Our Egyptian and Spanish friends left only a few days ago and already there is a deep sense of emptiness and nostalgia permeating all those who participated in the absorbing Euro-Mediterranean dialogue exchange project. Strictly from a personal point of view, I think it would be restrictive and shallow to assert that last week’s European Alternatives project might be categorized in the same way as many similar seminars and debates on the above mentioned current issues. In fact it was much more than that. It was the coming together of a group of young activists who fight each and every day for a better country. It was the struggle of people who have lost so much in their respective countries but, without giving up, continue to strive for a fairer and more democratic society, where more focus will be on the young and more opportunities will be generated. It was the explosion of a passion-fuelled debate, motivations, frustration but also so much hope. It was the empathetic atmosphere created across the group which allowed for the exchange of opinions geared towards co-operation and mutual respect. For us it was also touching and at the same time educational, seeing such teamwork, perseverance and positive energy all directed towards the exchange of dialogue.
As a student of Political Science and a “citizen of the world” and while informed and interested in the subjects touched upon, I admit that I found myself learning a completely new life lesson. In fact I would never have expected that a week of debates and seminars on democracy and job insecurity would have thrilled and taught me so much. And indeed, for a moment I completely forgot my own nationality and rather felt as if I was part of a vivacious multicultural mix of Egyptian, Spanish and French: indignant with the participants for the troubling issues currently at stake in their countries and at the same time putting forward hopes for the future of these issues.
The issues addressed were numerous, from the right to demonstrate to the structure and strengths and weaknesses of the movements themselves, from the controversial definition of social justice to the concept of resistance, from the independence of the media to the power of force which they have had in favouring the Egyptian and Spanish Revolutions… In addition, the debates flew spontaneously also on other related topics, like on the effects that Revolution had on the different countries where the Arab Spring has taken place, on the issue of international aid, on the various forms in which democracy may unfold, on the aims and motives behind the Revolutions and finally, on the insecurity for the young, globally and in the countries mentioned. All these issues were followed by requests, considerations, questions, the sharing of experience and potential solutions to the issues mentioned earlier.
European Alternatives stimulated this mutual exchange of ideas through the implementation of forums and workshops: the participants were particularly invited to analyze and explore the contexts of countries besides their own, with the goal of identifying common points between the different cultures at issue and the essential priority of improving their quality of life in these countries. Suggestions and ideas were put forward in order to resolve problems together through the tool of dialogue and of a mutual sense of solidarity across these Mediterranean countries. Drawing from these suggestions it emerged that there is a particular sense of a will to create a movement, on an international scale, of informed people each committed to fighting for each other’s causes, not only their own, giving rise to a collective project with both long and short term aims.
Such a project will lead to the implementation of a virtual platform through which members will have the possibility of keeping in contact with each other. The platform will work through the exchange of current news relating to their respective countries, the publication of articles and essays on the themes which have been at the heart of the project “Stop Precarity: Act Democratically!” and the organisation of regular meetings in the different countries involved, all with the aim of mutual assistance and exchange.
A tribute to the organisation which allowed for the implementation of this project can be seen in the choice of name for this newly born movement as decided on by the participants: “Mediterranean Alternatives”.
…Would it truly have been possible to find a more fitting name than the above?
European Alternatives wishes Mediterranean Alternatives a glorious future, full of success, satisfaction and thrills… just as they gave to us through these intensive and engaging days spent together with our Mediterranean friends.