In today’s time, the word democracy reminds us of the idea and values that our ancestors realized after the Second World War with the promise that genocide, wars, crimes and human suffering should not happen again. The reality of the currently active wars in Ukraine and Palestine is a cruel reminder of the fragility of these commitments and peace. That is why we Petros decided to attend a conference where representatives of various religions, cultures, the summit of European politics, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, rectors of universities, the Nordic Council, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Commissioner for the Middle East, the Director of the Center for foreign affairs, journalists from the Middle East, the coordinator for peace negotiations for Eastern Europe and young people from various EU countries who actively participated under the slogan By youth for youth. The guest of honor of the five-day conference was the former president of Ukraine, Mr. Viktor Yushchenko, who presented the history of the conflict between Russia and the Ukrainian regions. Participating politicians, young people and religious leaders from almost all European countries presented their views, problems, wishes and fears, all in the direction of how important dialogue is between all of us.

Peter and I are of the opinion that the common thread and ray of optimism was the awareness that all conference participants emphasized the importance of democracy, human rights, solidarity and humanity, which must overcome the political, economic, religious and strategic ambitions of politicians and decision-makers. It was especially inspiring to hear young people who got active and took a clear stand: We want peace and a society that will enable us to live a successful life without fear. They demanded that we hand over the world to them as we got it, and that the responsibility for their future is currently in the hands of us adults. The message was also aimed at the consequences of climate change, which will be suffered by future generations.

At the conference, various leaders and those responsible in various positions and organizations called on all citizens of Europe and the world to get active and put pressure on politics that does not respect democratic principles and human rights through various actions. Namely, no policy can rule without the support of the majority, as well as not continue fighting. People have great power, which we must begin to use to end conflicts and create conditions for the start of talks between warring parties, as well as the re-establishment of the values of peace, solidarity and democracy.

There was a lot of talk about the values of tolerance, acceptance, dialogue and political arrangements, but as was also said at the conference, democracy is not a perfect political system, but it is the best of the alternatives.

The conference was enriched with the message of the screening of documentaries and other films, which were shown on the theme of human strength, suffering and overcoming entrenched hatreds, political arrangements, different gender roles and military conflicts. The intensive program of the conference also motivated us to start looking for possible solutions that would help to end the conflicts more quickly and promote peace in Ukraine and Palestine. To put it a little more poetically: The seed was planted. Now is the time to activate the participants of the conference in their countries, because evil is not limited only to current hotspots, but travels quickly across borders, as the former president of Ukraine expressed.

The second topic of the study visit was perhaps a little more in the background, although it is equally important, but if there is no peace, “Well-being” is not possible either.

Instead of my conclusion, I want to “transcribe” the note of one of the participants, which illustrates the spirit and essence of the project:

“In the heart of Kristiansand, where fjords meet the sky,
We celebrate democracy, where every voice can fly.
A world of inclusion, where all are seen and heard,
In this diverse mosaic, each soul’s cherished word.

Let’s embrace the values that make our spirits soar,
For democracy’s essence is to open every door.
A world for all to thrive, regardless of our ways,
In Kristiansand, we unite in these bright democracy days.”

We are also bringing the message to Slovenia.

Tomi and Peter