Did you know that Europe has east too?

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This time Federation of Young European Greens made it different and brought energy for sustainable development to Eastern Europe, to the Balkans. From 15th to 21st of July around 34 young greens gathered in green paradise, Oplenac, hill nearby town Topola in central Serbia. Reason? To evaluate process of sustainable development from Rio summit in 1992 and implementation of Agenda 21 and to propose new solutions for future process in the world. Together with huge Bike tour in August this was part of FYEG preparations for Johannesburg. Differently and more actively we wanted to make things clearer for the people.

It seems that initiatives for evaluation of Agenda 21 and preparations for WSSD in Johannesburg somehow missed to target this important part of the old continent and left most of the initiatives out of reach of normal people but as well out of interest of the governments. Lack of interest of governments in Eastern Europe was good enough reasons for EU to focus its preparations to `EU issues` it seems.

Therefore FYEG realised that this seminar was a need for the young greens in the region to meet, exchange information and debate future possibilities in order to raise attention about urgency to face immediately really hard environmental problems. As well this was great opportunity to see directly what kind of work has been done so far and what kind of actions are planned for the future. All of this reasoning created great atmosphere for productive work and qualitative exchange that followed.

Participants from 15 European states brought with them information about development of agenda 21 in their country (region) and as well their personal experience with local development and governmental plans for future development. In general we could clearly see that Western Europe did start with implementation of plan for sustainable future but did not come very far and that in the east things did not move from dead-end position much. It can be even sad that things became 10 times worst so Rio + 10 got a new meaning.

Not to focus just on the problems but provide solutions again was FYEG goal and afterwards work on the Greener Europe seminar was dedicated to Political, Economical and Environmental aspect of SD providing participants with possibility to learn more about work in progress within these areas.  Fredrik Lann, Aleksandar Jovanovic and Ludvig Hubendick held lectures within these subjects that gain quality even more so through really great input from participants who seems do know a lot and are willing to share their knowledge with their friends from all over Europe.

It was amazing to see such a wish for qualitative work. Most of the tea-coffee breaks were used for additional talks and debates to already very hard and demanding agenda of the seminar. Even Topola statement and letter to governmental officials about sustainable development that came as products of the seminar were initiated from participants.

Workshops were dedicated to on-going issues of cooperation and democratisation in the area and provided several concrete ideas for FYEG work next year in the region but as well on European level. Interest of youngsters was clearly in line with FYEG policy for next year and it seems that larger number of projects for next year planed found their leaders and supporters at the seminar.

Since most of the seminars get boring with regular non-stop hard work and closed atmosphere of talks, debates, workshops even parties (!) preparatory committee was willing to make the methods of work at this seminar a bit more interesting and practical. As an extra quality to this seminar it is important to stress visit to local Municipality officials and debate with them about local environmental work, visit to Swedish Development Agency office in Topola working with democratisation process and development of Topola Municipality and meeting with different youth groups working in Topola.

Through contact with all of these people eastern Europeans could notice general similarities with politicians in their own countries and western Europeans could get a clear picture how the things work in the east -Lots of nice words with few small results to support their `great efforts´. As one of the present at the debate with local government concluded `It is strange how interest for environmental issues rise in presents of foreigners and fall after they leave !

With high hopes for better future cooperation and more practical efforts from young greens participants went home strengthen and motivated to push sustainable development back on the track. Even if the energy gathered around Johannesburg summit turn to be wasted after seeing these young people in action I believe that future is going to be bright. FYEG support will be there for them and together we can make Europe Greener.

We work and believe.

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