[This text is part of a series of essays that were sent to us by young writers from across the globe on how they see Europe and its future. More essays will be published over time.]
[I want] to point out that we are [a] sustainable and natural part of EUROPE and that is [my] standing point to start with. SEE (Southeast Europe) as [a] region has political ties [with Europe] (some countries are EU/NATO member states, some are heading in that direction), as well as economic relations [that show] which countries in the world are [the] biggest importers of the goods and services that are manufactured by factories placed in SEE. [T]he answers is: [the] most developed countries [in the EU].
Furthermore, [many examples show] that we are culturally connected. All together, we can contribute to the process of EUROPEAN INTEGRATION, [to a] EUROPE based on differences, but also [to a] modern EUROPE [that sets an example by showing] how countries can [take] part [in a] reconciliation process and [be] driving force[s] of joint political and economic projects for [a] better future: [a future] where ideas, [the] movement of people, and trade (including services) are based on certain legal rules and requirements [that are] fair and equal for all, for states, for companies, for individuals…
It is fairly [clear] that [the EU’s] model of integration can be [seen] as [an] exampl[e of] where [the] SEE [is] head[ing] in [the] near and distant future (30 years?), [and how it is getting there. (Even though this model cannot just be “copy-pasted”.)] [W]ith our values ([which are] based on [our] traditional role in the past) [the] SEE can contribute to the bigger picture: [The SEE can contribute to a] EUROPE [that stretches] from [the] Atlantic (Portugal) to [the] Ural[s] and beyond. [It can help make the EU have a] greater role in the geo-spatial concept of Eurasia.
SEE has to [be] embedded [in] the democratic norms [of the] developed countries [of] the [W]est. [It has] to cooperate with its European neighbors in [the northern] and central regions of the continent. [It must] implement [the] best practices when it [comes to] human rights and gender- and minority issues. [And it has] to further improve its [ways of dealing with] reform-judicial and eco-social aspects of [the] daily li[fe] of [its] citizens. [There is a p]otential in terms of resources here, [except for when it comes to] the most precious resource: human capital. [P]eople come and go all [over] Europe. [I]t is [an] open space without borders, but SEE politicians, as well [as communities], should [generally] take in[to] consideration that if SEE wants to play [a] comprehensive and relevant role in the theatre called “EUROPE”, [they] should deliver results and display alternative[s] (economical, cultural and visionary) to [the] people that are willing to [let Europe stretch] further than SEE. [They] should foster [the] inclusion of minorities [and a] greater cooperation within the community, and [they should create] clear perspective[s] for [the] youth. [They should get young people involved in] SMEs [(small and medium-sized enterprises), which create] business opportunities and social entrepreneur[ship]. [This] is the future not only for SEE as [a] region, but [for all of] Europe.
SEE has its advantages. [It might] be threatened by certain historical legacies, but in the past [it has also] been seen as a gate toward[s the W]est ([opening up towards] external influences). A gate that [is] now open [as well as] displaced. [Through] civil societ[y], SEE has [the opportunity] to be[come a] relevant stakeholder in the process of defining EUROPE (and [the] EU as [a] supranational [institution] or [a] club of Nation member states). Furthermore, with [the] advance[d] technological evolution, [it could become a relevant stakeholder] in the project of globalization.
Is [this] difficult? No, BUT it [takes] courage and political will, as well [as] experience, charisma and [a] vision for the future: [More specifically, a vision of] our joint future.
“CULTURE IS EVERYTHING” – Gerstner
Tomislav Jovanovski from Southeast Europe
[edits: Louise Roesen Abildgaard]