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JEF Slovakia for a visa-free Europe

, by Jana Nguyenová

The week of September 26-30th was significant for couple of reasons. Those who have been struggling with visa obligation for ages, those who have not ever cared about visa policy and all our friends not being able to participate in the international conferences, seminars or events; and all of us, young people with a strong European vision – had a unique opportunity to be “united in diversity” and share the ideas, opinions, attitudes and experiences towards the current situation of visa policy.

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The visa liberalisation process means so much more than just travelling, there is much deeper sense inside of the word “travel” not only meaning reasons to do so freely but also reaching a pedestal of human being’s dignity in a way while painful and unreasonable visa process restricting freedom of movement is happening. Whether the people travel from one country to another to see their families, relatives, whether the active young people travel for their studies, possible work, for seminars, trainings or conferences held in various EU countries – for thousands and thousands of them from countries as Moldova, Kosovo, Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Turkey etc. these activities that seem pleasant turn into a big deal hidden under the rule of bureaucracy, control, complications, time consuming and a costly process.

Two sides of a coin

As every coin has its “head or tail,” I might point out one side of this euro-coin as an EU citizen and a part of the Schengen Area. I am a citizen of the Slovak Republic and already took part in couple of international seminars and otherwise I admit I do travel a lot for personal reasons. All the necessaries I am mostly required to do is to book my flight, make the payment, and I am free to leave my country. No extra fees, no need of asking supreme organs for a permission to travel. I only have to proclaim by my passport or ID at the airport control. Easy, right?

As I have travelled to couple of countries, I met people from all over the world. Some of them are from Armenia, Turkey or Belarus, good friends of mine. I ensure you they do not have it so easy though. What means to us just a daily routine for them vice versa means a hardly reachable goal. They are showing us the other side of coin – but do we really want to see it? Do we put an effort to bring democracy, open-mindedness, multiculturalism into Europeans’ life? Are we ready for a step forward unifying young people by enabling them to gather easily, sharing the cultures and common goals? My humble opinion is that visa implementation creates a gap between these young people promoting multiculturalism and their EU identity.

What can be done?

The crucial moment of the gap we found ourselves in is to raise awareness of the current situation. We should consider “what is happening in Belarus or Turkey” as it was happening to us right here right now. Let people speak about their own experience, share it and support them means to undertake a reality check.

Annually Visa Action takes place in several European cities. Also this year JEF SLOVAKIA decided to join and support the Visa Action 2011. One of the actions we found very effective to do was a Street Action at the airport what made all event very symbolical and what still is passing a notable message. What I wanted to find out primarily was – do people actually know what is happening in the countries mentioned above? The result is: no they don’t. And this is why the Visa Action and public campaigns make sense. We do believe in change and the values as democracy, freedom of movement and human rights. That is why we find very crucial to raise awareness about the importance of the abolishment of borders between European countries and make the society to do a great step forward.

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P.S.

- Watch the video documenting the Airport Street Action: http://vimeo.com/29948772

- Join the Facebook group and discover the pictures there: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/114937701947447/

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