The European sections met on the 20th of March in Berlin for three days for their regional meeting. Heidi Meinzolt, the International Board member from the German section, has written a summary of the event.

European Regional Meeting

Photo by Brigitte Cassigneul from WILPF France

It was good and inspiring to meet face to face on a transnational level! There were many topics to discuss, visions and concrete ideas to exchange with old and new friends and nearly each section was present except for Albania and Sweden.

The meeting was linked to the conference of the Gender Institute of the Heinrich Böll Foundation on the topic of “gender equality and peace in the EU” which featured contributions by Heidi Meinzolt and a speech by Barbara Lochbihler. To mixing it up a bit, the meeting included walks along the historical Berlin Wall.

The Regional meeting was lucky to be able host guests. We were happy to have Edith Ballantyne with us to reflect upon long-term commitments and urgencies of WILPF’s engagement. Similarly, having Emma Burgisser as the 100th anniversary coordinator enthusiastically speaking about the planning of 2015 events.

We started with an intensive – and sometimes even controversial- debate on the threat of war in Ukraine under the premise of “what have we learned out of WILPF history which is still relevant to be said in this actual situation?”

WILPFers raised their voices condemning the total lack of prevention and political sensibility in the lead up to the burning conflict and against continuous escalation and militarisation in media and western governments presences. We strongly appealed to all European countries to support non-interference of NATO and stop immediately any further militarisation of the conflict, including weapons’ trade to all sides and unilateral sanctions. Finally we emphasised on the will to build trust and invest actively in peace (diplomacy, deployment of OSCE mediators and shifting activities from the EU to the Council of Europe, supporting diversity, differences and the rights of the (indigenous) people).

In the preparation of the upcoming European Parliament elections we discussed our main focus in regards to European peace politics. Sections proposed a common brochure prepared by the Dutch section eight years ago, combined with proposals from the German section including a broadening of conflict prevention measures, de-militarisation of EU foreign and “defence” politics, a positioning against “the fortress Europe” with fundamental changes in the refugee and asylum politics and a “no” to planned trade agreements.

We discussed with Margarethe Tingstad, convenor of the ad hoc committee, the logic and necessities of a possible structural reform of WILPF and its additional value regarding the strength of the organisation. The report was largely welcomed and the proposals on a greater regionalisation in principle supported. The next IB meeting will have to decide on further procedures.

Last but not least we were enthusiastic about the plans and preparation of the 100th anniversary – with so many good ideas and tasks to take home in our sections!

WILPF is great! Lay down the arms!