ECPYouth president: we try to connect people in one European Christian voice
Erik-Jan Hakvoort is a young Dutch politician. In 2014-2016 he was in charge of PerspectieF, which is the youth wing of the ChristianUnion political party. And in 2016 he was elected the president of the European Christian Political Youth. Krynica.info met him in the Hague at the General Assembly of ECPYouth and talked with about the organization and Christians in politics in general.
– ECPYouth is a European Christian Political Youth organization. Why is it European? Why is it Christian? Why is it political? And why is it youth organization?
– We believe in a unique role of youth to play in politics. It takes politics in different way as grown-ups. And we believe that there is a unique role for Christians to play in politics, because Christians have special moral values, which are very useful in public sphere. I am aware that it is not normal for every country in the world and for every country in Europe, but still I believe that it is very useful and very necessary that young Christian people do play their role in politics.
The third question you asked is why European. We are gathering national youth organizations into one so-called umbrella organization. As ECPYouth we try to connect all the national political Christian youth organizations. We try to organize events to connect these people in one European voice.
– What does ECPYouth do and what plans does it have?
– Our main goal as I said before is to connect Christian political youth from all over Europe. And we do this by organizing several events that have one central topic per year. Mostly it’s going around the summer schools where about 50 or 60 young people from all over Europe are gathered for a week to connect with each other and hear about the several topics from different speakers. In 2018 we have the Summer school in Wroclaw, Poland.
And next to the Summer school we have several events all across Europe.
– Is youth today interested in politics, especially in Christian one?
– I think that youth today is very interested in politics and debating on the ways the things are. Old-fashioned politics is not really interesting for the youth, because the ways the politics functions (long speeches, resolutions) are hard for them to understand. So what they do is that they are looking for new ways to express their feelings about the society. They are very interested to communicate about their beliefs and views. So yes, they are not always interested in old-fashioned ways. In my experience, the most of the youth looks for new and modern ways to hold debates. For example, through the social media, videos or countless flows on Youtube.
– What is the main difference between Christian and usual politics?
– We have to do with different beliefs. We believe that the Bible is a starting point of our politics. So the Bible teaches us several core values which are very distinct from other political teachings. For example, think of another person more than you think of yourself. And if really think about this signet we get from Jesus so we look more for the minorities. So we actually try to follow Jesus in a sense that we try to copy his behaviour towards other people and try to put that into politics. That means of course that you invest a lot of time into care of others. So it is a different type of politics which is based on Biblical teaching.
– Who and how may become a member of ECPYoth?
– ECPYouth offers two types of membership. The first type is through the member organizations. For example, in Ukraine there is a political youth organization of CDU, and they become a member of ECPYouth. And through that all the members of CDU Youth are also members of ECPYouth. For example, in the Netherlands we have SGP-youth which has about 6.000 members and all of them became also the members of ECPYouth. That is the main way to become a member.
And there is the second one when in the country there is no ECPYouth member organization. Then it’s possible to become an individual member. You can apply as individual and to contribute as well. It’s always possible.
– You were also a leader of PerspectieF. What the difference between leading a national organization and European one?
– The difference is very big. The main difference is communication. Having members from all over Europe you have to give up many forms of believes that you can express as the national organization. You have to be much more careful with your communication because due to cultural differences other people may have other believes even about Christianity. We have to believe in God very broad and wide because we know that there are many differences and we want to overcome the differences. Otherwise we won’t be able to cooperate on a political level. That’s the one example.
The second is that you have different types of organizations. In a national organization you can easily find like-minded people and with these like-minded people you form your organization. And when you are a European organization you have to celebrate your differences and see how it can make you strong.
There are also different types of doing things and different types of being together. We need much more time to deepen certain political stances.
– You’re to leave the position of ECPYouth president this year. What are your plans for the future?
– I’m already a history teacher for kids ranging from 12-year-old to 18-year-old. And it has always been my dream to be a teacher at a secondary school. So that is what I’m going to continue for the first years. That are my personal plans for future to become the best teacher ever. And my hopes for ECPYouth is that in the near future it will be able to grow up into the organization that really has the power to influence EU legislature or EU policies.
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