12 July 2022
Joint Declaration of the 4th Eastern Partnership Youth Conference Youth for Revitalisation of Democracy
With this declaration, young people from the Eastern Partnership countries and the European Union member states commit to promoting active participation of young people in revitalising or fostering democracy in their countries, and to encourage policy makers, leaders and fellow citizens to rethink political systems together with youth, and to put more effort into bringing young people to the heart of the democratic participatory process.
We, the young people from the Eastern Partnership countries and the European Union member states, are determined to continue to promote democracy, freedom and justice in the EaP region to ensure its stable, prosperous, democratic future, and demand that youth be given a more prominent role in formal decision making processes.
Certain Eastern Partnership countries are witnessing a worrying degree of democratic backsliding and retrenchment. Young people have been fighting for democracy across the EaP region, leading change and simultaneously suffering great consequences for it. Young Belarusians have been at the forefront of the protests starting in August 2020, demanding a democratic future and as a result, we have suffered persecution at the hands of the Lukashenka regime. Ukrainian youth are fighting and sacrificing their lives to ensure Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty, and the democratic future of Ukraine that Russian invaders want to deny and destroy. All across the EaP region and the EU, youth have been at the forefront of both spontaneous and organised humanitarian aid efforts, to tend to the needs of Ukrainian refugees. In Georgia, youth have taken to the streets in some of the biggest protests the country has ever seen to demand democratic reforms that would bring our country closer to the EU and free it from the grip of the informal rulership. In Azerbaijan, young people are fighting systemic corruption and authoritarianism, and working towards a democratic future for our country, despite facing systemic threats from the repressive regime. Young Armenians are strongly advocating for the Armenian government to remain committed to the principles and values adopted after the peaceful transition of power in 2018. Moldovan youth are changing the political culture by directly engaging in decision-making processes.
Young people’s power and needs are often invisible or deprioritised, especially during crises. Political, legal and financial barriers continue to hinder our fully fledged democratic participation. Yet youth have repeatedly proven to be key players in building more democratic, peaceful and resilient societies, and need to be included as change agents, agenda setters, and equal participants in decision-making at national and European level, including through the channels created by the Eastern Partnership framework.
With this declaration, we commit to promoting the active participation of young people in revitalising or fostering democracy in our countries, and to encourage policy makers, leaders and fellow citizens to rethink our political systems together with youth, and to put more effort into bringing young people to the heart of the democratic participatory process.
We are committed to safeguarding the democratic progress achieved so far, and to continue fighting against authoritarianism, radicalisation, xenophobia, populism, and other antidemocratic tendencies in the EaP region, while advocating for true inclusion in political processes.
We will continue our fight until the ideals of democracy and human rights, of humanism and solidarity, freedom of expression and rule of law, triumph in all our countries. We will not stop as long as our citizens, who are fighting for these ideals, remain in prisons or other punitive institutions of authoritarian regimes who illegally restrict their freedom, while other activists are subjected to political persecution and repression.
We want youth to join the conversation and have our say on the future of our countries. We want youth to equally take part in all the decisions affecting our lives and have our voices heard by our current political systems. We demand spaces, opportunities and resources to realise our fullest potential as active citizens and to continuously contribute to shaping the future of our countries.