Fiatalok tudósítanak önkéntesen a magyar EU-elnökség óta – Youngsters report voluntary since the Hungarian EU Presidency

2017. november. 21., kedd

“If someone is experiencing a normal life, he can be an active citizen” – An interview with Viktor Szabados

Viktor Szabados’ name might sound very familiar to those who have heard about the process of structured dialogue. He has been responsible for monitoring the process from the time it was initiated by the European Union, he represents the Hungarian youth on both national and international forums, he leads a young team of reporters for the Presidency, and is also , active in his profession of economics. – interview by Dóra Tóth, DIA

Tell us briefly what is structured dialogue, how can you best illustrate it?
Structured dialogue is an instrument that is different from previous practices in the youth field. It is about initiating constant consultation with young people to serve also as an example for other areas, besides youth policy making. In early 2010, as the Spanish-Belgian-Hungarian EU Presidency launched this brand new process, since then it has been very well tested. A cohesion of the trio and a consistent 18-month work bore fruit. Each trio and each Presidency country determines comprehensive and multi-determined sub-themes for the structured dialogue. The Hungarian Presidency bringing the Spanish-Belgian-Hungarian trio to an end in June 2011 highlighted the topic of employment of young people. The fact that making such a direct way to join the decision making for young people is a big step of course, however it has also to adapt its processes (Small but powerful: Hungary’s role in the Structured Dialogue – article in Hungarian). At national level the representation of young people can lead this process in a permanent manner. Such a representation is currently not established in our country, but since the beginning of the year we are working on consultations for a National Youth Council (NYC consultation, background information).

How did you get involved in the structured dialogue, and now what is your role in this process?
Directly before the start of the Hungarian Presidency I began my work on behalf of AEGEE-Budapest and the European Youth Forum. My aim was to connect everything you can imagine, actually help lobby in favour of the Hungarian Presidency and the European representation of young people, both at home and in Brussels. As the European Youth Forum is a key player and coordinator of the dialogue, so that is my connection to this. The preparation of the EU Youth Conference in March 2011 and the compilation of the 27 national reports, and other organizational tasks certainly made me sweat!. From the beginning of the EU Presidency I was also leading a voluntary team of young reporters (www.elnoksegtudositoi.eu/english). In the National Working Group (www.facebook.com/szoljbele) I am working voluntary as president representating the Association of Student Organizations in Hungary (www.fde.hu). Here we are coordinating the national consultations and we are responsible for compiling the opinions of young people in Hungary and representing them at a European level.

A Polish-Danish-Cypriot Trio Presidency has an overall theme of creativity and innovation, specific priorities are to strengthen participation of young people in democratic life. What encourages you to participate in structured dialogue?
Actually, the social participation of young people is what structured dialogue is all about. After all, if we involve young people in a constant dialogue (from high school to university), we create a structure, which gives young people a way to express their views on the issues that partially or completely concern them. With this we can increase participation, active citizenship, which is seen as very important at a European level. The structured dialogue developed and shows a dialogue on national level and helps to think together among all the members, partners of the National Working Group. The Polish-Danish-Cypriot Trio works a bit differently than the direct predecessor. But the point is that in line with the guiding questions formulated by the Presidency country, every half year, how to translate into the language of the young people, so they are really able to comment and answer them. Generally speaking it is a hard task to organize surveys, mini-interviews and consultation days. Each semester has a part in the consultations, in which we involve youth organizations or researches, so to create a complete picture.

For you, what is active citizenship?
If I am honest, I do not like this term. And I do not like being at a European level where we often hear the importance of active citizenship as a jolly joker, and that we need to increase it. This automatically suggests that they are passive ones, which is of course true. However, if someone goes to school, volunteers, and then works somewhere, and he or she participates in elections, make choices of in life, that for me meets all the requirements of active citizenship. So if you live a normal life, you can also be an active citizen, and this is what I would like to illustrate.

What do you think that could motivate today’s youth to take a bigger role in terms of participation?
Young people are not the most favourable group of our society in the post-crisis period and so today. I would not be happy being a young person, who just has to decide on his or her career, future perspectives. So if someone would say that this situation would motivate someone to engage more, you can actually be right at the social level. For a good many things should have changed. However, on a more personal level it boils down to a negative return. To come back to the question, young people will take a greater role in society if there were predictable perspectives, appropriate conditions and not laws, but a healthy habit and moral system, which gives them an opportunity to challenge, criticise and raise their concerns about the world in which they live. In the summer an in October I went to China several weeks within the EU-China Year of Youth (I think about China… – video interview with young people from Europe). After the official programme I visited friends, I have had a permanent relationship since then with many of them. The other day I just exchanged some e-mails with one of them about what is the that motivates him more to go into politics. “I like to work with people and I want to see how my work makes their lives better and happier.” – he said.

In Viktor Szabados’ life how is present the dispute?
I went to high school in Hévíz, a truly unique place in the Bibó Alternative High School. My school- and classmate while I participated at EU calls and tournaments, they went for dispute championships countrywide. So here began my relationship with debating in an organized, structured form. I’ll tell you that this form of debating was too strict for me. Interfering in line with very formal rules was almost more important, not on what they were debating, but for me the key factor is what the debate is all about, not how. Also in other areas of life, is something makes me curious, interested, that is the most important for me, no other aspects.

The interview was published in Hungarian in the newsletter of the organization of DIA, www.i-dia.org/english

English editor: Ben Wesson
Original interview in Hungarian:  Ha valaki normálisan éli az életet, már ő is lehet aktív állampolgár – interjú Szabados Viktorral

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