Honourable Members of the Model European Parliament,
It is with uttermost honor, pride and esteem that we welcome you all, on behalf of the entire Presidency, to the 4th Central and South East European Regional session of the Model European Parliament to the heart of Europe, to Austria’s beautiful capital Vienna and the monastic jewel on its perimeter Klosterneuburg.
This meeting not only brings together young people from all over Central and South East Europe for a cultural exchange but also provides you with a platform to voice your concerns and ideas for a new Europe. We therefore are especially pleased to welcome both representatives of EU member states and of the candidate/applicant countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. This exciting mix will ensure that you can tackle your committee issues from various points of views, as the problems can only be solved together. Together is probably the word that describes MEP best. In the course of this week, you will all eat together, live together but most importantly work together on your very own resolution. And finally, after the General Assembly, you will celebrate together, regardless whether your resolution has passed or not.
This sense of unity is also reflected in the committee issues, which address important issues concerning all of us. We, as young Europeans, have to come up with solutions to problems like growing unemployment among young people and youth empowerment. Moreover, due to our geographic position, most of our counties are dependent on oil imports from non-EU-member states, either for energy usage or for plastic production, two other committee issues you will discuss at this session. Of course, these issues also include the problem of interfaith dialogue and gender equality, two topics of great importance in our ever-changing union.
The MEP gathers the brightest and most ambitious of Europe’s young minds, so make sure to speak up! Where else would you have the possibility to voice your opinions and join young people from all over Europe in a mutual debate? It is certainly not always easy to find consensus and come up with an innovative solution, especially when you have strong opinions on certain topics. However, learning to find a good compromise in a debate, which often entails strong disagreements, is probably one of the most important lesson to learn at an MEP.
The Model European Parliament enables just that: a step in the right direction, a way to engage in current political as well as societal issues and most importantly it provides a means to come together, despite all differences, and find a common solution for a common problem. This is what solidarity should entail.
Threats that the EU has to face today include the June 2016 vote in the United Kingdom (UK) in favor of leaving the EU, the Greek debt crisis and lingering concerns about the eurozone, the ongoing migrant and refugee flows, a resurgent Russia, and lastly a heightened terrorism threat. Amid these difficult issues, the future shape and character of the European Project in the wake of Western Balkans EU enlargement are being increasingly questioned. This is where your part comes into play.
This – right now – is the time to stand together; to pool our ideas and energy to be unified once again. To protect the values the EU holds: respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. You are all vital in maintaining these values.
We therefore are sure that you will remain open hearted and open minded to your fellow committee members and fellow delegates. If you embrace the opportunity you will make grand friendships, get to know copious diverse opinions and perspectives. We advise you to be ready to defend your opinion but also to honor and assent others’ opinions while keeping in mind that it is of great necessity to find common ground and move on to make further progress.
Therefore, seize this opportunity to broaden your horizon and exchange ideas with teenagers from all over Europe. You always meet twice, so build up long lasting friendships. But most importantly, engage in the fruitful debates this week. Europe needs you. Vincent Van Gogh once said: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” May this be your aim in this year’s Central and South East European Regional session of the Model European Parliament.
We wish you an unforgettable experience at the MEP CSEE in Vienna and Klosterneuburg!
On behalf of the Presidency,
Paula Breyer, Lea Giglmayr and Oskar Weihs