Closed borders and ever-increasing separation ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic put premium on the dialogue between civil society representatives. This exchange obtains additional relevance when non-governmental actors contribute to the dialogue between East and West for the sake of peace and security in Greater Europe which has been significantly damaged in the wake of the Ukrainian conflict.
Despite the six-years-long active diplomatic efforts of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine in the frame of the Normandy format on settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, the parties are still yet to find the common ground. We, as civil societyy representatives of these four countries believe that we have an important part to play in finding a sustainable resolution of this crisis. For this reason, inspired and supported by the German Foreign Ministry, we have put forward an initiative to bring together students and young professionals from France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine into the Youth Normandy Talks. The central aim of the event is to give them a chance to exchange their experiences and visions for overcoming common problems in equal, respectful and open discussion. Supporting DRJUG in this challenging task this year are three outstanding NGOs: Jugendinitiative für Zusammenarbeit from Russia, Youth Association for a Greater Europe from France and Public Diplomacy Platform from Ukraine.
Acknowledging the meticulous work international organisations, such as OSCE, are doing on the ground in Ukraine to raise our awareness of the fact that it is the most vulnerable and unprotected, who suffer from armed conflicts the most, the Normandy Youth Talks aim to become a standing dialogue platform which puts a special emphasis on the humanitarian aspect of the issue. The platform which would not only mirror the positions of head of states and governments but also give a chance for civil societies to propose their own vision for defusing this crisis.
The Youth Normandy Talks will take place in Berlin, in November 1-7 with 7 representatives from each country. In the framework of the talks, among other forms of exchange, we plan to divide our participants into three working groups, where they should elaborate concrete cooperation points in the spheres of economy, politics, and security, putting special emphasis on what role civil societies can play in this process. The tangible result, apart from building strong ties between the youth from our four countries, will be a communiqué that we are going to forward to the respective ministries and state agencies with specific proposals for solving problems surrounding the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
We are looking for students and young professionals from four involved countries who would not only bring relevant knowledge and experience required for the substantive discussion, but also act as multipliers of the forum results later on. On the margins of the talks we plan to meet with politicians, journalists, representatives of multilateral organizations (partially in online format) to draw upon specific knowledge, required for the final communiqué.
Apart from the main program we organise awareness-raising events which would eliminate the eventful history and cultural identity of the participating countries through contemporary witnesses, excursions and workshops.