ALEXANDRIA: Following a rigorous selection processes in their home countries and months of preparation, participants from the Middle East and North Africa region initiated the first Euro-Mediterranean Youth Parliament (EMYP) simulation in Alexandria s Goethe Institute last week.
Together with moderators from the whole Euro- Mediterranean area, the participants spent a week in training and lectures and getting better acquainted with the ancient coastal city of Alexandria.
Students from eleven Mediterranean neighboring states were invited to a preparatory conference in Alexandria. From March 10 to 15, young people from Egypt, Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritania, Palestine, Syria, Turkey and Tunisia debated issues on Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.
We are already seeing signs of very good EMYP spirit, enough for our creative team to believe we ve started a major trend for EMYP in the years to come, said Christopher Tripp, President of the National Selection Conference of the European Youth.
From the moment we arrived, everyone has been socializing and sharing stories from the great variety of countries which make up the EMYP, he said.
EMYP engages students from diverse background to practice parliamentary forms of discussion and to discuss topics that concern cultural and geographic borders. From team forming seminars to workshops and expert presentations, participants have the chance to reflect on project suggestions that are presented and discussed in the context of the youth parliament.
Alexandria s Goethe Institute representative Stefan Winkler told The Daily Stair Egypt that Basically, the project aims at forming multipliers for the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue.
Organized into five different committees to discuss separate topics, participants debated issues such as European Union perceptions of Mediterranean countries or solutions for the Darfur crisis.
In our discussions, we try to look at the common grounds between all our cultures. We should benefit from such cooperation, not generalize or look toward stereotypes to define our relationship, said Enass Abu Khalid from Palestine. Instead, we look at current conflicts in our world today through our understanding of equality and human rights, regardless of our nationality, she said.
We ve become too state-centric. It s good to be patriotic, but it s also good to think as if borders do not exist. It could be that one man s problem is another one s burden, this is why I like EMYP, because it pushes us to think like ‘one’, said Hurun Tufekci, a moderator from Istanbul.
The European participants, who comprise the other half of the delegates, were chosen by the Heinz Schwarzkopf Foundation and the European Youth Forum. The EMYP builds on the idea of the European Youth Parliament supported by the Heinz Schwarzkopf Foundation in the context of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.
We decided to have a preparatory conference for just Mediterranean participants because people don t get around the Middle East as much as we do in Europe. We had to try to break the ice before our main event in May because Berlin will also include our European participants, said Enzio Wetzel, head of the Goethe Institute in Cairo.
From May 26 to June 3, 2007, all 100 Euro-Mediterranean participants will meet in Berlin. The parliamentary meeting will take place on June 1 and 2 at the Berlin House of Representatives.