The Konrad Adenauer Foundation is funding YOCOPAS. What is the reason for doing so? What do you find interesting in this initiative of the school?
The decision was taken by my predecessor, so I cannot exactly say what his reasons were, but I am pretty sure they are the same reasons why I would fund this project had it been brought to my attention. We are interested in the crossing borders operation, in setting cooperation at the local level and protecting minority rights. YOCOPAS is just an extremely good and encouraging example for such a project, especially because of the youth project. We can, by helping YOCOPAS, invest in the future and invest in future leaders.
Very often we have people in their 60’s coming to our conferences. We appreciate them as well, but we understand that they’ll be around for another two or three decades maximum and you guys are going to be around for a really long time and you have all the chance of the world to make this place a better place. We are very happy that we can at least contribute a little bit.
This is your first time in the YOCOPAS conference. What was your first impression of YOCOPAS when you arrived?
The first striking surprise here were the peacocks. And then inside I was struck by the level of the activity and creativity. The show and the whole setting was very creative. The different performances were nice. I found that you guys are really committed to the goal.
How do you think YOCOPAS will contribute in solving a conflict? In YOCOPAS, we mostly talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it could be any conflict.
I think the first step to solving a conflict, is to get to know each other. To give the other side, whoever the other side might be, a phase. And what we are witnessing right now in Israel and Palestinian territories, is the disappearance of phases. I know many Palestinians who have not spoken to an Israeli in years and I know many Israelis who haven’t spoken to a Palestinian in years. If we want to build trust, which is the basis of future peace in this region, we have to know each other. We need to see faces. We have to understand that the opposite side consists of people who want peace, because usually people want peace, they don’t want conflict. That is what you guys have contributed here in Israel and Palestine. On a broader level, you of course are setting an example and are providing valuable case studies for students from other regions.
How do you see YOCOPAS expanding in the future?
I have to admit I haven’t seen YOCOPAS except for this very impressive show tonight, but of course, the mission itself is very helpful. I think it would be great to have other cross-borders initiative like YOCOPAS in other countries, especially in the Middle East. Konrad Adenauer Foundation works in many other countries, including other countries in the Middle East, and I’m sure any expanded version of YOCOPAS would be ideal partners for my colleagues in other countries.
Written by Arsa Sota