Welcome to the ECPYN blogspot!

This blogspot was started by the participants of the 5th International Summer School of ECPYN in Chisinau, Moldova, August 24-29 2008.
You can also visit our official website at www.ecpyn.org, follow ECPYN on Twitter or join our facebook group. Opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily represent official ECPYN positions.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

European Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Wrap-up of the Summer School

Friday morning a simulation game of the European Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs tackled two cases: the secession of Scotland and its application for EU membership and a conflict between Estonia and Russia regarding the Russian minority in Estonia. After a lot of fierce negotiation it was decided that the Scottish secession was illegal and EU accession was undue as long as the 'United Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland' did not agree on Scottish secession and that the Estonian conflict should be resolved by repealing some laws discriminating against the Russian minority and at the same time fully supporting Estonia in its negotiations with Russia an the fight against hackers.

After the parliament game there was a panel discussion bringing together all the contributions of different speakers during the summer school and trying to find out what the common denominator was.

After this political working groups were started which were immediately joined by many of the participants of the summer school:
1. Church, State, Civil Society and the Public Domain (CSCSPD)
2. Human Dignity
3. Europe and co.
The working groups will write policy documents which can be used by ECPYN and set up projects. The day was concluded with both an oral, plenary and a written, individual evaluation of the summer school. The general feeling was that the week had gone by too fast, while it seemed at the same time more than a week, because so much was done.

Congress adopts new statutes, resolutions and board

Thursday evening the member congress of ECPYN convened and after some small amendments decided to adopt the statutes. Besides the statutes, resolutions were adopted regarding the membership fee, the instigation of political working groups and the long term planning of the board.

Razvan Burleanu (Rumania) was elected as president of ECPYN and Nutsa Shavladze (Georgia) and Vladimir Plamadeala (Moldova) were elected to the board.

The cherry on the cake was a presentation by the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union of Youth (CDUY) of Ukraine. This organisation was admitted by the congress as observer member.

After the meeting of the congress the attendants toasted to the results with a well-deserved drink on a terrace nearby.

Church and State, vertical and horizontal integration, Costs of the Balkan conflict

Thursday afternoon workshops were given by Leo van Doesburg and Jonathan van Tongeren. Leo spoke about vertical and horizontal integration in the European Union, how they should always go together, but also how far they should go.
Jonathan put forward the hypothesis that the battle between church and state has become an important part of European identity, since the balance in the marriage of those two was lost, which resulted in an ongoing violent divorce of church and state, in which the state keeps intimidating, abusing and violating the church. He argued hence that the separation of church and state may be a nice idea, but is does neither exist nor apply to concrete reality. He went on to argue that as Christians we should always be skeptical of abstract notions like separation of church and state, equality, free market, democracy et cetera. If such concepts are applied in an ideological way they can be very dangerous. Especially because there is no equally strong entity left in society to stand up against the state in case of violation of natural law, biblical norms or moral ethics in general.

After a break former minister of finance and now member of parliament of Albania, Arben Malai spoke to the congress about the costs of the Balkan conflict. He also discussed how long it would take for Balkan countries to catch up with Western Europe in an economic sense, concerning which he presented some staggering figures.

After dinner Henk Jan van Schothorst, political advisor of the SGP at the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) and former policy advisor to an MEP and coordinator Foreign Affairs for the, now defunct, European Political Group Independence/Democracy (IND/DEM), spoke about the reasons for starting European integration after the Second World War, the most important of which was obviously to have stability and peace. He then drew lines regarding stability and peace to our present time and the future.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

European identity, pipeline diplomacy, geo politics and young leaders

Today Leo van Doesburg gave a lecture about European identity and the European project, what it should be about and who should be included. His presentation was accompanied by provocative movie clips and made of bold statements and hard questions, which resulted in some fierce debate.

After a coffee break the group split up for two workshops, by Jacques Bazen (Netherlands) and Razvan Burleanu (Rumania) respectively. Jacques Bazen spoke about pipeline diplomacy and European energy policy, starting out by explaining the historical development of geo politics. Razvan Burleanu discussed the role of young Christian politicians and societal leaders and what can be opportunities for them especially in South East Europe.

After a well deserved lunch we went to see the Roman mosaics near Risan.

Excursion to Cetinje, Budva and Kotor

Today the participants of the summer school went on an excursion by touring car to the old royal capital of Montenegro, Cetinje, where they visited a museum about Montenegrin history and went sightseeing for some embassies and other prominent buildings. On the steep and winding road to Cetinje there were a lot of magnificent views of the mountains and bays.
From inland Cetinje the group went on to the old town of Budva down at the lagune. Historically Budva has not been part of Montenegro for some time, but was occupied consequently by the Venetians, who built a citadel which can still be seen there, and the Austro-Hungarians.
After Budva we visited Kotor with a lot of palazzo's and the castle of St. John on top of the mountain.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Commemorating one year of the Russian-georgian war


Stop Russia! Russia – Go home!

Coalition Against police state organizes 13.08.2009 12.00 tomorrow in front of Russian Embassy in Bucharest, "REMEMBER" - 1 year after the Russian invasion in Georgia.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to have a European identity outside the EU

In the morning Vladimir Plamadeala, ECPM board member from Moldova, addressed the conference on the topic of 'How to have a European identity outside the EU'. To this end he first discussed what is Europe from several different perspectives. He talked about the geographical understanding of Europe as a continent, about nations who feel European or have European characteristics, but are geographically situated outside Europe and about Russia as a European or Eurasiatic country. He also mentioned the division of Europe into two civilizations, being western and eastern Christianity, as defined by Samuel Huntington in 'Clash of Civilizations'. He then went on to discuss what could be defined as European identity, using the results of several opinion polls and internet discussions and of course this led to a lot of discussion with the participants of the conference.

At the end of the afternoon the conference was addressed by Stieneke van der Graaf, who is an elected representative in the provincial legislature of Groningen (one of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands, with some 574.000 inhabitants). She talked about how she became involved in politics as a young person and soon became the youngest member of the legislature at 22 years of age. She also talked about what it means to be involved in politics as a young person and what she sees as her mission, to serve society. She went on to discuss her candidacy for the European Parliament and the campaign and how this was another new experience, especially becoming known to people all across the Netherlands.
When speaking about her work in the provincial legislature she also mentioned a recent success she had regarding the concept of 'family group conference'. At first there was some resistance to her motion, but in the end a majority supported it and in a few months it will be discussed how this can be legislated. It goes to prove, that even though caution is a good thing, politics does not always have to be a slow thing; things can be made to happen quickly if the political will is there.

Europe between identity and integration

The Dutch-Czech Prof. dr. Hans Renner, historian at the Groningen University in the Netherlands, addressed the conference on the topic of 'Europe between identity and integration'. He started out by discussing the book 'The grand failure' by Zbigniew Brzezsinski and the grand failure of Zbigniew Brzezinski to go on to talk about two examples of supra-national identity (in the past), one of which was (and is) rather successful and one that was unsuccessful:
- the American identity and
- the attempt to create and identity of a new Soviet Socialist Man.
He went on to ask the question of whether there has ever been a common European identity, concluding that there has been a common Christian identity in Europe in the early Middle Ages.

At present there is, according to Renner, no identifiable European identity that is shared by a majority let alone all of Europeans. There are two components that can contribute to the evolution of a European identity: European enlargement and EU integration. He explained this by talking about the consequent enlargements of the EU and prospect enlargements, successes and disappointments of the enlargements of the EU.

His conclusion was that there has been a lot of enlargement, little integration and a non-existent or hardly existent European identity and that this identity can only come about when enlargement is accompanied by integration. This conclusion resulted in a lot of discussion.

Preservation of Christian identity in the process of integration

This morning father Gojko Perovic, dean of the orthodox seminary of Montenegro addressed the summer school about the preservation of Christian identity of communities in the process of (European) integration.
He started by observing that Christians are citizens of another kingdom, of a city that is yet to come. He referred to the French revolutionary philosopher Rousseau, who, for this same reason, argued that Christians can not be dependable citizens for a secular state. He then went on to speak about the Jews that preserved their community's identity when in exile in Egypt and Babylonia, while at the same time being actively involved in politics. The Jews did not have their own political party to defend their interest, but still some managed to preserve their identity to a large extent. We would expect them to have been fully assimilated.
Later on many authoritative Jewish authors realized that the dominance of Hellenic culture posed a greater threat to the Jewish identity. For example even priests were attending the games of gladiators. When the Hellenic dominance became to obvious and Romans invaded Israel, the Macabees fought them with guerilla tactics.
So the Jews preserved their identity even though they did not have their own state, but they were actively involved in politics.
This could be a model for us Christians: to preserve the identity of our community, while being actively involved in politics, but not identitfying with any political system.
Father Perovic then spoke about the relation between church and state in Montenegro. The inheritance of communism is that people are afraid to integrate their beliefs into politics. The relation between church and state is not described, but the religious communities want to take the lead in changing this and the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) has been instrumental in this.

Separation of politics and moral ethics

Yesterday at the International Summer School in Risan (Montenegro) Emil Krijestorac (Narodna Stranka, People's Party) spoke about how certain historical developments in (political) philosophy cause many current day politicians and others to believe that moral and politics have nothing to do with one another. He started out from Socrates and Plato and went on to speak about Nicholo Machiavelli's Il Principe (The Prince). He also told about those who did believe moral and politics go together and what's more should go together, among others the protestant theologian Max Weber.