Talking about: European Roots

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Ska Keller, 27, and Jan Philipp Albrecht, 26, from Grüne Jugend (Germany) ran for a spot on the German Green ticket for the European Parliament in January – and managed to get on spots with good prospects! Congratulations!

Ska is currently spokeswoman of the Greens Brandenburg. She came to the Green Party via Grüne Jugend, was spokeswoman of FYEG and is involved in politics related to migration and gender equality. Jan was spokesman of Grüne Jugend from 2006 until 2008. Anti-nuclear politics marked the beginning of his Green involvement; today Jan is mainly concerned with civil rights politics. Both want to enter the European Parliament with the recommendations of Grüne Jugend and their respective regional associations of the German Green Party.

Below you can find an interview with both candidates, held by Silke Gebel, editor of Grüne Jugend’s magazine.

Silke: Have you made any crucial European experiences, other than ERASMUS and Eurovision?
Jan
: I would describe the abolition of the frontier between East and West Germany as such an experience. I lived very close to the border and visited the border facilities as well as the death strip. Moreover, I possess dual citizenship and have started travelling at an early age.
Ska
: I also grew up next to a border (the Polish one), but my first political European experience was attending my first General Assembly of FYEG and discussing green projects with 50 people from all over Europe.

Silke: Both of you will run for a spot on the German ticket for the European Parliament in January. What triggered this decision?
Jan
: Over the last years, as spokesperson of Grüne Jugend, I have been constantly addressing European topics like telecommunications data retention or the Euratom-Treaty. As I want to concentrate on these issues, I am looking forward to representing the Green Party in the European Parliament.
Ska
: I actually started off with European Politics, was spokeswoman of FYEG and in this way, got to know and appreciate the European Parliament. There, many things are still in motion, people are open and flexible. That’s why I want to return to Europe what I also consider as my political roots.

Silke: What are the benefits of strong Greens in the European Parliament?
Ska
: We for instance managed to gain majorities for a far-reaching reform of the Dublin Treaty. This simply shows that with a strong Green parliamentary group, you can really change something.
Jan
: I would like to add that in the EP, Greens often advance the views of the majority of the population – examples are genetic engineering, data protection or nuclear energy. In all these cases Green makes a strong difference in Europe!

Silke: What are you concretely planning to do? Ska is mainly engaged in migration politics, Jan in justice and home affairs. Are there any projects you want to tackle?
Ska
: I want to stand up for green migration policies which reintroduce the rights to migration and asylum. I want to bring debates from the European Parliament to the European Green Party with its 30 Member Organizations and young people.
Jan
: I mainly want to oppose ever new surveillance techniques in Europe and compete for strong and enforceable fundamental rights in the EU. For our safety, the European security politicians finally must be showed limits. A strong voice for civil rights is thus necessary in the European Parliament.
Ska
: As to the field of migration politics, the contact to NGOs and support organizations is also very important to me. We need to talk with migrants instead of talking about them. The same applies for Turkey where a green party has just been founded. Local voices must be listened to in order to be able to include their wishes.

Silke: Your plans sound like you are up to a lot of travelling. Would you fly or take the train?
Ska
: I’ll definitely take the train. It is impertinent that Deutsche Bahn (German Railway Company) is cancelling the Brussels-Berlin night-train.
Jan
: As possible, I don’t want to fly within Europe at all. For this, it is however precondition that the parliamentary group has its meetings at places which can be reached by train.

Silke: Climate protection is a pressing theme. What do you think about coal or CCS-technologies as transitional solutions?
Jan
: I am against building new coal-fired power stations and using a lot of money for insecure fossil technologies. Now is the time for renewable energies to be supported! It is absolutely unacceptable that still, less research funds are given to these than are given to research on the nuclear field.
Ska
: I virtually live on the brown coal; in my surroundings four villages are just being digged away. To this, there is a petition asking the strip mining which anyway only produces electricity for export to stop. CCS is much too unfinished and may in no way be funded on public expenses.

Silke: In which other ways will you enrich the parliamentary group? How do you differ from other candidates?
Ska
: Our European experience makes the difference. Today’s EP parliamentarians have become ‘Europeans’ via their mandate. My vita however is European: I have lived abroad, been involved with FYEG and worked together with enough Greens from all over Europe and the world in order to know what the reasons for different opinions and ways of working. I also know that one needs to respect this – here, many older Greens still have problems.
Jan
: Moreover, our generation has grown up with Europe. I spent my childhood close to the Iron Curtain and this made me politically aware. It also lead to many thoughts about what exactly is the ‘Europe of the future’ and how we can ensure that peace and democracy will play key roles in it. We bring along the ideas from tomorrow when talking about advancements of the EU and clearly call for changes.
Ska
: Something else we bring along is that we grew up with Grüne Jugend… (laughs)
Jan
: Yes…
Ska
: In Grüne Jugend, a very open, inspiring, innovative and creative political discourse takes place, marked by team work and collective development of ideas.
Jan
: This is helpful in the European Parliament where majority stakes often do not rest along classical party borders. An open discourse is in greater demand here than it is in Parliaments marked by party blocks, like the German Bundestag.

Silke: What else would you like to tell our readers?
Jan
: Go and vote green in June so that we’ll have many strong Greens in the EP!
Ska
: Europe is exciting! It is worth getting involved, have a look at www.fyeg.org.

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