Press release

Young European Federalists visit Ukraine: War is a defeat for everyone, now we need to win Peace!

Photo credit: Marco Di Marcantonio

Brussels & Kyiv, 7th October 2022

Key points:

  • JEF Europe joined a political mission to Ukraine to promote cooperation and peacebuilding with Ukrainian civil society.
  • Young people from Ukraine expressed the need for exchanges with their peers from the rest of Europe and training to enhance active citizenship.
  • The EU needs to invest in the development of a strong Ukrainian civil society, peacebuilding, training, and civic education.

In times of war, we cannot just talk about weapons and battles. It is precisely now that the foundations for the future of Ukraine and Europe are being laid. “Immediate support is needed to support Ukrainian civil society, to foster exchanges and training. Tomorrow’s Europe will depend on the ability to transform the tragedy of war into a revival of democracy, the rule of law, a pluralist society and the prospect of a Europe as a community of destiny”, comments Antonio Argenziano, President of JEF Europe, returning from a political mission in Ukraine. 

The Young European Federalists joined a civil society delegation led by the NGO Un Ponte Per and the Nonviolent Movement, travelling to Ukraine to meet young activists and civil society organisations to begin to imagine Peace beyond War, together. With this purpose, the convoy got in contact with several Ukrainian activists in the cities of Kyiv and Chernivtsi. The participants also met the National Youth Council of Ukraine, the All Ukrainian Youth Center, the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement and the Institute for Peace and Common Ground. The mission was part of the “Stop the War Now” network that gathers over 175 civil society organisations and has already organised humanitarian convoys to Lviv, Odessa and Mykolaiv.

All activists met confirmed the need to keep supporting Ukraine not only with humanitarian aid but also in dealing with social war scars, in promoting community building and skills development as well as to support volunteer organisations. Young people are particularly interested in exchanges with their peers from the rest of Europe. Everyone wishes to leave the war behind and to be actively part of their European family.

The public event “Imagining Peace during conflict” involved over 100 students from Chernivtsi University. It also highlighted the key triggers of European integration. “The Ventotene Manifesto became such a powerful symbol because the prisoners during wartime were able to imagine a free and united Europe, with no room for nationalism, totalitarianism and war. The situation in Ukraine must trigger a collective reflection to relaunch a European project that currently risks drifting away from its original purpose” adds Argenziano. The ongoing tendencies to face common problems with national solutions or with merely intergovernmental watered-down measures are not just worrying – they are a slap in the face of the people who suffered and are suffering the tragedy of the war.

Europe makes sense if it is built with and for people. That’s why we call on the European institutions and the member states to invest in the development of a strong Ukrainian civil society as well as in peacebuilding, training, and civic education. It will be key to fasten the enlargement process, always to be connected with an institutional and democratic reform of the EU itself. Investing in peace and democracy at least as much as we are investing in weapons, would be the most powerful and “European” message the EU can address to Ukraine and the rest of the world.

About JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) is a political youth NGO advocating for the creation of a democratic European federation as a guarantee for peace, the rule of law and human rights. JEF Europe promotes true European citizenship, works for the widening and deepening of the European Union and strives for a more just and integrated society on the European continent. Established in 1972, the organisation has more than 10,000 activists organised in over 250 national, regional and local sections in 31 countries. The ideals and aims of JEF Europe are defined in the Manifesto of Ventotene, the Political Platform and resolutions adopted by its statutory bodies.

Previous positions on Ukraine

Contact information

Antonio Argenziano, President

Young European Federalists

Christelle Savall, Vice President

Young European Federalists