"Listening to one another and showing an interest in each other are the basic prerequisites for shared insights and ideas," said Günter Gloser, Minister of State for Europe, at the official opening of the first Euro-Med Youth Parliament in Berlin. Some 100 young people aged between 18 and 25 gathered today (1 June) in the Berlin House of Representatives. The session was chaired by four young people with a passion for politics from Egypt, Syria, Greece and Cyprus. Under the motto "Diversity, dialogue and solidarity", young people from the 27 EU Member States came together with contemporaries from 11 Mediterranean countries from the Barcelona Process to debate topical social issues. In addition to three official EU languages – German, French and English – Arabic was spoken and interpreted during the Parliamentary Assembly.
At the beginning of the plenary session, the invited key-note speakers, who in addition to Minister of State Gloser included Anna Benaki, President of the Greek Parliament, Luisa Morgantini, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and Mohammed Aboul-Enin, Chairman of the Industrial Committee of the Egyptian Parliament, named the Middle East conflict and the problem of illegal migrant flows into the European Union as major challenges for the future. The "solution of the Middle East conflict," said Ms Benaki, is the "key for peace and stability in the region." Mr Aboul-Enin described the situation in the Mediterranean area as "dramatic and painful." Young people in particular, he said, are called upon to actively help shape the future of the Euro-Med region. The young people addressed these themes in their debate. They also discussed problems their countries face in fighting corruption, as well as cultural and educational issues and energy security.
The groundwork for this pilot project of the German EU Presidency was laid by the participants at committee-meeting sessions over several days in both Alexandria and Berlin. The resolutions discussed at the Assembly will be adopted tomorrow (2 June) following parliamentary procedures.
The Youth Parliament was organized by the Federal Foreign Office with the support of the European Commission and in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, the Heinz Schwarzkopf Foundation (European Youth Parliament), the Anna Lindh Foundation, the European Youth Forum and the Euro-Med Youth Platform.
Minister of State Gloser concluded his speech with an appeal to the incoming EU Presidency to continue the Euro-Med Youth Parliament project, so that a platform is also provided in the future for these young people's visions. This would mean that in 2008, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, it would again be possible to train a posse of young multipliers for Euro-Mediterranean dialogue, young people who will soon determine the future of the Mediterranean.
For further information on the Euro-Med Youth Parliament click here!