Europe on Track – 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 Happy birthday, Franck! /happy-birthday-franck/ Sat, 11 Mar 2017 17:35:32 +0000 /?p=7036 By Daniela Maria Maris

Today we celebrate the Birthday of Franck Biancheri, a visionary to inspire European citizens to envision and build “tomorrow”.

While being a student, in 1985, Biancheri founded the first biggest European studentnetwork, AEGEE-Europe. This and his involvement in founding the Erasmus program were the first steps in building the first generation of “Europeans”. Throughout his life he has concerned himself with the European project and the it’s flaws. In the 90’s he concerned himself with the issues of the European public funds and lack of communication between EU institutions and citizens, major problems that enabled the development of a European citizenship.Franck_Biancheri_R0011616-for-Wikipedia_15-03-2007

Franck Biancheri remains the only person who managed to build a trans-European political movement, Initiative for a European Democracy (IED) and presented lists in different countries (France, Spain and the Netherlands) in the European elections in 1989.

Continuing to focus on political anticipation and activities serving the democratization of Europe in 2000 Franck Biancheri organized the ” Newropeans 2000 – New Europe, New Challenges, New Generations ” congress in Paris. An event that brought major stakeholder together to participate at the creation of tomorrow’s Europe. 2,000 young Europeans and politicians from national and European level took part at the event which had as a result the most important e-democracy world project, Eu-StudentVote. It consisted in the online election of the first EU Student Council in June 2002.

Newropeans Democracy Marathon was also one of the major projects16904866_10154359114592045_6811806335422664527_o of Biancheri which consisted of a series of 100 conferences in 25 different European countries in one single year. The aim was to point out that the European construction has reached a crucial stage of its history and that the main challenge of this decade consists of being able to reconcile democracy and European unity. He already draw attention in 2002-2003 that fact that if not taking any action many undemocratic movements will appear in Europe also as a result of populist trends. Following this project, Franck Biancheri was elected one of Time Magazine’s 2003 European Heroes (People’s Choice). He was nominated as one of the top 25 who are changing the world of Internet and Politics, as selected by Politics Online and the 5th E-Democracy Worldwide Forum!

As former president of Newropeans, the first trans-European political movement with the objective to democratize Europe, Franck Biancheri is considered to be the first trans-European political leader in the history of European democracy. Besides this he coordinated researches at t20170224_120604045_CAMhe European Laboratory of Political Anticipation LEAP/Europe 2020, with a particular focus on the Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin. Since 2012 his legacy is carried on by AAFB. The “Education for the present – Democracy
for the future” Conference is also part of Biancheri’s legacy, to bring young Europeans together and empower them to take action and shape tomorrow’s Europe.

For more information about Franck Biancheri, his work and ideas we recommend his book

“The Emergence of Eurocitizens”
http://geab.eu/…/the-emergence-of-eurocitizens-a-must-read…/

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Do you want to “Get involved”? AEGEE-Budapest knows how! /do-you-want-to-get-involved-aegee-budapest-knows-how/ Thu, 09 Mar 2017 17:20:05 +0000 /?p=7023 By Ákos Glaub

AEGEE-Budapest is the winner of this year’s Franck Biancheri Award with the “Education for the Present, Democracy for the Future” Conference, which will be the opening conference of EoT4. AEGEE-Budapest is strongly committed to this edition’s topic, Civic Education, carrying out their local project “Get involved”. Get to know more about this interesting project thanks to AEGEE-Budapest president:20170221_181004181_CAM

Our latest event organized by AEGEE-Budapest’s very own „Get Involved!” Project explored the topic of populism. Approximately 50 students from different universities and academic fields attended the event. The discussion was part of the lecture series preceding the Franck Biancheri Award winner Conference “Education for the present, Democracy for the future” organized in April by the Budapest antenna, the Civic Education Working Group and the Europe on Track Project.

After two successful events examining the current political state of Turkey and the integration of refugees20170221_191120106_CAM the Project chose another actual and relevant subject. During a round table discussion our invited experts (Ádám Paár and Ágoston Mráz, political scientists, and Zoltán Farkas,a journalist) explored what populism really means, how people and the media use the term, thus we got to know the origins of the expression.

Furthermore, the audience could get to know the reasons why populism is so wide-spread nowadays, how it has become mainstream, and what are its effects on politics. Besides describing possible outcomes and future trends, the questions of the audience were answered and discussed.

All in all, the event brought us a closer look and better understanding of populism, a word and a trend that influences the political atmosphere all around the globe these days.

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Europe on Track is back! /europe-on-track-is-back-2/ Fri, 30 Dec 2016 09:45:16 +0000 /?p=6990 Dear AEGEEans,

Since you ratified us as an official AEGEE-Europe project at Agora Bergamo 2016, we are working really hard to organise a fantastic 4th edition of Europe on Track. Now we will announce dates and topic of EoT4 and later this week we will launch the open call for both hosting antennas and travel ambassadors.

First of all, we are pleased to announce that, in collaboration with AEGEE-Budapest and the Civic Education Working Group, we are the winners of the Franck Biancheri Award. This means that we will be opening EoT4 with a conference in Budapest from April 21-23 and from there the ambassadors will start their race through Europe on-rail for a month until we wave the finishing flag at Agora Enschede on May 23

The topic of EoT4 will be Civic Education and we will collaborate with the the Civic Education Working Group and the European Citizens’ Initiative “More than Education”.

Why Civic Education?
Civic Education is learning the competencies, i.e. skills, knowledge and attitudes, required to be an active, democratic and responsible citizen. Its ultimate goal is to educate the population on democratic citizenship and make them aware of their rights and responsibilities.Civic Education aims at fostering a culture of active participation and responsibility among citizens.

We believe Civic Education is important because in a democracy we are supposed to hold the decision makers accountable, however we are not adequately trained to do so. This leaves the citizens with a lack of understanding, and subsequently a lack of democratic control and appreciation. Civic Education is one of the most important learning tools at our disposal, as it allows people to become informed and independent individuals in society. It is an education based on critical thinking, democratic participation and a common understanding of certain values and principles

EoT4 aims to understand what civic education and civic responsibility mean to you. This in turn will help AEGEE to understand how to reach out to people in order to build an active citizenship.

Why else is this important for us?
We want to empower young people to fight for better Civic Education in their countries. Moreover, one of the aims of the current Strategic Plan is to put Civic Education on the political agenda on all levels and this is not a goal of one working group but of AEGEE as a whole. We believe Europe on Track can make this happen. Lastly, we would like to send the ambassadors to high schools as well, wherever possible, in order to increase the impact of the project and ensure broader reach of our message.

Happy holidays and we look forward to working with you in 2017!
Europe on Track team

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Last Stop of Team Blue: Naples, the City of Strong Opinions /last-stop-of-team-blue-naples-the-city-of-strong-opinions/ Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:09:36 +0000 /?p=6869 By Hanna Polischuk

And the trip of the Team Blue is coming to an end.

Arriving to the port of Naples by ferry, also provided by InterRail as well as all the trains before, the feeling of the ultimate destination made us feel a bit sad. Anyway, one more local was awaiting, so we started our preparations.13254199_616349558512685_8107840103327829189_n

Naples is not only the city of the best pizza in the world, but also a city of tradition, architecture, sea port and brave, strong opinions. Young people are not afraid to express what they think and draw attention to what they consider the important issues. A good example of the fact that the young people care and do not stand aside is the demonstration regarding the mysterious disappearance and further discovery of the tortured body of the PhD student Giulio Regeni in Egypt. We saw this demonstration while looking for interview respondents for our project, and when we saw our AEGEE member, Vincenzo as a participant, we asked him more regarding the topic and joined as well.

We organized the EoT session on the first day of our arrival. AEGEE-Napoli arranged everything in a very nice way, and even though it was grey rainy day, inside of the building we had a cozy and warm atmosphere. Moreover, the project manager of Europe on Track, Nicola Guida, and Sofia Lobakina, attended our last presentation, which was a big honour for our team members. Overall, we had 13 participants and the whole evening for the discussions.13267726_616349371846037_6546641549880635412_n

In the beginning, we introduced the project and presented the results from our trip and all the previous stops. In the next activity, which we call “Map Your Europe”, in the same way as at the previous stops, the participants were divided into two groups and had to draw Europe as they perceive it today (with or without the borders). One of the teams divided Eastern Europe, Turkey and Cyprus into 2 parts stating that one is European, the other is not. Another team just divided Cyprus and Turkey. Both of them excluded the UK. For us it was surprising to see the division of Ukraine and Russia into two parts each, that was a new approach.

444Closing our event, we had one more activity, in which everyone could express their personal opinion on the issue. There was a line with the critical points on the two edges, “yes” and “no” with “zero”, i.e. neutral opinion, in the middle. We were asking the questions, and according to their personal answers, the participants were choosing the place on the line to show how strong they agree or disagree with the statement.

Surprising for us all was the first and  we thought the easiest question, “Do you feel European?” There were not many optimistic answers, and it seems the EU fails to have appreciation in the South of Italy. However, on the question about trusting the EU institutions, most of the participants answered “neutral”, and those who said “yes”, explained it by better functioning according to the Italian ones; those who answered “no” blame the institutions in leaving all the responsibility of the refugee crisis on other countries and is failing in managing it. Finally, the last interesting question was regarding the borders, “Is opening Schengen to other countries a good idea?” We got a big “Yes” from everyone, but it was agreed that this should be done until it is safe.13239382_616349235179384_623226194745115593_n

Having such a productive discussion, taking some interviews on the streets, talking to Project Team members of “Europe on Track” and taking part in the demonstration was how we ended our trip as the Ambassadors of this wonderful project. We would like to express our huge gratitudes to the Project Team, all the locals who hosted us and helped with everything, and special thanks to Interrail for making all this possible! I personally would like to thank my team members, Benedetto and Ksenia, with whom we spent all this time together, travelling, learning, answering to the challenges and making a change!

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If you have a chance to become an Ambassador of the Europe on Track #4, don’t hesitate, do it!

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All EU need is love! /all-eu-need-is-love/ Tue, 16 Aug 2016 18:08:20 +0000 /?p=6821 By Chikulupi Kasaka

Team Red of Europe on Track 3 arrived at their last stop, Verona, on 14th May. We were warmly welcomed by AEGEE-Verona, special thanks to Erika. The event that AEGEE-Verona organised was titled “ALL EU NEED IS LOVE”, a pre-event of AgoraBergamo, AEGEE’s General Assembly.

AEGEE-Verona event took place from 14th -17th May and it welcomed Team Red travelers as well as Agora participants from different antennas across Europe. More than 20 participants participated in the event. On the day of arrival, the hosts made the participants learn a little bit of Italian culture. They introduced everyoneverona_6 to Italian gestures, very useful when in Italy. The gesture exercise was exciting and funny; even some participants shared some gestures which resemble the ones used in their particular countries.

On the 15th day of May, the organisers prepared a trip to Garda Lake. Unfortunately, the weather was not the best, so the organizers successfully rescheduled the activities of that day, so participants learned how to make an amazing Italian ‘Tiramisu’.

On the 16th of May, we attended the indoor workshop at the University of Verona. In the morning, participants had a session on “Nationalism versus Europeanism”. The session was chaired by Erika and it gave a chance for the participants to discuss what they feel about Europe, Schengen and Mobility.

Then, Europe on Track 3 travelers conducted a session about youth Mverona_3obility and Erasmus Plus. We presented Europe on Track project and later on we discussed about youth Mobility, where the participants had an opportunity to share their experiences in terms of mobility, traveling in Europe or abroad as well as their experiences with exchange programs like Erasmus Plus.

The participants were given the assignment to draw the borders of Europe. They were given a blank map of Europe which has no borders and they were asked: “Where does Europe End”. After ten minutes, the participants had their maps drawn. It was very interesting for the travelers, who have been conducting the same exercise in different cities, to see for the first time, the cultural borders of Europe. Indeed, it was great to know different ways of understanding the term borders and the fact that one can draw it.

Finally, the participants werverona_1e given two questions to discuss and present afterward. One question was, “Should the Schengen Area be Expanded?” And the other question was “Should some countries in Europe be allowed to temporarily close their borders due to refugee crisis?”. The responses were; YES Schengen area should be expanded to some countries, so all Europeans can have equal rights regardless of where you travel in Europe. With regard to borders, NO border should be closed rather the particular countries should concentrate on migration policy to control and coordinate the movement of refugees.

On the same day, after lunch break, the participants parted Verona and went to the Garda Lake. At the Lake, the activities were to give “Free Hugs 4 Europe” and the second activities were to write their wishes for Europe on the Balloons. The participants were divided into 3 groups and were given a different direction to talk to people in the lake. The activities, in the end, encompassed the theme for the pre-agora event “All EU Need is Love” and people at Garda Lake felt the love from AEGEE participants across Europe.

 We are really grateful to AEGEE-Verona for being such a great hosts and an awesome antenna! Keep rocking and see you soon somewhere in Europe!

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To Schengen or not to Schengen, that’s the question! /to-schengen-or-not-to-schengen-thats-the-question/ Mon, 15 Aug 2016 17:12:48 +0000 /?p=6810 By Chikulupi Kasaka

From the 11th to the 13th  of May 2016, Team Red from Europe on Track 3 occupied Udine land in Italy. The team had quite a good experience despite the rainy weather. On the 11st May, upon arriving at Udine train station, we received warm hugs from Davide and the team of AEGEE-Udine, that made us feel at home.

On the 12th May, Team Red had one mission: to find out the views and opinions of the youth in Udine concerning Youth Mobility. AEGEE-Udine prepared an amazing event where Team Red facilitated a wonderful session that many participants attended. At 5:30pm, the workshop started with Europe on Track travelers explaining and presenting the project. It was quite interesting to see one participant interested to know more about how the Interrail Pass works, since the stops of both routes are connected through it. Our team explained that Interrail is an European company that sells Interrail train passes online to travelers from all over Europe. Interrail.eu is the joint Interrail webshop of 32 European railway companies.In some countries, one needs to reserve seats at some costs, but many of them are free and had enabled Team Red to cross the Western European countries starting from Brussels.udine_2

At first, Team Red conducted a Quiz about Youth Mobility and Schengen Area. In discovering and experiencing borderless Europe, participants were given another exercise to draw the borders of Europe. Participants were divided into two groups and were given blank maps of Europe to draw borders on them. The question put forward was “Where Does Europe End? The exercise is geared toward finding how many youths are aware of what Europe is and where it ends. At the end of exercise two different European maps were presented.Afterwards, we asked participants to share the mobility and exchange programmes they have attended. Many had benefited from youth Exchange programs and enjoyed mobility within Europe. In terms of mobility, many participants have enjoyed traveling within Europe with school programs, conferences, internships, AEGEE-projects, etc.

After knowing that participants have enjoyed borderless Europe and traveled within the Schengen zone, the next session was a group assignment. We divided them into two groups, that were given two separate questions: “Should the Schengen Zone be expanded?” and “Should the Schengen countries be allowed to temporarily closeudine_1 borders to refugees?” After a few minutes of group discussion, one member from each team had to present their responses to all participants.

To the question: Should the Schengen zone be expanded? The group said: Yes, it should be expanded to countries like the United Kingdom. Because the youth in Europe needs to enjoy mobility. Also, if the Schengen zone is expanded, it will make it easier to increase youth opportunities for employment. Lastly, the group suggested that, if the Schengen zone is expanded, it will enhance the “European Spirit” to all youth and make them feel as one. On the other hand, to the countries which are unstable and face wars like Turkey, there needs to be a special criteria for them to meet before they can be included in the Schengen zone.

Should the Schengen countries be allowed to temporarily close borders to refugees? The youths in Udine were uncertain due to the serious contemporary challenges that Europe is facing. According to them, on the one hand, some countries should be allowed to temporarily close their borders for security reasons as well as to manage the refugee flow. On the other hand, those countries should not close their borders because of the risk that restricting mobility in Europe poses to the European project. There might be a risk of not being able to restore the previous borderless Europe.

Do you agree with these opinions from youth in Udine? Share your opinion with us!

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Team Blue Is in the Country of Democracy /team-blue-is-in-the-country-of-democracy/ Fri, 08 Jul 2016 09:55:43 +0000 /?p=6637 By Hanna Polischuk

After such a warm hospitality of the three Turkish cities that we visited, it was hard to leave the country so soon. However, our route was already planned, and two wonderful Greek locals were waiting for us Our first stop in this country was Athens, the city of the famous Acropolis, democracy, Agora and gods.

AEGEEans from this amazing locals organised a city tour which described us the ancient and modern Greece. The main discussion was about democracy and how it developed through history. We could feel the past when we went up to the Acropolis, the ancient citadel of a great historic significance. But we only felt like real Greeks after tasting gyros and drinking a couple of glasses of frape.

13227116_613652232115751_6734689722210336571_nWe also attended a very interesting exhibition regarding the refugee crisis, “Suspended Step Cartoons”, aimed at showing the real picture of the refugee crisis and organized by The Association of Greek Cartoonists and The District of South Aegean Islands. It had indeed a great success: the hall was full of people exploring the works of over 20 cartoonists. All those works were really touching and frustrating; they made us think and be more aware of the scale of the problem. When we interviewed one of the cartoonists, Vangelis Pavlidis, he could not hold the tears while talking about this. Here you can understand why.

Later on, we gathered together with young Greek people in the university to know what they think about the biggest current problems in their country. We divided them into three groups in order to discuss three topics: EU-Greece Relationships, Youth Unemployment and Refugee Crisis in Greece. One person per team, the moderator, stayed in the same place, while the others were moving to another group in order to have a chance to discuss all the topics.13245487_613652105449097_3672689756546245210_n

As a result, the problems highlighted in the first topic were weak Greek economy, lack of trust to the EU institutions, false image of the country, lack of unity, unbalanced social states, wrong politics and lack of the migration policies. The solutions offered consist on easy steps: learning from the mistakes, understanding the European values, improving the communication and cooperation, fostering and developing the civic education, enforcing the equality among the EU countries, and finally increasing the involvement of the citizens into the decision-making process.

As for youth unemployment, most of the problems were the same as in every European country; however, the unemployment rate in Greece is higher than in most of them. Among the main obstacles to improve the situation are scarce job opportunities, lack of communication between universities and job market, prevailing of connections above knowledge and experience, no willingness to do manual labor jobs while striving only for the ‘prestigious’ jobs, and thus, creation of undesirable supply of workforce in a single field that has no more demand. The unemployment problem exist for many years and the clue is near; there are many ways to improve the situation, but it has to be organized and fast.

The first step will be understanding the real job market’s needs and encouraging the most needed professions; then, improvement of the communication between universities and enterprises, their mutual development of the internship programs; and lastly, the development of the open-mindedness and youth entrepreneurship through the mentorship platforms.

Regarding the last topic of discussion,  the refugee crisis, lots of problems were named. Among them are war and insecurity, racism and discrimination, bureaucracy and corruption, no cooperation between nations, and no fixed political agenda. Young Greeks see the ways to deal with those problems in unity and cooperation resulting to a common policy, integration policies, simplification of the procedures, increasing support and humanitarian help, changing the current government while voting reasonably and implementing the necessary reforms throughout the EU. When there is a problem, there is always the way to solve it, and most of the solutions depend on us.13233157_613651182115856_3997036037883047431_n

After an intensive day in the capital, we departed to Patra early in the morning. The language in the train was not understandable but by the detailed explanations of Dimitris, we managed to get to the next city without any problem. At the bus station we were warmly met by the president and treasurer of AEGEE-Patra. While Ksenia and Benedetto decided to have some rest at home, the rest of the team went to open the swimming season. Even in spring the water in the Ionian sea is warm. After the refreshment and cultural night program we began the serious day. Even under the hot sun we found some young people who shared with us their opinions about the borderless Europe. 13241348_615852195229088_387481140209867202_n

We organized a parliament simulation being the main topic of discussion “Is Schengen Dead or Alive?” Everyone had a chance to express the opinion, and there were many arguments for both sides of the question. The biggest debates were about security versus refugees. From one point of view, it is important to take care about refugees and help them integrate into the Greek society. From the other one, there is a fear that terrorists can pretend to be refugees, and that letting them in will weaken the security and increase the chance of an attack.

Among the reasons to open borders were solidarity, support for the victims of the war, sharing the burden, protection of the human rights and respecting the Schengen agreement. On the contrary, the opposing team explained the necessity to close the borders mainly because of the terrorism. They suggested to enforce an European army with border guarding and intensifying passport control. We should  help people who are leaving their homes and past life behind in order to survive and protect their families without any doubt. At the same time, there is a need to cooperate among all the EU states in order to unify and improve the general security.13256100_615852255229082_6559252599137052595_n

We were actively engaged in both discussions but we let the participants speak out. In the political EU world there are similar discussions going on and on without any clear final solution nor strategy.

By what we understood, if the government does not take any actions, its people will change the rulers. We live in a time of changes and fights for democracy and human rights. Whenever you come to Greece, you feel it more than anywhere else. We are very grateful to AEGEE-Athina and AEGEE-Patra for this amazing experience and their warm hospitality. Also, we would like to thank again Interrail for this opportunity!13267791_615852268562414_4512342797948786114_n

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Same questions, different people /same-questions-different-people/ Mon, 04 Jul 2016 17:28:56 +0000 /?p=6598 By Hanna Polischuk

Travelling from one Turkish city to another, we discovered that not all the young people see Europe and its current issues in the same way. However, there is a strong wish to become a part of Europen from the youth perspective. Below you will see the current problems the country is experiencing from the point of view of Turkish youth.

DSC_0811Do you think there are borders in Europe?

Yes and no. There are borders in Europe as we see in the maps; but no, because each young person can go abroad and feel as a local there. There are no borders in Europe. If we talk about social and national borders, each nation, each country and each tradition is different; it makes kind of a distinction from people to people. (Ayşegül Gökdağ, 21, Turkish, student)

Yes, of course, because to go to Europe, I need to take 19 different documents, and I need to pay 100 EUR for the visa fee. Every time I want to go to Schengen area, I need to pay. It is like that for all Turkish unless they don’t have a special passport; only the high government officers’ children can get this passport, it is really little amount of people. (Yasir, 27, Turkish,  research assistant)

Do you feel yourself European? Do you think about Turkey as a part of Europe?

I think Turkey is not totally European. We should develop ourselves more, get used to European rules and its lifestyle. I feel myself European, I have been in Europe for so many times and this has changed my opinions: I can think like a European citizen. (Tuğçe Demir, 22, Turkish, student)

I don’t think so. Our country is divided into the West side and the East side. A little bit of West side is a part of Europe but the East side is not exactly, because our culture is very different from the European cultures. It is a problem, I think, but our education, healthcare and economic systems seem like the European ones. (Mehmet Eker, 22, Turkish, student)

In the European Union there are lots of countries and parties that don’t want Turkey in the EU, as there are lots of countries and parties that want Turkey in the EU. Inside Turkey it is the same thing: some people want to enter the European Union as soon as possible, and some people prefer to stay out of it. Between 2003 and 2006 our current government came a long way towards EU membership, but then, the people that were against the membership gained the upper hand both in Turkey and the EU. What is worse, our prime minister used the EU-reforms to gain control over the government, the judiciary, the army, and the media. Now that our prime minister has made himself our president, and cracked down on virtually everybody, I think the EU membership is further than ever. (Evrim Emiroglu, 22, Turkish, Student)

DSC_0007 (1)Do you think there is a refugee crisis in Europe? What is the refugee situation in Turkey? Do you feel safe in your country?

Refugee crisis is a very important question right now. Refugees are escaping from war in their country, and that’s very understandable. Turkey opens its doors for them but there are so many that we cannot maintain home, food, jobs and everything else they need for them. Europe should help us but it just sent all refugees here, maybe they paid a little money for that but it’s not enough. When Europe sent them to us, it wasn’t a solution. It made the problem even bigger for us. Nowadays, there are 800.000 refugees in Europe but more than 1,5 millions in Turkey. Europe should maintain homes, work, foods etc. for them; of course, Turkey can help with that, and it will be a better solution. I hope this war will finish one day and it will be the real solution. We, the people, are living our lives still in our cities like Paris or Belgium. Life is going on, terrorism is everywhere, not just in Turkey; there is no chaos and war here.

The crisis still continues for both the EU and Turkey. The EU doesn’t have a real solution and it is trying temporary ones. Refugees’ situation is better than a for lots of Turkish people. They have more rights than us. For example, we must pass lots of exams to join the university but they don’t need to pass any exams. They don’t need to work anywhere because our government takes lots of money from us and gives it to refugees. You can be a worker or not, maybe you are student but you have to give money every month for this problem and it is not because of the fear. (Ongun Batuhan Altan, 29, Turkish, Founder and Owner of Fotodizayn)

DSC_0653 (1)There are more than 3 million refugees in my country. Everyone is aware of the situation. There is a war in their country, people are dying. I think that European countries should have their doors open to more refugees. To be honest, nowhere is safe anymore. Terror is not just in Turkey or the Middle East. Terror is in Paris, Brussels, Beirut,… Terror is everywhere! (Toygar Öter ,23, Turkish, student)

According to the latest news, there will be an agreement between Turkey and the EU. People wonder whether Turkey will accept all refugees back or not. If the current government accomplishes the deal, visas between them will be abolished (except some countries like UK). Especially during the Syrian civil war lots of people had to abandon their home, and they have no chance to go to Iraq due to some conflicts between those countries. Some of them had to move to Turkey and others had to go to Jordan. Like the other countries, Turkey has plenty of refugee camps to stay. Of course we are people and we have dreams not only personal but also for the next generations. If we think from this perspective, refugees have the right to find a way to live in welfare. I feel myself very comfortable and safe, like other European citizens. Sometimes we encounter too bad situations to put up with, but all around the world people can come across this kind of bad events. (Beril Akan,20,Turkish, student)

I feel safe; refugees are desperate people: there is a civil war in Syria. They only want a place to live and work, a home. But most European countries don’t accept them in their own country, and it is very sad. We have more than 2.5 mln refugees right now, but European countries just want to give money and get rid of them. That’s the situation, unfortunately. (Ozan Çaglayan, 22, Turkish, student)

It depends on where you travel or where you are living. For example, in Istanbul and Izmir I feel safe but when I travel to Eastern Turkey, it is totally not safe. It is not about refugees. Yes, they cause some economical problems, but not problems about security.  (Batuhan Çarıkçı, 22, Turkish, student)

DSC_0576Accession negotiations of Turkey (about joining the EU) started in 2005. Which do you think are the reasons for so long process?

According to my research and because of the fact that I study economics, I know that the growth rate of Turkey is higher than the average of Europe. On the other hand, when we look at the budget deficit, the external debt and unemployment rates are much lower according to Europe. Therefore, the European Union thinks Turkey is not ready to be a part of it. Most EU members have some kind of anxiety. Also in Turkey there is confusion about the taxation system, the environment and human rights. These are really complicated things, and in my opinon, the  European Union is worried about the possibility for Turkey to become a more developed country if it joins the EU; on the other hand, Turkey doesn’t try to grow and develop itself, there is still a long process. (Tugce Fetullahoglu, 21, Turkish, student)

There are many reasons. I can think of the biggest ones: unstable behavior of the government in Turkey, geographical location, terrorist attacks in the East, religion and the prejudices against Turkey. (Anıl Öztuvan, 20 , Turkish , Student)

It is really hard to say. At that time Turkey was never part of Europe. We are a little bit outside it. Our culture is different, our religion is different. And to mix both of them, Europe and Turkey, takes so long. Both sides have different opinions. Maybe because of that? (Jülide Acıkara, 22, Turkish, Student)

As you can see, Turkish youth understands well the problems their country is facing. However, all these people are hoping for the positive changes including the refugee situation in Europe in general. We should open our eyes and listen to what this young people tell us, because they have a reason. When we asked them what do they wish for Europe, in most of the cases we heard “peace”, “understanding”, “hope for refugees” and “no borders”. Let’s make these wishes true together!DSC_0478

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We want YOU to join Europe on Track Project Team! /we-want-you-to-join-europe-on-track-project-team/ Wed, 15 Jun 2016 18:12:48 +0000 /?p=6592  

Following the ratification of Europe on Track as an official project of AEGEE-Europe we are happy to announce an open call for new team members!

As you may already know, EoT consists of two groups of ambassadors travelling across the continent with InterRail passes for one month. Stopping in different cities along the way they make interviews, deliver workshops and spark discussions with the aim of bringing Europe closer to young people and bridging the gap between institutions and citizens.

In order to ensure the correct implementation and a proper follow-up of the project a passionate and hardworking team is needed.

So, if you are

  • responsible and reliable
  • motivated and enthusiastic
  • able to work in a team
  • able to cope with deadlines

and want to

  • contribute to an inspiring project
  • learn and develop new skills
  • have fun while working hard

 

eot pt

Do not miss this opportunity!

We are looking for candidates for the following positions:

  • Content
  • Finances
  • PR (website)
  • Fundraising

In order to apply send a motivation letter to europeontrack@aegee.org including:

  • relevant experience (AEGEE or not)
  • motivation
  • the role you would like to occupy
  • availability (around 6-8 hours per week)

You have time until the 25th of June!

 

 

 

 

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Imagine there’s no borders – Team Blue in Turkey /6572-2/ Sun, 12 Jun 2016 12:39:53 +0000 /?p=6572 By Hanna Polischuk

Our travel continued. We were heading directly from Bulgaria to Turkey. In the train we met young people from New Zealand and Spain. What a surprise! The trip became more interesting, especially when we began the discussion about borders. Rosa was going to Turkey because her Schengen visa was finishing, and Cesar, the Spanish EVS volunteer in Moldova, decided to do the Balkan trip with the last-minute decision to go also to Turkey. We were sharing our stories for a while, when suddenly, the train stopped in the middle of the night. We looked at the window and saw nothing but darkness. Just in some more minutes of staring into the deep night, we noticed a high fence all covered with razor wire.Sofia-Izmir

The train was standing still for a while, and then, the door opened making a creaking sound, and the passport controllers came in. They were rush and silent. As soon as we arrived to the Turkish part, we all were waiting in a line to get the visa stamp in the passport. When Ksenia gave her Russian passport to the controller, he decided to make some jokes like “Turkish visa in Russian passport? You might have some problems when you come back to your country. Are you sure you want it? Are you sure?” We did not consider this funny but all of us got visa, and we proceeded with the bus to Istanbul. This is how our Turkish trip began.

During our stay, we made three stops: a very short one in Istanbul and two longer in Eskişehir and Izmir. From the first city we felt the warm hospitality of these people. Yasir met us in the early morning, gave us a tasty breakfast and helped us to arrange our tickets. I doubt that without his help we would have managed to do everything we had to. Over the short time we spent watching Istanbul from the car window we realised that it is a city worth to be explored at least during a week; hopefully each of us will have the opportunity to come back.IMG_0139

We have to say that Turkish train stations are safe: there is a very strict control and everything is organized. The only problem was the announcements of trains and stops in Turkish, so we always were wondering “where are we now?” and if we did not miss our stop. The trains are very modern, fast and comfortable. Finally we could rest after the hard night. Thank you, Interrail!

In Eskişehir, we met the biggest and the most active local on our whole way. Most of its members stayed with us all the time: from the first day till the last one when they were running after the train when we were leaving. It was one of the most touching moments during the project! They put a lot of effort into the cultural context: they cooked traditional food for us, ordered a huge breakfast in a restaurant, taught us Turkish dances, made a workshop of musical spoons, showed us local places, made all sorts of city tours, and all this just in a couple of days! Every day we had an intensive program and did lots of activities with AEGEE-Eskişehir, every moment we were discovering something new! Moreover, they gathered lots of people for our sessions, becoming the biggest ones in our EoT route!DSC_0616

Afterwards, we went to Izmir, the city of the sun and the sea. Life there seems relaxed, people are friendly and easy-going. We were lucky to get two sportive hosts, Batu and Ediz, so we did sports every time we could: football, volleyball, jogging, martial art, pull-ups and other exercises, and we even had a competition on the last day. AEGEE-Izmir organizers showed us the best of their city and prepared very delicious food for us. But not everything is so bright when you notice the contrast from the happy life that reminded us why we are here: in many places, we met refugees who were trying to make some money with a low-paid job. One can see how sad they are, all of them: from little children to elderly people. When I saw a lonely little girl of 5-6 years trying to sell some napkins to people when it was close to midnight, something inside me shrank. Just stop and think: how many children who fled from Syria are living such life nowadays?DSC_0306

Talking about the sessions, the answers in both cities were almost the same. The problems are obvious, and the solutions need deeper discussion.

Turkish youth see the European Union as an opportunity but they also noticed that the biggest part of their country is not ready to join it yet. First, they should solve important internal problems and show what it is to be European. Partly, the country has already adapted the EU standards and its people live like in the rest of Europe. Nevertheless, many other countries do not see Turkey as a European country because of the different culture, another religion and people’s prejudices and misinformation. Still, the minority of the participants keep thinking that Turkey has nothing to do with the EU: it is different and has a unique culture that should be protected from globalization.

During the mapping game, where participants had to define the countries and borders on the borderless map of Europe, they only included in Europe the Western part of their country. According to them, the rest of Turkey is not ready yet: the more Eastern it is, the less common are the cultural values with the European countries.DSC_0103

When it comes to EU-Turkey relationships, the main problems are: prejudices from the rest of Europe, islamophobia and historical background. The above-mentioned problems can be solved by improving education and enhancing international student mobility. Yet, visa issues create more obstacles for Turkish people who want to integrate in the European society: the price is very high, bureaucratic procedures take lots of time, free travel is highly limited, etc. Some of the solutions could be the simplification of E-visa procedure, free cost for students and active youth and acceleration the process of getting visa.

Most of the participants think that Europe fails in the management of the refugee crisis: the amount of them is growing every day in Turkey, Greece and the Balkans, but their way stops in those countries as the rest of Europe is closed for them. According to them, refugee crisis in Turkey is characterized by poor accommodation, high unemployment, lack of education and non-willingness to integrate from both sides. In order to solve it and decrease the criminal rate, it is important to stop discriminating asylum seekers and refugees and start creating a comfortable environment for them. The government should think how to organize proper accommodation, education, decent jobs, a platform for cultural exchange and integration and increase in supervision of human rights’ adherence.DSC_0523

We see many problems in Turkey, as well as the desire of young people to change things for better. The growing youth participation enables this positive change. Nowadays, while studying in different European countries and receiving international students in Turkey, they erase stereotypes as well as borders between them. The promising future will integrate countries more and they might start living in peace and harmony. What we saw and heard in Istanbul, Eskişehir and Izmir makes us draw these conclusions full of hope.

To everyone who was part of this trip: Teşekkürler for everything!

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