von Sophie Marton-Lindenthal, Fridolin Blasl, Theresa Rauch
The last day of the conference left the participants with great experiences and excitement towards the next steps.
After three days of discussing, communicating and networking have turned into results and more concrete visions for the future of this project. Being “a part with all our hearts and heads” - as Martina Tiwald, the president of the Austrian National Youth Council, puts it - feels very overwhelming for many of the attendees, especially those who have been involved in the process all along.
As a summary the results of the conference are presented in a gallery walk - a quite inspiring way to see one’s achieved progress, due to its visual and visionary effects: All over the plenary blackboards the outcome of two busy days is presented and summarized by two talented graphic designers in amazing pictures, who have been documenting the entire conference drawing comics of the events.
After the morning program Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen visits our conference, to give a speech of ten minutes:
He talks about things that distressed him concerning European policy and leaves some corroborative messages for everyone in the big plenary of the Vienna International Centre. He reminds us, that the generation, having grown up in freedom and prosperity of the European Union should not take these circumstances for granted. For him it was utterly important, to raise the awareness of the comfort, which was gained by the EU for young people on different levels. Although, according to Van der Bellen, bloodshed is a thing of the past, nationalism is trying to tear Europe apart - a major threat to our freedom. His most important quote: „We live in interesting times. If you wish that somebody in Chinese, „May you live in interesting times, it’s a curse.”
Furthermore, he encourages his young audience to look optimistically and confidently into the common future. Worth mentioning is his advice to base upcoming decisions on evidence, keeping an open mind. At the end of his speech he states: „You have proven that Europe’s youth has a voice!“
Now that the trio of Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria has finished its task in hosting youth conferences and promoting the Youth Goals it is time to hand the presidency over to the next three countries: Romania, Finland and Croatia.
During this ceremony the representative of the Romanian Youth Council excitedly agreed with the vigor of continuing the persuasion of the Goals, pledging that they are to be transformed into more concrete and practicable shapes.
The 11 Youth Goals that have been discussed non-stop throughout the conference stand for Europe as a solidary unit that operates as a safe and supportive space for its youth.
To enforce this message of collective responsibility, repeatedly preached by Jean-Claude Juncker before, Van der Bellens unambiguous words at the closing ceremony are the final emphasis.
He insists on the importance of European citizenship, suggests vague ideas of how to strengthen it even more and most emphatically warns about the dangers that nationalist and isolationist concepts bear, as witnessed before on this continent.