European Union’s Eastern Partnership (hereinafter EaP) regions, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine (and in our case and to some extent also Russia) have undeniably experienced crucial and fundamental transition over the past nearly three decades since their independence in 1991, resulting in deep and lasting transformations in their societies, economies and security systems. To foster and strengthen cooperation between the EU and the aforementioned states, upon the initiative of Sweden and Poland the Eastern Partnership Programme (EaP) was launched in 2009 and it remains today in action for all states mentioned as the cooperation framework.
As a consequence of historical and contemporary developments in the region, ruptures and distancing can be observed between the states and their citizens/residents, which in turn are threatening AEGEE’s vision of a united Europe. These rifts are contributing to a further deepening of the divide between the European youth and a differing understanding of the values, AEGEE is based on and stands for.
This distancing is further reinforced through the economic, information and mobility barriers, which have been in part successfully addressed through the EaP framework, providing the citizens of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia with the visa free regimes with the EU member states and support in terms of economic growth over the last years. These milestone achievements are bringing the citizens and especially youth of the participating countries closer to the EU and Europe in more general terms, thereby forging a wider mutual identity for the young Europeans. Their implications cannot be underestimated in their importance for the vision of AEGEE.
In order to foster the inclusion of non-EU regions in the European identity of AEGEE and the European family, we are determined to establish a full and enhanced common identity that goes beyond the EU and covers the EaP+ states. Another cornerstone is promoting cultural bridging and mutual understanding, human development and common heritage, based on the values of democracy, fundamental human rights and economic development in pursuit of a cooperative and peaceful future.