Conversations about a Greater Europe: The Results

About 40 people joined on June 3rd our “Conversations about a Greater Europe” in Vienna. The event was organized in cooperation with ACUNS, the Academic Council of the UN System Liaison Office Vienna.”Identity. Boarders. Peace.” where the three themes the young gathering tackled. Lukas Wank, the Founder of Shabka expressed is concerns that European Democracies are dissolving due to the strong entanglement of economy, EU politics and the capital market. He invoked the necessity of a “counter democracy” and “push from the public.” He stressed that Europe should be a “conflict project”, meaning a space of public debate. Carina Autengruber, European Youth Delegate of the Austrian National Youth Council stressed the importance of the European Union and young people being actively involved in it for the future of the continent. She emphasized that “Europe is a historic event, that we are part of” and that “youth is part of the solution, not of a problem that needs to be solved by others.” Katarzyna Winiecka, artist and activist with the Transnational Forum on Refugee and Migrant Struggles, gave an overview on the development of the movement and her involvement and brought up the issue of non-citizenship, people living in Europe but facing severe limitations in their civil rights and freedoms. She reported on the protest march to Brussels by refugees and supporters from all around Europe, that was about to take place. After partly concerned partly hopeful inputs on Europe and the EU, we discussed the following questions in a World Café Style: How European am I? How am I European? What is not European? Where does Europe end? (How)Does the EU contribute to peace? Although the topics and questions raised were serious, participants expressed that through the conversations in small groups and by taking an active look together some progress could be made. After one hour of discussion whoever wanted could put down their ideas, further questions, statements on a sheet of paper. Below you can see the statements and join the conversation. “Conversations about a Greater Europe” was a meaningful follow-up to our engagement in the European Youth Event with other steps to follow.

  Nie wieder Krieg, in den 60iger Jahren gute Entwicklung in Richtung Frieden. Innerhalb Europa wird Frieden gehalten. Durch die EU ist Frieden vorrangig.

Europe is/should be open for changes and influences from the outside. (Loosening up won´t solve problems and would lead to a further separation)

The identities we talked about today are temporal. Europa/EU just a stop on the way.

Not to forget the family where values are lived – this has to be protected in each society

Refugee and migrant struggles are challenging our understanding of citizenship, labour, and democracy in Europe. Start thinking about the COMMONS, sharing, responsibility, creating Europe from below. Supporting demands of refugees and migrants. Being aware that our “European privileges” are based on structural violence on the other (neo-colonialism, nationalism)

EU as bird- cage? How open should it be?

It doesn´t matter where Europe ends, but rather where it starts. More than national or European citizens, we are Global citizens. Europe is promoting peace not only in the continent including neighbouring countries but in the whole world. We all inherited the common roots of freedom, democratization and human rights that makes us feel like a special (but not superior) civilization

EU should have nothing to do with religion. Law+politics should be separated from religion is what I mean.

Idea of Europe goes back to the Greek-Roman tradition and it was constructed along the centuries through the process of ‘othering’, in opposition to the Orient (see work of Edward Said, Orientalism) Are Russia and Turkey part of Europe? → Depends on the perspective you take and whether you want borders to be enforced or kept open. Don´t know whether there is an European identity but would argue that there is an European public space. UK still the akward partner of the EU for various reasons. Racist trends (to a certain extend), the existence of the commonwealth, as an alternative space for cultural and financial exchange.

European Identiy is Christian, borders are geographical, peace is constructed.

Borders don’t only stray from our geographical outlines: with prejudices, expectations and flourishing patriotism we limit and create abstract borders.

EU Frieden haben die Länder unbewusst geschaffen weil sie mit ihrer eigenen Wirtschaft beschäftigt waren. UN war für den Frieden nach dem 2. Weltkrieg die Basis. Die Mittel/ Maßnahmen der UN reichen nicht mehr. Es muss einen Masterplan für die EU in Bezug auf die refugees geben da die EU nur eine begrenzte Fläche zur Verfügung hat. Zweitens muss es einen Masterplan für die Heimatländer/Kriegsländer geben…

Is there an European identity without a national identity?

Where does the European border begin and end? Had to define, different point of views. E.g. geographically European border or cultural. Next question to define what is an European culture? Defining identity: different languages, cultures and religions. Is Europe just a Christian continent? Can everyone define themselves as European?

Identity is not belonging to a certain country. If you can switch in a cultural and in a linguistic sense between two countries why reducing ones identity? I was born as a muslim, people ask me if I feel more Austrian or more as a Muslim. My answer is always I’m a Muslim Austrian. People want to take the chance defining your own identity.

Peace starts in our conscience. All the time when something egoistic is done peace is broken.

Peace ist besser wie Nichts.

European values, humanism, human rights, music, art, architecture, science, philosophy. Europeans resident in other countries still feel european e.g. “Burgenländer” or Italians in US, Argentina, Canada, Australia. Europe is always been open to Arabic Asian American influences and technologies. European borders should not end at present borders. eventually include Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Israel, North Africa, even Argentina. Until all contingents become democratic and abide by human rights.

As far as the topic of peace is concerned, I think the different states do not just appear as “EU”, but some of the states are two-faced. On one side they support peace, but on the other side they want to prolonge conflicts, trying to make business for the economic development.

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