The Ecosprinter interviewed EC candidates

ga2017

The Ecosprinter asked a few questions from the candidates for the Executive Committee, FYEG’s spokespersons and the Secratary General of FYEG.

The Ecosprinter did not unfortunately get answers from all candidates. The full applications from candidates for these and other positions can be found on the official General Assembly page. There is also a more brief PDF available, describing the candidates.

The executive committee and other roles, including the Ecosprinter Editorial Board, will be filled during next week’s general assembly in Madrid. Read on, and get to know (most of) the candidates!

Spokespersons

Kim van Sparrentak has applied for the female spokesperson

What are you hoping to accomplish in your term? What do you find important in the recent future of FYEG?

KIM: I want to create a strong base for the European Election Campaign, kimfor both EU and non-EU member organisations. I want to focus on capacity building and trainings for trainers to broaden our capacity and spread our common knowledge as much as we can. I want our activists to be strong and confident leaders for change within their own communities and organisations. On top of that I think it is very important that FYEG continues spreading the positive message we share.

What kind of things have you done in FYEG or its member organisations?

KIM: I have been involved in DWARS since 2008. For DWARS Amsterdam I have been co-spokesperson and the accelerator of many actions. In 2009 I organised a large demonstration against a new nuclear power plant in my home town, Middelburg. My interest and experience on campaigning and renewable energies made me apply immediately to the call for a nuclear energy campaign team in FYEG. The campaign never really worked out, but I got involved and hooked to the organisation. After joining several other teams and alterCOPs,

I became part of the 2014 European Election Campaign Team. Creating a campaign with and for as many member organisations as possible was challenging, but I think I never learned as much as that year. I got to know so many people from so many different backgrounds and organisations.

Learning about all the different ways of campaigning and the roles that youth organisations can or cannot play in an election in different countries was really interesting and fun. Being back in Europe I can’t wait to continue showing off the beauty of FYEG, like we did that year.

What kind of skills do you have that will help FYEG if you get elected?

KIM: Campaigning, communications, analysing politics and positive energy.

I enjoy combining being politically active and coming up with fun actions and campaigns. My creative mind never stops. Because of that I have a lot of experience in communications and campaigning. I am looking forward to bring this skill to FYEG. To work together with Gio on the communications strategy of FYEG and to come up with a strong framework for the next European Election Campaign. Next to that, I really enjoy giving campaign trainings and teach how to make yourself heard to other activists.

Analysing political situations and structures is something I can do quite quickly and I like doing. I consider this a quite necessary skill when working within the European sphere, with all the different bodies and structures, different countries with other political systems. I feel like getting to know more about the political structures of many more countries and see how we can empower our activists to make a change in their countries. Be it through campaigning, lobbying or other ways.

Lastly, I have a lot of positive energy to share with everyone. So yeah, I will use that to motivate people and try to keep everyone happy. Being an activist is fun, but can be tiring as well. I think I can keep people up and motivated. It’s difficult to find me without a smile on my face 😉

Can you tell us, something recent from your country of residence / projects you have taken part in / of your own life?

KIM: Last year I came back from New Zealand, after living there for a year and a half. I followed what was going on in Europe through FYEG friends and mainstream media and it felt like a populist hell had broken loose. Coming back to a country where right-wing extremism was leading in the polls was not the best experience and it took me a while to find my ground again in the Netherlands.

A cold Saturday morning at the beginning of this year I joined a group of GroenLinks campaigners to do door-to-door canvassing in my neighbourhood. When I entered the community center where we gathered, I thought for a second that I was mistaken. There was a group of young, enthusiastic people awaiting their briefing for the rest of the day. For so many years I had seen a more gray-haired crowd and here we were. Weeks before the election, the campaigns not on full speed yet, with almost 30 young people that would spend their Saturday ringing door bells and explaining why they believed in a different political party than the main stream ones. All young people, craving for a different message than the harsh populist one. A message of unity, hope and a better future for everyone.

Recently I went to several demonstrations in Amsterdam. As always I expected to see more old people than young ones. In the Netherlands there is a very small culture of demonstrating, especially amongst the younger generation. However, these demonstrations were different. There were so many young people! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I even caught myself thinking: “what are all these people doing here?” There were so many more people concerned about the climate or women’s rights than the ‘ususal suspects’ that go to every demonstration. There are all types of beautiful people showing up now. And so many young people! Of course some of them are there primarily to show off their amazing signs and how #woke they are, but in the end they support the same causes as we do. Another big difference in these demonstrations is the message of hope I felt. We were not an angry mob, but a connected crowd filled with hope for making a difference.

All these experiences in the Netherlands have given me all the confidence I need. We can get many more people involved in FYEG and her member organisations. Young people can and will be the leaders towards a more hopeful, green and positive future. And the Greens can be a catalyst in paving the way forward. GroenLinks was the biggest winner in the elections, the populists didn’t get a chance to govern and young people are making their voices heard. Let’s continue and expand this movement, all over Europe and make it strong and beautiful.

Fabian Wagner and Djalel Boukerdenna have applied for male spokesperson. For now, we have only received an answer from Fabian, but Djalel’s application proper can be found on the GA page.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your term? What do you find important in the recent future of FYEG?fabian

FABIAN: This is the penultimate mandate before the European elections in 2019. We need to get going on this front. With all the current issues, Europe needs young Green politicians to show a way forward

That’s why I believe it is crucial to properly prepare the election. Together with our MOs I’ll start a process that not only identifies topics, but also helps us to forge our work into precise campaigns, with easily recognisable and very clear messages. We have various great opportunities for that, starting with a huge and exciting summer camp that will happen in my home country and deal with my speciality: migration and borders.

For sure I will bring in my thematic expertise and my experience from helping with last year’s summer camp in Serbia and in the EC in general. FYEG events tend to grow ever bigger and longer. The summer camp will bring together 100 activists for a week, for example. This is great and gives us an opportunity to form as many activists as we need to make 2019 a success. However, this situation obviously also comes with challenges. I will make it a priority for me to find ways on how to adapt our methods and our recruiting to the new situation.

Last but not least, FYEG is a fantastic environment that enables people like myself to thrive, to experiment and to grow in ways I couldn’t have predicted before I started this crazy and amazing journey with all of you. During one of the events I was responsible for during my last term in the EC one of the participants said that they’ve never felt so safe and included in any event. This is what drives me. I want to make sure that FYEG continues to be an amazing experience, that enables young Greens to develop the skills, vision and self-confidence to take the future of our common continent into their own hands – especially in 2019.

What kind of things have you done in FYEG or its member organisations?

FABIAN: The past year as Member of the Executive Committee has been by far the most intense and awesome year of my political life. It was a very busy year.

As MO Coordinator I got to visit and know many MOs and experience their way of working, as well as bring people from the national level into contact with FYEG.

After COP22 in Marrakech me and Jean-Michel started an experimental project inspired by what MO themselves have been doing. In a completely new format, we went for a study visit to Western Sahara that was very insightful not only topic-wise, but also in terms of reflecting on our methodology, which will be helpful for the future work of working groups and gives us a reference when designing future small projects.

Global Young Greens and Liverpool have been a big part of my EC mandate. It was a fantastic opportunity to connect our European Young Green Movement (and individuals) to those from elsewhere, which was for everyone involved a totally new experience, that won’t come back anytime soon unfortunately. Together with participants at our Resistance is Fertile seminar, MOs and Global Young Greens I think we managed to make the most out of this event and helped to kickstart a new Global Young Greens, who I’d love to follow and continue to support over the next year.

What kind of skills do you have that will help FYEG if you get elected?

FABIAN: Personally, what I got as feedback from others is that I apparently often manage to encourage people in groups to raise their voice. This is extremely important for us as Greens in particular. We want to be this inclusive and open environment and apparently I can contribute to making this happen.

From a professional angle, I do have experience in campaigning and branding. Both are crucial even before the actual campaign for the European elections start and I think I’d be a good choice to work with our new communications officer on giving FYEG the sharp and recognisable profile that helps us in 2019. My own expertise is on migration, but together with the point above I’d very much like to accept the challenge of encouraging the right people to develop a campaign that incorporates other priority topics like climate and future of Europe.

Last, but not least, I just come from a year in EC and I guess it’s normal that there are things I’m happy within other things, where I think: “Well, I could have done better here”. I’m sure this experience will help me to be more useful for FYEG in the coming mandate.

Can you tell us, something recent from your country of residence / projects you have taken part in / of your own life?

FABIAN: I learned an important thing over the last year: it’s crucial to not get swallowed by FYEG or your activism in general. It’s way more productive to clear your head every now and then by doing something else before coming back with a fresh mind and see things from a different perspective.

For me this regular escape will be my new job with a great human rights NGO in Berlin. I’m very happy that while it refreshes my mind it offers a great potential for cross-pollination by developing further my campaigning skills and knowledge in my field. Also it feels very nice to say: “I’m a professional human rights defender!” =D

Secretary General

There is only one candidate for Sec Gen: Teo Comet.teo

What are you hoping to accomplish in your term? What do you find important in the recent future of FYEG?

TEO: Europe is currently going through a very interesting period. It is important that the Europe that will emerge from this political turbulence will be a Europe where wealth is distributed more equally in our societies and among different parts of the continent, where anyone can be who they are and where diversity is cherished, and where our production and consumption patterns don’t burden the planet in ways that will make it unlivable for future generations. I believe that the Greens have a key role in making this happen and that FYEG has a key role within the Greens.

One important milestone during the next two years will be the European elections in 2019, where the projects of hope will be tested against the projects of fear and the status quo. FYEG should use this opportunity to increase support for our vision of a positive future among young people across Europe. As Secretary General, a significant part of the responsibility for making sure that we conduct a successful campaign would be mine.

Next year, FYEG will celebrate its 30 years of existence. This should be a moment of reflection about these three decades, about what we have achieved, and about the people whose lives have been changed by FYEG and who have changed Europe’s course themselves. And it should also be a chance to debate, to learn and to look into what the future might bring. I want this to be a big event in many ways, in terms of size, substance and impact.

Moreover, FYEG has gone through some structural changes in the last couple of years, for instance in the composition of the office. It is important to set up practices that ensure that the machinery is working smoothly so that the office performs as expected and is able to support different bodies of FYEG.

There are many other things I would like to accomplish if elected Secretary General, but these three – a successful election campaign, a big celebration of FYEG’s 30 years, and an adequate running of the office – are my main objectives.

What kind of things have you done in FYEG or its member organisations?

TEO: I have had the priviledge to serve as Co-Spokesperson of FYEG for the past two years. This experience has given me good insight in our membership, in the role of the office in the organisation, in the role of other bodies in the organisation, in our relations with partners, and in general in how the world changes and what FYEG can and should be doing.

I have been active in FYEG for several years, attending my first event in 2007 and being a member of the Executive Committee in 2008-09. Afterwards I regularly took part in events, attended GAs as delegate or member of the Presidency, was a member of Working Groups, and kept in touch with people. I believe this exprience will be of use if elected Secretary General.

A very relevant experience for this position was my three years as Office Coordinator of FYEG’s sister organisation Cooperation and Development Network Eastern Europe. These years taught me a lot about administration, about project management, about facilitation of groups, and about politics and activism in Eastern Europe.

What kind of skills do you have that will help FYEG if you get elected

TEO:

  • Listening to people, developing ideas together and figuring out optimal ways of doing things.
  • Comfortable with numbers and spreadsheets.
  • Negotiating skills and lobbying.
  • Project management and non-formal education.
  • Language skills, including an excellent command of English and French.
  • Facilitating groups to reach their aims. Keeping an open mind about issues, not being afraid to reconsider my initial positions, and admitting mistakes.
  • Conflict prevention and resolution.
  • Digital skills, including basic graphical skills and social media management.
  • Giving and receiving feedback.
  • Imagination.

Can you tell us, something recent from your country of residence / projects you have taken part in / of your own life?

TEO: If elected Secretary General, I will move from Helsinki to Brussels. This is something I would gladly do, because Brussels is a very nice place. I will, however, miss some things from Finland. For instance, being a part of the Greens and the Young Greens in Finland is a fascinating experience, with the people you meet, the days and nights discussing and debating, and the victories you build together.

We recently had municipal elections in Finland and I was once again reminded about what an amazing movement this is. These experiences and the relations forged through them have shaped me immensely and I look forward to using what I have learned here for the benefit of FYEG.

The Treasurer

There is one person, Frank de Jong, who has applied for the treasurer.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your term? What do you find important in the recent future of FYEG?frank

FRANK: FYEG is a collection of wonderful individuals and organizations with an enormous potential. What I hope to accomplish in the coming year is to further streamline the internal structures and the way we organize ourselves, in order to fully utilize this potential and make the green movement ever stronger.

What kind of things have you done in FYEG or its member organisations?

FRANK: I have been active for the Dutch young greens in multiple capacities over the past 7 years. Somewhat more than a year ago I got the opportunity to get involved in FYEG as DWARS’ International Officer. Since the first meeting I have loved FYEG and been looking for a way to get more involved and to get DWARSers more involved with FYEG. This is why I have been active in the structural working group last year. Now that my term for DWARS is over, I hope to be able to continue to contribute to FYEG and help strengthen our wonderful organization.

What kind of skills do you have that will help FYEG if you get elected?

FRANK: I have a political experience through DWARS, the Dutch Greens and my studies, but more importantly: I have always been active in different forms of (student-)boards, committees and campaigns, working in teams, establishing good results together. Here too I have learned to critically look at structures, methods and organizations and work on improving them.

Our political message as Greens is a strong one. What we need to improve is how we bring it across through campaigns and how we get people involved. The organizational foundation is what determines whether people who sympathize with an organization stay and become active. We as MO’s and FYEG as an umbrella organization can still improve on this level and I hope to bring my bit of experience to the next EC to work on this issue.

Can you tell us, something recent from your country of residence / projects you have taken part in / of your own life?

FRANK: I think I already wrote enough above. You can read more about my vision and plans in my motivation letter. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to ask!

The Executive Committee members

To be precise, The Executive Committee of FYEG is composed of 8 members, which consists of  two gender-balanced co-Spokespersons, one Treasurer and five Board Members. So, out of the six current candidates for board member five can be chosen in the meeting. 

The candidates are Ekaterine Mghebrishvili, Paula Espinoza, Predrag Momčilović, Tariq Khan, Tuomo Salonen, and Zuzana Pavelková.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your term? What do you find important in the recent future of FYEG?ekaterine

EKATERINE: Firstly, as I already stated in my motivation and vision of FYEG, I would like to focus on empowering small organizations and get opportunity to know better their background and needs. I am also coming from a small organization and I can say that FYEG and its sister organization CDN helped us develop politically and structurally a lot. So, knowing more about our MOs, have direct contact with them will give FYEG opportunity to have stronger Green Youth in different areas of Europe. As I am coming from Eastern Europe, from Caucasus, my main goal would be to empower activists and organizations in this region.

Also, will focus to get connections with feminist organizations and groups and increase feminist approaches within FYEG.

FYEG has helped Georgian Young Greens in many ways to develop politically and structurally, so now I will try to do my best to use all of my experience and knowledge to get better results in creating Greener Europe with an amazing team of FYEG.

What kind of things have you done in FYEG or its member organisations?

EKATERINE: I was lost, broken and totally depressed when I somehow joined Georgian Young Greens is 2010. Since then, lots of things changed within me and in my environment. I understood that the old-school ,be silent’ ways what we were taught at school, university, as women etc are not the cases in Greens surrounding.

After becoming little more active in GeYG, in 2011 I got a chance to participate in CDN and FYEG event in Armenia: Peace, Reconciliation, Diversity: a youth path seminar, where I met amazing people who inspired me to get more knowledge about green politics and ideology, work on my self-development and become more active on local level. Since 2011, I started to participate in CDN’s events which helped me grow in many ways. I became actively engaged in all the Caucasus regional meetings and got to know context and experiences from different countries.

In 2014 I was GeYG delegate for FYEG GA in Strasbourg. In 2015, was in local prep team for FYEG GA in Tbilisi. Also, participated as a delegate in strategic planning meetings for two years.Was actively involved in D12, mobilization for climate change summit. So I can say, that I am well acquainted with FYEG’s internal structures, procedures and political work.

What kind of skills do you have that will help FYEG if you get elected?

I have experience of working in the GeYG office for almost three years, as a project coordinator with Green Forum and as a web-content writer. We are not youth wing of the Green Party, so it means that except from street activism, campaigning on the grass-root level, participation in worker’s strikes etc

I have also experience in NGO work, with its technicalities, bureaucracy and tight deadlines.

Also, for years I am actively engaged in preparations of Regional Meetings of Caucasus with Cooperation and Development Eastern Europe or only with Georgian Young Greens. We have connections with activist groups and NGOs and also an understanding of the situation and context of the region. I could gladly devote myself for engaging more progressive thinkers from the regions to FYEG’s work with different methods and visits.

Also, I am project coordinator for Green Fest – Green Political Festival, which unites political debates, workshops, exhibitions, music concert with the aim to promote green ideas and solutions.
My personal skills which I find useful during my work/activist lifetime is that, I am not rigid, I like to listen to other persons and learn from them. This gives me opportunity to look at the problem or an issue from different angle and have understanding of others.

Also, as many of us, I have struggled from gender-based insecurities which are still quite strong in Georgia and in all its institutions. Where you must be silent, modest and created for men’s world only, objectivized and oppressed by lots of ways. With all these experiences I feel very emotional to female empowerment and want to encourage more women and non-male persons to express themselves and feel secure in the group of activists and in general. Also, I think FYEG could cooperate and find allies within feminist and LGBTQ movements and I would also gladly help in this case.

Can you tell us, something recent from your country of residence / projects you have taken part in / of your own life?

EKATERINE: Sorry, I cannot be as brief as expected because past week was very emotional and full with protests in Georgia.

Firstly, it was IDAHOT 2017. The demonstration was heavily guarded by police because of the attack on the IDAHOT rally in 2013 by a large crowd partially led by clergy members of the Georgian Orthodox Church. In 2014, the Georgian Orthodox Church announced that the 17th of May as the Day of Family Purity, coinciding with IDAHOT. This year, a number of clergy members and parishioners were trying to enter the area of the Chancellery building in order to disrupt the demonstration, but were blocked by police. However, this could not be seen as realization of the right of freedom of expression and assembly, because the state only gave us very strict and limited conditions and only for one hour.

Second, four miners died in a mine while repairing a freight elevator. In 2016 58 died and 84 people were injured due to improper working conditions in Georgia. All of these are the results of abandoning the labor inspection. Angry protests occurred of course, in the streets demanding from the government implementation of labor inspection.

That’s very brief reality where we live. However, there are us, some groups of people who care and the number of these people are growing, who encourage each other and have big hopes and willingness to fight for better future.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your term? What do you find important in the recent future of FYEG?paula

PAULA: I’m applying for the Executive Committee. Europe it’s living the most turbulent times in recent history: Brexit, the emergence of the extreme right, the results of the Turkish referendum, the crisis of refugees etc. More than ever Europe need a common strong voice capable of leading the route for a solidar, social and green Europe.

FYEG should be one of the motors of this alternative. FYEG have the potencial to be part of this leadership. More than ever FYEG is capable to introduce realistic and serious responses towards the major challenges that Europe is facing. Our organisation is young but our ideas are reasonable and mature.

What kind of things have you done in FYEG or its member organisations?

PAULA: During this year I have being taken part of the Executive Member of FYEG. It has been a very complete year. I had the opportunity to develop different projects and coordinate some others.

I won’t say the truth if I am saying that I am completely proud of my work. But in general terms, I feel confident to say that I am happy about the job the EC has been developing this year as a group.

I also believe that one more time FYEG has covered many of the expectations of the MO’s and their green activists.

I feel quite optimistic about the future of the organisation, especially when I see that different green activists, members of FYEG are representing the Federation in different European youth organisations like EYF or CoY.

What kind of skills do you have that will help FYEG if you get elected?

PAULA: After one year being part of the EC, I think that I know much better the organisation than before. I think it is important for FYEG and its EC to have a minimum of continuity from one EC to the next one and I would love to be the link for the EC 2017/18.

I think that the experience that I’ve gained during the last year will help the Federation.

Can you tell us, something recent from your country of residence / projects you have taken part in / of your own life?

PAULA: During this year 2016/17, I had the opportunity to develop different activities and coordinate some others.

As member of the EC I won’t never forget the preparation of the Demasculinisation of Politics project. I have enjoined very much the preparation of each single detail of the seminar. It was very grateful for me to see how participants become a such a great group during but also after the seminar. #SmashingPatriarchy is not something easy, but doing it with such as a great group it helps to be hopeful!

Let me take this opportunity to inform you that DoP print edition and online publication will be out soon!!! You could find out more info @Ecosprinter 🙂

What are you hoping to accomplish in your term? What do you find important in the recent future of FYEG?predrag

PREDRAG: Since I’m coming from Eastern Europe for me it is really important to help small Eastern European member organizations of FYEG to become more sustainable. In Eastern Europe we have Green parties which are more or less problematic and not so innovative. If we want strong and truly Green movement we need to support young Greens in rethinking and reinventing Green politics in the East and finding their way to make Eastern Europe Greener.

Greens have really good policies and knowledge about different issues but maybe we still have lack of knowledge about political economy. I believe that if we want to create new alternative policies we need to discuss economy more. I want to organize series of events on Green political economy which would lead to proposal of new economic policies which can be used at EU elections but also at local level.

What kind of things have you done in FYEG or its member organisations?

PREDRAG: I got in touch with FYEG for the first time during 2012, when FYEG organized LGBTQ event in Belgrade. After that I participated in different FYEG activities.

I was member of Working Group for Youth (2013 – 2014) and with that group I had an opportunity to organize series of youth events all over the Europe. I was responsible for event which took place in Athens. Work in the working group was for me a way to stay engaged in FYEG which is case for many people from Eastern Europe who are coming from smaller organizations. That showed me importance of working groups but after work in TTIP working group I also realized necessity to make them more functional.

Except working groups and program prep teams I was also part of local technical prep teams. I find role of local prep teams very important and in the future I would like to work on improving this aspect of organizing events, especially in countries where FYEG doesn’t have member organizations.

What kind of skills do you have that will help FYEG if you get elected?

PREDRAG: Probably as many young people all over Europe I have million skills I gained from numerous shitty jobs, voluntary works and internships I did.

If I need to choose one, it would be improvisation. My previous experiences taught me how to work under pressure – I’m good at improvising and adjusting things in last minute. I’m also good at strategic planning but I have learned that if circumstance change I can react promptly.

As PhD student of political ecology I have certain knowledge about new Green theories. I’m in particular interested in degrowth.

Can you tell us, something recent from your country of residence / projects you have taken part in / of your own life?

PREDRAG: In Serbia we have protests that now last from more than a year, but became more frequent after presidential elections in April. People start to take over the streets and protest about different things which bother them – big construction projects, corruption of institutions, media freedom etc.

After presidential elections, when Serbia made one more step closer to dictatorship, protests became more frequent and people are demanding fair elections but also different social demands from free education and healthcare to better working conditions and changing labor law.

During protests we saw big solidarity between different groups. Students supported workers, we had LGBTQ block on the May Day together with unions and everyone fight against evictions… This protests maybe will not bring change immediately but it is important that people realized that we need to fight for democracy every day and that democracy is more then elections.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your term? What do you find important in the recent future of FYEG?tariq

TARIQ: I am hoping to establish a greater level of equality, diversity and inclusivity, not only by recognising patterns that are preventing us from doing so, but by enabling processes and events to greater educate us about these issues. I find both theoretical political literacy and the ability to speak, relate to and win people over using not just facts an important skill we need to be able to disseminate amongst ourselves.

Populism is doing well what we are supposed to be doing, and an inabilty on our apart to relate to working class struggle is not working in our favour. I’d like for greater dialogue about this.

What kind of things have you done in FYEG or its member organisations?

TARIQ: I have attended, the European Youth Event in Strasbourg, where I met and lived with members. Attending sessions at the EU parliament and socialising at night was a good experience for me, as at the time I was a candidate for MEP in my region (bursts into tears).

After being accepted into the Global Justice working group, and being elected to he YGEW EC, I have also attended the WG meetings which was beneficial for me, not only to see the year long operational and productive aspects of our organisation, but to benefit from the spirit, excitement and dedication of this atmosphere. The sessions on things like finance and project management have been invaluable, as a YGEW EC member.

In January, I attended a training seminar organised by CDN, after being invited by them after having met them at the WG meetings. This was on the importance of international work, and how to link this to local efforts. I benefited greatly from this, made friends in a new environment, and had fun being around people who were not all greens. We went straight from Budapest, to Belgrade, as we had a study visit arranged there, organised by the Westminster Foundation, to scope out a possible political partnership with Greens there. This was quite interesting, as there are a number of different Green groups there, and meeting with SGY, and visiting the home of CDN office, after just having attended their event, was heartwarming.

I attended Yo!Fest in Maastricht in February, where youth organisations from across Europe gathered for two days of sessions, discussions and events relating to Europe, as it was the anniversary of the Maastricht treaty. FYEG did a presentation, of which I was part of, where I gave some insight into my experiences at alter COP, and my take on negotiations in general. It was also nice to meet Future of Europe WG, who made up the larger part of the group.

In March, I was part of the prep team for the resistance is fertile seminar, which took place prior to the Global Green and European conferences that were taking place. The event was a success in my opinion, and I learnt how to be part of planning, logistical and executive processes within an FYEG setting, which I found quite beneficial as my organisational skills and work ethic have increased significantly since then. Being around an EC member and the project manager, as-well as participants gave me a well rounded understanding of how events should be, and how they can be better in future.

Last week I have just returned from The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change sessions in Bonn (SB46). This was extremely empowering, as being part of the Youth and NGO group (Youngo) where we produced policy positions, press releases, and prepared questions and statements (I did a speech)for the incoming Fijian presidency was thrilling. We also went around lobbying delegates and non state organisations for their support for our policy paper (I am part of the Oceans working group) which was satisfying, as we got to meet and connect with high level scientists and state representatives by asking them questions like ‘how’s your lunch?’ and being charming in general.

What kind of skills do you have that will help FYEG if you get elected?

TARIQ: I am a creative thinker, being able to see different perspectives and solutions to a problem. This is invaluable to helping us not beat around the bush, cutting through red tape, and standing on ceremony.

I am known to speak my mind, and being honest and straightforward is an asset in a political environment where we know things are rarely so. I am not shy to tackle awkward situations, individuals or facts. In fact I am good at making people feel comfortable around me, and trust me, which is a good thing as they can then express themselves properly.

I have battled with mental issues in the past, and continue to do so in some aspects. Though we are a progressive organisation that are considerate of these things in general I feel it is better having someone who actually relates to this in the now, so we can deal even better with it.

I am very talkative and humorous, and can lighten up an atmosphere regardless of a situation. I am a hard worker, when there is work to be done. I have high standards for myself, and expect excellence in whatever I do, and infuse passion into the things I do, which is an infectious attitude, that can only lead to good outcomes.

Can you tell us, something recent from your country of residence / projects you have taken part in / of your own life?

TARIQ: I have recently, after being a volunteer there for a year, been offered a role as a targeted youth support worker at the Blackburn Youth Zone, being responsible for initiating, recruiting for, and partial co-ordination of the Young Leaders programme, which is a scheme set up to nurture those who have leadership potential and intentions, this is targeted at people from 16-18 years of age.

I will be responsible for teaching things like political literacy, community engagement, pertinent global issues and also factoring in environmental campaigns, whilst remaining politically impartial.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your term? What do you find important in the recent future of FYEG?tuomo

TUOMO: Perhaps the single most important task for FYEG right now is to prepare for the European Parliament elections of 2019. My term wouldn’t last even close to the actual elections, but preparations have to be maybe well in advance to be as well prepared as possible. Old parties are crumbling all over Europe and we have to make sure it’s the Greens who fill that void.

FYEG has an extremely important role I all of this, since the green movement has taken different shapes in different countries, meaning that there are young green people all around Europe with very different sets of skills, experience and knowledge and there is so much that our Member Organizations could learn from each other. MOs could learn from each other’s successes and mistakes to make greens stronger all around Europe. FYEG should act as an intermediator in all this, encouraging MOs to communicate more and facilitate doing so in practice. Of course FYEG has limited resources but what it lacks in workforce it makes up in expertise and contacts. Building a stronger green network means a better position to compete with both old parties and new movements all around Europe.

Should I be elected to the executive committee I would work to strengthen the young green network all over Europe to better prepare for elections both at the national level and in the European Union.

What kind of things have you done in FYEG or its member organisations?

TUOMO: I have experience from green politics both at the local level in my hometown of Joensuu and the region of Savonia-Karelia, where I have been a board member in my local Young Greens as well as the regional Green Party. I am also a member of the Finnish Green Party’s working committee on European politics, which acts as the party’s board of experts concerning EU affairs, and a member of the Finnish Young Greens working committee on international affairs.

European politics is a particular interest of mine since so many of our largest issues in politics are best solved on an international level rather than the national one. There is also so much power and potential in the European Union, which is a fact that unfortunately many people in politics neglect. We need more international cooperation to fight issues such as climate change and global inequality which is why I’m so passionate about European politics.

My experience from the greens in Joensuu and Savonia-Karelia have also taught me how different the realities of green politics can be on the local and regional levels compared to the national level. I also know how hard it can be to be green in an area where we don’t have a strong presence, and where you struggle each year to find enough people to keep the organization going through the next one. The situation is the same whether we talk about FYEG or a national member organization. The smallest organizations are the ones that need the most help.

What kind of skills do you have that will help FYEG if you get elected?

TUOMO: I have a lot of experience and a good understanding of European politics and green politics in general. I have good communicational skills and excellent language skills due to my linguistic education and my knowledge of over 10 individual languages.

I also have a lot of experience in organizing different kinds of events. I understand the problems and difficulties that small political organizations face and know how to tackle those issues.

From my work with Karelian activism I also have experience from NGO work and I have an excellent understanding of minority politics and the issues that minorities face in different countries in Europe.

Can you tell us, something recent from your country of residence / projects you have taken part in / of your own life?

TUOMO: In the beginning of April we had the municipal elections in Finland. The Greens gained a landslide victory with 12,5% of the votes, but it was also a victory for the young candidates. All over Finland young candidates got elected with incredible results, and I am especially proud of the work we did in Joensuu. Joensuu is a small city in a rural area that has traditionally been difficult for the Greens. During the previous term we had no young people in the city council. In these elections we worked tirelessly with a small but motivated group and a minimal budget, with our candidates focusing their campaign efforts to social media. The hard work paid off and all of our young candidates got elected to the council either as full members or substitutes, surpassing many seasoned veterans of council politics.

This victory was very inspiring to me, since not only did the entire party gain ground but we got so many wonderfully talented and competent young people elected. After struggling so often with our small support and limited resources just to keep the organization going, it was heartwarming to see all that hard work pay off. Not only are the Young Greens in Joensuu in a better position to influence the politics of the city, but we also got a lot of new members during the campaigning, making the organization stronger in general.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your term? What do you find important in the recent future of FYEG? 

Zuzana's photo by Dániel Végel.

Zuzana’s photo by Dániel Végel.

ZUZANA: 2017-18 will be an extremely important year as we are getting closer to the European Parliament elections in 2019. I believe to have the knowledge and know-how to help strengthen FYEG’s political profile in the following thematic areas: (1) asylum and migration, (2) fight against the far right from an Eastern European perspective and (3) human rights aspects of climate change. With regard to the internal development of FYEG and the MOs, I want to contribute to: (1) capacity building for the upcoming EP elections, (2) further inclusivity measures leading to an increased diversity of membership and (3) respect for difference within the movement.

While this questionnaire does not allow to go into detail on each of these points, here are a few examples of how I want to make this vision work in practice: First, if elected, I want to work towards ensuring that representatives of refugee and migrants’ communities are invited and can take part in our Summer Camp, enabling us to brainstorm together how we can be of allies to our common struggles.

Second, as a former Global Young Greens 2017 congress Prep Team member, I want to carry the congress momentum forward and work together towards establishing regular common FYEG-GYG delegations for the annual COPs. These will enable Green activists from countries already strongly affected by climate change to gain visibility for their struggles, while providing us with a better understanding of the local impacts of climate change which we can make use of for better informed awareness raising and campaigning.

Third, coming from the Czech Republic and having lived in Hungary in the past half a year, I want to articulate the Eastern European experience in our discussions on how to best fight the surge of the far right. Economic inequalities between East and West have to be at core of these debates. I want us to speak loud and clear against the rise of fascism in Europe but I also want to make sure we leave our door wide open towards those who are ready to listen and talk to us, albeit they may not share our views (yet).

I do recognize that the dialogue approach may not be endorsed by all of our MOs but I believe that different approaches can and should be reconciled.

Lastly and most importantly, I want to take practical steps towards getting the FYEG ready for the 2019 EP elections. These could include for example a series of capacity building activities for the MOs on issues such as campaigning and media work, public speaking or negotiating candidacies with the mother parties. For more details, feel free to check my motivation letter and my vision.

What kind of things have you done in FYEG or its member organisations?

ZUZANA: I joined Mladí zelení in early 2015 after having worked as an intern on the European elections campaign for the Czech Green Party. As I kept moving around between different European countries in the past several years, I developed a long-term interest in issues surrounding asylum, migration and citizenship.

In 2015, I had the chance to represent Mladí zelení at the FYEG GA in Tbilisi, where I tabled the resolution on EU asylum and migration policies “A Europe that Saves Lives.”

A year later, I was one of the organizers of the FYEG General Assembly taking place in Prague. I was primary responsible for the accompanying Spring Conference “Crisis of Democratic Governance in Europe”, reflecting on the rise of far right from an Eastern European perspective.

Still in 2016, I joined the Prep Team for the Global Young Greens 2017 congress in Liverpool, where I quickly assumed the responsibility for coordinating our fundraising efforts (successfully).

On the local level, I was involved in campaigning for refugees’ and migrants’ rights in a variety of ways – from organizing happenings to speaking at protests to bringing two vans of Czech young Green volunteers and their allies all the way to Idomeni.

What kind of skills do you have that will help FYEG if you get elected?

ZUZANA: I am hardworking, detail oriented and have long-term stamina. My experiences over the past two years have taught me to better manage and estimate my time capacities and to make sure I do finish projects which I have started. I believe that long-term devotion is crucial in order to make big organizations run smoothly.

Moreover, even when under pressure, I strive to pay attention to the well-being of individuals around me and to pass over positive energy and enthusiasm. I have developed a sense of sensitivity for situations where individuals may feel excluded from bigger groups and I am usually relatively successful at intervening on a face to face basis.

Can you tell us, something recent from your country of residence / projects you have taken part in / of your own life?

ZUZANA: I would recommend people read my article on Roma women sterilization in the Czech Republic and former Czechoslovakia and the women’s fight for compensation which should be published in one of the upcoming editions of the Ecosprinter.

[Editor’s note: the mentioned print edition should be out by the GA].

Alternatively, here you can find my blog relating to the experiences we made with some of the young Greens in the refugee camp in Idomeni. I reflect on the dilemmas one faces between doing “just humanitarianism” and aiming for political action within the confines of a camp environment where political actions may negatively impact the most vulnerable among the refugees.

Answers compiled by Simo Raittila, Ecosprinter Editorial Board.