Novak Simin and Nikola Jekić - The EPM in Zagreb

Novak Simin and Nikola Jekić of AEGEE Novi Sad participated in the Zagreb’s EPM this February. One thing is for sure – they were very motivated by this event and thought it was a great and well organised event by AEGEE Zagreb.

Tell us something about the EPM event:

Novak: The European Planning Meeting (EPM) is one of the largest AEGEE events. The main aim of the event is to draft an action agenda for the focus areas for the next year. More than 250 students gathered in Zagreb to forge a plan of action for every AEGEE local concerning Equal Rights, Civic Education, Youth Development and European Citizenship.

Nikola: Usually there is some main subject of the event and this time it was all about political and social problems in Europe, to be more precise main subject was “Populism and anti-european agitation”. Besides of series of lectures, workshops and debates on this topic, we had the task to figure out new goals and development possibilities for the future of AEGEE. Food from student canteen was delicious, accommodation in the gym was great and all of the organizers and helpers were pleasant and friendly.

What kind of sessions did you have?

Novak: During the first, thematic part of the EPM, sessions were focused on populism. Second session was a panel discussion, where four renowned experts from the fields of politics, religion, youth organizations and defense, talked about populism through their respected views and what dangerous it posed to their fields of expertise, as well as what sort of movements would support populism. Afterwards the participants were allowed to join in the discussion. Then we picked a more specific topic concerning effects of populism that we would like to further discuss. The last and final session was held that was supposed to round up all the knowledge that we gathered and join it all together to form a general view of populism. Second part of the EPM focused on drafting the action agenda for the next year.

Nikola: First part of the event was dedicated to the main subject of the event “Populism and anti-european agitation”. In the beginning we had lectures and panel discussions held by experts in these areas, and in the end we were able to attend a debate. After that we started with series of workshops in which we tried to find new solutions for the AEGEE future development. For example I was in workshop about civic education, and we tried to figure out how could AEGEE improve awareness about civic education all over the Europe. It was a lot of fun!

What was your favorite part of the event?

Novak: My favorite part of the EPM was a thematic workshop called Political anticipation and the rise of populism in Europe held by Ms Marie-Helene Caillol. We were given a paper entitled “2009: when great-sons of Hitler, Petain, Mussolini and Franco will take control of EU”. It was a rather grim article talking about the rise of populism and predictions of what will happen in the EU. Once the paper was read, we started discussing about it, and even though the year was wrong, we came to a very scary realization that the effects described in it could come true by 2020. We talked about the economic and migrant crisis, rise of populism, weakening of democracy and possible collapse of the EU. Throughout the workshop we got to understand the power of political anticipation and how it could help warn us about the likely upcoming problems.

Nikola: My favorite part of the event was the first part, where we talked about European politics and populism, because I’m very interested in those subjects. Experts who held the lectures were amazing, and the best part was the workshop about connection between populist and the media. Also, I liked the workshop were the president and the founder of one of the Croatians top NGO’s talked about political situation in Croatia.

What made this event special?

Novak: This event was made special not just by the inspiring workshops and topics that we discussed, but also by the amazing parties and nights out, that the local organizers took us to. Even though this was a more serious event, a much needed fun and partying was brought to it so we would feel less under pressure. I would really like to commend AEGEE Zagreb for making this event so special and for being such good organizers.

Nikola: I think that the whole atmosphere made this event so great. People were so friendly and relaxed, so we just listened and learned the whole day and then party all night together. It was intense and sometimes difficult, but in the end we were happy because we didn’t miss anything during these few days in Zagreb. Generally, we heard a lot of interesting and useful things, made some new friends, saw the beautiful city of Zagreb and had an unforgettable weekend with AEGEE!