9 July 2015
On Sunday, 28 June ended in Paris the first seminar in a groundbreaking project, “A Europe of Diasporas”. The project aims to establish a network of cooperation between diasporas and to promote understanding for and the value of diasporas for Europe at large.
This three days seminar brought together 40 activists, academics and specialists from 15 countries to compare experiences between European diasporas. It was essentially dedicated to exchanges of experiences and joint planning. Participants had opportunities to report on their concerns and aspirations, and explore fields in which cooperation may be particularly useful.
“We believe the affirmation of diasporas will be important for the rest of society in Europe as well as for the groups concerned. The network also explores opportunities that Europe can provide diasporas and those that diasporas can provide Europe.” Said Nicolas Tavitian of AGBU Europe.
The event was set against a background of increasingly frequent and violent manifestations of anti-semitism in Europe and acute discrimination, hostile public discourse and violence against the Roma and by tensions and international spats over the recent commemorations of the Armenian genocide.
Participants in the incipient network pledged to seek opportunities to address hate speech and discrimination together. They also decided to encourage cooperation regarding remembrance and commemoration of genocides, historical events that have affected all three participating groups and whose legacies are still perceptible in European society. “Our cooperation must also address current emergencies, there is an emergency going on right now” insists Vicente Rodriguez, of the Phiren Amenca International Network.
Participants took the decision to focus the next seminar, to be held in Budapest in October 2015, on educating themselves as well as the wider European public regarding the contribution of these diasporas to the making of Europe: Europe would not be what it is today without the Roma, the Jews and the Armenians. The third seminar in the series will focus on matters relating to education, specifically how educational systems in different countries recognize children of diasporas and their specific needs. It will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria, in January 2016.
The seminar also featured guest speakers Georges Prevelakis, and Philippe Lazar, to address the issue of diasporas from a historical and theoretical perspective. The event was hosted at the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris, in partnership with the historic Armenian Student’s House of the Campus. Its cultural programme featured a guided Jewish heritage tour n the centre of Paris. It also featured an evening at “La Chope des Puces”, the café concert in which Django Reinhardt, the man who brought Jazz Manouche to world fame, made his debut.
The Europe of diaspora project is implemented jointly by the European Union of Jewish Students, Phiren Amenca International Network and the Armenian General Benevolent Union Europe.
About the project. A “Europe of Diasporas” is a European project and is a first step towards the establishment of a network of diasporas in Europe. This network will aim to help affirm the notion that diasporas have been part of the European story for many centuries and that they are an asset for Europe. It promotes the idea that diasporas identities need not be tied to a territory or to a source of authority to be legitimate and valuable. The Europe of Diasporas projects is funded by the European Union.
Phiren Amenca is a network of Roma and non-Roma volunteers and voluntary service organizations creating opportunities for non-formal education, dialogue and engagement, in order to challenge stereotypes and racism.
The European Union of Jewish Students is a pluralistic, inclusive and non-partisan umbrella organization that supports Jewish student unions throughout Europe and represents its members in international institutions and organizations.
AGBU Europe coordinates and develops the pan-European activities of the Armenian General Benevolent Union. Established in 1906, AGBU is the world’s largest non-profit Armenian organization. AGBU Europe runs numerous programmes in fields relating to academic research, the preservation and promotion of heritage, education and culture as well as awareness raising, advocacy and leadership training.