Ms Wulff, the MitOst Association has been a founding member of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. Throughout those five years, your Association and the Department you are running – “Active Citizenship” - have developed significantly. This direction started off with the Theodor Heuss Kolleg in 2001, which has grown much in its turn in last years. What are the current developments and the state of the art of the Active Citizenship Programme?
First of all, I would like to shortly remind what we are doing at the Active Citizenship Department of the MitOst Association: We are trying to motivate young people to become citizens and to start to see how they can take responsibility for the things, which really concern them. It is about participation. It is about how they can change the community they live in. It is about project management. It is about implementing their first initiatives. It is about building a network with other like-minded people. As you mentioned, we started fifteen years ago, with an international German-speaking programme in Berlin. As of now, we have been working in almost twenty different cooperation programmes in Central and Eastern Europe, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus Region, and Northern Africa. We are very happy about the approach we developed, as it is a very specific, community-based one with a lot of work in different surroundings. This is what we are happy about and what we understand as a big success.
How sustainable are those programmes you have been implementing in the mentioned regions? Is it only about organising seminars and other educational activities? Or have been some sustainable structures evolving?
The question of sustainability is a very important point. What we are trying to do is to work hand in hand with our partners, who are not only NGOs but also other civil society actors. We have been also cooperating with public administrations, universities, business structures to create a sustainable surrounding and to implement our programmes in the sense of active citizenship. As sustainable results, we have such things as seminar houses and further programmes emerging or having been implemented.