Dienstag, Dezember 11, 2007


Closing Africa-Europe Youth Summit

I am not satisfied with the world as it is today. This is my main motivation for political activism and I am sure I share this with many of you. Wealth is distributed very unevenly; hunger, poverty, disease and conflict lay their shadow over many regions and millions of young people like you and me.

The problems faced by many countries are multiple, entrenched and passed down across decades and generations. To break such enduring cycles of adversity, urgent and long-term action is needed, allowing people and countries to realise their potential.

Many public authorities and institutions still fail to provide adequate answers to severe human rights violations and hardship. We believe that we must hold decision makers accountable for their actions and their lack of action.

Global problems must be solved by pooling sovereignty and setting up a framework of mutually accepted tools and programmes- I hope the Africa – EU strategy will serve as such a tool.

Respect for the rule of law, pluralist democracy, the protection of rights, fighting corruption and promoting good governance and equality – these are all essentials for sustainable development. Through the youth summit we have committed ourselves, to maintain transparent and accountable decision-making in our own organisations, to ensure our organisations act as true schools for democracy, and to guarantee our legitimacy to ask the same from governments.

The crackdown on immigrants is probably the most shameful of the European policies of recent years. It is illusionary to believe that the stream of immigrants trying to enter Europe can be halted by increasingly excessive regulations: Policies relying on violent deterrence will only raise the death toll, but won’t stop immigration.

The EU Common Agricultural Policy requires further reform - urgently. This is not only indispensable for larger investments in development cooperation, but it must also be the basis for just trade relations with Africa.

This 1st youth Summit was a good example of cooperation between Africa and Europe and it needs to continue. Let me thank and congratulate everyone who has contributed to its success (DG EAC, DG Sanco, North-South Centre of CoE, the Portuguese government and CNJ and especially all the volunteers who made our stay here so easy). Youth empowerment, exchange programmes, scholarships, job shadowing, volunteering, non formal and formal education are just some areas where Euro-African Youth cooperation needs to be strengthened. This deserves a strong Africa-Europe youth programme.

A participant said at the first day that declarations have never changed the world, but if we all work together on the basis of this declaration, then we actually can change the world. This meeting will indeed be a historic one, if our conclusions will actually be implemented, will become alive and relevant. It will not change anything if this exercise was only about nice phrases and lip service. The relevant question is - are we going to live up to what we discuss here? Will we advocate for its implementation?

Politicians are usually excellent in giving statements of intent, but often fail to deliver practical steps to achieve them. They have a bad habit of missing their own targets. This mismatch has to be altered.

Your multitude of experiences, realities and identities - African – Diaspora – European - has to be one of the main contributions to the follow up of the youth summit. But for this you have to take your experience and knowledge from here home with you and continue working – it is your responsibility to multiply the conclusions of this Summit and to operationalise them, to implement them. Otherwise this event will just remain one gathering amongst many.

We young people have to cling onto long held visions of Human Rights, Democracy, and Development. The political culture of mistrust and fear, and of protecting one’ own wealth rather then improving the collective well-being, must be overcome if we want to improve everyone’s Rights and Opportunities.

This is going to be a long way, but we will be on this way together.
So persistent – and let me quote Ghandi - be the change you want to see in the world.

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