It is obvious that young people oftentimes have a clearer vision of Europe than older ones. They have grown up in a Europe without borders, they have friends all over the continent, and due to their international experience they are convinced that only a strong and united Europe can face the challenges which globalization poses on this upcoming generation. But time and again, their voice is not heard in the political process by those who lord over on the future of citizens, young and old alike.
For two days, the Greek project office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) teamed up with the European Liberal Forum (ELF) and invited 25 young people from Greece and several other European countries to Thessaloniki to discuss their common European future. The participants jointly drafted a set of political proposals and demands which in their view must be tackled by today’s politicians to guarantee equal opportunities for current and future generations.
The workshop entitled “The Euro-Greek Youth Dialogue: What’s the use of Europe?” set off with a roundtable discussion with three young (at least at heart…) guest speakers: Haris Theoharis (45), an independent Member of the Greek Parliament, Spiros Pengas (47), Vice-Mayor of the City of Thessaloniki, and Danica Vihinen (31), Secretary General of the European Liberal Youth organization LYMEC. These three politicians considered current negative trends in European politics and how to reverse them for the benefit of the young generation. This exchange gave the participants enough food for thought to subsequently draft the list of proposals previously mentioned.
The second day focused on personal and organizational progress. As Joakim Frantz, campaign manager at ALDE Party, said: “Having great ideas is only half the battle. What’s just as important is selling those ideas to the man in the street.” The participants learnt how to promote liberal messages with confidence, how to uphold reform oriented issues in their immediate surroundings, and how to better organize their fellow campaigners.
In Thessaloniki, liberal bonds were forged, ideas chiseled and messaged honed. These young people now step into the future, confident to have their voice heard on the future of our continent.
Markus Kaiser, Project Manager Greece
Pictures: FNF Greece