Luis Alvarado Martínez – 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. Tue, 17 Oct 2017 22:02:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.10 Looking into 2014: a crucial year for the future of Europe /looking-into-2014-a-crucial-year-for-the-future-of-europe/ Mon, 06 Jan 2014 16:36:52 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=857 2013 was a year where things have started to change in Europe. Economic recuperation has been officially announced, but still has not been felt by the citizens who have to fight against unemployment and cuts in salaries or social benefits in their countries. Angela Merkel got elected again, becoming the first leader among the big democracies in Europe to resist the effects of the crisis on a national election; however, she needed a big coalition to form her government.

While the European Union is being questioned more than ever among its members, thousands of Ukrainian citizens faced cold winter winds and brutal attacks from police just to defend their European dream, first, and to claim democratic reforms in their country, later, making a lot of people think again of the positive facts of the still-in-construction European project. On the other side, we saw PM Cameron launching his proposal of referendum about an exit of the UK from EU, and we feel an increase of nationalistic and anti-EU messages in national media almost in every EU country. On the other hand, the EU welcomed Croatia in a new step towards reunification, especially relevant in a sensible area such as the Balkans. Two steps forward, one backward; this seems to be the rhythm of a new European dance.

But what can we expect from 2014?

The year will be marked by the elections to the European Parliament in May, where the European citizens will have the opportunity to speak through their votes. Will we see an increase of the presence of nationalist and anti-EU parties in the EP? It is quite likely they will increase notably their seats in the Parliament, but presumably they won’t pose a threat to the pro-European policies. And if, instead of sterile complaints and media-ready statements, they decide to have a constructive critical discourse, their contribution will for sure improve the decisions taken in the Parliament. In any case, the most likely scenario is a new decrease in participation in the electoral process, caused by the disaffection of many Europeans to the politicians that govern them and the gap between the EU institutions and the citizens. How the EU will fight the abstention in these elections, is one of the pressing questions this year that will be answered soon.

Apart from the elections, there are several other focus areas to follow in Europe this year. Will the new EU budget have a swift impact on the Member States daily life? Will the evolution of the civic protests in neighbouring countries, such as Turkey and Ukraine, lead to improvements in the democracy in those countries? Will the situation of human rights in Russia worsen, now that terrorism has come back into the scene, or will  the international pressure suceed in changing the Kremlin’s policies towards minorities and civil rights?

The referendum for the independence of Scotland (and the one in Catalonia, if it takes place), and especially the questions related to how to deal with their outcomes, will pose new challenges to the EU. The effects of the full access of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU deserve attention too, and hopefully the apocalyptic messages in UK tabloids will be silenced by facts that prove that the end of this unfair situation will just bring benefits to all of us. And we will still have to deal on a daily basis with the causes and effects of the economic and financial crisis, the solution to the unbearable unemployment rates, and the “austerity vs stimulation” dilemma.

For the young people… what will be the priorities? They will keep an eye on what affects them most: education and grants, and how budget cuts impact them. But… will the European young citizens feel how much their participation in the European Parliament is sought? Will their needs be taken into account by the decision-makers?

Obviously, there will be unexpected highlights in these 12 months of 2014, because Europe will always be an amazing place to live, which never ceases to surprise us.

Anna, Bea, Kathrin, Lucille, Luis, Miguel and Pavel
Comité Directeur 2013-14

Photos: courtesy of AEGEE-Ogre, European Parliament EP elections video and KyivPost

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Let’s give peace an opportunity /lets-give-peace-an-opportunity/ Sat, 21 Sep 2013 09:47:25 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=733 Have you heard of World Peace Day? Today we celebrate the annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence. 21 September become the official International Day of Peace in 2001, before it was changing dates.

But the United Nations count for this day with an incredible ally, the Peace One Day organization which works to make this day a real success and to have a bigger impact than just a red mark in your calendars. The guy who started the initiative, Jeremy Gilley, has mobilised in the last 15 years thousands of people to really make this day an opportunity for peace in many conflict areas of the world. Together with them, the impact has reached 280 millions of people last year through 6000 events, including concerts, sport matches and workshops.

Here you can see some more about the project: www.peaceoneday.org

Click on the image to see the video

 

We in AEGEE support peace but we do not have many opportunities to contribute. This year, however, we start on the same Peace Day something big. We are joining the University of Youth and Development (UJyD) in Mollina (Malaga, Spain) where we will host a Peace Bilding training focused on the Caucasus region. The multicultural environment of the UJyD will serve as a great framework where we can build up bridges among the youth of the Caucasus region and foster mutual understanding. We hope the outcome of this training course are positive and we will build up a bigger strategy in the next months. In the end we would like to give Peace not only a day in the calendar, but a home everywhere in Europe.

The University of Youth and Development is an initiative of  the North South Center of the Council of Europe, with the support of the European Youth Forum (YFJ), the Spanish Youth Council (CJE), the Latin American Youth Forum (FLAJ) and the Spanish Youth Institute (INJUVE).

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Dear Ministers… NOW! /youth-rights-campaign-aegee-europe/ Mon, 06 May 2013 11:41:28 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=607 In September 2012, Ministers responsible for Youth from 47 Member States of the Council of Europe congregated for the Ministerial Conference in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to agree on ensuring equal access to Youth Rights for every single young person in Europe. The aim was to achieve this through the adoption of the Declaration “Young people’s access to rights: Development of innovative youth policies in Europe” which would have served as a guideline to all the Ministers’ work in their respective countries. Some officials, however, had problems with ensuring access to Youth Rights for ALL young people inclusively. Ministers failed to agree on the issue that there should be no discrimination towards people of sexual orientation different from heterosexual, and with recognising other gender identities different from man or woman. In AEGEE we find it truly alarming that this vision came from some Member States of the Council of Europe – the European institution which core values are to uphold Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. Yet, we very much appreciate the fact that several bodies within the Council of Europe indeed did make sure that a proper follow up to the Ministers’ fiasco at the Ministerial Conference will take place.

This year, in April, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted two important documents: “Young people’s access to fundamental rights” and “Young Europeans: an urgent educational challenge”. Moreover, one of the recommendations coming to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe was to adopt a legally binding document on Youth Rights, a policy document that will recognise and respect Youth Rights in their uniqueness, that European governments can then decide to implement in their countries.

This is where young people are stepping in. Several organisations came together to develop a Youth Rights campaign with three main aims: (1) to raise awareness on the situation of Youth Rights, (2) to make the topic of Youth Rights a priority on political agendas and (3) to strengthen the voice of young people in the Council of Europe Member States and structures.

The organisations starting the campaign:

· European Students’ Forum (AEGEE-Europe)

· Young European Federalists (JEF)

· International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student organisation (IGLYO)

· European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL)

· Youth for Exchange and Understanding (YEU)

· World Esperanto Youth Organisation (TEJO)

· National Youth Council of Portugal (CNJ)

· Flemish National Youth Council (VJR)

· Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU)

Together with a legal advisor – the European Law Student Association (ELSA), and a local youth organisation from Kosovo – MUSE-E. And with the support from the Advisory Council on Youth and the European Youth Forum and with many more organisations to join.

The campaign comes at a very important moment in Europe. Today, Europe is a continent where national governments do not always value the voice of young people in decision making processes. It is a continent where governments are continuously making financial cuts influencing young people’s welfare drastically in a very negative way. It is a place where youth organisations are not recognised and are often not given proper support. As the Ministerial Conference showed, it is also a place where young people cannot be guaranteed safety and inclusion.

This is why we are calling for action through a campaign called “Youth Rights. NOW!”: a campaign that aims to mobilise young people to fight for our rights and influence decision makers to put this matter high on their agendas. From 25th to 28th April, the campaign took the first steps, but it will take time to implement all the steps planned, gain finances and provide other prerequisites to set up the campaign.

Nonetheless, the Comité Directeur of AEGEE-Europe will mobilise its members to initiate a dialogue with national decision makers and to start a process of recognition and respect of our Youth Rights! We call also for other youth organisations to join the campaign and to mobilise their members. Finally, we call on policy makers – Youth and Education Ministers, Foreign Affairs Ministers (members of the Committee of Ministers of CoE) and Ambassadors accredited to the Council of Europe, each in their own capacity – to team up with young people and use our ideas and their power to make Europe youth-friendly, NOW!

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TUNZA: Youth goes for Sustainability /tunza-youth-goes-for-sustainability-2/ Thu, 21 Feb 2013 16:23:57 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=469 The UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) TUNZA International Youth Conference took place 10-14th February in Nairobi (Kenya), and it provided a platform for over 300 young people from 100 countries to come together to exchange information, best practices and most importantly, learn from each other.

European delegates at TUNZA Youth Conference

Participating in the TUNZA International Youth Conference allowed AEGEE to realize once more the enormous potential which young people have to act as change makers in the world. Our president Luis Alvarado represented AEGEE-Europe there and he discussed the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference and the Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals with the other delegates. For one week they shared experiences, attended panels and workshops with the professionals working in UNEP, and prepared recommendations directed to the Governing Council of UNEP and the Member States (Global Ministerial Environment Forum). AEGEE played a strong role in the preparation of the recommendations that you can find here:
http://www.unep.org/pdf/Tunza_Youth_Statement.pdf

During the TUNZA Youth Conference the GEO-5 for Youth report was launched: a youth friendly version of the GEO (Global Environment Outlook) that the UN creates every 5 years to make the information accessible to young people around the globe.

Read here what Iris Hordijk, speaker of AEGEE’s Environmental Working Group, thinks of the publication:

If you want to change the world you have to begin with yourself. This well known quote from Mahatma Gandhi is obviously the main idea of the report TUNZA: Acting for a Better World from the GEO-5 for youth. The aim of the book is to show that there is still hope and that inspiring successful stories in a green and sustainable direction are happening every day.

This colourful report is written by and for youth. The part of the book named Our world and its challenges today deals with the explanation of the Earth as a closed system. Trough the population increase and unsustainable economic development the pressure on our blue planet is increased. The big challenges according the atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity are explained and the knowledge about chemicals and waste increased after reading. Not only facts passing the revue, also are successful case studies presented together with the things you can do about the problems. Not only youth is dealing with the question how we can strive for a better world, in the politics it is also a point of debate. A description about the RIO+20 conference and the vague outcomes are discussed. Because of the vague outcomes from RIO+20 so far it is very important to act yourself! The tools and tips to contribute to a better world yourself are present as well. Do you want to spend 1 minute or 1 decade to change the world? It is up to you, but it is clear that it is necessary for the maintenance of our planet that the world has to change! Can you imagine a better point to start with yourself and the young generation?

You can check yourself downloading the GEO-5 for Youth:
http://www.unep.org/pdf/GEO_for_youth.pdf

AEGEE strongly encourages all European youth to find out more of the TUNZA youth network of UNEP, where you will be able to learn and empower yourselves to become youth environmental activists:
http://unep.org/tunza/

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In Memoriam: Franck Biancheri /in-memoriam-frank-biancheri-2/ /in-memoriam-frank-biancheri-2/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 11:44:21 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=283 It is a hard time for AEGEE now. While we should all be excited about our General Assembly starting tomorrow in Budapest, a call changed our mood. We were informed that Franck Biancheri, founder of AEGEE-Europe, had passed away on October 29th.

The members of AEGEE have reacted instantly to the news, sharing their memories of meeting him, remembering how innovative his ideas were, how he had the ability to create debate around him, making new ideas flourish in the minds of those who had the opportunity to meet him. His belief that youth was a necessary actor in the building of Europe has inspired generations of active citizens in Europe inside and outside AEGEE, and we will miss his questioning approach to everything.

During the Autumn Agora Budapest we will dedicate a minute of silence at our opening ceremony and we will for sure have him very present. But, at the same time, we want to offer all people who has been inspired by him an open space for expressing their feelings.

Please use the comments thread on this post for sharing your last words to him. Go to the end of this post and you will find it there.

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Conscientious Objection to military service: it is your right, and you should know it /consciousness-objection-is-your-right-and-you-should-know-it/ Wed, 26 Sep 2012 18:59:29 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=79 AEGEE-Europe was invited to the presentation of the Annual Report prepared by the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) that took place on Wednesday, 26th September. We support the right EBCO is fighting for: conscientious objection to military service, a right included in the European Convention on Human Rights, and part of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The meeting was hosted by the Member of the European Parliament, Nikos Chrysogelos.

 

MEP N. Chrysogelos, EBCO Chair F. Schneider, and EBCO researcher D. Brett

At the roundtable, relevant members of EBCO were present, including the main researcher of this year’s Report. During te presentation we learned that in spite of improvements in those countries where conscription still exist, there are still too many occasions where people who refuse to join the compulsory military service get severe sentences, and are sometimes even judged at military courts. Furthermore, sometimes at the end of their time in jail, they are conscripted, again and in case of refusal to join the army, they are put to trial again. Yes, this happens inside the European Union. If the candidates for membership of the EU are required to comply with the laws containing the right of Conscientious Objection, how is it possible that some countries can violate them repeatedly with impunity?

Other organizations like Amnesty International, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the War Resisters’ International Right to Refuse to Kill Programme, offered their point of view on the problem. Thanks to them, we now know that even in countries where conscription is abolished (or suspended), militarisation of society is far from disappearing. They may not conscript people anymore, but they conscript our money. Defense chapters in European budgets have surprisingly survived the austerity measures much better than education, health, or science. 25 out of 27 Member States participate in military operations in Afghanistan and last year some member states participated in missions in Lybia and Somalia.

Even more worrying is the continuous attempt to militarise youth. By being present at music festivals, campaigning in educational centers, and lobbying through social media, not ot mention the special privileges offered to the military in access to education, they try to recruit young members of our society. In times of crisis and high youth unemployment, those campaigns take advantage of the situation, trying to become attractive for young people with less resources.

 

Luis intervening at the presentation of EBCO Annual Report

The intervention of Luis Alvarado Martínez, our president, stressed the fact that the conscription arrives at a crucial moment of students’ life, breaking up the storyline of their life. We have seen that our members, after years of working actively in AEGEE for values like democracy, peace and stability, and tolerance, got severely stressed when facing the moment of conscription. We consider that there are different and better ways to contribute to society than joining the military, and volunteering is on of them.

The right for Conscientious Objection exists on paper, so now we just need to make European youth aware of it, and stay alert to make sure that it is respected by their countries. This is the main aim of EBCO, and we will help them.

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From Russia with Love, European youth claiming for rights and freedom of speech /from-russia-with-love-european-youth-claiming-for-rights-and-freedom-of-speech/ Mon, 24 Sep 2012 10:39:42 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=55 On the morning of Monday, September 24th, AEGEE-Europe, through its president Luis Alvarado Martínez, participated in a flashmob-like protest denouncing the violation of freedom of speech and youth rights in Russia, during the opening ceremony of the 9th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth, in Saint Petersburg.

Youth representatives claiming for stronger youth rights in Europe

Using the Pussy Riot masks as a symbol of these violations, around 20 youth representatives from International NGOs, including AEGEE, JEF, ESN and Obessu, together with delegates of several National Youth Councils, stood up in silence wearing masks when Peter Matjašič, the president of the European Youth Forum, was reading his final speech, where he spoke up for youth rights, freedom of expression, and anti-discrimination, especially in the case of gay rights. The young representatives stood silently during the whole speech, while several youth minister nodded in approval, making it  impossible for the Russian representatives to ignore the claim of European youth for freedom of speech and human rights.

AEGEE-Europe took part in this protest because we consider that it is important to continue striving for human rights, and especially for youth rights.  Each one of us should be given the liberty to say and express their views on the society they are living in, without fear of political persecution.

AEGEE-Europe is member of the European Youth Forum and shares its vision for human rights in all countries of Europe.

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Daring to Change: AEGEE-Europe’s Board of Directors for 2012/2013 /daring-to-change-aegee-europes-board-of-directors-for-20122013-2/ Sat, 22 Sep 2012 14:10:57 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=15 AEGEE-Europe’s new board of directors, the Comité Directeur 2012/2013, is determined to give a new direction to Europe’s biggest interdisciplinary students’ forum.

AEGEE’s new board of directors started their one year term on September 1st. The Comité Directeur 2012/2013 have taken over their positions last week with enthusiasm and a strong will to continue to guide and support AEGEE’s work towards a united Europe, free of borders and barriers, building on the strong results of the previous board. The seven young leaders of six different nationalities have big ambitions for the next year. Among their goals are the following: a significant increase in thematic and political work, stronger involvement in the EU’s Structured Dialogue for Youth, and improving the association’s external visibility. As a full volunteer board, as every year, it has not been easy to resolve Visa problems for board members. This is why the board became complete at the head office in Brussels only on the 5th of September.

The members of AEGEE-Europe’s Comité Directeur are:

Luis Alvarado Martínez from AEGEE-Las Palmas, as President. Luis will represent AEGEE externally and will lead the new team through the year.

Lucille Rieux from AEGEE-Toulouse, as Secretary General. Lucille will be responsible for managing the AEGEE-Europe head office and will also be heavily involved in the thematic work of AEGEE.

Anna Gots from AEGEE-Kyiv, as the Financial Director. She will be taking care of the financial state of the Network.

Kathrin Renner from AEGEE-Passau, as Vice President & External Relations Director. She will manage AEGE-Europe’s partnerships, as well as the relations that AEGEE-Europe has with its partner youth and students NGOs.

Miguel Gallardo from AEGEE-Alicante, as the Projects Director. Miguel will coordinate the Working Groups and projects of AEGEE-Europe and the organisation’s main thematic conference, the European Boards’ Meeting 2013, in Valetta.

Beáta Matuszka from AEGEE-Budapest as Network and Human Resources Director. Beata will be responsible for the development of the Network, both in terms of regional development and management of Human Resources.

Pavel Zborník from AEGEE-Praha, as European Institutions and Communications Director. Pavel will maintain the communication with the European Institutions, and continue to improve the communication strategy of AEGEE-Europe.

One more year, seven idealistic Europeans have taken the challenge to dare for a better Europe, through the forum that AEGEE-Europe provides to them. With the current European economic and identity crisis, the participation and involvement of students and young people is vital to shape the Europe we want for our future.” – says Luis Alvarado Martínez, President of AEGEE-Europe.

The new board will have to prove themselves and their determination to fullfil their goals at AEGEE’s general assembly, the Agora in Budapest, where 700 students will come together to discuss current European topics and the future of the association.

 

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