21 AEGEE members are going to observe the elections in Ukraine this week Sunday, 25th of May. The mission leads AEGEE to the greatest political hotspot in Europe and is one of the first enterprises of this kind for the association. The Golden Times asked one of the observers, the “Eastern Partnership Project 2” manager Adrian Browarczyk, about his expectations – and about the importance of this task for AEGEE-Europe.

Adrian Browarczyk
Adrian Browarczyk

Golden Times: You are one of AEGEE’s 21 election observers in Ukraine. Why did you apply? Adrian Browarczyk: I took it as an obvious step towards both personal and organizational development. The decision was made apparently in a quick way regarding the fact that the Eastern Partnership Project has been involved in the initiative since the very beginning. Moreover, apart from the AEGEE perspective, I do think that European youth should actively participate in the democratic processes via such activities for instance. Not to mention the need of an active civic participation especially when it comes to the struggling societies.

Golden Times: And with what feelings do you look forward to the task?
Adrian: I do feel very excited with the mission itself and I really look forward to participating in such a decisive moment in the Ukrainian history. I hope we all will be enjoying this celebration of democracy and human rights.

Golden Times: Do you have any experience with observing elections yet?
Adrian: It is going to be my first such experience though thanks to the materials read and the online training provided by the OSCE I feel kind of prepared for the challenge. Our group is supposed to split in two smaller ones – the participants of the mission are going to observe the elections in L’viv and Kyiv. The main task is to assure the elections’ accordance with the international standards meaning that seven key principles are kept: universality, equality, fairness, secrecy, freedom, transparency and accountability.

Election observers
The election observers

Golden Times: And what will be your task precisely?
Adrian: Bearing in mind the strict impartiality in conducting our duties, we are allowed to raise questions with election officials and bring irregularities to their attention without give instructions or countermand their decisions. As for the concrete actions, we will remain on duty throughout election day, including observation of the vote count and, if instructed, the next stage of tabulation.

Golden Times: How does it work in practice? When will you all go there?
Adrian: Sunday, 25th May is the elections’ day which means that it coincides with the European Parliament elections in which, however, we all plan to participate in! Thanks to flexible regulations I’m going to cast my vote in Britain on Thursday 22nd by proxy, which is actually very cool! As for the Election Observation Mission team, we are going to be in Ukraine few days before the elections in order to settle there properly and prepare ourselves to the task. AEGEE-Kyiv and AEGEE-L’viv are our local hosts providing us with a social programme.

Golden Times: What kind of training or preparation will you get in Ukraine?
Adrian: Just before the elections we are obliged to get the official accreditations from the Central Election Commission in Kyiv which, unfortunately, does not ensure any training possibility. We basically base our knowledge on what has been already issued by the OSCE or, if it implies to someone, on the relevant experience.

Election observationGolden Times: How big do you see the importance of this task for AEGEE?
Adrian: There are several factors that make the mission so special. One of them is the amount of observers from states with different perception of democracy: Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Turkey and Belarus. Another one is the volunteers’ willingness to go to the country immersed in the multifaceted crisis for more than half a year and the fact that there is no travel costs’ reimbursement provided – these arguments prove that AEGEE members really do care about Europe and its future regardless the obstacles encountered. As an organization we are striving for democracy and the rule of law, with the election observation mission we fulfil our vision fully.

Golden Times: Sounds fantastic!
Adrian: Should I modestly admit, these 21 people undertake an action that will be an external display of AEGEE’s involvement in the democratic processes in Europe for sure and we must be proud of it! With such an initiative we do express support to our Ukrainian fellows setting an example of a valuable practice to be followed in regions lacking the elections’ lucidity in times of instability.