Involving young people in humanitarian aid was a priority for the Hungarian EU Presidency, Minister of State for EU Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Enikő Győri said in Budapest, on 17 June 2011. Together with Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, Ms. Győri attended a conference on the corps of young voluntary humanitarian aid workers of the EU under organisation.
Ms Győri reminded the participants that the motto of the Hungarian Presidency is “Strong Europe – with a human touch”.
“Generosity is a virtue most precious exactly when it is less appreciated. Yet deep down, we all know that no man, no nation can be his or her own saviour. We all depend on one another. The volunteers are those who were the first to understand this. Those, who have understood that the most efficient egotism is altruism,. That compassion is not a sign of weakness but a source of strength. This is a simple truth that we have to rediscover time and again, so that Europe may remain strong and maintain the human touch,” Ms Győri said.
“Involving young generations of Europeans in humanitarian aid, was a priority for the Hungarian EU Presidency. The relevant Council forums have discussed this matter several times,” Ms Győri said.
The Minister of State highlighted that 2011 is the European Year of Volunteering, and the Hungarian EU Presidency began the year with a thematic conference in January in Budapest.
“During the Hungarian Presidency, the Council of the European Union (EU) has recently adopted Council conclusions on the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps, endorsing the Commission’s proposal on this matter. The basis for these conclusions was that a humanitarian crises, natural or man-made, always take a heavy toll on the youth from affected countries,” the Minister of State added.
Ms Győri pointed out that “when the corps of young humanitarian volunteers is established, the EU not only helps those who are in need, but also strengthens the cooperation with non-EU countries, while at the same time, strengthening its own crisis handling capabilities as well.”
In the context of providing assistance to those in need, the Minister of State also mentioned the European Framework for National Roma Strategies, which is one of the key priorities of the Hungarian Presidency. She pointed out that today even in the EU we must fight against poverty and for social inclusion, even though for whole generations the EU was a symbol of wealth and prosperity. “I am proud to remind you that the European Council in June is to endorse the European Framework for National Roma Strategies,” Ms Győri said.
European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva said at the conference in Budapest: we have two goals for creating the young volunteer corps, first, to create an exciting opportunity for Europeans to make a difference in the world, and second, to bring collective value to individuals’ willingness to volunteer in the humanitarian area. According to her, the European citizens’ solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable people will now have their first ambassadors – our volunteers.
The establishment of the young humanitarian volunteers’ corps is prescribed by the Treaty of Lisbon. On this basis, the Commission has published a proposal in November 2010. When she took office in February 2010, Ms Georgieva declared the establishment of this corps as her most important assignment. The corps does not yet have a name, for the time being it is referred to by the English acronym of its description (EVHAC – European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps). Ms Georgieva invited the participants of the conference to give ideas for a catchy name.
Recruitment and training of members of the first pilot group began by the conference in Budapest. The volunteers will start working in non-EU countries as early as this year. Ms Georgieva is going to initiate legislation in 2012 on the structure of the young volunteer corps and its participation in humanitarian actions.