Postcards from Riga
Get together, Riga, Thursday night. Adewale Ayantoye.
By Ole Aabenhus
Looking back at the Riga conference on Dec. 10-11, two things stand out in my mind: The postcards, and the evening event.
The postcards were special because they were – are – so spontaneous. At the end of group work, all participants, from 14 different countries, were asked to write a postcard to the next My!Europe conference (in Pardubice, the Czech Republic, April 7-8, 2016). So here are some of the postcards as well as some Adewale’s photos.
The evening programme on Thursday December 10, was a very pleasant and mind-capturing event, where members of a Danish refugee theatre group told their stories as short-story monologues.
Luckily, the event documented was by a skilled photographer among the 140 participants, Adewale Ayantoye from Nigeria, at present a student of Tallinn University of Technology.
All had postcards to write. Some were addressed to “EU, Brussels, Europe”, but
most to the next My!Europe conference – at the University of Pardubize, the Czech Republic” in April.
Here the text reads: “Dear EU, All I want for Christmas is you to solve a couple of global and local crises. All the best & kindest regards…”
Postcards on Europe and solidarity
-- My Europe is our Europe!
-- What creates solidarity, if there are considerable differences among the EU member states? If this question is answered, we are definitely much closer to the actual solution.
-- Common solutions to common problems. Ever deeper union.
-- Emphasis on humanity and unification, working towards solutions at the EU level, not only at the national level. This would enhance our EU.
In Damascus I had a cat….
-- More federalisation of Europe is needed + solidarity
-- I wish, one day Europe will be ready for a really common solution, not only a solution.
-- Europe was note created for division, neither was it created for hostility. Europe was created for unity, love and hospitality.
If we keep turning back the refugees, then the identity, upon which the E.U. was established, will be lost.
Integrating those people into the system won’t be easy until those people can also say My!Europe, we are fit to make progress.
-- The EU needs to act together – even if the solutions are not ideal at first. A focused effort has to be made towards finding realistic common solutions and to work towards establishing common values that are accepted throughout the Union in order to act and feel united when facing crisis.
Negativity and dehumanization can & should be tackled by providing concrete and factual answers to prevalent fears and misunderstandings.
At the National Library, Riga
-- Each move we make has to move us forward to create Europe for one and all. We shouldn’t stray off this path when dealing with issues that affect all of us, even if we try to fix them in different ways.
-- Open dialogue, which includes all parties in the basis of effective solutions. “… only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking”. This is the great paradox.
-- An art project on the values: Universal values – liberty, equality, brotherhood – that could take place in all EU countries + Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein. A selection of the outcomes could be exhibited in all EU-etc. countries.
-- We have to rescue the solidarity in the EU, and we have to communicate more and better with each other. We should not think in stereotypes about each other, because this does not create tolerance and solidarity.
-- Each move we make has to move us forwards to create Europe for one and all. We shouldn’t stray off this path when dealing with issues that affect all of us, but what we try to fix in different ways.
Europe and integration
-- Integration via employment
-- Free language courses suggested for refugees. Immediate creation of facilities in Greece with a robust capacity to receive, assist, register, and screen people who arrive by sea.
-- Brussels has imposed a solution to Latvia, and we have no way to protest. There are refugees here already, but the Government lies to us – we don’t trust them.
-- To have a successful integration we need to prepare the refugees, but even more we need to prepare the local communities.
-- 25-30 per cent of the refugees are children. Open your kindergartens. Open your schools now! It takes 1-2 years for them to learn language and ….
-- Dear participants of the next conference.
Respect is the main stepping-stone!
If there is respect, all problems can be solved.
Respect must go in two directions: Refugees must be respected as they are, but they should be ready to respect EU values and the lifestyle of EU citizens as well!
If refugees are ready to come in EU and live here with respect, then all “problems” can be solved quite easy. Let us respect each other.
-- Need to re-humanize – emphasize humanity as a springboard to a more sympathetic approach.
-- The dead child [on the beach]: Problem with negative attitudes in traditional media. Is new media the solution?
... to find a place in the world where elections matter!