Dear Andriy, Victoria, Nataliia, Lev, Oksana, Vlad, Valeriia, Nazar, Olena, Yuliia, Alina, and Yurii
We are deeply touched by your letter and your video. No matter how often we hear, see or read about war victims in Ukraine, it doesn’t become less shocking and learning what you and millions of other Ukrainians are currently going through greatly saddens us. We can only begin to imagine how hard this situation must be for you. We remain grateful for everyone involved in organising support, this way you save people’s lives and contribute to peace. Once again, we ask you to talk to us to find the best ways that EGEA can help. We are always open to suggestions and constructive discussions. Let’s work together.
As you rightly outlined, EGEA is an association for young geographers from all over Europe, which fosters intercultural exchange and non-discrimination. We are an association based on friendship, aiming to include people of all backgrounds. Therefore, excluding our Russian members would fundamentally go against our vision, mission, and values, so we cannot support or agree to this demand.
We differentiate between a horrible government and army committing atrocities and many people that are against the invasion. We recognise that there are people that support the regime and war. We also acknowledge that many of them have been exposed to pro-regime and pro-war propaganda for years. Via Social Media, we saw Russian EGEAns that stood up against the war in Ukraine, that participated in protests which made us believe that there are active members of the Russian Entities protesting against the agenda of the Russian government. Because most Russian EGEAns have removed access to Facebook, the discourse in EGEA does not reach them which makes it impossible to judge their position or for them to answer demands or accusations. We recognise the importance of EGEA as one of the few platforms to be informed properly as well as gain more awareness. We believe that only acting together, hand by hand can affect the restoration of peace that the whole EGEA advocates and waits for. With that said, we would also make equally clear that we will not accept any pro-war propaganda, misinformation regarding the invasion via our platform or any hateful behaviour.
Concerning your request to add this topic to the upcoming General Assembly (GA), after internal discussions and research in our official documents, we suggest not to include your proposal on the GA that takes place on the 21st of April. We acknowledge that there is going to be a very short time to discuss and evaluate the consequences of this decision within entities. Every change in our association is based on a dialogue that includes all EGEA members, in the Boards understanding time given before the GA is not enough to assure an inclusive decision-making process. This GA will be limited due to the evening timing and the discussion, which we think is really necessary for your proposal. Meanwhile, the GA time could be slightly changed, we think that in any case, the entities will not have enough time to evaluate and decide if this is how they would like to deal with the situation or if they see other options. Furthermore, we can already clearly see the long term consequences of this rushed step, which haven’t been discussed in EGEA, during the GA nor, for example, in the SOSM. Also, as you can read in Appendix A: “II.1.3. Any entity or individuals from an entity may request the inclusion of supplementary items in the agenda. Such requests must reach the Board at least 20 days prior to the meeting of the General Assembly.”.
If you decide to still go forward with this proposal at the April GA, the following article applies: “II.4. Approval of the agenda. Any subsequent changes of the agenda will require the approval of the General Assembly.” This means that during the GA we will have to firstly vote on adding a topic to the agenda, and only with the approval of the representatives, we could include your topic. You will need to present two proposals: Firstly, one regarding your demand and secondly, one to add this demand to the agenda. Please see Appendix A for further information.
For all of these reasons, once more, the Board of EGEA would like to invite you to a meeting to clarify the situation and work together. If you do decide to continue with this decision, our advice is to write an official proposal for the next GA of September.
Lastly, we want to make clear once again that we condemn the Russian invasion. Our priority is to help Ukraine and our Ukrainian friends from EGEA. Continuously we encourage everyone to stay respectful. The board will keep working, also listening to your constructive suggestions, but actions take time and we appreciate all of your support and patience. We are always open to constructive feedback and any initiative to help our friends in need. If you have any ideas, suggestions or ways that could help, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or comment the new forum https://egea.eu/forum/topic/boe-reply-on-the-open-letter-and-video-by-egea-ukraine-disscusion/#postid-108. There is plenty more we can do with your support.
We hope we can find a good way forward together, on which our diversity will make us stand strong.
The Board Of EGEA,
Micol, Esther, Marie, Luana and Stan