For democracy and youth employment all around the Black Sea!

Conference Paper Black Sea Area Cooperation Network October 2011, Istanbul, Turkey

The Black Sea Area, centrally located between Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, is a region filled with difficulties but also unexplored opportunities. The region has a young population but old problems are overshadowing their future. Old frozen conflicts from time to time heat up and bring the region to the world’s attention. Violence, authoritarianism and poverty are widespread. The lack of democracy, freedom of speech and the abuse of power from the ruling regimes are destroying the dreams, hopes, and motivation of young people. We, young socialists and social democrats, in the IUSY Black Sea Area Network are committed to struggle for democracy, for human rights, and for equal opportunities to build one’s own promising future. The freedom of expression and the freedom of organization are fundamental freedoms, which today are still often seriously violated in many countries of the Black Sea Area. Violations of these fundamental freedoms often happen despite the existence of a legal framework aiming at the protection of exactly these freedoms. Bad practices reach from technical and financial limitations for the media, hindering them to properly do their job, to concrete abuse of power, such as threatening journalists in order to ensure non-critical reporting and to create the impression of legitimacy of authoritarian governments in the public opinion. Several states of the region are suffering from unfair, pro-forma elections. Institutions and organisations established in order to block or paralyze opponents of the incumbent are unacceptable shadows and reminiscences of an old, outdated past. We call upon the implementation and respect of fully democratic electoral systems in every country of the Black Sea Area. We call upon all democratic forces of the region to unite and to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and the freedom of independent media in the countries of the Black Sea Area. We further call upon the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union to concentrate attention to improve the conditions of the freedom of expression in the countries of the region. In addition to common problems equally plaguing the countries in the region it is important to also account for their specific domestic situations. We are especially concerned about the lack of an independent justice system in Ukraine. Opposition leaders are sent to prison because of their political activism. Media is controlled by the state. Ukraine today is heading towards an autocracy. In Bulgaria we can also see how power is being abused and the principles of rule of law are ignored for political reasons. Similar problems seriously threaten the democratic development in Turkey. Freedom of speech and the rule of law are suppressed; political persecution and the imprisonment of political activists are common practice. The current self-positioning of Turkey as model democracy for the middle east must be addressed critically and hold against the serious threats to democracy in Turkey itself. In Russia a new era of nationalism is sweeping over the country, often promoted by state controlled media. In particular targeted by the regime are citizens of Caucasian origin, often portrayed as terrorists and as radical islamists. The charade that the president-prime minster and the prime minister-president are playing on the expense of the people must be put to an end. Russia needs democracy and freedom of speech for real – not another fake election. In Moldova we need to strengthen the still not consolidated process of democratization. The European Union can and must be a strong partner in this, especially in ensuring the rights of sexual, ethnic and religious minorities including the adoption of antidiscrimination law. Youth unemployment is a big challenge to all societies and countries in Europe and in the Black Sea Area. Increasing the rate of youth employment is inevitable for successful political and economical development. Employment and an own source of income is a condition for ensuring young people’s independence. It enables young people to provide for themselves and to contribute to society. Much more efforts need to be devoted to this problem so that young people get a better chance in the labour market. One way for providing young people with experience and the opportunity to a job lies in creating partnerships between the youth and employers. Most important is however the access for everyone to high quality education. All young people have the right to education, to learn, to get trained and to get the skills to work in whatever field they want to. To invest in education is to invest in the people and to invest in the development of society at the same time. That is the first and best step to fight youth unemployment. We need to re-claim education for all! The social gaps, the inequality and injustice we can witness in many societies are dividing people, societies and countries. Participation and economic and social development must be ensured for all – even in times of crisis. It is time to improve good governance, to make sure that the welfare systems are effective, and to build our path out of this crisis by investing in people and especially young people. We cannot afford to loose a whole young generation. The Arab Spring showed that democracy cannot be rejected in any part of the world. We are committed to make sure that is also true for the Black Sea Area Region. Time has come to again actively engage and draw the attention of the world to the democratic development as well as the economical and social development of the countries of the Black Sea Area. We believe that it is time most notably for the Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey to become full-fledged European democracies. We believe it is time to re-claim education for all and to invest in young people so they can lead us out of this economical and political crisis. IUSY Black Sea Area Cooperation Network Istanbul, 2 October 2011

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