Meet the eighth group of young ambassadors who will be taking part in EUROCITIES 2018 Edinburgh to discover new ideas, have their voices heard and debate common issues. Here we get to know Marko Zivkovic from Ljubljana, Maike Weitzel from Dresden and Lorenz Riemer from Leipzig and learn what's important to them, from Swiss army knives to bike trails and involving young people in decision making to creating a sustainable and united Europe.
Tell us about yourself
Marko: I am a 26-year-old citizen born and raised in Ljubljana. I always want to voice my opinion and listen to solutions and other people’s opinions about any random stuff. And I always try to have a positive attitude towards life!
Maike: I am 26 and currently pursuing my master’s degree in International Relations at the TU-Dresden. I hold a BA in European Studies from the University of Magdeburg. I am a member of the Young European Federalists, the youth organisation of the Union of European Federalists. The organisation is a movement of European citizens advocating European integration and cooperation.
Lorenz: I am 23-years old and a member of the youth parliament of Leipzig. At the moment I am organising a small international exchange for European youth parliaments. I like brainstorming with others to find ideas that would improve how we live together in small communities, in Europe and on our planet.
Why did you want to be a young ambassador for your city?
Mo: I think that I embody a working-class citizen of Ljubljana. Hearing people’s problems and praises is a daily norm for me. So, because of that, I think that I can be my people’s voice. My goal is to get some insight into what other cities are facing and how they are combating their problems. Also getting to know more people is a big bonus.
Ma: In recent years my city has made a lot of headlines because of a group of right wing populists with radical views. They may be the ones who yell the loudest, but they don’t represent my city and most certainly don’t represent me. I strongly believe in values like democracy and humaneness. As a young ambassador I hope to make my voice heard and meet other young people who feel the same.
L: As a member of the youth parliament I want to give young people a strong voice. I wish to find new ideas for our youth politics that I can take home to my colleagues. I also hope to get in contact with other young politicians to share experiences and to learn from each other.
What message would you send to the president of EUROCITIES and mayor of Ghent, Daniel Termont?
Mo: Let’s show the world what a united Europe can achieve when we work together. Having so many nationalities in a relatively small surface area has presented a problem throughout Europe’s history. Being an interconnected society can be the tool that will help us build a better standard of living for all.
Ma: Dear Mr. Termont, thank you for including young people in the conference this year. I am looking forward to listening to interesting speeches and actively debating common issues with other participants of EUROCITIES 2018.
L: Dear Mr. Daniel Termont, thank you for advocating the European Idea by bringing involved Europeans together. In our time, so I believe, nothing is more important or urgent than refreshing and encouraging this peace-keeping achievement. I wish you and all participants the most success possible, especially for the European Union.
What one thing do you really like about your city?
Mo: Ljubljana is on the smaller spectrum of capital cities, so I can say the place as a whole is something I love. Everything is at hand's reach so even keeping your social interactions at a high level never presents a problem. Living in a small city is a huge bonus for me.
Ma: Dresden has a wide range of cultural activities to offer. There are many great museums and theatres that present fascinating exhibitions, plays and concerts. One of my favourite places in all of Dresden is the Semperoper, our opera house. Just come to visit and experience it all for yourself!
L: I have to mention our parks, where I really like to relax, meet people, play sports or just walk. But what I like the most are the people who bring a colourful life to our city. For example the buskers in our city bring different people together in an atmosphere filled with joy and comfortable feelings.
What three items would you take to a desert island?
Mo: A sleeping bag. A Swiss knife. A magic stick.
Ma: 'War and Peace' by Tolstoy, a Swiss army knife and a toothbrush.
L: My guitar, a writing pen that never runs out of ink and something to write and draw on.
What three things would you do if you were mayor of your city for a day?
Mo: I would try and enforce sustainability by promoting green technology and make funding more easily available to my citizens. I would also definitely cut down on bureaucracy for getting your papers in order. The third thing I would do is attract more high-level entertainers be that music, sports or culture.
Ma: I would firstly invite all the high-school and university students from my city to come to city hall and debate their ideas for the future of the city. Secondly, I would organise an annual festival to celebrate the diversity of the residents of my city. And thirdly, I would meet with all relevant actors to make plans for more public transportation and the security of bike trails in the city.
L: I would seek opportunities to keep living space affordable, support ecologically-friendly mobility and start an enlightenment campaign about the consumption of drugs and its consequences.
How would you complete this sentence: ‘My Europe in 2030 will…'?
Mo: … be a textbook example of a safe, green and smart society... let’s make it happen!
Ma: … be a sustainable and united Europe.
L: ... enable its citizens, even those who are not living in Europe, to live together in peace and face trouble on earth with human rationality while being aware that we are all in the same boat.