YEN Digital Summer came to an end

Under the motto “Think beyond borders” the YEN Digital Summer took place from May to July 2020. The special feature of the event series was the online format. Even though we were at home and could not travel, it was even more important to keep our network active and to show solidarity in this challenging time.

Webinars: For each of the 1-hour sessions we invited an expert to discuss with him/her important issues for young people from national, ethnic or linguistic minorities. Afterwards the participants had the chance to ask their questions.

Maria Atanasova, Young European of the Year 2020

28th May 2020 For the first webinar on the topic “National minorities vs. nationalism and populism” we had the director of the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) Prof. Dr. Vello Pettai as guest, the YEN Convenor for Communication Jakob Schäfer as moderator. The focus of the discussion was the challenges that growing nationalism and populism pose to minorities in Europe. The discussion focused on the development in recent years in general and the impact of the global pandemic. The recording of the webinar can be found on Youtube.

9th June 2020 For the second webinar we had a conversation with the young activist Maria Atanasova on the topic “Insights into the life and activism of young Roma”. Maria was awarded for her outstanding commitment to young Roma and for promoting equal opportunities as Young European of the Year 2020. The webinar was led by YEN Vice President for External Relations Pia Šlogar. The discussion focused on the situation of Sinti and Roma in Europe and youth activism.

“I want to say to all young people to be more active, be more critical and fight for all communities because we have the same problems and we have to support each other.” – Maria Atanasova.

25th June 2020 In the third webinar we had a discussion with Loránt Vincze MEP and President of FUEN – Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) on the topic “National minorities in the European politics”. The discussion was led by YEN Vice President for Internal Relations Kristina Anxhara. The webinar focused on the situation of minorities in European politics, the opportunities for greater youth participation in politics, as well as the Minority SafePack Initiative and intergenerational cooperation and solidarity in the Minority Network.

Loránt Vincze regarding the challenges today: “There is a strong process of assimilation, our communities shrink, we are losing the languages. It is not only our personal loss, but also what Europe is losing from the cultural heritage.”

E-training: During the three-day training from 19-21st June 2020, the participants dealt with the topic “populism and nationalism”. The E-training was led by Cihan Kilic. In particular, the participants learned the basis of various concepts such as populism, nationalism, authoritarianism or chauvinism. Besides, the focus was on the development of media literacy and at the end of the E-training each participant created a personal action plan to prevent populism in their everyday life.


Discussion groups:

  • 04th June 2020
  • 16th June 2020
  • 02nd July 2020

For the discussion groups, young people from the YEN network met online to discuss current topics together.

They discussed questions about the current situation of their minorities, the impact of the pandemic, as well as issues related to minority identity, nationalism and solidarity. The discussion groups were an opportunity for the participants to easily meet young people from different minorities in Europe online and discuss issues of importance to them.

For example, a much-discussed question was: “Do you think that we need more solidarity in today’s world than we used to?” The participants talked about the fact that the form of solidarity that is needed today is different. Means of communication have changed and before solidarity was needed more in small groups, today it is much more international. Today it is much easier to be informed about how others are discriminated against and the groups have more possibilities to ask for solidarity.

We talked a lot about the question “Do you think in today’s world we need more solidarity than before?” it was mentioned that the form of solidarity needed today is different. With the change of communication techniques before it was necessary to be in solidarity in smaller communities and today much more international. It is possible to get information on how others are being discriminated and groups have much more opportunities to ask for solidarity.

We are very happy that our network, despite its unusual format, has remained active in these difficult times and continues to support each other. We will stay in touch and will keep you up to date!

YEN Digital Summer was supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.