YF International Officer Panny Antoniou writes about his attendance at the YES Bureau in Istanbul
I was delighted to be able to attend the Young European Socialists Bureau in Istanbul in my capacity as YES Bureau Member for the Young Fabians. It was my first time in Istanbul and I was incredibly excited to explore and get to know our hosts from CHP Youth. Of course, given the political situation in Turkey with a far right government in power and the Erdogan regime trampling on civil liberties, it was important to understand the political context surrounding the country and how we as socialists and social democrats could work with our Turkish colleagues to help bring about change. One of the first things the Young European Socialists did was call out state repression and the arrest of dozens of protesters who were demanding action against gender based violence.
As someone who is of Cypriot descent, it was also very interesting to speak with Turkish activists about the political situation in my country of origin and how we could work together to end the military occupation and unite the communities on the island of Cyprus. There was strong agreement that militarism and nationalism on both sides had led to many intractable issues but there was a strong will to solve these and allow a united Cyprus based on bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in line with UN guidelines to become a reality.
The bureau meeting itself was held inside the Metrohan Building, a newly refurbished iconic building built in the early 20th Century and housing the Beyoğlu Tünel Station. Our hosts had decorated the building incredibly well with YES and CHP Youth logos throughout. Then it came down to the business of discussing our motions. There were a number of motions submitted which we were able to pass unanimously including a motion in solidarity with Iranian protesters and another condemning the World Cup in Qatar and the human rights abuses. We were also able to discuss the JS Portugal motion about worker representation on corporate boards which is already in place in Germany which I was delighted to have voted in favour of. This was coupled with an amendment from Danish organisation DSU calling for more cooperatives and mutuals across Europe which as a proud Cooperative Party member I was proud to support. We were also able to discuss in further detail the Nordic Model of trade unionism and their aversion to a minimum wage due to the nature of trade union negotiations in those countries.
After the bureau meeting, our hosts took us for dinner to an amazing venue with rooftop views across the city and we were able to party the night away at a club which was booked and selected by our hosts. All in all, Istanbul was a highly productive and enjoyable trip with fantastic hosts in a historic city. I cannot wait to visit again and will be watching the CHP’s electoral fortunes in 2023 very closely as they, like us, fight to rid themselves of their right wing populist government.
Panny Antoniou is the International/Outreach Officer of the Young Fabians and represents the Young Fabians on the Young European Socialists Bureau. He tweets at @panny_antoniou.