From 16 to 22 March 2019, thirty young members of minority group, including nine Armenians, took part in a five-day advocacy seminar in Brussels, entitled “Minority Youth & EU Elections”.
The seminar was organized ahead of the EU elections of May 2019 by TernYpe International Roma Youth Network, in partnership with the Youth of European Nationalities (YEN), the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU Europe). It gathered members of three diaspora communities: the Roma, the Jewish and the Armenian.
The seminar was consistent with these groups’ strategy of cooperation and alliance-building between diaspora or minority groups. It created opportunities for the activists to share experience, talk with members of the European Parliament and help mobilize young people of their respective communities to vote during the upcoming EU elections.
In the course of the seminar, Participants met with numerous members of the European Parliament and discussed with them their concerns, hopes and ideas to fight racist rhetoric and policies. Members of Parliament involved included Soraya Post, Bodil Valero, Peter Niedermüller, Dietmar Köster, Romeo Franz, Cornelia Ernst, Josef Weidenholzer, Tomast Zdechowsky, Barbara Spineli, and Brando Benifei.
Participants also attended seminars and lectures on specific issues related to Armenian, Roma and Jewish communities and met with activists engaged in combatting discrimination and prejudice. Among other activities, they also visited the House of European History, Europe’s history museum, noting the level to which their communities were reflected in the narrative of the display.
Participants at the seminar expressed their enthusiasm at the opportunity of communicating directly at European level. “My goal is to not only increase tolerance between communities,” explained participant Lillian Babayan (UK), “but to increase the appreciation communities have of one another.” For Nune Srapian (Poland): “it was such an intensive week, full of so many events, activities, conversations and new acquaintances”.