On 7 December, the opening event of our project DIALOGUE ON EUROPE took place in Athens. Multipliers from Greek civil society came together to participate in workshops on common challenges in Europe, and to discuss these with Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office.
With our new project DIALOGUE ON EUROPE, which we are implementing together with the German Federal Foreign Ministry, we are working to counter the process of alienation between European countries observed in recent years. To this end, we will bring together young thinkers and practitioners from Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Germany to engage with each other in dialogue and, over the course of the two-year project, to collaborate on policy recommendations.
In particular Greek relations with Europe, and especially with Germany, have suffered badly in recent years. So no place could have been better to kick off the project than Athens.
On Monday, some 100 young representatives of civil society met in Athens’ Impact Hub, a popular co-working space for creatives and start-ups in the Psirri neighbourhood, to take part in the project’s first Town Hall Meeting. There they discussed Greek-German relations, against the backdrop of shared European challenges, with the German Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth.
After being welcomed by Dominic Schwickert (Executive Director of Das Progressive Zentrum), Loukas Tsoukalis (President of the Greek think tank ELIAMEP – Foundation for European and Foreign Policy) emphasised the importance of bilateral dialogue beyond the political decision-making level to help develop effective reform approaches.
In workshops, participants discussed the project’s four core topics: “Sustainable Growth”, “Migration & Refugees”, “Social Cohesion” and “Populism”. The results of the workshops were then presented to and discussed publicly with Minister of State Roth. Elina Makri, the Greek investigative journalist, moderated the discussion with participants and the public.
Amalia Zepou (Vice-Mayor of Athens, responsible for Civil Society, and founder of the synAthina Network) closed the event by explaining why grassroots approaches and civil society engagement can – and need to – develop their full, tremendous potential in modern Greece.
We look forward to the next meetings in Rome, Madrid, Lisbon and Marseilles!