The Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue continued on 29 January at the premises of the Directorates-General for Regional Policy, European Commission (DG REGIO), for the opening of the exhibition #balticeye. Around seventy guests came to see the photographs taken by the participants of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue during the programme in Narva and Ivangorod, which are now on display at DG REGIO in Brussels.
Lena Andersson Pench, Director of the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy at the European Commission, welcomed the guests, addressing the importance of a cross-border dialogue of young Europeans and the EU’s involvement in the questions of regional identity.
Four of the participants of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue came to Brussels to present their work: Bartłomiej Kokot from Poland, Johanna Evensen from Sweden, Maria Zatoplyaeva from Russia and Benedicte Popkema from Norway. On behalf of all photographers who contributed to this exhibition, they explained how they approached the task and how they translated the topics #wherewecomefrom, #sharedpast, #borderlife, #identities and #ourgeneration into photos.
Bartłomiej Kokot emphasised the relevance of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue for his own personal journey of exploring questions of regional history and regional identity. A special challenge for him was working with photography as a tool to visualize complex topics and content.
Ambassador Eduardas Borisovas, Deputy Director General of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Secretariat, emphasised the necessity of an open discussion about whether a Baltic identity exists, and if it did, what it could look like.
Gabriele Woidelko, expert for European affairs at the Körber Foundation and Spokesperson of the Steering Committee of the EUSTORY network added: “We cannot ignore questions of identity in Europe’s multiethnic and multicultural societies. This question is of utmost importance in a regional environment like the Baltic Sea area which is connected by a common, often conflict-laden history upon which a new basis of dialogue and coexistence has to be built.”
Twenty-eight of these photographs have been printed and framed and will be exhibited in Brussels until 28 February 2015. The Körber Foundation and the CBSS are planning to continue the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue in 2015.