership region in the recent years. First, highlighting the relevance of  the region in our Strategic Plan 2011-14 (Focus Area “Bridging Europe”); and second, through AEGEE’s own Eastern Partnership project, which has been active for three years with great success, and which is starting now its second cycle with a new team and updated objectives.

 

Written by Adrian Browarczyk,
Project Manager of the Eastern Partnership Project of AEGEE-Europe

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AEGEE welcomes the launch of EU-Serbia Accession Talks /aegee-welcomes-the-launch-of-eu-serbia-accession-talks/ Wed, 05 Feb 2014 11:17:42 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=926 On January 21st, the official negotiations with Serbia on its accession to the European Union were opened at the first meeting of the Accession Conference at the Ministerial level. The EU delegation, headed by Greece’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Evangelos Venizelos, presented to the Serbian colleagues the “Negotiating Framework” which takes into account the experience of the most recent EU enlargements and on-going accession negotiations. It reflects as well Serbia’s own merits and specific country characteristics. The main aim of the launched negotiations is to prepare Serbia integrally to adopting the EU legislation and ensuring its full implementation and enforcement within the state.

AEGEE-European Students’ Forum would like to express its satisfaction within the recent developments in the EU-Serbia relationship.

Serbia, a country shattered by bloody fratricidal wars back in 1990’s as a result of the collapse of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and who suffered successive reductions of their territory, has progressed a lot within the frame of  the Stabilisation and Association Process for the Western Balkans. The government in Belgrade has implemented big steps towards establishing competitive and well functioning market economy, thus making the country a reliable regional partner of the European Union.

In addition, within the recent months, the Serbian Government has shown a strong commitment for further deepening its relations with the EU, based on the common and shared values. The Serbian authorities have also undertaken visible and constructive steps towards the peaceful settlement of the existing conflict with Kosovo.

AEGEE, as an organisation striving for socially, economically and politically integrated Europe, would like to welcome the ongoing developments and launched EU-Serbia Accession talks. We have local representation in 4 Serbian cities (Belgrade, Kragujevac, Niš, Novi Sad) and we consider that the strong involvement of the civil society, and namely the young people and youth organisations, is vital for development of multilateral discussions over the EU accession process and talks.

The Republic of Serbia has stepped on a fundamentally new stage of its development through initiating the accession talks with the EU. Meanwhile, we would like to highlight the necessity and urgency of sustainability of the undertaken reforms namely in the fields of good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption policy, independence of key state institutions, protection of ethnic minorities and enrooting of active business environment in the country. Only in case of strong commitment to implement the respective reforms, the EU accession talks may be beneficial for the Republic of Serbia.

Armenak Minasyants, Policy Officer for European Neighbourhood Policy of AEGEE-Europe

 

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AEGEE-Europe condemns the new Ukrainian freedom-limiting legislation /aegee-europe-condemns-the-new-ukrainian-freedom-limiting-legislation/ /aegee-europe-condemns-the-new-ukrainian-freedom-limiting-legislation/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 16:05:42 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=871 The members of AEGEE-Europe / European Students’ Forum are deeply concerned with the recent adoption by the Ukrainian Parliament (Verhovna Rada) of a new draft law that would severe multiple basic freedoms in the country. The law was approved on January 16th during a very irregular Parliamentary session, and is now waiting to be signed by President Viktor Yanukovych.

 

Photo: Reuters

AEGEE, as a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation, has proclaimed in its statement of principles that freedom and human rights are essential elements of a European society. Through respecting these values, we strive and stand for an inclusive society where citizens enjoy equal opportunities and rights. In this context, we oppose and deeply condemn any law which in any sense could limit the fundamental rights of the Ukrainian citizens, impede their freedom of assembly and speech, and put under the state control the activities of rightful civil society actors such as independent NGOs and think tanks.

We would like to express our strong support to all representatives of the Ukrainian civil society, and specially the members of our branches in the Ukrainian territory. We are convinced that the signature of this draft law, which contradicts the current Constitution of Ukraine and through a process that violates the existing national parliamentary procedures, is against the interest of the Ukrainian citizens.

At the same time, we fear that this anti-democratic law, which directly contradicts to the European commitments of Ukraine such as the European Convention of Human Rights, may lead to an aggravation of the stagnation of the EU-Ukraine relations. Even though the door to Ukraine’s integration with the European Union remains open (as most of the EU high ranked officials commented, see for instance the speech of Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament), we consider that in case of adoption of this law the negotiations may remain closed for an uncertain period of time.

Moreover, AEGEE-Europe would like to denounce the spread of similar laws in other countries of Europe, even inside the EU, as the case of the Spanish ‘Citizens Safety Law’ proposal, which also was signaled by Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights. At a time when citizens are demanding more democracy, these laws against fundamental rights just go in the opposite direction.

Written by Armenak Minasyants, Policy Officer of AEGEE-Europe for European Neighbourhood Policy.

 

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AEGEE stands with the pro-European Ukrainians /aegee-stands-with-the-pro-european-ukrainians/ /aegee-stands-with-the-pro-european-ukrainians/#comments Fri, 22 Nov 2013 17:53:35 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=809 AEGEE-Europe, shocked by the very recent decision of the Ukrainian Government to suspend the process of preparation for signature of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Ukraine at the EU-EaP Vilnius Summit, would like to present the following statement:

Within the last 4 years, Ukraine has signed the visa facilitation agreement and implemented many reforms, which led to the perspective of signing the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU in the next days. For the last 15 months, we all were closely following the way of Ukraine to the EaP Vilnius Summit, and on many occasions we have expressed our sincere hope for the success of this process. However, there were more than two sides involved into this story. Russian Federation has always considered Ukraine as its resource partner and a strong candidate for joining the so called “Customs Union”, which includes Kazakhstan and Belarus. At the high point, when it has been announced that Ukraine is taking the pro-European external political direction, the pressure from the Russian Federation towards Ukraine has peaked.

In our statement of September 16, 2013 we shared our concerns and condemned the economic coercion exerted by the Russian authorities towards Ukraine, Moldova and Armenia. However, the Russian Federation, not taking into account the calls from the EU institutions and officials that the EaP program was not established to harm bilateral relations of the EaP countries with the Russian Federation,  has extended its pressure to the media blackmailing campaign focused on possible European integration of Ukraine. Even under such pressure from its’ Eastern neighbor, the Ukrainian government was still planning to sign the mentioned agreements in Vilnius. Therefore, the statement made by the Ukrainian government on 21st of November was shocking not only for any common Ukrainian citizen, but also for the European Union. One of the countries that has shown the biggest interest and has made bigger efforts in the European Integration over the past years is now making a sudden u-turn in its external policy and stopping the required preparations for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, to be held next week.

At AEGEE-Europe, we would like to state our serious concerns on such decision. We join the statement 131121/04 of the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on Ukraine and underline that – as a panEuropean student association standing for liberty, democracy, and respect for human rights and the rule of law – we are fully supporting the European integration of Ukraine as an example for all other countries of the EaP programme. We stand strong with our commitment to the members of AEGEE in Ukraine, young people, students and all Ukrainian citizens in their will for the European integration and better future. We hope that the Ukrainian government, Parliament and President will take into account  the raising movement of #Euromaidan. AEGEE-Europe once again expresses its strict condemnation towards the political and economic pressure exercised by the Russian authorities, since they are in conflict with the right of each sovereign state to decide its political roadmap for the future.

Since its establishment in 1985, AEGEE strives for a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe, which is socially, economically and politically integrated, and values the participation of young people in its construction and development. Exactly 20 years ago the first Ukrainian local representation of AEGEE join our Network, which we consider to be a clear indication of the fact that the European community and fundamental values since the collapse of the Soviet Union have become also part of Ukraine and the Ukrainian civil society. Since 1993 there have  been more than 10 local representations/branches of AEGEE established around Ukraine which led to broad promotion of the European values and European education programmes among the local students and young people. Our association has always supported will of the Ukrainian students to build better society and bring their country closer to the European dream.In regard to our support of the ongoing Eastern Partnership Programme, in 2011 we established AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project, which currently works on the priority directions of the leading EU institutes and brings additional thematic impact to the actions of our organisation. Since 2011 we have been working for both sides: promoting European Values and European Union in 6 countries of the EaP programme as well as raising awareness in EU on current actions in the EaP region, promoting cultural heritage and history of EaP regions, closely following development of the EaP programme as well as the progress done by every single country.

Written by Alla Resheten, Project Manager of the AEGEE-Europe EaP Project, and Armenak Minasyants, Policy Officer of AEGEE-Europe for European Neighbourhood Policy.

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Concerns about the Russian movements before the Vilnius Summit /concerns-russian-movements-vilnius-summit/ Mon, 16 Sep 2013 16:59:10 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=723 AEGEE-Europe’s Reaction on the Latest Developments within the EU Eastern Partnership Program and Pressure Exercised by Russia

Within the last weeks the Head Office of AEGEE-Europe was following up the political developments in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP)  who previously officially expressed on the highest level their willingness sign the Association Agreement, and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union.

At the end of November 2013, the Eastern Partnership Summit will take place in Vilnius (LT). This summit will discuss the establishment of closer relations between the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries. So far, the EaP Program has worked towards providing better economic association and political integration of the Eastern Partnership members with the European Union. Also the EU Eastern Partnership Program has improved cooperation in the youth sector. Through the EaP the youth in these countries have achieved better social inclusion and have raised the quality of life of young people who have benefited from several European programs. These programs, mostly funded by the EU institutions, focused mostly in participation, mobility and education opportunities.

We witnessed in the past weeks with concern huge political pressure and speculations exercised on the EaP countries by a third party. At the brink of the upcoming Vilnius Summit, the Russian authorities are showing their reluctance to let the former Soviet allies make moves towards the European Union. Russia has set up its own equivalent of the Eastern Partnership, namely the “Customs Union”, and now Russian authorities exert pressure the Eastern Partnership countries to leave the European track and follow the Eurasian one.

AEGEE-Europe is deeply concerned with such political approach and we denounce the use of economic threats and sanctions exercised against Moldova (Russian authorities banned import of Moldovan wines, one of the country’s biggest source of income) and Ukraine (Russian authorities warned Ukraine for protective measures if Ukraine signs the Association Agreement), since they are in conflict with the right of each sovereign state to decide its political roadmap.

AEGEE-Europe emphasizes also the urgency in the EU-Armenia Association Process, which has been basically frozen as a result of the above mentioned pressure exercised by the Kremlin. On September 3rd 2013, after 3 and half years of successful and finalized negotiations on Association Agreement and DCFTA with the EU, the Armenian authorities expressed willingness to retreat from the European prospect and join in the Russian-led “Customs Union”. This decision was followed up by anti-governmental protests in Yerevan, which led to violence sometimes. Two members of protest groups (Haykak Arshamyan, from the Yerevan Press Club YPC, and Suren Saghatelyan, from Transparency International-Anticorruption Center Armenia-TI Armenia) were beaten on September 5 by a group of ‘unknown assailants’ as they returned from demonstration in support of the Armenia-EU integration process. Those intimidating attacks led to a statement of the EU Member States’ Heads of Mission in Armenia which AEGEE-Europe supports, and we call upon the Armenian authorities to take the required steps to protect the civil society.

Simultaneously, AEGEE-Europe wants to express full support to its only local representation in Armenia, AEGEE-Yerevan, and assure the members of the Organization, the Armenian students and the respective stakeholders that the activities and projects of AEGEE will not be frozen in Armenia. We again emphasize the urgency for the Armenian authorities to develop a multilateral structured dialogue with the representative of the civil society, with special attention to the youth sector, which will give overcome the existing deadlock.

We consider that the recent developments in Armenia and the pressure exercised on Moldova and Ukraine by the Russian authorities will have a very negative impact for the future of the Eastern Partnership, risking the advances in the recent 3-4 years. The countries of the Eastern Partnership can become more hesitant to sign documents with the EU. Unfortunately this may lead also to the stagnation in the field of youth cooperation with the consequent loss of opportunities for young people in the EaP countries.  Cooperation, exchanges and understanding will find more obstacles. The carefully build up relations between EU-EaP programs for formal and non-formal education will lose their visible impact. We give special importance to the position expressed in the official statements done by the European Commissioner Štefan Füle and the High Representative Baroness Catherine Ashton, as well as we appreciate the approach expressed at the special session of the European Parliament dedicated to analyze the external pressure on the EaP countries. We would like to express our full support to the principles of legal non-compliance of the Association Agreement and DCFTA with the legal framework of the “Customs Union”, as well as we call up the EaP authorities to avoid any misinterpretations of the mentioned legal documents.

AEGEE-Europe restates its faith in a Europe standing for liberty, democracy, and respect for human rights and the rule of law, and our will to cooperate with institutions that promote these concepts. In our belief, the surprising decisions of Armenia have brought additional doubts to the future of the EU Eastern Partnership program in general. Additionally we witness increasing political and economic pressure by the Russian authorities on the EaP states to abandon their pro European policies. We consider such pressure as an inappropriate tool for development of the relationships with the EaP countries. The EaP program was not established to harm bilateral relations of the EaP countries with the Russian Federation, but foremost to give the EU Neighboring Eastern partners chance to develop market economies as well as fully functioning democracies which would correspond to the EU standards.

Written by Armenak Minasyants, Policy Officer of AEGEE-Europe for the Bridging Europe area, and Alla Resheten and Mara Ioana, from the Eastern Partnership project of AEGEE-Europe.

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Closing our eyes in Azerbaijan? No, thank you! /election-observers-azerbaijan-european-parliament/ Wed, 04 Sep 2013 06:45:57 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=711 The European Parliament’s Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group decided last July 13th that the European Union will not send a delegation of observers for the presidential elections in Azerbaijan next October. This controversial decision contrasts with the presence of the EU as observer in the last Presidential elections in the country, lacked a proper explanation and therefore left the door open for different interpretations.

On one side, the Azerbaijan authorities celebrated the decision and presented it as an endorsement to the good health of democracy in the country. On the other hand, Human Rights organizations protested since they were seriously concerned that this decision was motivated by the wish of pleasing the Azerbaijan government since the EU has strategical investments in the country.

AEGEE has been involved in the Caucasus region since 2004 and we cannot find a coherent explanation to the decision of the European Parliament. The status of the Azerbaijan democracy is constantly questioned by Civil Society Organizations inside and outside the country, the results of the previous EOMs were not concluding unanimously the absence of abnormalities, and even the Council of Europe has a divided position sometimes in the situation in Azerbaijan regarding sensible topics such as the situation of political prisoners.

For these reasons, we motion the European Parliament to reconsider their decision during the meeting of the Conference of Presidents, next September 5th.We have sent a letter to the president of the European Parliament to voice our concern and we hope they revert the decision.

We believe it is in the interest of the Republic of Azerbaijan to receive a big delegation of EU observers in the presidential elections in October. Azerbaijan should multiply the effort to guarantee free and democratic elections, to obtain a positive report from the Observers. Without a unanimous positive report, the elected president will start the mandate contested internally and questioned externally. And this will not be in the benefit of the stability of Azerbaijan and the region.

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