Baltic-Russia Youth Forum 2016: Reviews and opinions

Posted: 2016-12-28
Written by: EU Network
Category: Europe
Tagged: think tank russia politics nato dialogue bryf2016 baltic-russian youth forum baltic

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New Year is very close and it's time summarize important events of the 2016. Baltic-Russia Youth Forum 2016 is great platform for dialogue between youth, experts and professionals from Baltic countries, Russia and many other countries, which are involved in NATO-Russia international relations. The forum took place in Vilnius from 2 till 5 November 2016. Vilnius is good place for dialogue – the city is historical crossroads between different nations, cultures and civilizations. BRYF is great field for a lot of very useful lectures, discussions and even working groups with unique experience for young participants, working together with experts.

Photo credits: BRYF2016 and EATA.

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EUNetwork.lv presents reviews & opinions from participants about BRYF2016:

Vaida Morkūnaitė, Lithuania

Baltic – Russia Forum 2016 discussions covered a huge spectrum of topics – starting from Baltic States security ending with the threats from the Middle East. This resulted that majority of participants spoke up their opinion, actively asked questions and in this way had held very active discussion field.

This would not have happened without highly qualified panelists, who “knew what they said”. Despite the fact, that I support the main pro-Western idea expressed by panelists, I was expecting to meet plurality of opinions, in other words – I lacked panelists from Russia (like in BRYF 2015) , because I wanted to get know better Russian position and the best to way to do it, is get information from the first lips. What is more, I think, that in the truth is born only in discussions.

All in all, the conference was a really good opportunity to meet not only academics’ viewpoints, but also politicians’ insights of security situation in today’s world. In my opinion, BRYF 2016 – is the place, where dialogue between Russia and Baltic can be rebuild.

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Karolis Krukonis, Lithuania

I really enjoyed BRYF, I will definetly try to participate next year. ATA organized events are always great, but i think this one managed to beat my expectations, it's not everyday you get to meet a bunch of likeminded individuals. I think quality of the events were superb: from selection of speakers and topics to participants. Thee part i liked the most was networking possibilities creating friendships with your collegues from abroad and professionals in your area is really important in my field of career and im pretty sure ill keep in touch with some people i met for a long time.

Sergey Pismak, Lithuania

This year Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association organized the “Baltic-Russia Youth Forum 2016” in Vilnius and again brought together many intelligent young people from across Northern Europe, Baltic States and Russian Federation, as well as expert panels, to discuss security issues in the region.  As a participant of the previous forum, I have expected constructive and productive work to be done his year too, and I believe this has been mostly achieved. I am saying ‘mostly’ because, from my personal point of view, this time there was lack of experts on the panels who could represent the thinking behind the actions of Russian Federation. Thus, many thoughts and explanations were one sided and recalled the decisions made during the Warsaw Summit.

However, participants from Russian Federation did a great job during their presentation and aligned the battle of arguments. Another interesting point to mention is that Baltic-Russia Youth Forum took place a few days before Presidential Election in the United States and many participants could not think that Mr. Trump may become the next president and toss the card deck for NATO, thus leaving this more deep “what if Donald wins” discussion during the forum aside.

Overall, I feel there is a need for more of such forums and view exchanges, especially among youth, and would be happy to apply for the next year’s forum in Riga.

Peeter Pals, Estonia

BRYF 2016 in Vilnius was a great experience as always. Last year it took place in Tallinn, and already back then I knew that I want to participate again. The fact that it took place in Vilnius made it especially interesting for me, since I’ve never spent more time in Vilnius than a couple of hours. Attending the conference I found exactly what I expected – communication between different cultures. There were many interesting speakers and participants of various backgrounds. BRYF is a good platform for youth from both, the NATO member states and the Russian Federation, to have a civil discussion without confrontations and to gain further understanding between the opposing sides.

Sigita Struberga, Latvia

Youth Forum organized by EATA has been wonderful experience for students from Eastern Europe, including myself. The conference not only provided possibility to deepen the knowledge of the current regional security issues, but also an excellent opportunity to get to know excellent experts of area. Special thanks I would like to say James Sherr, Uri Ben Jaakov as well as Nora Vanaga for the great presentations, which contributed to the creation of deeper interest on specific issues related to such topics as cultural differences of the understanding of terrorism and perception of threat.

At the same time the Forum wouldn’t have such a great impact on the development of the practical skills of participants without giving the wonderful possibility for social networking. The young scholars from different countries have become not only good friends, but also confederates and potential cooperation partners in a soon future.

I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of the Forum for excellent organization of the event and fantastic atmosphere during it and to wish strength, endurance and inspiration in a future!

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Aleksey Vesyoliy, Latvia

The practical experience from the forum is very useful for me personally and I think to the future of our countries as well. Thanks to the EATA and all organizers! Yes, today we see lack of dialogue, sometimes mutual understanding, but still we come together with one idea – peace! To maintain peace is really hard task, especially when there's no common aims between different sides of the conflict. If we say “conflict”, then we should understand and realize, that there is “conflict” between Russia and NATO, so let's call the things as they are. Dialogue means dialogue between all sides, not only monologue of one side – e.g.Russia or NATO. Better NATO-Russia relations are possible, it's hard to find compromise – but it should be done in the future. Practical, pragmatic and strategic. This should be NATO-Russia relations moto for 2017. And don't forget about national minorities – their role is very important in establishing long-term dialogue between NATO and Russia.

Maria Afonina, Russia

Baltic-Russia Youth Forum is the communication platform for the representatives from NATO, mainly from the Baltic States, Scandinavia, Russia, and Ukraine. The efficient and mutually-beneficial dialog among the youth, experts, and professionals is the integral and distinguishing feature of BRYF. It is created in the likeness of international communication platforms and international organizations for solving essential world problems.

However, it is not we who should copy their way of cooperation but the politicians who should rethink their style of communication and working. BRYF showed that all the participants were eager to find new and effective solutions to current problems, the solutions that would be suitable for all and did not infringe anybody’s rights. The eyes of people engaged in BRYF were sparkling with how much they were concerned about the current state of political situation they sought to change. At the farewell party they could hardly stop discussing the current political situation, its influence on their country, city and work. Personally, it confirmed again that only through dialog and communication and striking the balance between competing interests, we can find a way out of any situation.

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Petr Oskolkov, Russia

I have received from the Baltic-Russia Youth Forum actually everything I have expected to receive. The forum turned out to be an extremely interesting meeting point of people with different opinions and absolutely different backgrounds. We had the possibility to exchange our views, our scientific and personal experience (not only young IR and political scientists came together, but also journalists, philologists etc.), to listen to prominent actors, in a scientific field as well as in practical politics.

Even a slight one-sidedness of the lectures was corrected at the final panel, where the alternative point of view also got a chance to be heard. What is, in my humble opinion, always even more important at this kind of events, in the informal part that inevitably follows official lectures and panels, we could communicate with people whom we would have never met in another circumstances, just because we would not have heard of each other or would not have come to each other’s country of residence. BRYF-2016 has brilliantly contributed to the fulfillment of its main goal, i.e., growing mutual understanding and exchange of views, opinions and experiences.


As a summary, there's field for optimism!

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Best,

EUNetwork.lv and Aleksey Vesyoliy

P.S. "We as a people want to be and become good neighbors, both domestically and abroad."  Willy Brandt

P.S.S.Good luck to everyone and see you in 2017!

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