Eastern Partnership’s 10th anniversary: AEGEE-Samara

The AEGEEan starts a collaboration with the AEGEE Eastern Partnership Plus project. This year, the Eastern Partnership bloc celebrates its 10th anniversary. The six-member countries plus Russia have been very active during the last decade, organizing and hosting a lot of events within AEGEE and raising awareness about the EU in their respective countries. In order to show what has been done so far and where our EaP+ antennas are heading to, we interviewed them on their activities and plans. Our next antennae is AEGEE-Samara.

Let’s get to know each other first. Can you tell us a bit about your local?

We are AEGEE-Samara. Samara is a Russian city located in the European part of our country. We have about 15 official members and the same amount of non-official members, who help us. We organise a SU and WU annually and also we arrange local events such as The Day of languages, LTC and some national parties.

Please tell us something about the history of your local. How did it develop?

Our local was established in 2007. Since that period we have doubled in terms of the number of members, developed our social nets and organised plenty of events, mostly SUs and WUs.

What do you consider your biggest achievement so far? In your viewpoint, what’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

It is difficult to choose something in particular because we organise annual events and try to keep to our level. But as the biggest achievement, we can say our SUs, because our city is far from any other locals and sometimes it is difficult to reach us. But still, we motivate people to attend our projects and satisfy participants. 

As the biggest challenge, we consider the crisis two years ago — there were lack of members in our local, only a couple of people and we were on the verge of closing but coped with it.

What are your plans for the future? Would you like to organise a big event? What activities do you have in mind?

This summer we are organising a SU and we are planning our WU. We’d like to organise an RTC in spring.

This year the Eastern Partnership Project is celebrating its 10th year of existence. What did it change in your lives, personally and as an AEGEE local? What do you think about the partnership between your country and the EU in this context?

This agreement was and is a fundamental agreement between Russia and EU. And in spite of some difficulties in bilateral relations, the PCA shapes links between us and enables our cooperation. 

It has a significant role for our local. First of all, visa issues — thanks to the PCA people get visas in a simplified manner. Secondly, protection of secret information and international security.

How would you improve the work of the EaP? Are there any needs that haven’t been addressed by the Project?

There are a lot of aspects in our relationship which should be considered, but we would call such points as free trade zone or at least simplified trade conditions and visa-free regime.

In your opinion, what should EaP+ as an AEGEE project concentrate on? How can they help you grow and develop? How could it interact with you?

EaP + should concentrate on cultural exchanges and activities which can benefit both parties, for example, forums. Concerning Russian locals, we think that the best way to assist is to help with PR.