Reflections from Riga: the LYMEC Autumn Congress 2023

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Another LYMEC congress full of debates, insights, and new friendships is over. 

Delegates from all over Europe gathered in Riga and demonstrated the power of discourse over force and word over violence. This virtue seems to have been lost in many areas of life. That is why it is all the more important that we liberals continue to debate and exchange ideas.

Our President, Dan-Aria Sucuri, opened the Congress on Friday 10 November with a warm welcome to all attendees. When it comes to standing up for liberal ideas and values, he is always the first to raise his voice. We were then welcomed by Artis Pabriks, the former Minister of Defense of Latvia. In his speech, he reminded us that the Russian regime will not give up its aggressive course. That is why we must continue to support Ukraine. Ines Voika, Par! Party Co-Chair, Former Chair of Transparency Latvia and Board Member of Transparency International, voiced her concerns about the war. In both speeches, I noticed that after almost two years of war, support for Ukraine has not waned one bit. I wish the same were true for other countries that still support Ukraine.

On Saturday, Timmy Dooley, co-president of the ALDE party, welcomed everyone in the morning and shared some of his own experiences in LYMEC from thirty years ago. It is always inspiring to listen to leaders who have been in our shoes. I really hope that some of my fellow delegates will become leaders on the EU stage and implement the ideas we forged at LYMEC.

The political discussions that followed were very intense. For two and a half hours, we discussed the heinous attack by Hamas and Israel’s reaction. In heated but respectful discussions, we went through 41 amendments to LYMEC policy. In the end, we had a balanced resolution that condemned the horrific atrocities committed by Hamas on the one hand and called for the proportionality of the Israeli government’s response on the other. We were then able to discuss eleven other resolutions, which mainly dealt with foreign policy. 

After Dan's concluding remarks, everyone went to the riverbank. November 11 is Lāčplēsis Day in Latvia. It is a day of remembrance for the soldiers who fought for Latvian independence in 1919. We therefore joined the Latvians and also lit candles to commemorate the fallen men.

To end the evening on a positive note, we visited the ZuZeum, an art center that houses the Zuzāns collection. After dinner, you could visit the exhibition and view the contemporary art. Obviously, the rest of the night ended like most Congresses do: in the bars and clubs of Riga. But isn’t this also what makes congresses memorable? 

In the end, it is the union of a community of like-minded people that make LYMEC congresses unforgettable.

Felix Schulz

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Felix Schulz
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