Wishes of YEN for 2016 and a future Europe

In December 2015, a group of YENies met for the final YEN event of the year, the “Newbie Meeting”, in Berlin in order to meet different minorities from all over Europe, to get to know the basics of minority youth politics and exchange about current issues. Representatives of nine minorities participated in this seminar: Frisians, Vlachs, Carinthian Slovenes, Lusatian Sorbs, Roma from Ukraine, Germans from Poland and Romania, Romansh, and the Croatian minority from Serbia.

Different topics for a future year in the European youth organizations and YEN were discussed. Furthermore, last years’ achievements were presented, and positive outcomes can be clearly recognized. The participants also visited some organizations in Berlin who deal with minority issues, as the German Ministry of Interior, the Society for Threatened Peoples, Minority Secretariat of the four autochthonous minorities and the Working Group of German Minorities under the roof of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (AGDM / FUEN).

One of the workshops was dedicated to the campaign ”#Diversity Connects” which was launched by YEN in August 2015. The campaign aims to unite diverse minority voices, to fight against stereotypes, prejudices and all kind of discrimination towards ethnic and national minorities. Hereby the young minority representatives were asked to note down their wishes for a future Europe.

”Ich wünsche mir vom ganzem Herzen keine Diskriminierungen, gleiche Rechte für alle Minderheiten, aber auch andere Menschen und eine leichtere Integration dieser Menschen in eine Gemeinschaft.” (I wish from all my heart, to erase discrimination, to have equal rights for all minorities, as well as for other people and a better integration for people in their community).

The participants of the final event furthermore requested less racism and stereotyping regarding race/color, gender and religion. An acceptance of the minorities from the majorities is highly desired, which includes acknowledgement of different languages and cultures. Peace was a term, which could especially be recognized frequently, in the wishes for a future Europe. “Tolerance, love, peace, liberty of speech, no discrimination, integration and openness to diversity”, was a further request from one of the participants.

Also a “great strain on sustainable ecological development in Europe” was a request for the New Year. Europe has to fight climate change and work towards alternative energy carriers.

The current crisis in Syria, Iraq and regions in Africa was a highly discussed topic during the event. The past year has especially been marked by these conflicts, due to the massive amounts of refugees, who are crossing European borders. The participants wish that: “All people should be treated the same way: minorities and refugees. All of them should have the same chances. Chancengleichheit fördern! (Support equal opportunities!)”. The participants value that Europe will be raising solidarity between ethnic groups and especially towards new minorities and nationalities.

It is furthermore wished that minority rights are not only granted after constant begging, but moreover seen as a natural aspect of a diverse but united Europe. This includes focus on communication and stable education for everybody, both in majority and minority schools. Minority schools as well as students from a minority in a majority school should be supported in learning their language. One of the participants wishes, “that every child from a European minority can go to school and speak their own language, preferably together with the ‘majority’ language”.

The participants request that Europe’s challenges should all be faced as a union in order to have a peaceful cooperation across borders. The differences should be celebrated but the union should be stabile. “No negativity towards other cultures, no culture is better than another. Only a tolerant mind-set is better and all cultures of the world combined are the best. The sum is more than the components combined.”

The board and office of the Youth of European Nationalities as well as the campaign committee of #DiversityConnects strongly support these wishes and requests for a better future Europe. With our events in 2016 we will contribute to a more tolerant and peaceful society, but also underline the positive aspects and the values of minorities in Europe. YEN is working on Guidelines on Sustainability that will make a contribution to more sustainable seminars with regard to traveling, food/nutrition, materials and venue. More certainly we will have to understand that all these wishes and aims can not be realized over night, but we firmly request that these aspects will be taken into consideration from the beginning of the New Year 2016!

Thanks to the organizers of YEN, the organizations we met, the participants for a great edutaining time as well as to the German Ministry of Interior for the support!