Dialogue without Borders

As Greece and Germany dominate each other’s headlines and political discourse due to the financial crisis and the subsequent bail-outs, we aim to tackle the fact that polarised, uninformed and populist opinions tend to turn the citizens of one country against the other, while there is very little to any engagement between the politics or society of the two countries.

Taking advantage of the Google+ Hangout technology (or equivalent), we aim to host a series of public debates in each public country. These public debates will take place concurrently in Greece and Germany. There will be two participants and a moderator in each live location, paired with a panel of four further participants that will be connected to the events via webcam. One participant in each location and two of the online participants will be for a given motion and the others will be against.

Linking public events in both countries allows us to create interactive discursive spaces with a live audience, increasing the impact of the public event as such and informing public opinion on the different perspectives on the issues that affect the relationship between Greece and Germany.

The motions for the debates will be centred on issues that affect young people, especially in the field of the impact of EU policies on youth and issues of cohesion and solidarity across borders, as well as the appropriate responses to the recent financial crisis and shared challenges between Greeks and Germans.

These debates will also engage panellists and viewers in other countries, such as Portugal and Italy on one side and France and the Netherlands on the other, in order to inform the bilateral relationship and national policy-making process with perspectives from states that face similar challenges.

Methodology

The debates will take place concurrently in two venues, one in Greece and one in Germany. The two venues, access to which will be available through an online registration and ticketing system as well as through tickets distributed to schools, community groups and other institutions, will preferably be academic auditoriums in major cities.

The events will run for approximately one hour and twenty minutes.

The presence of speakers on both sides of the motion in both auditoriums ensures that the debates are not seen as ‘Greece vs Germany’ events, but rather reinforce the view that there are diverse viewpoints in both countries, as both are vibrant, pluralistic democracies, and that agreement on issues and policy suggestions can transcend national borders. Given the nature of the recent European crisis, realising that discourse on these issues cannot happen exclusively on national terms within national borders is valuable in understanding the crisis and tackling its causes, both in Greece and in Germany, as populist politics on both sides of the political spectrum put the European project and its future in doubt. It is also important for citizens in both countries to realise that a shared future leads to better outcomes than the current artificial divide between them.