Montag, November 13, 2006


Closing of YFJ General Assembly

First of all let me express my sincere thanks to you all, for the trust you have shown in electing me President of this organisation and for your continuing support and belief in the European Youth Forum. It is an honour and a privilege to work for you and with you, and I hope to be able to repay the trust you have shown with honest and open leadership.

There is something about Europe that moves me – this continent, which is at once grand, solemn and sentimental. When recalling the idealism and faith shown by the founders of the European project, and their vision of a peaceful Europe, I know that today – almost 50 years after the treaties of Rome - this is not enough to justify the EU to our generation and those even younger: we are living in different times. I know, too, that an appeal to sentiment is an unsatisfactory basis on which to solve the practical, contemporary challenges Europe faces.

Today, headlines and news seem to be filled with talk about the prevention of tensions between cultures and the “war on terror”. Frankly, this fear driven debate worries many young people.

Moreover, when we hear about the “war on terror”, or the “war on drugs” for example, it almost sounds as if some decision makers actually think that war is something good and positive. But did any of you start working in a youth organisation or as a volunteer to be part of a war?

While young people are often seen as those most susceptible to influence and of having their opinions and ideas swayed by trends, it is we, in fact, that can provide a sense of stability and cling to a long-held vision of peace and cooperation. We are the ones that have already understood that the diverse identities of Europe’s citizens are an asset for our future and are key to our continent seizing the opportunities offered by the processes of globalisation.

We have to question the trends that position the fight against terrorism as a legitimate reason to commit Human Rights violations and why current public debate seems to have forgotten that peace and human rights are values worth striving for. We have to question why we are letting fear and insecurity deepen division and exploit our differences.

Peace, in itself, will not remove the pain of torture, is of little help to someone who is dying of hunger or cold, and may not comfort those who have lost everything because of senseless deforestation. It, peace can only last where human rights are respected, where people have enough to eat, where they have a roof under which to live, and where freedom and liberty reign.

Poverty is still the greatest polluter of humanity. Our generation has developed an understanding that poverty is an outrageous violation of human rights; and that the solution is a global partnership for development. The Millennium Development Goals are ambitious, but they are not unreachable. There is an urgent need for a renewed commitment from political leaders and a real commitment for the full and effective involvement of civil society in the decision-making that will affect us.

Social justice will only be reached when governments and institutions set a concrete agenda for creating a fair and equal society where everyone matters; an agenda that sets its basis on equal access to resources, goods and services, where a stable relationship between economy, human rights and environment is reached.

Europe today needs to reconnect its priorities and pre-occupations with the challenges its people face; and policy answers to these challenges must be determined. Establishing lasting peace and combating poverty and unemployment demand an emphasis on education and cooperation, and we must remain cognisant that these will not be easy tasks; whatever solutions we come up with will require consensus among groups with divergent interests. That means everybody has to contribute, and this is why, in the interest of all European youth, the work of each of us, individually and collectively, is so fundamental for the achievement of these goals.

Through times of genuine change in the European and global sphere, the Youth Forum - now 10 years old – has proved to be resilient and is building cooperation in the face of division. As of tomorrow, we are 95 Member Organisations and over the last two years, have seen more then 130 people elected or appointed for different working structures of the organisation. With such strength we must not be bystanders, but be actors at the forefront of social change.

By virtue of this strength, and of our diverse membership and resources, the Youth Forum is a very privileged organisation, and this privilege places a large responsibility on the new leadership of the organisation. Asking the right questions and scrutinizing systems and procedures to ensure accurate and efficient results in implementing our aims is indispensable. Many of you have done just that during this GA, reminding us, for example, of the urgent work that needs to be done in the field of gender equality, calling for greater political analysis of our own work, or for better communication of the motivations behind decisions that have been made.

You have also adopted strategic priorities and a work plan and the new bureau will lead the implementation of these plans at your service. It is a great honour for me to work with the newly elected bureau on this, as I wholeheartedly believe that the new priority work areas will help us to mobilise our resources in the best possible manner whilst still upholding the character of a diverse youth platform.

Whilst we have to remain conscious that this is just a starting point to realising the vision and ambitions at the centre of the strategic development, fortunately there is no need for us to reinvent the wheel. The outgoing Bureau has done a great deal of work that we must now consolidate and follow up on, and as a new leadership, we must recognise the legacy that we have been left, as we move forward. Allow me now to thank all the Bureau members for their hard work over the last two years. While difficult at times, it has also been fun and happily, I can genuinely say that I learned a lot from each and every one of you.

Let me close with the words of the civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman:
It's time for greatness -- not for greed.
It's a time for idealism -- not ideology.
It is a time not just for compassionate words, but for compassionate action.

Congratulations, schatz!
there is lot of work to do but you can do it.

like always i have happy and sad tears in my eyes.
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