The abduction of Europe and how to bring her back took place in Athens, organized by Youth of Kessariani, where Citizens of Europe was one of the partners. It was a week of intercultural activities, deep discussions, outdoor philosophy, visiting ancient monuments and much more. Greece has been hit hard by the on-going economic crisis, with intense and multilevel consequences on the daily life of its people.
However, more than the economic dimension, as often said, there is an identity crisis, which include social, moral and political questions. These issues have expanded beyond the Greek borders: Unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, violence, extremism and euroscepticism are common concerns of todays Europe. These kinds of ideas might threaten to demolish the Welfare State, Democracy and finally the whole European project. Not necessarily to find solutions, but at least to discuss the problems and see how active citizenship can help to fight the side effects of the crisis, 30 people from 10 different countries met in Athens. Talking about how the crisis has hit their respective countries, it broadened perspectives and gave the other participants insight into the similarities and differences between them.
Citizens were represented in form of the EVS-volunteer Mattias V. Pettersson and the chairman Tobias Kunow. It was an intense week where various topics were touched. But it was also a week where the participants could take part in Greek culture and traditions such as folk dance and classic food. Another aspect was also to emphasize the fact that the crisis is not purely related to Greece or restricted just to the southern countries. It is a structural issue that goes much further and risks spreading all over the world if no solutions are found. Even though it is clear the countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy and Croatia are suffering much harder then Germany, Sweden or Czech Republic.
The most discussed topics were the high youth unemployment rate, which some participants also themselves suffered from, and also the level of xenophobia that is increasing all over Europe in form of extreme right wing parties. These were also issues that all the countries could agree were important to battle and unite around. Various reasons were discussed concerning this trend, which threatens to lead to bigger conflicts in the future. Ideas such as more solidarity, deeper understanding between people and methods of active citizenship were something that most participants agreed on as vital for the future if this problem can be solved. It was also mentioned that lesser focus should lie with the national state and that we have to look for global cooperation in order to create solidarity between countries.