More than two years ago, the founding process of the German-Greek youth office started and it is still ongoing. Several circumstances slowed the process down; one for sure are the different structures of youth work in both countries. The first conference day in Thessaloniki, Katerina Poutou and Tobias Köck talked about the structural challenges of binational collaborations. For Agorayouth we digged deeper into the subject matter.
When it comes to bilateral cooperations a framework is needed. Discussions, action, budget, priorities, evaluation – all of these matters need a framework for contracts while figuring out if this policy is to be accepted or not. „The Greek are lacking this framework“, admits Katerina Poutou, social worker and representative of the NGO Arsis. Tobias Köck from the German National Youth Council seconds on that: „It is important to have strong structures and concrete concepts with evaluation“, he says. „But is also important to get in touch with youth and to ask them what they want to do. So participation is the main key and we should be focused on this.“
Concerning participation the Greeks have several projects running, but compared to the German well-organized, but very bureaucratic youth organization structure, the Greek programs seem to be more individual and flexible and up-to-date. As Köck points out: „I think they are perfect to do exchanges and to get in touch, but at the same time this is difficult. Greek organizations are either not existing, very small ones or they are not able to do make it work.“ Nevertheless, Poutou stresses the fact of Greek experience in movements and collaboration in the social exclusion policies and integration policies: „In my experience, we already have very useful and successful collaboration between two countries. Yet the problem is how this collaboration and such events or meetings can be improved in the policy field, so as to recognize them and take all the good parts of them.“ So the challenge would be to turn individual solutions into long-term and official programs. Despite the difficulties at hand, it seems as if the presented ideas have a solid chance of coming to fruition: „During the last years,for example we didn’t have the E.V.S. programme in Greece, because there was no money nor structure to deal with what the Erasmus policy is“, Poutou remembers. „But to sum up the collaboration between Greek and German youth, I think that there are excellent examples to present.“
Text: Takis Tsoukalelis, Alex Kingsley, Michael Metzger Photos: Till Holland