JEF Passau visiting JEF Czech Republic in Prague

Overcoming borders together

by Lena Weige
7th and 8th November 2015, Prague:

After last spring’s visit of the Young European Federalists from Czech Republic in Passau, it was time for a return visit in Prague. The exchange took place as part of the JEF Europe Twinning Program, which we have successfully continued for more than half a year now. At this autumn’s exchange weekend, we moreover had the honour to welcome members from JEF Poland and JEF France -  our meeting was therefore even more european than last time.

This time, our main agenda featured both the war in Syria as well as the Greek financial crisis. Another hotly debated topic was the refugees crisis. This is an issue especially relevant to JEF Passau, since the small university town on the border to Austria has been hosting thousands of refugees since August. We exchanged lots of experiences and learned about the populist media debate on the refugee crisis in the Czech Republic. During his speech, the Czech-Syrian business man Chalid Bitar, one of the founders of the “Syrian Free Community” of Czech Republic, told us how difficult it is to receive governmental support for the refugees. “We only cooperate with Czech NGOs like OPU (Organisation for the Help of Refugees) and People in Need, and some catholic churches. Thus we depend on events such as yours to make people aware of what is happening”, he said.

The discussion with Chalid Bitar provided a good stimulus  for thinking about Europe’s future. Do we really want to live in a European Union whose citizens are only considering their one needs and wealth? Or do we want to take some steps forward and strengthen the integration of the EU?

A presentation by the Czech federalist Jakub Jermá? on “European Federalism” gave us some answers to these questions.  Jermá?, who is an enthusiastic supporter of federalism, gave a passionate speech on why federalism is the only valid solution for the European Union and for a stronger European integration. Acording to him, citizens in a federalist Europe will naturally carry two identities - their own regional identity and the European identity. JEF Passau and JEF Czech Republic discussed Jermá?’s presentation and the ideas he shared very intensely. This is why in the end we decided to draft our own version of a federal European Constitution until our next meeting in Passau. For the coming weeks and months, we will thus have a lot of opportunities to discuss Europe‘s past, present and future.

Photos from the event here
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