Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue – quo vadis? Closing event and panel discussion at Nordic Embassies in Berlin

In 2016, the project “Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue” consisted of three separate parts: Solidarity Academy-Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue 2016, a concert of the Baltic Sea Philharmonic in Gdansk and the Bridge it! -programme; supported  financially by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.

In connection to this, an evaluation seminar and a panel discussion on the project as a whole was held at the ‘Felleshus’ of the Nordic Embassies in Berlin, on 28 March 2017.

At the seminar, members of the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic, coordinators of the transnational Bridge It! –programme, organisers of the 2016 edition of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue-Solidarity Academy and representatives of the CBSS Secretariat discussed the benefits and challenges of the different youth projects: what are the main values that youth projects can bring? How can youth cooperation projects shape the future of our region and the future of young people in the region? In particular, the individual development, the people-to-people contacts and emerging networks were pointed out as significant by all of the facilitators. To broaden one’s own horizons and getting the chance to actively engage in artistic and social discourse was stressed by the project participants.

However, in the future there should be a more thorough discussion on the target group of the project: who and what is ‘youth’? Which age group should be part of the project? How to integrate and include young people with a lower level of education, disabilities or with a migration or refugee background? In addition, the role of officials visiting or opening the project activities should be reconsidered; a more active and longer participation would be beneficial for official partners, too.

During the panel discussion, moderated by Dr Mechthild Baumann of the European Academy Berlin, the results of the seminar were presented and the past and future of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue concept was elaborated in general. Ms Katja Fausser representing the German Körber Foundation – former cooperation partner of the CBSS and Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue – underlined the importance of young people understanding (their) history when growing into politically-engaged citizens. Futhermore, the journalists Ms Mira M. Fricke and Mr Koen Verhelst shared some experiences of the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue-Solidarity Academy of 2016 and highlighted the intercultural competences and networks they have gained.

Ambassador Maira Mora, Director General of the CBSS Secretariat, as well as Ms A. Edda Jökulsdóttir, Deputy to the Icelandic Ambassador in Berlin emphasised that an investment in young people is always an investment in the future of every country or region. Along with the speakers, Ambassador Guðmundur Árni Stefánsson, Chair of the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials; Mr Jürgen Klimke, Member of the German Bundestag; Mr Carsten Rüpke, Head of the Northern Europe Division at German FFO, and Ms Cornelia Pieper, German Consul General in Gdansk, they thanked all cooperation partners and facilitators and  stressed their important role when it comes to developing a common regional identity in the Baltic Sea Region – a long-term priority of the CBSS.

The panel discussion was concluded with music by an ensemble of the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic, playing pieces by G.F. Händel, Manuel de Falla and Georges Bizet.