The European Youth Week took place on the 26th May – 2nd June 2013 during the European program “Youth in Action”. Nautilos SAR was promoting the project and all events during the European Youth Week for Cyprus.
During this week, discussions were initiated to address different subjects that have immediate effect to young people, such as active citizenship, environment, youth unemployment, youth policy, culture & heritage and inclusion & equality. The events were open for all young people throughout the island of Cyprus.
The subject about «Youth Policy» was on the addressed on the 4th day of the European Youth Week. The discussion was focused on questions and concerns of young people regarding the subject. In addition to this, there was also given focus on a questionnaire prepared by the youth department of Nautilos SAR. The questionnaires were answered either electronically or in printed format. The sample size was very satisfactory based on the population of Cyprus, since we managed to collect 1757 questionnaires.
An open discussion was made between young people 18-30 and the president of Nautilos SAR, Mr Marios Efthymiou. Unfortunately, although many policymakers were invited, none of them attended this day. So as an experienced youth worker, business consultant and physiologist Mr. Marios Efthymiou (our president) answered a variety of questions that were raised from the above mentioned questionnaires and gave us insights and guidelines as to how and where can young people have proper and valid information about their rights as well as obligations throughout the European Union.
One of the issues raised during the discussion was the importance of having youth legislation and policies in Cyprus, in which young people can be helped in several areas. It was also mentioned that European Union legislation regarding youth policy should be applied to Cyprus because currently none of them are applied until today.
Another point of our discussion was that the country should increase the incentives and motivational measures to young people in order to help them find a job, utilizing new governmental schemes of employment in growing sectors in Cyprus. In addition to that, there is a need for more state projects for the increase of youth entrepreneurship. The funding allocations given by the European Union should not be delayed because it is difficult for employers and young people who want to open their own businesses. Also, It would be beneficial if state funds were allocated for the benefit of young people in order to promote entrepreneurship in European programs.
Still one of the issues that were commented included volunteering. We concluded that through volunteering people gain a lot. Voluntary work could be promoted and considered mandatory to be an asset by potential employers, since it is an extra experience.
It was also reported that many young people do not exercise their right to vote. Based on the questionnaire young people do not believe that they can influence the government bodies for policy making. We experienced this effect ourselves, since only 3/56 of the members of the parliament that were invited to the European Youth Week actually replied. Open discussions could be initiated with all candidates during election periods, or discussions at certain times of the week through social networks. In this way interested young people can get to know the candidates and form a comprehensive view that will help the to exercise their right to vote.
Another important question in the questionnaire was if there is political corruption in Cyprus, where 98% answered \\\'yes\\\'. A percentage of 60%, however, believes that there is a way to solve the problem of political corruption. Observing that this figure is not at all indifferent, we conclude that there is hope and we should all work together to try to change this bad picture of both, corrupted system and politicians.
Whether the young people would act together then create responsibilities and pressure on policymakers for creating laws as for they will be forced to take into consideration their views and approach a solution for any problem at front.
To conclude, I want to stress out that the European Youth Week has made me a more active citizen, like all the people who were present at discussions. I feel that the voice of young people is extremely valuable and can make the difference, provided with a strong will.
Prepared by: Irene Ioannidou