Eastern Partnership – 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 For the first time in history: AEGEE Agora in Chisinau, Moldova /for-the-first-time-in-history-aegee-agora-in-chisinau-moldova/ Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:49:36 +0000 /?p=6885 The AEGEE Agora is the space to inspire the new generation of our members and to reconnect more experienced ones. A 5-days event filled with knowledge and cultural exchange put into practice, with over 700 people travelling to Chisinau, Moldova between 11-16th October.

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In times, when all European eyes are questioning the ideological and political nature of the European project and the discourses are focusing largely on internal matters of the EU and Brexit; AEGEE travelled outside the European Union to hold the general assembly and to discover the local reality of Moldova, a frontrunner of the EU Eastern Partnership programme.

The general assembly started on the 11th October with the ‘Perspectives and Prospects: from Eastern Partnership to EU’ Youth Conference. The event received the support of the New Narratives for Europe project of the European Commission, enabling the participants of the event to reflect on the European dimension of local discourses and exchanges. The youth of Moldova feels belonging to Europe and are wishful towards the future cooperation possibilities with other European countries.

Session about Eastern Partnership - led by AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project!

Session about Eastern Partnership – led by AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project!

Besides the general assembly of the organisation, the participants of the AEGEE Agora also got a chance to gain insight into the current social and political situation of Moldova. With the upcoming presidential elections at the end of October, with a divided society caught between pro-Russian and pro-European sentiments, with extreme rate of poverty and unmeployment, and the country’s concerning future prospects, the youth of Moldova is facing challenging times ahead.

The international participants also had the chance to reflect more on a local context very different from their own and this also supported the thematic discussions within AEGEE. Among many items on the agenda of the general assembly, the future thematic focuses of the organisations have also been defined for the next three years.

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Session with guest speaker: board member of the European Youth Forum

Between 2017-2020, AEGEE is going to work towards a better Europe by building capacity and active engagement of her members in the following focus area topics:

  • Equal Rights
  • Civic Education
  • Youth Development
  • European Citizenship

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The Agora is a space for learning – as it has always been. From procedural motions and plenary requirements, from sideroom discussions to long evening talks about the future of Europe, from practicing direct democracy and the excitement of voting and elections, the AEGEE Agora has once again brought hundreds of Europeans together for one unforgettable event that will aspire them to be active European citizens.

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Thank you AEGEE-Chisinau

for the unforgettable experience and for welcoming all of us in your home!

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You can find more coverage of the AEGEE Agora in Moldova under the following links:

http://moldpres.md/news/2016/10/11/16008079

http://sfm.md/2016/autumn-agora-chisinau-2016-everybody-in-the-casa-mare/

http://diez.md/2016/09/28/chisinaul-va-gazdui-cel-mai-important-eveniment-al-asociatiei-studentilor-europeni-iata-cand-va-avea-loc/

http://diez.md/2016/10/10/recomandari-de-evenimente-pentru-ziua-de-marti-11-octombrie/

http://diez.md/2016/10/13/foto-aegee-chisinau-organizat-un-eveniment-pentru-tineri-si-50-de-voluntari-din-mai-multe-tari-europene/

http://trm.md/en/social/tineri-din-peste-40-de-tari-se-vor-intalni-la-chi-sinau-in-cadrul-unei-conferin-te/

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Position Paper on the EU Eastern Partnership Programme /position-paper-on-the-eu-eastern-partnership-programme/ Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:02:38 +0000 /?p=5471

BACKGROUND

The Eastern Partnership (hereinafter “EaP”) Prague Summit in May 2009 launched a strategic and ambitious EaP Programme as a specific dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy. In 2013, the European Union evaluated the achievements of its European Neighbourhood Policy and, more specifically, the level of cooperation with its Eastern neighbours.

Within the last 4-5 years, most participating countries in the EaP Programme (includes – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) have successfully implemented a number of required reforms at home and abroad (i.e. improvements to domestic democratic processes, international economic cooperation agreements, and thoroughly negotiated and signed Association Agreements).([1]) To that end, the EaP Programme has introduced a new kind of Association Agreement that encompasses the following key elements: Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with countries willing and able to enter into such an engagement, gradual integration in the European Union (EU) economy, easier travel to the EU through visa liberalization, and sophisticated measures to tackle illegal immigration.

The negotiated Association Agreements for EaP countries (Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) have addressed numerous issues including political close association with the EU, political reforms, dialogue and cooperation on foreign and security policy issues, and economic cooperation and trade. As a consequence, these agreements have encouraged cooperation in the fields of migration, rule of law, human rights, fight against crime and corruption, protection of personal data, and cooperation against trafficking and terrorism. However, they do not guarantee nor envision EU membership for EaP countries. Nevertheless, the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (hereinafter “DCFTA”) is a part of the negotiated agreements that affords EaP countries the opportunity to develop European-oriented functioning national economies, which would enable them to overcome considerable financial difficulties (insofar as they are focused on market competition, technical barriers for implementation of free trade, intellectual property rights, export duties and restrictions, and sanitary and/or phytosanitary measures).

The EU-EaP Vilnius Summit was a landmark event in the context of the EaP Programme, insofar as it dispelled any myths that Association Agreements and DCFTAs are secret documents that are unavailable and withheld from the public. Ultimately, the Vilnius Summit had mixed results: while Georgia and Moldova initialed and signed Association Agreements and DCFTAs with the EU, Ukraine and Armenia did not sign or initial agreements of their own due to political reasons and newly undertaken international commitments towards the third parties. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan signed the Visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU, thus breathing new life into the visa dialogue between the two sides. However, the EU gained better knowledge and experience about how to approach each partner country after the Vilnius Summit.

The EaP Programme is a policy that seeks to create opportunities for everyone. In terms of the principle of conditionality (i.e. “More for more – and less for less”), we can reasonably argue that Eastern partners take into consideration the progress which the respective partner countries have achieved, thus: the more they are reforming – the more assistance they will receive from available European institutions. In this sense, the EaP Programme is grounded in political association based on the notion of shared European values and principles, not to mention the commitment of the Eastern neighbours to enroot those values in their own domestic political affairs and act in the spirit of the principle “more for more.”

AEGEE-EUROPE AND THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME

Through our experience in a large European students’ network, we have seen how unequally educational/work /social opportunities are distributed among young people in the eastern and western parts of European continent. AEGEE-Europe is deeply convinced that ensuring equal opportunities for young people all over Europe will be beneficial for the continent at large. In support of the ongoing EaP Programme, AEGEE-Europe established the AEGEE EaP Project in 2011, as a mean of improving the knowledge of EU Member States and the EaP Programme States citizens about the existing challenges and visions of further European integration.

The AEGEE EaP project takes into account the principles of the EaP Programme and adds a youth perspective to it. We perceive a huge need for intercultural youth exchange in order to develop active citizenship and democratic participation in an integrated and developing Europe. When trying to establish a partnership of equal states and equal peoples, as it is the goal of the European Union and the EaP Programme, one significant need is to learn about each other’s perspectives for a shared future, to define common values on which this future can be built, and, at base, to get to know each other and become familiar with the political and social landscape in neighbouring countries.

As a pan-European organisation, the members of the AEGEE EaP Project stand in solidarity from a multitude of perspectives, building and strengthening a common European identity. This diversity of perspective has allowed us to develop the AEGEE EaP Project in a way that meets the needs of young people from all over Europe.

AEGEE-EUROPE RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME

EU Should Ensure the Sustainability of Ongoing Reforms in EaP Countries:

Within the last four years, various reforms and EU funded projects have been launched and implemented in all EaP Countries. However, the sustainability of all implemented programs and reforms should be considered as a high priority for the EU in a long term strategy. The sustainable and visible results of these projects may eventually encourage greater multilateral dialogue and integration of EaP countries with the EU. Taking into account the variety of ongoing EU funded programmes in all EaP countries, AEGEE-Europe recommends that the European Commission ensures the sustainability of the reforms, calls upon the European Council and EU Member States to take further actions in this direction.

EU and EaP Individual Partners Should Boost Visa Liberalization Talks:

AEGEE-Europe stands for a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe that is socially, economically and politically integrated, and values the participation of young people in its construction and development. The young people and youth workers are increasingly mobile across Europe. Most of the EaP countries have already successfully finalized and begun to implement provisions of the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements with the EU. However, even in “facilitated conditions,” the existing visa regimes are a huge obstacle to the mobility of young people. In this regard, AEGEE-Europe once again strongly encourages the European Commission and the Schengen Area Countries Authorities to develop certain and unified successful, tested model of online visa application schemes, and to establish shared one-window mechanisms for registering, applying, submitting and receiving Schengen visas, thus avoiding any possible situation in which young people’s, students, volunteers and/or workers’ right to mobility may be threatened.

As it has been mentioned in the Final Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum in Kaunas (October 22nd -25th, 2013), the support for young people’s mobility needs to happen  at every level as well as continued negotiations on the abolishment of visa requirements for young people, especially from EaP countries.([2])

In accordance with Focus Area 3 of Strategic Plan 2014-2017 of AEGEE-Europe ([3]), Visa liberalisation remains a shared objective of individual EaP partner countries and the EU alike in furtherance of “people to people” contacts.

AEGEE-Europe strongly recommends that the national authorities of individual EaP partner countries take constructive and feasible steps to provide grounds for well-managed, organised and secure mobility, thus advancing the ambitious Visa Liberalisations Action Plans with the EU.

EaP Individual Partner Countries Should Undertake Individual Reforms in the Judiciary:

AEGEE-Europe strongly encourages and calls on all EaP individual partner countries to make further steps in strengthening democracy, and guaranteeing respect for human rights and rule of law. We suggest that they take these steps by reforming their judiciaries and strengthening just law enforcement at home, thus excluding any possibility of prosecution based on political views, religion, and gender. We deeply regret any arrest or acquisition based on the political activities of EaP partner countries’ citizens, even if their views contradict to the respective government’s official platform.

These views are reinforced by the Joint Declaration of the Third Eastern Partnership Summit (organised in Vilnius on November 28th-29th, 2013), which highlights the continued need for human rights work in Eastern Partnership countries.([4])

Enhanced Focus on the Role of Civil Society and Youth

The participants of the Vilnius Summit recognize the valuable role of civil society within the Eastern Partnership Programme, insofar as civil society constitutes an integral element of a well-functioning democracy. As a full member of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (hereinafter EaP CSF) since 2011, AEGEE-Europe would like to highlight the contribution and impact of the EaP CSF in the promotion of democracy, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and guarantee of cross-border cooperation throughout the Eastern Partnership region. The establishment of the permanent secretariat of the EaP Civil Society Forum ([5]) and support provided within the framework of the Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility ([6]) are other welcome steps towards more structural engagement of the civil society in the process of the European integration of the Eastern neighbours. AEGEE-Europe deeply believes in the further strengthening of the EaP CSF National Platforms ([7]). In this regard, AEGEE-Europe deeply encourages the EU Delegations in all EaP countries to set up and intensively promote special tools, such as the Civil Society Dialogue website of the EU Delegation in Armenia ([8]), aimed at providing civil society actors with the opportunity to exchange their views on a number of issues relevant to the future development of EU-EaP relations.

AEGEE-Europe deeply encourages further involvement of representatives of youth organisations in the Civil Society Forum (CSF) Multilateral Platform meetings. We gladly welcome the launch of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum which took place in Kaunas on October 22nd-25th in 2013. We intend to support the further EU-EaP youth side events. We recommend that the EU and the EaP individual partners increase dialogue with youth organisations and make the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum an annual event. In so doing, they would give participating individuals and organisations space to share alternative views of the work, direction and goals of the Eastern Partnership. A strong and consolidated youth presence will powerfully promote civic activism and “Europtimism” in the EaP region.

EaP Individual Partner Countries Should Promote the Recognition of Youth Work:

As it has been mentioned in the Final Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum in Kaunas, “the further development of youth worker competencies are needed in order to reach out to and involve minority groups in ways that other sectors can not. More specifically, youth workers need support and training in inclusion, diversity, participatory approaches, citizenship, democratic processes and human rights education. They should be empowered to identify and react to the needs of young people and the communities they work in. Training courses, competency recognition and qualification processes need to be developed and implemented. Quality inclusion youth work practices contribute to the recognition of youth work.”([9]) Accordingly, we recommend that EaP individual partner countries’ national authorities adopt long term strategies that will be responsive to the needs of young people and youth workers of the specific EaP country.

Further EU-EaP Cooperation in the Field of Education:

In the fields of higher education and non-formal education, AEGEE-Europe encourages the EU to support and/or implement well-based promotional campaign in the EaP partner countries on  promote the new “Erasmus+” programme, thus giving young people and students the opportunity to get acquainted with new procedures and possibilities affiliated with the programme. It is our belief that the opportunities afforded by “Erasmus+” will enable EaP individual partner countries to tackle issues such as youth employability and active participation in democratic life.

Greater Focus on the Civic Education of the EaP Countries

In compliance with the Focus Area 4 of Strategic Plan 2014-2017 of AEGEE-Europe ([10]), we encourage all relevant stakeholders of the EaP individual partner countries national authorities to pay special attention to the matters related to the civic education of students and young people. Civic education addresses knowledge, skills and attitudes in fields such as human rights, democratic participation, intercultural communication and sustainability. AEGEE-Europe contributes to the development of responsible citizens through non-formal educational programming, but we need to include such competences in the educational curricula of all European countries in order to have a lasting and meaningful impact.

AEGEE-EUROPE: ABOUT US

AEGEE-Europe was established 29 years ago with the vision of creating a unified Europe, grounded in democracy and respect for human rights, by bringing together students with diverse cultural backgrounds. Today, AEGEE-Europe is Europe’s largest interdisciplinary youth organisation, which includes 40 countries, 200 cities and more than 13,000 members. AEGEE-Europe enjoys participatory status in the activities of the Council of Europe, consultative status at the United Nations, operational status at UNESCO and membership in the European Youth Forum. On various occasions, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso, Mr. Martin Schulz, Mr. Stefan Fuele and Baroness Catherine Ashton have expressed their support of AEGEE-Europe activities and have given their patronage to several pan-European initiatives of the Association in the Eastern Partnership region.

 


[7] Since mid-2011 EaP Civil Society National Platforms have been established in all six Partner countries. National Platforms are valuable tools that facilitate the achievement of the goals of the Eastern Partnership in each of the respective EaP countries. They were created for the purpose of ensuring active involvement of each partner-country’s civil society in cooperation with national authorities, offering recommendations for successful implementation of EaP projects, establishing stable relations with European civil society organisations, and facilitation of communication with EU institutions at the central and local level.

[8] Please see  http://www.eu-cso.am/

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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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Welcome to the new EU-EaP priorities expressed by the European Parliament /analysing-the-priorities-of-the-european-parliament-for-eu-eap-relations/ Tue, 08 Apr 2014 16:05:49 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=998

On Wednesday 12 March 2014, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on assessing and setting priorities for EU relations with the Eastern Partnership countries (2013/2149(INI)). The Eastern Partnership Project of AEGEE-Europe warmly welcomes and supports this resolution.

Regarding points 5, 13, 15, 43 on the role of youth, education and civil society exchanges, the Eastern Partnership Project of AEGEE-Europe would like to emphasise that our objectives are:

  • Enhancing bilateral cooperation in the field of education and culture between youth from EaP and EU countries
  • Strengthening EaP youth participation by promoting active citizenship in the region
  • Developing solidarity between young people in EU countries and in the EaP region
  • Fostering a common understanding by raising awareness about the EU in the EaP region and vice versa

We call upon the particular attention of MEPs the existence of the Eastern Partnership Project of AEGEE-Europe. Founded in 2011, this project is a unique initiative created out of the commitment of young Europeans, aware of the importance of youth work and the necessity of providing young people with opportunities to experience cultural diversity. It is also crucial to the development of civil society in the six program countries.

The Eastern Partnership Project of AEGEE-Europe has developed and will continue to develop a wide range of activities (conferences, training sessions, cultural exchange programmes) within the abovementioned framework.

The Eastern Partnership Project of AEGEE-Europe would like to express its utmost willingness to fulfill these new priorities for EU-EaP relations. Given the experience of AEGEE-Europe, we are best suited to work in collaboration with the European Parliament, the European Commission and other institutions in order to bring EU and EaP countries closer.

Lea Hannaoui-Saulais, Impact Measurement Manager and Adrian Browarczyk, Project Manager
Eastern Partnership Project 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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