Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ready for two more years!

Vilnius was great! It was quite cold with some rain and even some light snow, but the Hotel and Conference Centre were great and the meeting of the General Assembly didn’t allow for many outside moments. All in all, the meeting went smoothly and I am very happy and proud of the work that the Secretariat delivered! It starts to become a habit and people will soon get used to and eventually underestimate it; but for me this is a source of never ending pleasure! From the more political point of view, the meeting will always be evaluated in different ways by different people with different interests. However, left aside the results of the elections which is not up to me to comment, the General Assembly managed to agree, for the first time in the history of the organisation, on long-term Strategic Priorities which will guide us for the next six years and encompass the actions and activities that we will develop at least in the next two. On a more personal note, the General Assembly also approved, by a very clear majority, the renewal of my mandate as Secretary General, which means that I will stay for two extra years, until the end of May 2009. I am very happy for that, not only because of the personal satisfaction, but also because I could see in Vilnius that many people share the opinion that I and my team are doing a good work. I felt very much supported both by my colleagues in the Secretariat and in the Bureau, but also by a huge majority of Member Organisations, which gives me an extra motivation to keep working together with and for the benefit of all. Now, in about a month, the present Bureau will end its term and a new one will start its own. I will certainly miss many of my present Bureau colleagues, but I also have to confess that I look forward to start working with the new ones. The note of stability will anyway be given by the Secretariat team, which I sincerely hope to keep for as long as possible. The only negative aspect of the General Assembly is that I came back to Brussels amazingly tired… As all the workaholics, I get my energy out of adrenaline instead of using the nutrients as normal people do. When the thrill is gone, tiredness takes control of my body and soul. It always happens to me that the few days after these kinds of events are the more difficult ever. Fortunately, I’ve managed to survive the week and yesterday was able to get to bed immediately before I collapsed. I slept for almost twelve hours and woke up this morning feeling much better. And the sun is shining!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It says it all

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

And back to Vilnius again!

Tomorrow early in the morning, I will travel to Vilnius again. It will be the fifth time this year, but this one will be special: on Thursday morning, the meeting of the General Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the European Youth Forum, will start! More than 200 representatives delegated by the 94 member organisations will adopt the policy guidelines and the work plan of the Youth Forum, accept new members, adopt the budget for the next and approve the accounts of past years, elect a new leadership… and also decide on my future. I guess I won’t have time to post during the next 4 days, but I promise to get back with a report of the meeting as soon as possible. Take care!

Back to Athens

For the past weekend I was back to Athens. Contrary to all the odds, it was very cold and windy, which made it all together quite unpleasant to be anywhere but inside the hotel, the restaurant or the club. The conference I attended was also a bit deceiving, which made me focus on the people. I met really nice people there! Amongst them, I met two friends – Nikos and Natalia – who I hadn’t seen for the last six years, and it was very nice to catch-up with each other’s lives and projects. I also met good friends that fortunately I see more often and also met people who will hopefully become new and good friends. Athens might be a chaotic city, the weather can actually deceive you and the meetings can be not as successful as you would expect, but when it comes to human relations, there’s definitely something about the South!

Ben Harper

On Monday last week, the Paul Hymans Gang, together with some other friends, went to see Ben Harper. This wasn’t the first time I saw one of his concerts, as I’ve also seen him playing, together with his Innocent Criminals, at Rock in Rio Festival, in Lisbon, two years ago. That first time, it was summer, very warm, quite late in the evening and with a crowd of almost 100.000 people. This time, it was much cosier. Forest National is a rather small place and the room wasn’t even full. Even though I usually like big audiences and open-air venues, I have to confess that I liked this concert more. Ben Harper’s combination of shuddering funky soul and folky acoustics seems to work better when it is possible to communicate with the audience, embracing every single spectator in the show, as he did in Brussels by singing without using the micro! His combination of classical elements, blues revivalism and jam sessions, grants him the appreciation of critics and college kids alike, which allowed him to build a solid and dedicated fan base. This was also possible to remark in Forest National, in which a diverse, yet dedicated audience, engaged completely in the concert, contributing to its huge success. From the amazing slide guitar solos to the politically heavy messages, from the musical experimentation to the individual declamation, from the blues-oriented alternative folk to the middle mainstream, everything was perfect! From the opening with “With My Own Two Hands/War” to the closing with “Better Way”, Ben Harper pleased everyone and gave an amazing performance from any perspective you might want to consider! Awesome!


Many things have happened in the last two weeks, in which, for many different reasons, I wasn’t able to post at all. I will try to catch up with recent events in two or three short posts. Coming soon!