borderless – 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. Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:38:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.12 Borderless Europe: Blessing or Burden? /borderless-europe-blessing-or-burden-2/ Mon, 16 May 2016 12:14:27 +0000 /?p=6537 The Borderless Europe: Blessing or Burden? Conference was held in Cluj-Napoca, in the heart of Transylvania, between 6th and 9th of May, gathering together around 60 young students from all over Europe. The event was the result of an active cooperation between AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca, AEGEE-Europe, Your vision for EUrope project and with the large contribution of the Association des Amis de Franck Bancheri .

The initial reasons that pushed people to get involved in the conference may have been different and so are the ways they got active- whether as participants or organizers-. However the vision, points of view and opinions share a common ground, which are to be found in the confidence and in the belief they have for the project and for Europe itself.

The Your Vision for Europe is a young project within AEGEE, which brings together 18 young motivated AEGEEans, that despite the fact they all come from different cultural background, from EU or not EU contries, they believe exactly in the same core values, being this the keypoint helping them to actively work towards their vision, aiming at a more unified Europe.

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The conference was just the first one of the conferences that Your Vision for Europe is planning to organize in the upcoming months. The event turned out to be a successful set of three full days of learning, sharing and putting different views of many Europeans together, ideas in which young people believe, and are ready to put into practice, i.e. to translate the most outstanding ideas into concrete actions in order to achieve improvements in the society we live in.

The Conference’s main purpose was to encourage mutual understanding between young Europeans, that were gathered together not only to acknowledge and discuss their personal viewpoints that may or may not greatly differ from those of the others, but also to foster understanding that the vision we have for the European Project is shared, showing that whatever problems we may face from where we are standing, could be overcome in the direction in which we are moving. A number of excellent ideas of all the joint endeavours we as Young people could possibly undertake together will have a great say in Europe’s future, was outreached through numerous sessions, panel discussions, and a broadcast of a dystopian documentary The Great European Disaster Movie.

One of the highlights of the Conference was, however, the Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri Award, namely the Franck Biancheri Award, which this year went to AEGEE- Cluj-Napoca. In fact, it was not a coincidence that the conference took place in Cluj-Napoca, that it happens to have been awarded the European Youth Capital title back in 2015.

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The Franck Biancheri Awards is a key-component in the strategy of the Association des Amis Franck Biancheri in favor of perpetuation of Franck’s work. The Franck Biancheri Award is showing the close relation that Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri has with AEGEE and how selflessly supports it to keep influencing and pushing for the democratization of European decision making processes that remains unchanged, as advocated by Franck himself.

The whole conference delivered a deep message that first steps towards a borderless Europe are, first of all, the demolition of any mental borders, but most importantly we don’t have to be afraid of situations we did not expect because in the end those are the ones that shape our identity and defines who we actually are. It can be the refugees crisis, a topic very much tackled lately, it can be the European crisis, which refers to the political crisis, the one of values and finally the economical one. Depending on our reactions, we grow or we stay the same, but only by facing the harsh times together we can make progresses and improve our own society. This is how we strengthen our belief that eurosceptism is not an answer, nor an alternative.

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The aim was to deal with the idea of a borderless Europe , how we perceive it and how media generally presents it. It was important to find out, or to remember, how European Union became what it is nowadays and why the Founding Fathers came to this solution, what were the circumstances and the precise historical background. This was a very important step as it helped participants to understand what direction we, young people, are going right now and what kind of union we want. Raising awareness about how we can actively change things and have our say within the system was more than crucial.

After their first success, the Your Vision for Europe Project team is working hard and getting ready for next conference that will take place somewhere else in Europe in autumn 2016. Stay tuned to find out more!

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Team blue in Zagreb: Experiencing Hungarian/Croatian Border /team-blue-in-zagreb-experiencing-hungariancroatian-border/ Thu, 05 May 2016 11:10:05 +0000 /?p=6481 By Hanna Polishchuk

Everything seemed wonderful at the beginning, but as soon as we approached the Hungarian-Croatian border, the tension began to rise. We thought it is just another ticket control, but the woman asked for the passport. So, we gave our documents to her. The Italian one was turned back quite fast but when she was checking the Ukrainian, at some point we heard her saying “Kaput!” and she left the wagon with the passport. At this point my heart beating was increasing and we all were anxiously waiting for the verdict. At some point, they also asked for Ksenia’s passport and the tension became even stronger. Minutes seemed like hours. Luckily it finished soon, and we were relieved by the sound of stamps in our passports. However, during the rest of the trip, the feeling of worrying didn’t disappear even for a moment. That is the real example of what citizens of the countries outside the Schengen area go through on the borders.

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Zagreb greeted us with rain but Zvonimir Canjuga from AEGEE-Zagreb welcomed us so warmly that the weather was not important anymore. The first thing he did was taking us to have dinner so that we could gain some more energy after the trip. The size of plates was incredible, and Croatian food was delicious! When we came to our hosts, Milivoj and Ana, we were working on the sessions’ content to be ready for the next day.DSC_0765

Friday morning our team went out for interviewing people. The majority was not willing to participate but we managed to ask some students and were impressed with their answers. Most of them are very dissatisfied with the current right-wing government in Croatia and its policies. People disapprove its nationalistic inclination. After all, youth participation in Croatia is very low at the moment, it seems that young people do not care so much, and the last elections are the result of it.

When we talk about the borders, at some point this question becomes sensitive. The opinions get divided when we speak about the Schengen borders and the Balkan ones. There is still tension between Croatia and Serbia but mostly in the minds of older generations; younger people are more open but not totally. Regarding the EU, it is very strict about the borders policy. The most influential EU countries dictate terms to those that play the role of doors to the Schengen area. They are not interested in letting refugees moving the whole route to Germany, Austria, France or Belgium. If conditions are not fulfilled and there is the slightest possibility of a threat, they close the border as it happened between Hungary and Croatia. After the Balkan route of refugees was shut down, Hungary reopened the border. Zagreb citizens see one of the solutions as tighter cooperation between countries in their policies.DSC_0897

During the debates about opening or closing borders from the EU neighboring countries, participants looked at the problem from the both sides. On the one hand, the main reasons of opening the borders according to them, are: helping those whose life is threatened and who are fleeing from the war, promoting solidarity and humanitarianism, fighting xenophobia and, thus, making the world a better place. On the other, there are also the reasons to close the frontiers such as security issues together with the risk of terrorism, cultural conflict, increasing amount of economic refugees, health risk, capacity overload and constant conflicts with neighboring countries.

The possible solutions to deal with borders would be, first of all, improving the security system, allocating resources according to the number of accepted refugees, educating and integrating both citizens and refugees, and informing the public about current issues. The problem with security of borders is that each country has its own security system, and they don’t share any information about it. It is yet not clear how to improve this cooperation, though. The major question we heard from Croatian youth was “why should people be restricted in movement whether they want to study, work or travel abroad?” The complicated procedures of getting visa draw them back from mobility, which is an essential factor of development.

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Taking into account the questionnaire, Croatian students who participated in it defined Europe as home. As for most of them it is easy to travel from one country to another without visa, they defined it as borderless Europe; however, some respondents feel those borders either on their own experience or their friend’s from the non-Schengen area. Nika Alujević, Croatian student, 26, defined Europe as a “beautiful idea, with successful past (from 1950’s of course,not before), contested present, endangered/non-secure future”. Young people see many borders in Europe. Apart from the physical ones they talk about cultural, political, social, economiс, national and even borders of values. Most borders grow from people’s mindsets, and unless they are changed the problems will only increase.

This important discussion took place thanks to AEGEE-Zagreb, and made us ask ourselves the questions that we did not dare to ask before. Obviously there are many unfortunate events going on out there but let’s not forget about our own participation in it. We can either improve or deteriorate the situation. By becoming active, we can challenge our decision-makers, and make our opinion heard. Our team hopes that people will wake up from the illusions and start acting.
Big thanks to AEGEE-Zagreb for making this event possible! These people took a good care of us since the moment we arrived till our next train. The next stations will be fast, but hopefully we will have the possibility to learn as much as in this city of hearts.

 

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