Agora Skopje – a memorable Agora for visa issues and the VFWG

By | December 5, 2011 at 7:34 am | Uncategorized

The Agora Skopje will surely be remembered for a long time by many members of AEGEE to be a very exceptional one. Especially for us, the members of the Visa Freedom Working Group, it was quite special in many different aspects.

The most remarkable visa-related incident was the lack of information of  local organisers about the visa procedures of the participants from countries that require visas (especially from the Caucasus countrie), a rather short period for applying for visas and a lack of communication. As a result, many applications were rejected and not many participants from these countries were able to show up at the Agora to represent their antennae. This showed how many improvements need to be done regarding the invitation procedure and the general attitude towards this topic.

Some of the more positive happenings were the activities organised by the VFWG.

During the first day of the Agora (in the morning), the VFWG represented itself in the plenary and showed up on stage with quite a big group. The speaker and a couple of new members explained the achievements and past activities. In fact, the Visa Freedom Working group got a bit more popular thanks to this and more and more people got interested in the topic.

Later that day, Jana Pokorná and Olga Iatsyna held the workshop called “Vice Visa: the obstacles of young volunteers with visa issues”. More than 20 participants showed up, which was considered a great success and a lot more people said that they were interested in coming. The workshop was explaining from the beginning that the visa topic is still not dead in Europe, on the contrary – with the development of the Schengen Treaty – the outside borders became very difficult to cross and a lot of young volunteers are fighting with the system on daily basis. The discussion about the actual “benefit” of visas was deeply discussed and surprisingly people had very different opinions concerning the visa policy. They were also taught how to deal with the participants that are in need of a visa (from the perspective of the organiser) and were explained where to find relevant information.

On Saturday, the VFWG took part in the AEGEE Fair. Four members were representing the VFWG at a stand, which turned out to be a big success. We were able to raise awareness about visa issues, handed out information material such as the ideal invitation letter (can also be downloaded on our website: http://www.wg.aegee.org/vfwg/) and played a board game characterising the everlasting obstacles of the visa procedure.

During the same day the VFWG, together with AEGEE-Academy representative Miguel, presented 2 proposals: the reform of the Working Format of Working Groups (which was approved) and voting rights for envoys (which was not approved).

During the closing plenary at the last day of the Agora, a new video of the VFWG was shown and left a lot of people very pensive. Once more it came to our minds that our continent is still divided in two parts, the one that is free to go anywhere they want and the other one that still has to fight for every step they want to take and must undergo to get outside of their own boundaries. There is still a lot to do for the VFWG….

We hope that you enjoyed the Agora as much as the VFWG did and we are already looking forward to another chance to represent this part of AEGEE and contribute to the activities of the Network, as well as spread our fame among more members of this organisation.

written by the Visa Freedom Working Group

 


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