September 08, 2013
Second International Young Leaders Academy entitled with "Democracy Development in the European Eastern Partnership countries: Challenges and Opportunities”
On the 6th -- 8th of September, in Vilnius, on the occasion Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Second International Young Leaders Academy entitled with "Democracy Development in the European Eastern Partnership countries: Challenges and Opportunities” was held at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University. During this three-day event, the youth, including current students; young representatives from different parties; representatives of NGOs; and human rights advocates, from a range of countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, the US, Lithuania, Moldova, Serbia, Ukraine, Hungary, and Germany gathered all together to brainstorm the ideas about European Eastern partnership for strengthening democracy. They shared knowledge and personal experience with Lithuanian politicians and diplomats regarding to their goals, achievements, current challenges as well as the possible solutions for promoting democratic transformation in their own countries.
The objectives of the project contribute to the Lithuanian policy of development cooperation as well as the goals of Lithuanian Presidency of the council of EU – spreading and cherishing democratic values in Eastern partnership countries, strengthening democratic governance and civil society, further integrating EU and this region, and continuing the implementation of the goals of the Community of Democracies – education of young, socially active generation and encouragement of the dialogue among the youth, governmental and parliament levels.
During the opening session, Mr. Vytautas Landsbergis, President of Supreme Council – Reconstituent Seimas, first Head of State of the Republic of Lithuania, Member of the European Parliament, honourably delivered a lecture on “Democracy and Non-Democracy”
Continuing the tradition from last year, on the 6th of September after the formal session, the participants of the Academy and members of the programme „Kurk Lietuvai“ had a chance to communicate in an informal environment with the Members of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania - Mr. Petras Auštrevičius, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Mr. Arvydas AnušauskaS, Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, Former Chairman of the Committee on National Security and Defence of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Mr. Juras Požėla, Chairman of the Commission for Youth and Sport Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Mr.Matyas Eorsi, Secretary General, Parliamentary Forum for Democracy.
During the first session, participants of the Academy discussed topics about the importance of historical memory with Ambassador Mr. Vygaudas Ušackas, Lithuania's Former Foreign Minister (Lithuania);Mr. Arvydas Anušauskas, Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, Chairman of Parliamentary Group.“For Historical Memory and Justice" (Lithuania); and Ms. Anna Poghosyan, Coordinator of the project ‘‘Armenia (Total)itaris‘‘ (Armenia). Other theoretical and practical knowledge was instructed through workshops and excursion to the Museum of Genocide Victims.
During the second part of the Academy, the major aim was to analyse why some countries were more successful in consolidating democracy (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, etc.) while the others (Belarus, for example) failed or are experiencing substantial problems (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, and Azerbaijan). While taking part in workshops, participants applied the basics of comparative democratic studies and deepened their knowledge of essential questions of different paths of development. They were supervised by Mr.Vytis Jurkonis, Professor from Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University (Lithuania), Ms. Ieva Gajauskaite, phd of Vytautas Magnus University Politics Cathedral (Lithuania), and Mr. Jake Jones, Director of the International Republican Institute Belarus office (USA).
During the last session of the Academy, the prevalent democratic system was discussed and analysed to reach a conclusion on how young leaders can contribute to the consolidation of democracy in European Eastern Partnership region. Since democracy is an endless (continuous) process that requires permanent efforts, the fundamental question is how young, but stable enough, democracies could strengthen democratic regime in their country in the meantime, help their neighbours in this complicated democratisation process.. Mr. Matyas EORSI, Secretary General of the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy (Hungary), Ms. Yegana Hajiyeva, Co-chairman of the Liberal Youth network of the South Caucasus (Azerbaijan), Mr. Alex Brakel, Director of Belarus Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Germany), and Mr. Juri Jurkevitš, Political Program Officer of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs – Vilnius (Estonia) facilitate the discussions and workshops to searching these essential answers and concluded with feasible action plans with the participants, the promising young leaders.
To sum up, participants were glad to see that the theme of democratic values and current issues (threats) unite both the representatives of the right and of the left together from different countries. It is important to highlight that all participants came up with the same conclusion – in order to change the world, start changing yourself by creating a harmonious environment and relationship with the people around on the basis of respect for human beings. It seems that if these active young leaders concentrated their efforts and ideas on pursuing democracy onto the international level, they will eventually achieve great results in the foreseeable future.