Written by Violetta Teetor
Agrinio, Greece, 2018 The question was described as ‘curious’, ‘amazing’ and ‘existential’ by the various panellists who shared their views with delegates from 15 countries attending the annual congress of the Association of European Journalists in Agrinio in November 2018.
Glimmers of optimism were threatened by a sombre mood enshrouding the problems facing Europe. With unemployment at 20% in Greece, 40% for youth between the ages of 18 and 25, attitudes towards systems that have failed them are influential in potentially discarding traditional values. Greece is not alone. Spain and other countries, see their young people performing jobs well below their graduate status or not at all.
Not for the first time, populism is rearing its ugly head once more, preaching to the sceptics of the EU as well as to the disenfranchised whose opinions of refugees strengthen their resolve to keep them out. The message from the Mayor of Brussels, Christos Doulkeridis, was touching in its sincerity. He apologised to refugees as an EU citizen for the way Europe has behaved towards them, he apologised that the EU has not done enough to keep Britain within the ranks even though it was their chivalry that saved Europe during WW2. His own story is one of gratitude to the people of Belgium and Brussels in particular that made it possible for a Greek like him to flourish and get to the position that he is in today. His message of tackling the onslaught of difficulties is for Europeans to stand together, for politicians to have a common goal in order to pave the way for future democracy.
Climate change was on everyone’s agenda and there was no doubt that this could not be faced by individual countries or for that matter by the bloc on its own and that the refusal of President Trump of the USA to sign the Paris Treaty, is a blow to a vital unified approach. According to Otmar Lahodynsky, President of the AEJ, journalists have been given the mandate to fight for solidarity highlighting the severe approaching storms and make citizens aware of the added value of a unified Europe to remain democratic.