The Pol­i­tics Inter­est Group (POLIG) is cur­rent­ly one of the hottest groups in AEGEE. It has been found­ed just a few months ago, but every day its 486 mem­bers on Face­book are dis­cussing new dif­fer­ent cur­rent issues in Europe and the world. But that’s not all: POLIG is plan­ning to cre­ate real the­mat­ic events in AEGEE, for exam­ple a reg­u­lar Pol­i­tics Acad­e­my as its trade­mark event. In short: the POLIG can serve as a cat­a­lyst to bring back more con­tent to AEGEE. POLIG mod­er­a­tor İlknur Demir: “People have great dis­cus­sions in some events and get super excit­ed about it. How­ev­er, they do not real­ly cre­ate an out­come, or in basic terms, work for it lat­er.” The POLIG is there to change it – and offers you a hand for col­lab­o­ra­tion. İlknur: “I am call­ing every­one who is read­ing this inter­view at the moment: even if you do not have an idea how to coop­er­ate with POLIG, just ask us; the most unex­pect­ed ideas might be born as we talk to each oth­er!”

POLIG on Face­book

Gold­en Times: You are the mod­er­a­tor of the new POLIG. How did that hap­pen, what was your moti­va­tion?
İlknur Demir: I had var­i­ous motives to apply for the estab­lish­ment of such an inter­est group. First­ly, as I’m study­ing Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions, I was con­stant­ly in the mid­dle of polit­i­cal dis­cus­sions, and I always want­ed to dis­cuss them with fel­low AEGEEans; how­ev­er it was not so clear to me where to share those ques­tions. These ques­tions were not only about cur­rent issues, I also want­ed to talk about core philo­soph­i­cal issues that are relat­ed to pol­i­tics. Sec­ond­ly, the polit­i­cal dis­cus­sions held dur­ing NWM Bil­bao were so amaz­ing that par­tic­i­pants kept reflect­ing on them even after the event, dur­ing the din­ner, while walk­ing by the sea… I thought there could be a place where peo­ple could con­stant­ly dis­cuss on these, not only dur­ing events. Last­ly and sad­ly, I kept see­ing peo­ple falling into the trap of pop­ulism; and I’ve been see­ing a con­cern­ing num­ber of AEGEEans with far-right ideas or strong nation­al­is­tic opin­ions. This made me ques­tion if we need­ed more dis­cus­sions and the spread­ing of polit­i­cal sci­ence and social psy­chol­o­gy knowl­edge, as we are liv­ing in the age of post-truth where facts are less vis­i­ble.

GT: That’s a very good moti­va­tion. When was the POLIG found­ed?
İlknur: The group was offi­cial­ly estab­lished on 5th of May this year, yet we wait­ed until the mid­dle of August to announce it, as every­one was enjoy­ing the sun more than pol­i­tics.

Ilknur Demir

GT: The POLIG has a very active Face­book group. How many peo­ple are mem­bers?
İlknur: Cur­rent­ly we have 486 mem­bers, though I believe we will have more in the future!

GT: What is dis­cussed in the Face­book group?
İlknur: There are actu­al­ly many dif­fer­ent top­ics being dis­cussed, but I can say that the Cat­alo­nia issue has occu­pied the group for a long time as there were clash­ing views among mem­bers. Oth­er than that, the polit­i­cal dynam­ics in and out of AEGEE have been dis­cussed more than three times, cre­at­ing inter­est­ing out­comes!

Top­ics like Catalonia’s inde­pen­dence are typ­i­cal for the POLIG Face­book group.

GT: What are the expec­ta­tions of the peo­ple in the Face­book group regard­ing the POLIG?
İlknur: There are many dif­fer­ent expec­ta­tions. Some see it as a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for inter­nal edu­ca­tion, and rais­ing aware­ness; some expect more actions rather than words, and some are just enjoy­ing the dis­cus­sion for its sake. How­ev­er, all of the expec­ta­tions are try­ing to be cov­ered, as an inter­est group has to be changed in accor­dance with the inter­est of its mem­bers. In con­clu­sion, the main aim of all of us is bring­ing pol­i­tics back to our polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion.

GT: What do you or the oth­er mem­bers have in mind to increase the vis­i­bil­i­ty of the POLIG in AEGEE?
İlknur: We have been slight­ly spam­ming the online chan­nels of AEGEE, and we have shown our­selves dur­ing the Ago­ra Cata­nia, both on the stage and also with a work­shop. I think the vis­i­bil­i­ty could be increased by cre­at­ing good con­tent and orga­niz­ing events; as an emp­ty vis­i­bil­i­ty will not favour any of our objec­tives.

GT: Do you also have a mail­ing list now?
İlknur: Cur­rent­ly we have been using this mail­ing list, which every­one is invit­ed to join:

The ances­tor of the POLIG: the leg­endary IPWG, one of the most active work­ing groups in the his­to­ry of AEGEE.

GT: Does AEGEE have a good dis­cus­sion cul­ture for pol­i­tics-relat­ed dis­cus­sions? Or does the asso­ci­a­tion have to learn some­thing in the fields?
İlknur: I can­not make a gen­er­al­iza­tion for the whole asso­ci­a­tion, how­ev­er what I see is that, peo­ple have great dis­cus­sions in some events, or even at a sin­gle work­shop of one hour there are amaz­ing ideas; but we just get a snap of inspi­ra­tion then let it go. In oth­er words, even though there are hot dis­cus­sions dur­ing an event and peo­ple get super excit­ed about it, they do not real­ly cre­ate an out­come, or in basic terms, work for it lat­er. More­over, I believe we can all read more on polit­i­cal issues, rather than just fol­low­ing the news and try­ing to analyse them from the zero. When you do not get the main idea, the details only lead to bad prob­lem-solv­ing.

GT: The POLIG is in the foot­steps of the leg­endary Inter­na­tion­al Pol­i­tics Work­ing Group. Can you take inspi­ra­tion of their work?
İlknur: Total­ly! After talk­ing to for­mer IPWG speak­er Olivi­er Genkin dur­ing the Ago­ra Cata­nia, I could say that their work was amaz­ing­ly inspir­ing. The old IPWG was high­ly active and pres­ti­gious, and of course it was not done overnight, so I am wish­ing the same for Pol­i­tics Inter­est Group!

Olivi­er Genkin was speak­er of the IPWG and made it very active.

GT: Is the POLIG plan­ning to organ­ise local or inter­na­tion­al the­mat­ic events?
İlknur: AEGEE needs the­mat­ics, so we will be there work­ing for it! Cur­rent­ly, we are in touch with some locals to help cre­at­ing a good con­tent for their local events; as well as we are in touch with oth­er locals to cre­ate an inter­na­tion­al event! Months ago, we have col­lect­ed the event ideas from our group mem­bers, and there have been ten con­crete event ideas. Some of them are focused on the East­ern part of our net­work, where­as some oth­ers could be applied to any­where! For exam­ple, we are plan­ning to cre­ate a trade­mark event called Pol­i­tics Acad­e­my, which we will try to orga­nize con­tin­u­ous­ly; each time on dif­fer­ent focus at a dif­fer­ent local. This event excites me the most, there­fore let’s see if it is going to become real!

Ple­nary ses­sion of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Brus­sels. Pic­ture: EP

GT: Are you plan­ning to organ­ise annu­al excur­sions and tours to the court in The Hague like the IPWG or maybe to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment?
İlknur: If we can arrange it well, and if the peo­ple are inter­est­ed; I can­not see any rea­son why not!

GT: Are you in con­tact with AEGEE oldies who are work­ing pro­fes­sion­al­ly in pol­i­tics relat­ed jobs, for exam­ple as mem­bers of par­lia­ment, in NGOs, at uni­ver­si­ties or think­tanks?
İlknur: We have been already col­lect­ing some con­tacts! How­ev­er there has not been any active inter­ac­tion between us yet.

Top­ics like Brex­it are per­fect for a dis­cus­sion or event with help of the POLIG. Pic­ture: EP

GT: How could these peo­ple con­tribute?
İlknur: I think oldies can con­tribute a lot, by giv­ing ideas that we have nev­er thought of, maybe pro­vid­ing mate­ri­als and some oth­er things that they may have in mind. We are tak­ing baby steps now, and those peo­ple who had already tak­en these steps could light­en up our way!

GT: Are you coop­er­at­ing with oth­er bod­ies or groups, such as the Elec­tion Obser­va­tion Project or the SUCT?
İlknur: Cur­rent­ly we have close ties with the East­ern Part­ner­ship Project, and its mem­bers are quite active also in the Pol­i­tics Inter­est Group. Oth­er than that, we have been in touch with the Euro­pean Cit­i­zen­ship Work­ing Group, and we will try to col­lab­o­rate more with the oth­er bod­ies like­wise. I would like to high­light that we are open to all kinds of coop­er­a­tion. I am call­ing every­one who is read­ing this inter­view at the moment: even if you do not have an idea how to coop­er­ate with POLIG, just ask us; the most unex­pect­ed ideas might be born as we talk to each oth­er!

POLIG’s next mas­cot?

GT: What about a mas­cot for your inter­est group? Do you already have one?
İlknur: As we did not leave the abbre­vi­a­tion of Pol­i­tics Inter­est Group as PIG, we want­ed to gain everyone’s heart and get a pig mas­cot instead. There­fore, we are POLIG with a PIG mas­cot.

POLIG on Face­book:


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