From planning school elections to transporting blankets and emergency aid
During the weekend, Simon Bøtkjær Nielsen, member of Young Conservatives Denmark and part of the cross-political network, drove to the Polish-Ukrainian border together with other volunteers from the network. ‘I got a text message which read “Welcome to Ukraine” at the border. It is odd that this was the normal just a few months ago; and now, it is something I will miss. I drank beer with Ukrainians in Kyiv just two months ago.’
Across the cross-political network, Danish youths have planned the travel to the border with cars packed full of clothes, boots, blankets, emergency aid, food and toys. The Danish youths are continuously in contact with the Ukrainian youths in the network: ‘The are under pressure, but they have much faith in their military, and they believe that they will make it in the end. The solidarity in all of Ukraine right now is so inspiring. Where they previously criticized each other across political parties, they all stand together now,’ says Simon Bøtkjær Nielsen.
Youths in Ukraine has faith and fight for their country
Sofie Amalie Stage is also in contact with Ukrainian youths who are afraid but still willing to fight for their country: ‘Katherina is in Kyiv; the day after Putin sent in his troops, she wrote that she had trembled with fear since she heard the first missile explode. She described how she could not even drink a glass a water due to her trembling. It affects me very much. Katherina wakes every day without knowing whether there will be a tomorrow. Despite their fear, I can feel that the Ukrainians believe they can win the war. There is hope. Some still read up on their university curriculum even though the universities are closed.’
Why are Danish youths part of a cross-politicalnetwork?
The cross-political network in Ukraine is a platform where volunteers from political youth organizations can meet and debate across political ideologies, parties and countries. Simon Bøtkjær Nielsen tells: ‘We learn a lot from each other. Dialogue is definitely a consistent element and an important one for our collaboration. In Denmark, we can learn much from the Ukrainians who work hard to improve their country and who are much more actively engaged. We collaborate across cultures in the network while solving the issues we face.’
Beside dialogue, democracy is also a consistent theme for the cross-political network. Sofie Amalie Stage elaborates: “The cross-political network is a network of politically engaged youths that believe in democracy. The network consists of youth that are ready to fight for what they believe in. We know that while we do not share the same political ideologies we have room for all. In the network, I see faith and openness in others’ thoughts and beliefs. We do not agree politically, but we work together in the network and debate rationally about what to do, who we should collaborate with, and what we should collaborate about. That is what democracy can do.’
Since 2019, eight Danish and nine Ukrainian political youth organizations have collaborated in the cross-political network. DUF have previously had cross-political networks in Lebanon and Egypt.