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Joint Statement On the Advancement of International Youth-Led Platforms



This joint statement between the Beirut Political Review (BPR) and Europinion serves to articulate our organisational commitment to the advancement and furtherance of open, positive political dialogue between Europe and the Middle East. The statement also serves as a precursor to an imminent comprehensive partnership agreement scheduled for signing later this month, in a time where such unlocked discourse can and will help build better political and cultural relations.


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The BPR has been instituted to serve more than one purpose in more than one context. Chief among those purposes is its mission to dispel the notion that youth actors in its part of the world lack political agency. The Review’s namesake – Beirut – has provided proof to that end time and again in the high tide of international youth politics and activism in the 20th century, whose reverberations we still feel today. It was in this period that students in Beirut, firmly rooted in their regional character – as many of them hailed from around the Arab World – coalesced in calls for justice and liberation for myriad different causes as one of the finest iterations of movements centred in the Global South.


This recent history attests to a culture of resistance, activism, and aversion to apathy that stands in stark contrast to what we see today, in Lebanon especially and in the Middle East at large. Many in the region – youth and adults alike – face extreme systemic barriers in engaging with their respective political and economic institutions. Suffice to say that it is difficult to mete out reforms and unwind corrupt knots of state-society networks, especially so when the aftermath of the Arab Spring has broken the spirit of activists and revolutionaries across the board.


For the BPR, the Middle East is not only deeply troubled but, rather more importantly and in the context of this piece, deeply misunderstood. The unfolding events in Gaza have been the litmus test for polarisation within and without the Middle East. Local and international reactions have made clear how divided most people are. Few are having productive conversations, and fewer still are having these conversations across what appear to be “Civilizational” boundaries. 


Nomenclatures like “East and West” and “Civilizational” are ideologically loaded and generally form the backbone of essentialist principles. It is unfortunate that, in times of tension and strife, these terms become useful for describing interactions between those whom they seek to categorise. In this vein, the predominant strands of thought in “East and West” have never seemed further apart. In the rise of populism, few with vested interests avoid succumbing to the temptation to essentialize and dehumanise the thoughts and beliefs of others.


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Europinion’s raison d’être, fundamentally, is to facilitate open, honest political discussion in a European political society increasingly polarised, driven by vitriol and extreme partisanship. Good politics is built on understanding, a willingness to compromise, and a readiness for consensus. By building a truly independent youth-led platform encompassing an eclectic multitude of political views and opinions, we help both our writers have a voice and, crucially, challenge our readers to exit their comfort zone and consume a variety of differing opinions, often out of line with their own. 


In a broader global context, Europinion strives to tackle the evident internal and external polarisation of European political discourse vis-à-vis other global regions. In particular, this comprehensive partnership addresses this polarisation in the context of the Middle East. In Europe, the internal polarisation of global politics presents itself in a presupposed ‘First v. Third-World’ binary, with a heavy predominance of Eurocentric or Western-centric discussions. There is often a skewed or uninformed perception of the Middle East, which becomes particularly important as European domestic politics finds itself increasingly divided on the Israel-Palestine issue and the wider geopolitical Red Sea crisis. By tackling this Eurocentricity, Europinion remains committed to advancing and perpetuating informed, constructive discussions around the Middle East from our writers in partnership with the BPR and vice versa.


Additionally, Europinion intends for this partnership to dampen external polarisation between discussions that traverse continents. In particular, we acknowledge the importance of remembering colonial legacies, as well as active neocolonialism, and the need for a willingness to challenge perceived perceptions and entrenched stances. A healthy, working global polity can only be built on a willingness and readiness to challenge one’s preconceived stances. Europinion trusts, through its publication of research-based articles on the region, that it can help the fight against the internal and external polarisation of politics between global regions, pertinently that of Europe and the Middle East, in the context of this statement. 


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The partnership attempts to go against the grain of scholarship and popular discourse. It does not seek to embrace or debunk narratives on either side of the Mediterranean. Rather, our work will mark a departure from the inherently polarised North-South relationship by instituting robust and unapologetic dialogue. On the BPR homefront, Lebanon stands as one of the few arenas where such dialogue can occur, being a bastion of democracy and pluralism in the region – however flawed. For this reason, the BPR is driven by its desire to galvanise youth elements in its immediate surroundings and simultaneously build connections with similar institutions beyond those surroundings. Europinion, too, proudly positions itself as a bulwark of truly independent thought in Europe and beyond, encouraging a healthy engagement along the political spectrum, to foster open, honest discussions with meaningful consequences, thereby inspiring the next generation. 


Institutionally, Europinion and the BPR remain united in their goal and desire to pursue productive dialogue despite the prevailing global tensions, particularly evident in the Middle East today. We are resolute in our determination to assist youth-led initiatives in increasing their engagement by empowering them and building a community of critically thinking leaders. From Britain to Beirut, Baghdad to Brussels, we are setting the example together.


Written by: Will Kingston-Cox (Managing Director of Europinion) and Charbel Ali Khalil (President of the BPR)

Image: Beirut Political Review


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