Stylia Kampani is 24 years old. She was born and grew up in Athens where she is currently living. She studied International and European Studies in Athens and Bremen and currently works as a communications and research officer for a start up export company of Greek products. She is also a member of the Young European Federalists (JEF).
Stylia, do you feel European?
Yes, I do, because I have many friends around Europe. I felt more European, especially after experiencing Erasmus. After that I took advantage of any chance to participate in exchange programmes, seminars and conferences which established the European identity within the Greek one.
What would you say constitutes this European identity?
Even though Europe consists of nations with different backgrounds, it is amazing to see how many things we have in common. Above all I see that we believe in common values such as the freedom of speech, expression and the fundamental human rights. These are pretty much taken for granted in Europe, but in other countries it is not the case – making us Europeans stand on a common ground. Apart from this, things like music, food or cinema certainly connect us.
You are on the board of JEF Greece, what is it you do there?
As member of the Executive Board, I kind of hold a consulting position – as my real work does not allow me to do more. To be more concrete: when we have seminars or other events, I make sure to invite the right speakers and coordinate the communication among all people involved. Due to my journalistic experience, I also help the team when it comes to press issues, newsletters and visibility of our actions.
Why did you join?
I had some friends who were involved in JEF and fancied the way they worked and generally their mindset. I felt that it was appealing and matching my inclination towards a pro-EU youth organisation. Especially after attending the last Federal Committee, I got even more convinced that my decision is right. I was amazed to see some people being so engaged, passionate and committed to a common vision.
How did you accompany the EU elections?
We did a video to raise the awareness about the European elections. I think, it was really successful. Seeing the poor percentage of young people voting in 2009, we hope that this time will be indeed “different”. There is also one special task force team with various activities, ranging from “café talks” to panel discussions on Europe. Its aim is to convince people to vote at the European elections. And in the end, we covered the presidential debates through social media and will do the same for the EU elections night.
The right-wing party Chrysi avgi (Golden Dawn) is allowed to run in the EU elections after all. What do you think of such parties in the EU?
It is unacceptable to see those parties flourishing merely decades after the most depressive era for Europe. I believe that this is just a transitory phase and like a bubble, it will burst after some time. Golden Dawn gained votes because the Greeks were extremely disappointed by the mainstream political parties and felt like there was no alternative. Of course unawareness of what this party actually represents misled a lot of people who vote for them.
Alexis Tsipras fared pretty well in the presidential debate on May 15th. What do you think of him as a top candidate for the European Left?
Tsipras’s candidature from the European Left had a rather symbolic meaning, aiming to show the sympathy and solidarity with actions and not words. I am not in the position to judge whether the European Left could have chosen a better candidate. The truth is that he is not a “mainstream” politician as his opponents, thus drawing the most attention.
After all the economic hardship of the past few years, what is the attitude in Greece towards the EU right now, in the times just before the elections?
Things have calmed down a bit. We see some signs of recovery and timid predictions of growth to come. Nevertheless, with these projections and numbers, no Greek can relate himself to the EU. As such there are still clouds over our heads and the population is very critical of the whole issue. The scars of the crisis and memorandums with all the deep slashes in the social rights are very present. Leading to the point that people are critical of the EU, mostly due to the Troika and its role in the domestic politics. In general however, I would say that the Greeks are more pro-European than Eurosceptics.
Stylia, where do you see the EU in 20 years?
So, in 2034… Well that’s a tough question. I would like to see a more united Europe with a less centralised and bureaucratic governance. I also hope that by that time, we will have achieved integration in more layers, such as Foreign and Security Policy.
Thank you, Stylia.
all photos ©laurasoria, cover photo private