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Press Release: The European Union will help rural youth strengthen digital skills and be resilient to new challenges

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The European Union will help rural youth strengthen digital skills

and be resilient to new challenges

The project “Promoting Equal Economic Opportunities and Resilience of Youth” in the Kyrgyz Republic (Sanarip Insan (Digital Citizen) was launched with the financial support of the European Union.

The aim of the project is to provide knowledge of the work of the digital and green economy to young people and women living in rural regions of the Kyrgyz Republic. This project provides for holding information events to increase the level of digital literacy in cooperation with the media and social networks, adapting and developing educational and methodological materials with representatives of the education sector, as well as conducting joint initiatives with representatives of the digital economy and government agencies to train young people to work in digital platforms in the e-government, e-commerce and digital economy sectors.

Within the framework of the project, the involved representatives of youth and women will receive the necessary knowledge and skills to successfully start their activities on Kyrgyz and international digital platforms, digital wallets, marketplaces, and will receive advanced IT enabled entrepreneurial skills. As a result of passing the training, representatives of youth and women will be able to receive funding for the implementation of their IT start-ups.

The final result of the project is to improve the indicators of youth protection according to the Sustainable Development Goals and the protection of human rights.

The project is implemented by the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) together with the Public Association “Internet Society Kyrgyzstan Chapter” with the support of the European Union Delegation in the Kyrgyz Republic. The duration of the project is 30 months.

Additional information about the project can be obtained: by phone +996 (755) 330335 and by e-mail: isockyrgyzchapter@gmail.com or by phone +32 (0) 26465139 and by e-mail: media@encouncil.org.

‘This website was created and maintained with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) / Public Association “Internet Society Kyrgyzstan Chapter” and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union’.

To read the project fact sheet click here and pусская версия пресс-релиза по этой ссылке. Басма сөз үчүн билдирүү кийинки шилтеме менен кыргыз тилинде жеткиликтүү.



Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic
21 Erkindik Boulevard, Business Centre Orion, 5th floor
Bishkek, 720040, Kyrgyz Republic

Telephone: +996 312 26 10 00
Fax: +996 312 26 10 07

E-mail: delegation-kyrgyzstan@eeas.europa.eu
Website: http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/kyrgyzstan
Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/eudelkg

The European Union is made up of 27 Member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources, and destinies. Together, during a period of enlargement of 60 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy, and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance, and individual freedoms. The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders.

 

Beyond Erasmus: Education, Exchanges and Employment opportunities for youth in the EU and Turkey (Phase I)

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Beyond Erasmus: Education, Exchanges and Employment opportunities for youth in the EU and Turkey (Phase I)

The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), in cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) office in Turkey has recently concluded the first of a phase of a hybrid educational programme titled “Beyond Erasmus: Education, Exchanges and Employment opportunities for youth in the EU and Turkey”. The project promotes Erasmus+ student mobility, youth exchanges, internships, training courses, networking, access to funding for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), free market entrepreneurship and Civil Society Organisations (CSO).

The project aims to create exchanges with a focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, further training and career prospects for youth in EU and Turkey. Participants from Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Turkey gained skills in the private, civil society and public sector, while staying anchored to EU legislation, strategies and new priority topics. Throughout the sessions, participants were encouraged to support each other and develop their professional networks. Against the current context of Turkish isolation, the project had a strong focus on establishing lasting friendships and exchanging ties as well as instilling skills, instruments and future financial options within the participants to support liberal universal values and cementing ties between the EU and Turkey.

During the first phase (October-November 2021) 40 participants – mainly young graduates – from Turkey, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands – attended a series of six online training sessions engaging with inspiring and talented professionals from Europe and Turkey working in media, audiovisual, think tank, Civil Society, European Commission, Academia and private sector.

After University: What now? Employment opportunities, academic career, CSOs, internships

The first session allowed participants to meet with successful professional figures, from the art and entertainment sectors, as well as civil society and journalism. The session featured the insights of three experts who shared their experiences, stories and lessons learned from working in different professions both in the EU and Turkey, while providing useful “dos and don’ts” tips regarding their respective professions.

Asli Ece Kocak (Communication Officer at the Truth Justice Memory Center) talked about her experiences in the civil society sector, employment opportunities in Turkey in this specific field and how the situation has changed during the last years in relation with the political changes in the country. Andri Haflidason (Musician and visual artist) advised the participants to invest time on what they want to do, even if they don’t generate an income they create opportunities for future employment, while Jack Parrock (Journalist Correspondent for Deutsche Welle) provided personal insights from the world of media and advised those who want to pursue a career in journalism to always sharpen their skills (language, writing, camera, presentation etc.).

“CV Writing and Interview Skills – Personal Brand Building”

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The second session allowed participants to get valuable information on CV writing, job interviews and other practical lessons. During a highly interactive course our group had the opportunity to engage and learn from two experts in the field of human resources and job applications.

Sven Gerst (PhD candidate in Political Philosophy at the Department of Political Economy at King’s College in London) shared his experience in academic, business and CSO CV writing. He highlighted that every CV should be constructed based on the specific needs of the position you apply for, give emphasis on your achievements and follow the three main principles of relevance, structure, and clean text. Julie Vandermeulen (Head of Storytelling at Rise and Founder of Clarity Kit) advised the participants that their professional story should be developed initially as a blueprint, it must be clear, convincing and memorable in order to be conveyed in a wider audience.

Access to Funding I

The third session focused on fundraising and further learning in Turkey with EU support after Erasmus. Participants were able to meet and learn from experts in EU fundraising and other learning opportunities in Turkey, including job opportunities in EU-based CSO’s on democracy, media freedom, anti-corruption, privacy, and GDPR.

Emre Gür (Key expert at EU Think Civil – Sivil Düşün – Programme) talked about the Instrument of pre-accession assistance (IPA) programmes. He noted that the IPA is constructed from the following components i) assistance for transition and institution building, ii) cross – border cooperation, iii) regional development iv) human resources, vi) rural development. Mr. Gür spoke in more detail about two specific programmes: a) COSME which supports entrepreneurs by strengthening education, mentoring, guidance and other support services and b) Creative Europe programme which has two sector initiatives. The Culture sector initiatives, such as those promoting cross-border cooperation, platforms, networking, and literary translation. The Audiovisual sector initiatives, such as those promoting the development, distribution, or access to audiovisual works. Medeni Sungur (Founder of Kuest Media) devoted more attention to fundraising sources such as, major individual donors, campaigns, planed giving, capital campaigns, government entities and crowdfunding among others. He guided the participants through the initial preparation phase of a fund application and provided them with the initial know – how of fundraising blueprint.

Access to Funding II

The fourth session focused once more on the fundraising opportunities but this time it looked into access to funding from a top-down angle. Starting with the European Commission and the political process between the EU and Turkey, to how important it is to understand the different dimensions regarding funds towards, public institutions, academia and civil society.

Bernard Brunet (Head of the Unit at DG Near – Strategy and Turkey) talked about the political and economical situation between EU and Turkey and how it has evolved in recent years. He highlighted that the recent political developments in Turkey especially regarding the parliament and judiciary system have been weakened systematically which results in non-cooperation in key areas such as the human rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law among others. Furthermore, he added that the difficult economic reality of Turkey is indicating that a wider part of the population is faced with harsh economic circumstances. Andrea Karlsson (Programme Manager at the European Endowment for Democracy) shared her professional experiences in the CSO field and advised the participants to search beyond the EU initiated funding programmes. She spotlighted that there are numerous professional fields that can engage in funding opportunities regarding EU-Turkey programmes, thus by having a mixture of academic or professional skills is always an advantage.

“The Future of Economy and Entertainment”

The fifth session enabled participants to engage with a panel of experts on topics ranging from employment, society, politics, economics and innovation. The session aimed at highlightign themes and topics which will be relevant societally and also in terms of employment for the future. The discussion focused on technology, data, information, entertainment, privacy, and health.

Christina Mercuriadi – Director of EU Affairs at Motion Picture Association and Giuseppe Porcaro – Head of Outreach and Governance at Bruegel devoted particular attention to the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for their field of work but also for the general world wide economy. The discussion evolved around the importance of technology and entertainment in which both of the speakers underscored the relevance of enriching your skills either through trainings or by pursuing a second or third degree in a relevant field of their work. By following an AI or law-related degree, depending on someone’s academic or early professional background, they will have the opportunity to work across and within different sectors that interest them, the interconnectedness of different work fields today is more relevant than ever.

EU-Turkey Relations

The sixth and final session examined the historical, economical, and cultural relations between the EU and Turkey. The session aimed to understand the reasons of what went wrong, and encouraged participants to think how previous mistakes can be avoided, tackled and improved by the new generations.

Çiğdem Nas (Secretary General at the Economic Development Foundation) talked about the EU – Turkey long historical relations and how those have evolved especially the prism of the Association Agreement. Mrs. Nas devoted particular attention to the problems that arise through the Association Process agreement, especially from the EU side such as the integration capacity, the enlargement fatigue, the rise of Euroscepticism and the populist rise on right-wing politics in the EU. The ongoing standstill in relations between Cyprus and Turkey which have international complications and stretch beyond the boundaries of it, and including the rising frictions in the Eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece, are halting all progress that the EU and Turkey can have. Samuel Doveri Vesterbye (Managing Director of the European Neighbourhood Council), recognized that the initial far-fetched attempt regarding Turkey’s rapid accession to the EU through the Ankara Agreement created an enormous, entangled political mess. Mr. Vesterbye, noted also the positive side of the EU – Turkey relations, which apart from the obvious geopolitical and connectivity reasons, Turkey will benefit by the general diversity of the Union.

Concluding, apart from the online sessions, the first part of the Beyond Erasmus programme also included the preparation of a project proposal assignment, which through it, the participants will compete for the second round of the Beyond Erasmus programme. The top eight finalists, four from the EU and four from Turkey, based on gender balance, will be welcomed in Brussels during February 2022 for an educational one-week networking trip. Finally, the third phase of the Beyond Erasmus programme will conclude with the delivery of four lectures which will take place in two Turkish Universities and two EU-based academic institutions. Stay tuned with ENC to find out more about the upcoming activities of our Beyond Erasmus projects during 2022.

ENC Study

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Dear Student,

We would like to organise a face-to-face interview with you to hear your views and perceptions about Turkey, European values and future job prospects.

The interview will last approximately 30 minutes and will take place at your university in September-October 2019.

All your answers will be entirely anonymous and the interview will not be recorded as our project guidelines are submitted to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance.

Simply send an email to amarazis@encouncil.org with your telephone number and full name, and we will contact you to schedule the interview.

Here is some information about the project: the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) was granted a project under the Central Finance and Contracts Unit (CFCU) “Supporting Civil Society Dialogue Between EU and Turkey” in which we focus on “Understanding Future Values: Youth and Interaction across the EU and Turkey“. It is therefore important for our researchers to speak to you in person in order to have a better understanding about youth perceptions.

We would like to thank you for considering this personal interview request and our ENC team of young researchers very much looks forward to meeting you.

With kind regards,

Samuel Doveri Vesterbye

ENC Managing Director

 SAMUEL SIGNATURE

Mediatized Discourses on Europeanization and Their Representations in Public Perceptions

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Mediatized Discourses on Europeanization and Their Representations in Public Perceptions

Starting from January 2021 and for the next four years, the European Neighbourhood Council will be part of the Mediatized Discourses on Europeanization and Their Representations in Public Perceptions (MEDIATIZED EU) project, in a consortium of seven institutions funded by the European Union’s H2020 Research and Innovation programme.

Modern media tend to lean towards a more cynical framing of politics, contributing to the public’s alienation from political processes. This is reflected in how the European public responds to the European integration process and in the rise of Euroscepticism. Media framing of the EU debate plays a central role in constructing citizens’ perceptions of the EU.

MEDIATIZED EU will study how media discourses are created to promote or denounce the European project, and how they resonate among the public, focusing on the elite-media-public triangle. The project will use a comprehensive mixed methods approach to reveal the impact of such mediatisation of political discourses, and provide a cross-country comparative analysis of seven countries (Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, Estonia, Hungary, Spain, and Georgia), as well as develop policy recommendations for national and EU policymakers.

You want to find out what the MEDIATIZED EU team was up to until now? Check our first newsletter

If you want to know more about  MEDIATIZED EU, check for updates on the project’s website and on social media: Twitter  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube

This project has received funding from the European Union’s H2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement no 101004534 – MEDIATIZED EU – H2020 – SC6 – Transformations – 2020

 

Central Asian Regional Peacebuilding Festival

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Central Asian Regional Peacebuilding Festival

The long-awaited Central Asian Regional Peacebuilding Festival is finally here! With a year-long delay, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the final visibility activities within the “Strengthening resilience to radicalisation and disinformation in Central Asia” (Phase II) took place online on Zoom during March 23-26, 2021.

The 18-month project that started in October 2019 and is implemented by Internews and financed by the European Union aimed to strengthen the resilience of citizens to radicalisation narratives and disinformation leading to violent extremism through support to media, civil society organisations, government institutions, religious leaders and active citizens in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It was a follow-up intervention, which built on lessons learned from the implementation of the previous project “Contributing to stability and peace in Central Asia through media literacy, improved reporting and regional cooperation” (Phase I).

The online festival gathered journalists, experts, religious leaders, educators, think tanks, government officials, young leaders and representatives of different communities of Central Asia. They came together to discuss their experiences in implementing content and social projects, results and challenges, and how their projects influenced their lives and lives of their story subjects.

The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) in cooperation with Internews office in Kyrgyzstan during the 23rd and 24th of March organised a series of online sideline events which were livestreamed through Three Dots Fest social media platforms to four Central Asian countries.

The first event, “Media and Access to Information in Supporting Development, Preventing Radicalisation and Guaranteeing Social Inclusion”, took place on the 23rd of March and featured opening remarks by MEP Niklas Nienass from the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and DCAS member. During the panel discussion, Boris Iarochevitch, Head of Central Asia Division of the European External Action Service, Indira Aslanova, Director of Centre for Religious Studies, Farhod Rahmatov, Internews Project Director in Central Asian and Andreas Marazis, European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) Head of Research for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, shared their insights and key messages. The discussion was moderated by Shada Islam, ENC External Advisor and Founder of New Horizons Project, and featured comments from Jack Parrock, TV and radio correspondent for Euronews.

Nicklas Nienass opened the discussion by highlighting the relevance of the topic of media and information, especially in the fight against disinformation and against radicalization, where it is essential to have access to clear information and accurate facts. He pointed out the importance of individual responsibility in delving into details and check if we have our facts straight. Mr. Nienass also underlined the significant role that members of the civil society have to play in this issue, as they have access to facts and can push for media freedom and access to information for everyone.

Boris Iarochevitch emphasized the importance of media pluralism, access to information and quality education, including in rural areas as well as for girls and women, as a response to violent extremism. In order to have accessible information, Mr. Iarochevitch advocated for an affordable, open and secure digital infrastructure, which should be combined with the necessary digital literacy and skills. Based on the latest discussions with Civil Society Organisations (CSO), the EU is well aware of the urgent need to develop digitalisation in Central Asia, and the important role that can be played by CSOs in raising awareness on this issue. These three key aspects are present in the recent EU strategy for Central Asia from 2019, and more recent issues such as media literacy and extremism will be taken into account in the next stages of EU-funded programmes.

Mr. Iarochevitch also underlined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the disproportionate footprint that has left on various vulnerable groups such as labour migrants, women and people from rural areas. As freedom of expression was negatively affected around the world, some Central Asian governments also took advantage of it to adopt restrictive laws under the pretext of stopping fake news, while the population has only limited access to information, and even less so to science-based information.

Indira Aslanova explained the results of her latest research on meanings and values that are spread by extremist groups and the responses they triggered. Among the findings were the fact that youth are more affected when the extremist narrative used correlates with values that are shared by the reader, such as wishing good or helping others. Considering such results, Ms. Aslanova argued that PVE and CVE communications should be based on both a better correlation to the values of contemporary Central Asian youth, and on the creation of alternative narratives to challenge the attractiveness of the radical ones, and compensates the need for self-identification and success.

The different channels that are used are also particularly important as they are very specific to Central Asia according to Ms. Aslanova (for example the use of application with high encryption like Telegram), which is why it is essential that PVE and CVE communications redirect the audience to a reliable and local source of information.

Ms. Aslanova also suggested to strengthen ties between the different communities such as children/parents and youth/society in order to influence the resilience to those narratives, as well as for local authorities to develop a local agenda so that people can have an alternative way of filling the void and foster involvement within the community, while counterweighting the feeling of being left out by the government.

Farhod Rahmatov shared, in his views, two key elements that make an extremist propaganda successful. The first one is the highly effective and widespread use of social media, resulting in the misinformation of the local communities, which is then developing biased perspective on sensitive social, political and religious issues. The second key element is the targeting of young generations, as they represent half of the population in Central Asia, while still feeling ostracised, overwhelmed or marginalised by the society, feeling that is exacerbated by the lack of quality alternative narratives and content and critical media skills to access, engage and use reliable and verified information among the general population.

According to Mr. Rahmatov, within the current period, filled with uncertainty and instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is getting increasingly important to ensure that people can access trusted sources of high-quality information in order to counter misinformation, disinformation, rumour, xenophobia, and stigma towards migrants and their families, refugees and ethnic minorities. To produce information that will reach the youth, it needs to be clear and understandable, but mostly easily transferable to an online format.

Andreas Marazis came back on the findings of the recent ENC study on “Socio-Economic impact of COVID-19 and Media Consumption among Vulnerable Communities in Central Asia”, which shows that vulnerable communities have difficulties to access suitable information and are less likely to develop resilience when faced with the promotion of extremist narratives on social media.

Mr. Marazis shared three key recommendations based on the findings of this research. First, the EU should facilitate dialogue and cooperation among governments, NGOs and independent media in an effort to counter disinformation and provide accurate and science based-news, including by funding research-based data collection with regards to vulnerable communities and their needs and challenges at a regional and national level. Second, the difficulty to reach out to vulnerable groups should be taken into account. More cooperation among local NGOs and independent media outlets is essential in increasing the engagement with vulnerable communities and the understanding of their needs and challenges. Finally, a major barrier to accessing COVID-19 information for different ethnic groups is the lack of information in languages other than Russian and the national languages.

Jack Parrock highlighted the key role journalists play in preventing violent extremism, and that content producers from Central Asia and from Europe need to cooperate more often, to learn from each other, to exchange better practices in PVE. Radicalization and violent extremism are considered highly sensitive issues to cover in the region by independent journalists, as the religious spectrum in countries of Central Asia is itself complicated. Mr. Parrock also touched upon the subject of ethics while covering specific issues such as hostage situations, which journalists face more often in Central Asia than in Europe.

To close the first session, Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, ENC Managing Director concluded by highlighting that what we learnt during the pandemic is that people feeling marginalized and left behind are at higher risk of being manipulated and radicalized, and that violent extremism often comes from poverty and social exclusion. According to Mr. Doveri Vesterbye, this only strengthened the argument on the importance of building bridges, reaching to people in different languages and fighting social exclusion via education, media literacy and digitalisation.

The second event was dedicated to the screening of “Shards” an interactive film project developed by a production studio in Kyrgyzstan and the Association of Religion Study Centres in Kazakhstan. The project aimed to develop resistance to radicalisation among young people via an interactive film with variable endings, wherein the viewer’s choice (“Yes” or “No”) affected the storyline. Following the screening of the movie, a short Q&A session ensued between Andreas Marazis and Azim Azimov, founder of Media Kitchen production studio, winner of regional and international advertising festivals, film director and screenwriter.

When asked about the rationale behind the movie, Azim Azimov explained that the interactive part was interactive was to include an educational purpose to the movie. Instead of just having a model to follow, each person in the audience can question whether they would have done the same or not when facing the same issues as the main character on her path to radicalization.

Mr. Azimov stated that the charecters and the story on the movie were fictional, however based on real-life events. Meetings with gurus ‘saving’ peoples lives, or the process of recruiting in hospitals when parents need help for their children for example, are depicting existing channels of radicalization used by individuals who are part of extremist organizations. In order to adequately represent how radicalization works, Mr. Azimov worked used a documentary and ideas taken from real life by using interviews with people imprisoned for extremism.

Andreas Marazis highlighted the importance of using various channels of communication such as movies, art and social networks, in an effort to reach out to a broader audience and pass the right message.

Finally, Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, wrapped the session up by stating once again the importance of such initiatives stemming from real life events, showcasing how a normal person becomes the victim of an extremist organization and then how this person becomes himself the perpetrator of violence, making others the victims to his/her actions.

Mr. Doveri Versterbye highlighted that five years ago in Brussels we did not know how this process of radicalization works, but now it is everyone’s responsibility, not only the government, but also CSOs, journalists and the broader audience have a role to play, in engaging with one voice and helping people to stop this process along the way.

 

 

Understanding Future Values: Youth and Interaction across the EU and Turkey

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Understanding Future Values – First Preliminary Meeting

On the 6th of May, European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) and Public Policy and Democracy Studies (PODEM) presented their new project on EU-Turkey student mobility and values in a preliminary meeting to a closed group of experts. The on-going project, entitled Understanding Future Values: Youth and Interaction across the EU and Turkey, helps gather and analyse relevant research and data on youth perceptions and socio-political values, including its significance on EU-Turkey relations today. The fourteen-month long project assists in the creation of dialogue platforms among civil society groups, while better understanding how student exchange programs like Erasmus+ impact Turkish and EU students’ social beliefs, value-sets and youth priorities. Measured through interviews and questionnaires, the study examines cross-comparative data from multiple EU countries and Turkey concerning cultural beliefs, prejudice, youth employment aspirations, as well as concepts like democracy.

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During the preparatory meeting in Brussels, PODEM and ENC invited ENC Academic Council Members, National Erasmus+ Offices, EU officials and several relevant universities from Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany. Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, ENC Managing Director, and Aybars Gorgulu, PODEM Executive Director, presented the research project, while discussing methodological frameworks and questionnaire options with invited academics and experts. Andreas Marazis, ENC Project Manager and Senior Researcher, led the discussion regarding practical surveying and interview implementation and privacy. ENC Academic Council Members Dr. Dimitris Bouris, Dr. Branislav Radeljic and Dr. Panagiota Manoli contributed with detailed feedback about the project’s research design and methodology.

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Several studies that link youth perception with student mobility demonstrate the beneficial effects of cultural exchange and cross-country exposure, both inside and outside of the EU. Due to the limited amount of detailed and recent studies on how the European youths perceive Turkey and vice versa, this project aims to complement larger studies by focusing on specific components of values and youth priorities.

Shaping the European Future: Present and Further Challenges for the Representative Polity

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Shaping the European Future: Present and Further Challenges for the Representative Polity
European sentiment in Turkey among opinion-shapers and youth leaders

The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), in cooperation with  TOBB Economics and Technology University (Ankara, Turkey), and with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Turkey, the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Turkey and the Economic Development Foundation (IKV), organised a lecture titled “Shaping the European Future: Present and Further Challenges for Representative Polity”, which took place on the 5th of March 2020 at TOBB Economics and Technology University. 

The event is part of a series of lectures organised in Turkey by ENC in cooperation with local academic institutions and is the second phase of a project titled “Future values training: European sentiment in Turkey among opinion-shapers and youth leaders 2019-2020“. The project is an extension of an existing ENC training and public lecture programme, which took place between the fall of 2018 and the following spring, in which four Turkish opinion shapers successfully underwent training and meeting sessions in Brussels, after which each opinion shaper gave a university lecture in Turkey to students and academics. The project is rooted in the growing need to exchange ideas with Turkish public intellectuals, journalists, youth leaders and influential civil society members concerning Europe’s innovative policies and progressive thematic priority areas related to their own work. Thematic priority areas are defined as privacy/technology, renewable energy, foreign-policy, free media, trade, civil society (good-governance/efficient-governance/feedback-governance), European peace theory/conflict-resolution, migration/demographics, anti-corruption, the-importance-of-institutions; and how each of these thematic priority areas relate to Turkey (EU-Turkey) and the EU’s Global Strategy (GS) and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

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Prof. Dr. Ihsan Sezal, Dean of the Economics and Administrative Sciences at TOBB Economics and Technology University, chaired the lecture and opened the floor for discussion. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Cigdem Nas of the International Relations Department at Yildiz Technical University, delivered the keynote speech by sharing her views on the EU’s recent internal developments, noting that it is at a critical juncture in its history. The Professor, who is also the Secretary General of the IKV, gave the example of Brexit, the first time a member state is withdrawing from the Union, to underline that even a successful peace  project can be questioned. The EU has to rise up to the challenges present at its very core, notably a return to nationalism, populism, nativism, xenophobia, and protectionism. Addressing its foreign policy weaknesses is also of the utmost importance to prevent a deviation from common values in the long run. She pointed out that the credibility of Turkish membership in the EU has declined, calling into question the EU’s policies towards that country, fostering disillusionment with the European project. Human rights violations along the Turkish-Greek border have further painted EU principles in a bad light. In spite of this, Prof. Dr. Nas believes that respect for human dignity, the rule of law, justice, transparency and accountability are still universal, and the fight for these values will go on both inside and outside the Union.

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Ms. Selvi Eren, Junior Researcher at IKV, delivered a lecture on the diverse challenges facing representative democracy in the EU, which has come under pressure from both the supranational and the national level. Ms. Eren focused on the Eurosceptic populist views which seek to reshape the structure of the integration project according to their own agenda. Attitudes to the European integration project, Ms. Eren emphasised, are not only deeply nuanced, encompassing a wide spectrum from pro-EU to anti-EU stances, but their core arguments also diverge on social, environmental, democratic and governance issues. Ms. Eren stressed the need to address these multi-layered challenges within the scope of the representative polity to effectively discuss the future of Europe. The lecture also discussed the “Brexit effect” on the integration project, the breaches of European values by individual member states and public opinion on the EU.

The fifth lecture is scheduled to take place at Cukurova University on the 6th of March 2020 and will focus on European Common Security and Foreign Policy and Turkey with guest speaker Dr. Ozan Kuyumcuoglu, Research Assistant at the International Relations Department of Istanbul Bilgi University.

ENC In-depth Podcasts: Understanding University-level Youth in Turkey & Europe

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ENC In-depth Podcasts: Understanding University-level Youth in Turkey & Europe

The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), in cooperation with the Center for Public Policy and Democracy Studies (PODEM), implemented a 14-month research project, within the “Civil Society Dialogue between the European Union (EU) and Turkey Programme (CSD-V)” titled “Understanding Future Values: Youth and Interaction across the EU and Turkey”. The project focuses on youth perceptions in European countries and Turkey, and understanding the socio-political values of the youth and their views on EU-Turkey relations.

This ENC In-Depth Podcast Series follows the publication of a two-part report on “Values, Interactions and Aspirations: Understanding University-Level Youth in Turkey and in Europe”, developed by PODEM and ENC. Both debates were moderated by Andreas Marazis, ENC Head of Research for Eastern Europe & Central Asia.

In Part 1, Dr. Aybars Gorgulu, PODEM’s Executive Director and Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, ENC’s Managing Director discussed the rationale, the methodology and the key findings of the two-part report.

Part 2 features the comments and insights of  Dr. Dimitris Bouris, Assistant Professor of EU Security/European External Relations at the University of Amsterdam, ENC Academic Council Member and visiting professor at the College of Europe Natolin in Warsaw; and Dr. Branislav Radeljic, Professor of International Relations at Necmettin Erbakan University in Turkey, ENC Academic Council Member and Visiting Professor of European Politics at Nebrija University in Madrid. The guests analysed the impact of exchange programmes, such Erasmus, among youth and academics and their potential in positively or negatively influencing political developments in the long run.

You can listen or watch both podcasts through the links below:

Audio 1

Audio 2

Video 1

Video 2

Online Fellowship: Strengthening Resilience to Radicalisation & Disinformation in Central Asia

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Online Fellowship Training Programme: Strengthening resilience to radicalisation and disinformation in Central Asia

The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), in cooperation with Internews, organised a one-week online fellowship training programme from 26 to 30 of October 2020, dedicated to “Strengthening resilience to radicalisation and disinformation in Central Asia”.

The Phase II of this project is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by Internews as a follow-up intervention which builds on lessons learned from the previous project “Contributing to stability and peace in Central Asia through media literacy, improved reporting and regional cooperation” (Phase I).

The 18-month long project places an emphasis on strengthening citizens’ capacity in countering violent extremist narratives and disinformation campaigns that lead to radicalisation through supporting  media, civil society organisations (CSO), government institutions, religious leaders and active citizens in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. 

The trainings involved a wide range of speakers, such as representatives of EU institutions and experts dealing with Central Asia and media studies, all from different backgrounds, who shared their expertise with the 30 Central Asian fellows who participated in the sessions, debating the most pressings issues for journalists and civil society representatives working across the region.

The fellows started their week with an introductory session by Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, ENC Managing Director, on how the EU works, namely foreign policy and inter-institutional cooperation. Andreas Marazis, ENC Head of Research for Eastern Europe & Central Asia, followed by discussing EU-Central Asia Relations with the fellows. The first day of training continued with Jana Weber from Friedrich Naumann Foundation Brussels who outlined the main points on how EU Advocacy works. The first day was concluded with an exchange of views with EU official, Claes Andersson, who focused on how the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) and how the instrument fits into the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI).

Throughout the rest of the week the fellows had the chance to exchange views on media ethics and the role of journalism in preventing violent extremism and radicalisation. The fellows listened to the insignts of Aidan White, founder of the Ethical Journalism Network, Jack Parrock, journalist from Euronews, Vitalba Crivello from the European Parliament Research Service European Science Media Hub, and from Nafisa Hasanova from Reporters Without Borderswho provided interesting views on the different ethical conflicts and difficulties that journalists face when dealing with complex and sensitive topics, media owernership concentration and the disinformation “epidemic”.

The group also had the opportunity to learn more about different ways to access funding for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), namely from a top grant-giving organisation supported by EU member-states, the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) with Kristina Vaiciunaite, expert working with the Eurasia Programme and Vittoria Zanellati, Programme Officer at the European Partnership for Democracy . The speakers offered an overview on how to sucessfully apply for projects in the region and best practises on local media associations of journalists, among other things.

The last training session featured insights from Karin Heremans, an expert on radicalisation and is the leader of the education working group at the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), a European Commission initiative that brings together practitioners from across Europe who aim to prevent extremism, who briefed fellows on the European Commission current main guidelines on how to deal with radicalisation, through education, prevention and an hollistic local community approach.

The fellowship week was concluded with a public online round-table discussion dedicated to Terrorist groups’ violent narratives and their growing traction among local populations: Lessons from Italy, Western Balkans & Central Asia”  which was organised by the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC) in Brussels, in cooperation with Internews Central Asia’s office in Bishkek and the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) and provided a stage for PVE experts from Europe and Central Asia to share findings from their latest research projects and effective practices in countering violent extremist narratives.

The Future of Europe and Turkey through Education:  Deciphering Disinformation and Fact-checking Methods

By Projects

 Deciphering Disinformation and Fact-checking Methods

The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), in cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Turkey and the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Turkey kicked off its new project titled The Future of Europe & Turkey Through Education”. The online training programme builds on identified best practises of the Turkey Training and Lecture Programme 2018-2020 (TTP) and it covers the following topics: privacy, disinformation, media freedom and fundraising.

The four online sessions, which began on the 26th November, bring together a group of around 40 opinion shapers composed of members of Civil Society organisations (CSO), journalists/bloggers, students and academics across Turkey.

The first training session was dedicated to Deciphering Disinformation and Fact-checking Methods and featured opening remarks by Gulcin Sinav, Project Manager at Friedrich Naumann Foundation Turkey and Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, ENC Managing Director. Both highlighted the importance of being aware of the existence of fake news and to have the tools to decipher them in order to have access to better information and paved the way for the panel discussion that followed.

Anneli Ahonen, Head of East StratCom Task Force at the European External Action Service and Emre Saklica, Editor at teyit.org shared their professional experience in the field. Ms. Ahonen explained the latest efforts of the European External Action Service on debunking fake news, and more specifically those related to COVID-19, as the crisis created a fruitful and dangerous ground for disinformation. Despite the action of social media platforms during the crisis. The EU targeted COVID-19 disinformation through a more efficient communication on EU policies, strengthening the media environment in EaP through financial support, as well as exposing and analising disinformation through the EUvsDisinfo website. Ms. Ahonen also focused on the 2018 EU Action Plan Against Disinformation, which gave four main guidelines in order to tackle the spreading of fake news: an improved detection, analysis and exposure, a stronger cooperation and common response, the mobilization of the private sector, as well as raising awareness and societal resilience.

Mr. Saklica explained the spreading of disinformation, particularly during times of crisis, due to the fact that it appeals to our emotions, and is now much easier through social media platforms. As Turkey is more exposed to disinformation than any other European country, Mr Saklica used the example of the Izmir earthquake in October 2020 to debunk several conspiracy theories, for example on the claims about a higher magnitude, the supposed need for blood in Izmir, or the alleged missing student Ahmet Demir, with an emphasis on how dangerous these fake news could be as they produce anxiety and fear. Mr. Saklica also shared several ideas on what to do when confronted with disinformation: think twice, follow official statements, check the sources, stay up to date, try to prevent anxiety and fear, and be careful about the polarization of the society in order to empower our suspicion muscle. As a conclusion, Mr. Saklica explained the most important characteristics in order to work as a fact-checker: reading a lot on various topics, asking questions, learning how to use technology and having an good networks of experts to cross-check information.

The next online training will take place on the 2nd of December and will cover the topic of data privacy and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).