BY ARMENAK MINASYANTS (SPEAKER OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS WG, AEGEE-YEREVAN)
I am sure that many of us follow the updates coming from different AEGEEans living and working for the further development of our beloved network. This time I have decided to turn to AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project (hereinafter just EaP Project), which is one of the most fast developing AEGEE projects’ of the recent years.
I remember the day when I personally heard about it: in February 2011 it was snowing hard in Yerevan, I was sitting at home and having some tea and was totally impressed to see while checking my mail that AEGEE Headquarters is going to initiate such big project and is making an open call for the project team members: please understand me right: as life shows not always enthusiasm and a big name are enough for making big and strong project team, which would be not only be existing but would also make some big things.
Okay, enough for my memoires, let’s get back to real life.
What is EU Eastern Partnership Program?
According to EU official webpages in 2009 the European Commission put forward concrete ideas for enhancing EU relationship with: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. This would imply new association agreements including deep and comprehensive free trade agreements with those countries willing and able to enter into a deeper engagement and gradual integration in the EU economy. It would also allow for easier travel to the EU through gradual visa liberalisation, accompanied by measures to tackle illegal immigration. The Partnership will also promote democracy and good governance, strengthen energy security, promote sector reform and environment protection, encourage people to people contacts, support economic and social development and offer additional funding for projects to reduce socio-economic imbalances and increase stability.
What is AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project?
So, the AEGEE Eastern Partnership project started its development in January 2011. It was candidating for the Flagship Project at Spring Agora Alicante ‘11, but did not receive enough votes to get majority. Despite this fact, the project team members did not stop its activity and continued their work by extending the team. AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project (EaP Project) was approved by AEGEE-Europe as its official project on the 11th of January 2012 and respective contract was signed during Agora-Enschede. According to the materials presented by the EaP Project’s PR Manager, Working on the Eastern Partnership Policy, the project aims to ensure equal opportunities for young people from the Eastern Partnership countries and the EU member states and improve the knowledge about cultural, historical, political background of target countries within AEGEE Network.
Following fields of work are specialized for the project:
– Youth mobility in education
– Conflict Resolution
– Active Citizenship
The project is focused on youth from all over Europe, as well as on the youth NGOs working on the European integration, National Youth Councils and international platforms, universities, policy makers, etc. First acquaintance of AEGEE members with the project was during the Autumn Agora Skopje ‘11, where the Team had a discussion workshop about the Eastern Partnership and quite an entertaining puzzle game at Agora Fair.
What is really special and impressive is that apart from internal Network activities the Eastern Partnership project team members also participate in the external international events! Just to name a few then during 2011 they participated in the Youth Conference on the Polish Presidency (Warsaw), II Youth Convention on Volunteering (Brussels), EMI Civil Society Congress (Yerevan), Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (Poznan), Salto-Youth Forum on Volunteering (Warsaw) and many others. In 2011 the Eastern Partnership Project was officially included into the EaP Civil Society Forum.
In order just to get the inside view of the present stance of the EaP Project Team, I decided to have short discussions with Shushan Khachatryan, the Content Manager of the Project, and Daryna Skryl, PR Manager of the Project. Below are some parts from their interviews,
Armenak: Guys, do you have any idea about the EU’s Eastern Partnership Policy before getting involved in AEGEE EaP?
Daryna: I found out about this project from my AEGEE-Dnipropetrovsk friends, I was told that this project is very important for our countries. Of course there were no exact idea about some profound things from EU Neighborhood policy.
Shushan: The interest to join the team was from being aware of the Eastern Partnership initiative of the EU and the desire to contribute to it. At the time we were just starting our project was really small comprising of 4 people plus CD members. I remember the long skype meetings with our team mates discussing about the future structure of the project, the directions we should work on etc.
Armenak: Who may become part of the project team?
Daryna: Anyone who strongly wants this! What is important is to be interested in the topics of the EaP policy, not just want to get included into some project/WG in order to tell everyone that you work on the European level.
Shushan: Are you hard working person with high sense of responsibility? Then you have most chances to join our project. Of course being aware of the Eastern Partnership processes plays also huge role.
Armenak: Could you describe your Project Team/Staff in 3 words?
Daryna: Aim-oriented. Voluntary, Active.
Shushan: Hard working, patient and cool !
Armenak: Let’s suppose that suddenly tomorrow the EU stops its EaP policy, in your opinion has anything changed in EaP states during this policy for last 2-3 year?
Daryna: Indeed! Despite the fact of “theoretical” implementation of the policy, I believe that projects, devoted to the EaP, have helped to change young people minds and to give them more information about the image of democracy and European values.
Shushan: Haha I hope it will not happen … But seriously many things have changed since the last couple of years. Firstly EaP Countries have already entered into the negotiations of Deep and Comprehensive free trade area, Visa Facilitation etc. As a result most of EaP Countries have easier visa procedures. The same could be said for Education and Youth. Every year one can notice more students from EaP Countries studying in EU and more youth exchange projects realized in participation of EaP Countries. So progress is visible indeed.
Armenak: Girls let’s get back to the most important international political topic for now: Imagine EaP Project Team is playing at EURO 2012, who will be your Goalkeeper?
Daryna: Haha, of course our project manager Alla Resheten!
Shushan: Ahaha I have to admit I am not the biggest football fan and don’t really know how it works. But I think our guys would do a great job.
Armenak: And just to conclude, any wishes to International Politics WG and its followers?
Daryna: I wish IPWG and everyone who follows it to stay in the course of all Inthernational Politics affairs, especially in the youth sphere! Good luck in everything!
Shushan: I wish everyone to actively follow the IPWG blog and news in spite of hot and football-full summer. Also to follow and contribute to Eastern Partnership Project development as we need help in our big initiative.
So, this was introduction of AEGEE EaP Project and its team. As IPWG has officially established cooperation with this enthusiastic project team, wait for new updates on this topic.
You may also follow their updates on AEGEE EaP webpage and Facebook page, links to which are below.
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