‘Your generation can make the difference’

On Monday 21 November, around 220 students met with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Jean-Marc Ayrault, and Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders. They talked about Turkey, the rise of populism and the future of Europe. “Your generation can make the difference”.

During a Q&A session in a fully booked Erasmus Pavilion, Ministers of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault (France) and Bert Koenders (The Netherlands) talked with circa 220 students about Europe. 

Students asked questions about the stability of Europe in the light of Brexit, instable borders and the migration crisis, about Turkey and about the rise of populism. “The geopolitical holiday, with protection from the US, is over”, Minister Koenders said. “We have to invest in security, in a solid foreign policy.” He told students not to panic though, because Europe is still strong. Stability is key in these turbulent times, according the Dutch Minister. “Either we import instability, or we export stability.”  

Minister Ayrault said he wants to stimulate ‘positive forces’ in society, as a reaction to the growing popularity of Euroscepticism and right-wing parties. According to him, it’s up to Turkey to show they’re ready to become an EU-member, embracing European values.  

Minister Koenders stressed the fact that now is the moment for European democracy and politicians to prove themselves. Asked by a British student what her generation can do to make an ‘open Europe’, Minister Koenders responded: “You’ll have to make the bridge. Your generation can make the difference”, to which Minister Ayrault added: “We’ll have to build on Europe.”

Unfortunately there was no time for Ayrault and Koenders to deliver their speeches. You can find them attached to this press release. 

More information

Press Office Erasmus University Rotterdam, 0031 10 4081216 or press@eur.nl