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In Warsaw, the European youth movement will plead for cultural diversity

To coincide with the opening of the Council of Europe Summit of Heads of State and Government, about a hundred representatives of youth movements will attend the Youth Summit in Warsaw on 15 and 16 May. They will call on the Council of Europe to organise a new European campaign against intolerance. Interview with Renaldas Vaisbrodas, President of the Forum.

Interview, 03.05.2005

Question: Renaldas Vaisbrodas, you are President of the European Youth Forum, which is organising a youth summit in Warsaw on 15 and 16 May, to coincide with the Summit of Heads of State and Government on 16 and 17 May. First of all, could you describe your organisation?

Renaldas Vaisbrodas: The European Youth Forum is the main representative body for youth movements in Europe. It was set up in 1996 by bringing three major international federations of youth associations under one roof. We currently include 93 non-governmental organisations of two types. Firstly, there are the national youth councils of the countries where these exist. Then there are international youth organisations such as the scouts, political youth movements ranging from liberals to socialists, different religious organisations and so on.

I am personally a representative of the national youth council of my country, Lithuania. I am 23 and a student in international communication. I was elected President of the Forum for two years in November 2004, after serving as Vicepresident for two years. I should stress that I perform these duties on a purely voluntary basis while continuing with my studies.

Question: Why a youth summit in parallel with that of heads of state and government?

Renaldas Vaisbrodas: This will be the second summit after the one in Vienna in 1993. That gathering coincided with the first Council of Europe Summit and was considered to have been a very positive experience. We will discuss exactly the same topics as the meeting of heads of state, in particular the Council of Europe's role and the need to strengthen its activities on behalf of cultural diversity and greater awareness of what is now a truly multicultural Europe. We will submit our conclusions to the governments meeting in Warsaw so that young Europeans can make their voices heard.

Question: Were you listened to in Vienna?

Renaldas Vaisbrodas: Certainly. At the time our discussions focused on the newly emerging democracies of that era and the fight against racism, xenophobia and intolerance. We asked governments to organise a European youth campaign against racism. The idea was taken up and led two years later to the Council of Europe's European youth campaign against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance, under the slogan "All different, all equal". The campaign was a great success. The 2nd Summit will call for a European Youth Campaign aimed at encouraging and enabling young people to participate in building peaceful societies based on diversity and inclusion, in a spirit of respect and mutual understanding. This Campaign will therefore be a further step towards the implemention of the principle "All Different All Equal", through the promotion of diversity and active youth participation.