The XXXVI. EDS Summer University under the title of “Crossing Borders - Uniting Europe” was held from 15th to 20th of July in Sopron, Hungary and Eisenstadt, Austria. The event, which had over 90 participants from 25 countries, was organized in the close cooperation of EDS and Fidesz Youth, Hungary.
July 15, Sunday:
The EDS Summer University started on Sunday, July 15 with the welcoming speech of Áron Veress, chairman of Fidesz Youth. In order to highlight the importance of the main topic of the event, the participants also watched a short movie about the Pan-European Picnic which showed them a very detailed picture of the border breakthrough by Sopron, 19 August, 1989. After the movie the participants spent a pleasant evening at the welcome dinner.
July 16, Monday:
On Monday three main topics were discussed during the meeting of the PWG “Policies for Europe”. First of them was the conference resolution. Main debate was on this part of it, about the adoption of a new strategic approach towards immigration reforms by focusing on the concept of integration through education. At the end, it was agreed that modern society needs new, intelligent approach to integrate all minorities in all EU member states. Second topic at the meeting was a motion, written after the Policy days, held in Georgia earlier this year. The last document which was discussed during the meeting was the draft of the “EPP Single Market Resolution”. During this final debate, cornerstone was “call for responsible regulations of the financial markets in order to avoid any irresponsible behaviour by financial institutions”. Finally the members of the group decided that the topic is too important and a whole new document about it is needed.
The permanent working group Higher Education and Research and the PWG Human Rights had a long joint session where they, after discussing the conference resolution on “New Perspectives for mobility of knowledge”, shared their opinions about the resolutions on “Support for the EU Erasmus for All initiative”, and the motion on “High School Education in Romania”.
Sopron was an interesting location to discuss the papers on mobility as the former boarder between East and West was the place to overcome physical barriers for mobility. The two papers tackled barriers for mobility which still exist in the mind of people.
The resolution and motion on access to education were discussed together with the permanent working group Human Rights as they are issuing as cross boarder topic between both working groups. Education is not only important for the individual but also for the society as a whole. Because of this, excluding pupils and students from education due to reasons which are not based on their skills or knowledge means not only a personal loss but also a loss for the country in general.
During the afternoon the participants could attend three different workshops organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Prof. Hendrik Hansen lector and moderator of the workshop called“The totalitarian ambition of creating a new socialist man” began with a brief summary of the socialist and communist ideas in all post-communist and post-totalitarian countries. Then the participants discussed approaches and methodologies that were used by Communists to change people's thinking and to lose their identity. Some of the participants, especially from former communist and socialist countries, expressed the view, that those countries still suffering from the communist heritage. Some people from these countries, especially older ones, still believe in socialist ideas and views and they lose their ability to be adapt with new the rules in free and democratic society thus in conclusion, the basis of communist ideology was to change people’s mind in order to serve to the Regime and it should never be repeated, in any case and at any price.
At the 3rd workshop under the title of “The role of civil society in the newly formed political movements” Mr. Christian Passin began with an extensive introduction into the history of political movements in the 20th century of Europe putting key events into a context with the cultural facts and the mentality of the different countries which led to the exchange of controversial views on the various subjects. The second part of the workshop was entirely devoted to a dialogue with the participants shedding light on aspects and questions of political life in the respective countries that prompted to reconsider certain explanations for current political developments.
“Overcoming of borders and European Integration” was the title of the workshop held by Kinga Szabó, director of the workshops organized by the Robert Schuman Institute in Budapest. In her workshop Ms. Szabó focused mainly on various stages of development in Europe and the need to achieve widespread inclusion.
July 17, Tuesday:
On Tuesday surrounded by a serious interest of the most important Hungarian media was held the international symposium of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
In his opening words, the mayor of Sopron, Mr. Tamás Fodor mentioned that the city is the place where the reunification has been started more importantly on an individual level –at the Pan-European Picnic. That action has not been appreciated back in the days but at the 20th anniversary of the picnic Angela Merkel and Barosso spoke with respect in regards to the event. The first breakthrough, the Pan European Picnic reached outside Europe and supportedthe future of young people.
Áron Veress, the Chairman of Fidesz Youthshared the reflection on the Picnic from his viewpoint in his speech. He mentioned that the Youth Section of FIDESZ is honoured to host an event such as the Summer University of EDS and Aron shared his satisfaction of being part of the symposium as well.
Mr. Hans Kaiser, representative of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Hungary recognised the importance of the event. „It is the day of freedom” – he said. The anniversary of the Pan European Picnic in 2009 is considered to have clarified the role of people in the events, bringing its importance to the public. People have risen against dictatorship. It has been an act of bravery and people have been risking their lives for liberty. Mr. Kaiser expressed his belief that history is something that younger generations should know.
After the welcoming words the participants and guests watched a short film about the reunification of Germany.
Mr. Gergely Gulyás, Vice-Chairman of Fidesz Parliamentary Group mentioned in his speech that the EU is a fulfilment of a dream for Europe.He said that at the very beginning the European Union was a community built up on clear and common values what’s goal was to provide lasting peace and welfare. “But today sometimes it seems that this community has weakened and we are living in such a political union which primarily has economical interests and is trying to find economical solutions for its economical problems.” According to his words, people judging the EU mostly make that mistake that they are also criticizing the cooperation as a whole because of some operational problem. Gergely Gulyás called the attention to the importance for the neighboring countries of equally judging the totalitarian dictatorship, just as much as the rights of the national minorities are highly important for Hungary.
Mr. Michael Stübgen, Member of the Bundestag, Chairman of the Working Group „Affairs of the European Union” of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary groupdelivered a speech in the context of the Pan European Picnic. In his opinion it has unlocked the chain reaction across Europe. He also shared memories of the Picnic day and media coverage at the time. He as well stated that Germans are thankful to Hungarians for unlocking the process. Another key point in his speech was the reunification of Germany and Helmut Kohl's role. German unification and European integration are two sides of the same coin, he stated. CEE countries had no concept about their future and the reunification had been an impetus for their vision, he added.
Mr. József Szájer, Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group said “Europe won’t be able to keep the support of its citizens in case it can’t provide bases for emotional identification to them”. He added - these bases would help us also to “keep the spiritual fundaments of the European cooperation even now, by the time of the crisis when people are quarreling over money.” He stressed out – European citizens have to give that spiritual and social support thus making Europe really sticks together”, especially now when the community has to face major challenges.Concerning the last quarter century of Hungary Mr. Szájer said that by the time of transition “we said semi-completed sentences” and these remained unfinished for a very long time, this is what the government is completing now. “Even the huge amount of our tasks reflects on the one-time unfinished things” – he said and listed the framing of the new constitution and the fact of exceeding double standards concerning the totalitarian systems and also the brake with the indebtedness resulting the pawning of our future.
After a short break, at the second panel Andreas Oplatka’s presentation was about Hungary’s problems with Iron curtain and he talked about the extreme expenses for maintain it and mentioned the struggle of Prime MinisterNemeth to demolish the Iron curtain. The presentation also dealt with the position and faith of DDR refugees in Hungary and with the reaction of other WarsawTreaty countries and finished with explaining events that led to the Pan European picnic and its aftermath.
Mr. Axel Hartman ambassador of Germany in Bratislava was talking about his experiences of becoming ambassador in Budapest. He was helping DDR refugees in the German embassy. He was explaining the influence of destabilising effects from surrounding events (Afghanistan, velvet revolution etc.) As those events continued the flood of refugees from DDR increased. At the point when fence was cut a deluge of refugees from DDR came to Hungary for pan Europeanpicnic.
Mr. Manfred Wilke professor emeritus, former Head of research alliance on the SED shared his personal memories about how people were escaping from the East to the West after the wall collapsed.
Heinrich Oberreuter prof. emer. University of Passau spoke about how unification happened and transformation of countries and this affected the people. Unity was consequence of opening borders. But he mentioned too that although borders are gone, there are still sociological, economical, mental and other borders existing.
During the third panel session the head of the Danube Institute, Professor Ellen Bos shared her personal experience and laid out failing social, economic and political features of the dissolving state she were introduced to during her presence in GDR.
Friedrich Magirius, a superintendent at the St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig during 80s, organizer of the well-known Monday prayers for peace, once again remembered the days of the peaceful demonstrations. According to Hr. Magirius, despite of number of intimidations by the state authorities, hundreds of people, regardless their religious beliefs, gathered at the church to pray for peace. The people were united under one goal that was freedom and love. With the pressure increasing day by day and the environment becoming tenser, it seemed inevitable the situation to burst out, even more when there were numerous attempts of provocations from the authorities. However, continuous calls for peace and calm, kept the demonstrations developing in a peaceful way that eventually proved to be crucial in success of the freedom movement. It should be noted, that the speech was extremely emotional which deeply touched the whole audience.
After a short coffee break participants gathered for a panel discussion moderated by Bence Bauer. The moderator opened the last panel discussion of the day with the pointing out the goals of the panel, which focused on the history between the years 1945-1989. Speakers delivered a presentation relevant to the topic. Hendrij Hansen lecturer of political science at the Andrassy University focused on the political culture in the East Germany and Hungary during the times of Socialism. The presentation focused on philosophical dimension of the socialism and communism. Laszlo Nagy, organizer of the Pan-European Picnic and Vice Chairman of the Pan-European Picnic 89 Foundation spoke on the topic of the young generations. He talked about the problems of the transition of the knowledge of the history from the contemporary elderly, with problems of wrongful nostalgia on the times of socialism, and adults to the youth. Jakov Devcic a student at the Andrassy University, spoke about his personal experience from Serbia in poetically named contribution: Thanks of one young Center European and Aron Veress, Chairman of the Fidesz Youth Section, delivered presentation on Hungary, Germany and European Citizen in today`s perspective. He spoke about the problems with targeting of the young generation during the election campaigns and the transition of the once young party to a party, which is usually voted by elderly. Bence Bauer closed the panel discussion with thanks to the Konrad Adenaur Stiftung and Fidesz Youth Section.
A fireside talk with Mr. Kaiser and Imre Pozsgay, former state minister and main organizer of the picnic, closed the day. When Mr. Pozsgay were asked about his motives and believes back then he said by the end of the eighties he no longer believed that communism can be reformed anymore. He also expressed his happiness and satisfaction over the fact that this inhuman system could come to an end without bloodshed happening.
July 18, Wednesday:
On the 18th of July took place the 42. Annual Meeting of EDS. The agenda was very long, including various very interesting topics such as the full membership application of Liberal Democratic Youth of Moldova (TLDM) or the discussion of the resolutions on “New Perspectives for mobility of knowledge” and “Support for the EU Erasmus for All initiative”. After the lunch break the meeting continued with the election of the new Executive Bureau. Juraj ANTAL from Slovakia was elected Chairman with an overwhelming majority. As Vice Chairmen were elected Stelios GEORGIOU from Cyprus, Ingrid HOPP from Norway, Eva MAJEWSKI from Germany, Amélie POMMIER from France, Gintare NARKEVICIUTE from Lithuania, Andrey NOVAKOV from Bulgaria and Anna TAMÁSI from Hungary. As the Secretary General the newly elected chairman appointed Ann-Sofie PAUWELYN from Belgium. Avram CRISAN from Romania and Anna MASNA from Ukraine became Directors. Subsequently the motions and resolutions discussed in the working groups were discussed and adopted in the meeting. Late in the evening the Annual meeting was declared closed and everyone was transferred for dinner to a traditional intercultural event.
July 19, Thursday:
On July 19, Thursday the participants of the conference had the opportunity – by emphasizing the lack of borders in the united Europe – visited the town of Eisenstadt in Austria. The member of the Municipal Council, István Deli guided the participants through the town. At the Town Hall, the vice-mayor of the town, Josef Mayer held a small reception. The participants had the chance to ask him about the political situation and life in the Province of Burgenland. After that the participants visited the park of the famous Esterházy palace in the town center. In the early after, EDS visited a small restaurant in St. Georgen, where the locals offered us a traditional lunch with tasty Austrian wines. The day was finished with swimming in the Lake Neusiedl in Fertőrákos.
EDS would like to thank Fidesz Youth Hungary for organising this great event and hosting us in their beautiful city, Sopron, as well as all the participants, speakers and contributors, who made this event a great occasion.
Written by: Anna Tamasi, Vice-Chairwoman EDS