The global agendas for the 21st century are marked by an enhanced focus on the human being, on the citizen and on societies in addition to the traditional addressing of issues related to governments and states. Peace is not any more the achievement of governmental armament, defended borders and related policies but, as the title of our meeting indicates, the result of value structures of societal cultures carried by the human being and by societies.
I want to start with a practical example of volunteering. This summer I was part of the Religious Youth Service (RYS). It took place in Estonia, Johvi, from the 1st to 10th of August. The project was supported by the Lutheran church of St. Michael, which provided us with accommodation, food and work support. 20 representatives from 13 different countries participated at this RYS projects, such as Germany, France, Austria, UK, Japan, USA, Canada, Italy, Greece, Estonia, and Philippines.
Consisting of young people as well as a professional working with youth, the Youth Panel aimed to explore the role that youth volunteering can have in enhancing a culture of peace between Europe and Eurasia. The opportunities and challenges of organising joint Europe and Eurasia youth volunteering projects as a way of enhancing peace between the regions was looked at through discussing existing projects, the impact these have, and through proposing possible new initiatives.
First of all, I would like to say thank you for inviting me here to Paris, to this Leadership Conference. I am honoured to share a few of my thoughts on this important issue of the family. Through my work with the Family Forum and also being a partner in the Austrian Family Network, I feel that family is the key factor for human development to create a culture of peace. Having visited different countries in Europe and beyond, I learned that family is of great importance in the life of people in the East and in the West, and so, I maintain, that family is the primary vehicle of rapprochement.
The European Union is often criticized by people like me for a wide range of alleged policy and administrative failures regarding human rights. Today, however, I would like to use this opportunity to attest to the importance of Europe’s role in promoting and protecting human rights, which I can do on the basis of my own experience and reflection.