On November 30th, 21 motivated young people from France, Germany, Belgium and Poland gathered in Warsaw to participate in yet another three-day-long edition of the Weimar Youth Forum, this time held in Poland. The idea to bring the WYF to Warsaw came from one of the members of the Centre for International Initiatives, Aleksandra Radziwoń, who was the coordinator of this amazing project. Apart from the CII, the project was possible as a result of the cooperation with Conférence Olivaint, Studentenforum im Tönissteiner Kreis and Notabene and thanks to our great partners: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Robert Schuman Foundation and the Stiftung für deutsch-polnische Zusammenarbeit and Komitee zur Förderung der Deutsch-Französisch-Polnischen Zusammenarbeit.
On the first day of the conference, all of the students participated in a debate entitled “European security – challenges for the EU”. The panel was held at the main campus of the University of Warsaw. During the lecture, moderated by Marta Makowska from the Centre for International Initiatives, Andreas Krüger from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Poland and Andrzej Ocalewicz from Casimir Pulaski Foundation shared their insights on to what extent the crisis in the Eurozone affects the European integration and security and whether there is still room for the Weimar Triangle these days when the entire Union is going through a hard time. The panel was followed by a discussion with the audience who eagerly participated and asked many questions.
On Saturday morning the students gathered at the University of Warsaw to participate in 3 lectures followed by seminars in smaller groups. The first lecture was given by Marek Madej, assistant professor from the Institute of International Relations at the University of Warsaw. Afterwards, the participants were divided into 3 smaller groups and discussed various aspects of political security: the future of the Schengen zone, defense against terrorism and how to export democracy to the non-democratic regimes at the borders of Europe. The second lecture was given by Kamila Pronińska, junior lecturer also from the Institute of International Relations. The lecture, as well as the seminars that followed it, concentrated on various aspects of economic security in Europe. The seminars were devoted to: nuclear, renewable and conventional sources of energy; the financial crisis and European solidarity; and food security. Finally, Andrzej Ocalewicz from Casimir Pulaski Foundation gave the last speech on social security, which was also the main theme of the last three seminars. During those, the students talked about the following subjects: NGOs as the backbone of civil society; whether Europe can afford a welfare state; and whether civil intellectual properties and civil liberties contradict each other.
As a secretary, I participated in three seminars: on how to export democracy to the non-democratic regimes in Europe; the financial crisis and European solidarity; and whether Europe can still afford a welfare state. I can only tell what I saw, but the participants of those three seminars were really well-prepared. The discussions were extremely lively and although sometimes they somehow deviated from the main themes, it was worthwhile just to listen to how young people see the future of the European Union. When I said that they were motivated, I did not exaggerate even a bit. They know exactly what they want and what they would do to change some things in their countries. They are full of new ideas and fresh perspectives on their countries’ actions and decisions. Of course, it is easier to watch and criticize than actually do something, but it is good to know that today’s youth know what they want – and they definitely do not want to just sit around. That is the whole point of conferences like the Weimar Youth Forum. Young people travel around the world to meet their peers, exchange ideas, test themselves on positions they would like to hold someday. What is even greater about this project is that it was also only young people who organized it. It shows how much we want to be involved in changes happening around us. All the internships, the conferences, and the forums that we participate in are just a way to get ready for what comes next.
But do not think that the WYF was only about serious discussions, panels and seminars. The participants had a chance to experience Warsaw by day and by night. On Friday and Saturday night they could taste the traditional Polish “pierogi” and on Sunday, after the official end of the conference, they took a tour around the city and from what I have heard they really loved it – to such an extent some of them stayed for a couple days longer to see more of Warsaw. Despite the cold weather, thanks to the tourguide, they got to know some of the legends concerning Warsaw and its origins.
As part of the Centre for International Initiatives, I could not be happier that the results of the conference were so positive. On behalf of everyone who participated in making WYF 2012 reality, I would like to thank all of the participants for their smart discussions and the great spirit they brought to Warsaw! See you next year in Germany!
Aleksandra Szumilas – Absolwentka Filologii Włoskiej na Uniwersytecie Jagiellońskim w Krakowie. Przez 2 lata studiowała w Stanach Zjednoczonych na William Rainey Harper College i University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Stypendystka programu Erasmus na Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore w Mediolanie. Absolwentka programu Akademii Młodych Dyplomatów w Europejskiej Akademii Dyplomacji w Warszawie. Obecnie studentka podyplomowych studiów na kierunku Stosunki Międzynarodowe i Dyplomacja w Collegium Civitas.