Young people at the Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue say it’s “time to act!”

30 years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the sixth edition of the CBSS’s annual Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue (BSYD) took place in the historical sites of the German capital.

As part of the Körber Foundation’s EUSTORY Next Generation Summit “Winds of Change – Transitions in Europe”, the dialogue took the form of a three day long creative workshop, in which the international BSYD participants explored the cultural, political and economic development of the Baltic Sea Region since 1989.

Former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga. Photo: CBSS Secretariat

The summit was full of reflections about the decisive events that shaped Europe during the past 30 years. It opened with “The Value of Europe – 30 years after the Iron Curtain” with renowned international speakers, including the former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga. Young people also took part in a history walk around Berlin to mark this occasion as part of the summit.

In the workshop “Getting Glocal: The Baltic Sea Region since 1989” we brought together 20 young people from CBSS Member as well as Observer States with participants from Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. They not only created friendships by exploring their shared Baltic identity, but reflected together on the history of Baltic Sea cooperation: How was this common space produced and reproduced in the political, economic and cultural sphere? How did it affect people’s lives? And most importantly, how can political change can be brought about in the future and how can young people contribute to Baltic Sea Region policy-making?

Photo: CBSS Secretariat

The last question was explored in detail in one of the highlights of this year’s BSYD: the panel discussion “Give us a seat at the table!”. Co-organised by the CBSS and the Forum Northern European Politics, it featured young activists from trade unions, LGBT rights and Baltic Sea cooperation organisations in dialogue with policymakers such as  Johannes Schraps, Head of Delegation of the German Bundestag at the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference and Simon Stermann from the German Federal Foreign Office and Representative in the Committee of Senior Officials of the CBSS, as well as National Coordinator for the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in Germany. Together, they discussed the role of youth movements and youth activism in the Baltic Sea Region and produced possible solutions on how to better integrate young people’s voices into today’s policy-making.

The young people’s reflections produced in the workshop were presented on the final evening through a powerful theatrical performance on how the situation in the Baltic Sea Region has changed from a divided sea to a sea of cooperation and common goals. Support was provided by the workshop moderators, Peter Wolkowinski, a trained drama teacher and international consultant at URBACT, and choreographer and dance educator Małgorzata Gajdemska. Through the performance, the participants expressed the wish for even closer political ties in the Baltic Sea Region in the future and for concrete actions to fight climate change and secure that future generations can enjoy a cleaner Baltic Sea.

Photo: CBSS Secretariat

The BSYD brings together young Europeans, who are interested in the history of Baltic Sea cooperation, to know each other’s cultures and explore their shared identity. The BSYD 2019 was co-organised by the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the Körber Foundation Germany and supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. Previous editions have already taken place in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland and Russia.

After three exciting days, the young people have gained new knowledge, experiences, insights into the Baltic Sea Cooperation and built networks around the Baltic Sea Region. 

Find more momemts from this year’s BSYD on our Flickr.