On 30 June 2017, a delegation of students from Gagauzia visited the office of the EaP CSF Secretariat to learn about the Forum activities and discuss the development of the Autonomous Region of Gagauzia from the youth point of view. The meeting took place in the framework of a study visit to Brussels and European institutions, organized by the EU-funded project GAMCON – Gagauzian Modernization Convention, implemented by the Slovak Foreign Policy Association in collaboration with Comrat State University and Youth of Gagauzia NGO.

The Convention is based on three pillars aimed at supporting the modernization of Gagauzia, youth empowerment and local development, with the ultimate aim to establish a permanent, coherent and thematically structured debate forum between public institutions and civil society, as well as to build capacities of young people, in order to involve them into decision-making processes and provide overall support to Gagauzian civil society.

At the meeting, the EaP CSF Communications Manager Darya Mustafayeva presented the overall structure of the EaP CSF, its main activities, projects and events, together with her colleagues Vera Rihackova, Advocacy and Membership Manager, and Lucia Amadori, Communications Intern. The students demonstrated a lot of interest in the Forum’s work, asked pertinent questions related to the implementation of the conducted campaigns, but also voiced their concerns over the situation in their region and hopes for a positive change.

Their concerns are related to the brain drain from the Gagauzia region since young people often leave the region after the secondary school to continue their education in other regions of Moldova or Transnistria. The language plays a crucial role in this choice, since education in Gagauzia is provided in Russian only, but continuation of studies and working in other regions requires a fluent command of the state language – Romanian. As a result of the migratory processes, Gagauzia is facing a severe depopulation trend and a general lack of civil participation and engagement. For this reason, the students recognised the importance of projects such as GAMCON, providing a meaningful opportunity to inspire the young people’s contribution to the development of their region, to promote their civic engagement and develop the skills and capabilities of the future local leaders.