Public debate

Anja Mager, Rocío Rodríguez Roldán and Ozer Sahoglu for the European Night of ideas at the Collège de France

We really want to make a difference and speak for our generation. We have a lot of concerns, and hardly anyone is listening to us.

As part of the Night of ideas, the Institut français is organising the European Youth Forum at the Collège de France, in Paris. It offers an opportunity for a panel of committed young citizens to defend their preferred theme in front of an audience and a panel of experts. Three of them answered our questions before the evening of the 12 March, which can be watched live on the Documentary Youtube Channel. 

The event is organised by the Institut français, in the framework of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, in partnership with the Collège de France, the Institut Jacques Delors, ARTE, France Médias Monde, Le Grand Continent, Télérama and France Culture. 

Updated on 11/03/2022

5 min

Anja Mager, Rocío Rodríguez Roldán et Ozer Sahoglu
Anja Mager, Ozer Sahoglu et Rocío Rodríguez Roldán © DR

Could you each tell us about your personal background and commitment? 

Ozer Sahoglu: I was born in Nicosia, Cyprus, the only capital city in the world that is divided in two. I am eighteen years old and currently studying Global law in the Netherlands. I have been actively involved in civil society since I was thirteen years old: I became the first Cypriot minor to receive funding from the European Union to create my civil society project. I am also a member of the European Migration Team of the Major Group For Children and Youth, commissioned by the United Nations. 

Rocío Rodríguez: I am from Spain, I have a degree in Art History from the University of Seville and I am specialized in women artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. I have researched about foreign female artists in Spain between the wars and about the female mapping of emotions in literature and art, and I am about to start a PhD as part of the R&D project Feminine Agency in the Andalusian Artistic Scene (1440-1940), which purpose is to study, include and assess the activities carried out by women in the Andalusian artistic space between the 15th and the 20th century.

Anja Mager: I am Slovenian, and I grew up in a rural area. After high school I decided to study agronomy and agricultural economics in Ljubljana and Vienna. I am currently working in a farm with my partner, producing cereals and apples. I am also the president of the Slovenian Rural Youth Association. 


What is the cause you wish to support at the European Youth Forum on 12 March at the Collège de France?

Ozer Sahoglu: I grew up in Nicosia, in a context of military conflict. From the age of seventeen, I have been advocating as a peace and human rights activist to fight the discrimination and also to provide a better country for the next generations. The Cyprus conflict is an issue that is never mentioned, but which I believe is crucial in the construction of the future of Europe. 

Rocío Rodríguez: As you can imagine, my cause is feminism and equality, seen from an artistic and cultural point of view, so since the beginning I wanted to work in a women related proposal. That’s why I ended up in the Human Rights group and, when we split up into four subgroups, I joined the one which is going to present a measure to fight against Period Poverty. 

Anja Mager: For my part, I would like to talk about the role that agriculture plays in our lives. What does it really mean to be a farmer? It is not just physical work, it is a complete profession that requires many intellectual skills. Many people no longer even consider a career in agriculture as a viable option. I would like to show that agriculture can be combined with ecology and social commitment, while building a viable economic model. 

Our strategy will be very simple: tell the truth, and explain our reality. Beyond statistics, we will also tell stories, real facts that concern us all on a daily basis.

To prepare for this event, you are taking an online training course. What have you learned from these workshops? 

Ozer Sahoglu: I now know a lot more about the democratic functioning of the European Union! 

Rocío Rodríguez: They allow us to relate our research topic and our field of engagement more closely to the functioning of the European Union, especially from a legal point of view. And therefore to better understand how to implement concrete measures within the political framework of this organisation. 

Anja Mager: We were introduced in detail to multiple entities of the European Union during several workshops. We were then divided into three groups to think more deeply about our approach. For example, I am part of the group dedicated to ecology, which was then split into several sub-groups, in my case dedicated to sustainable agriculture. We are currently working on formulating the proposals that we are preparing to bring to the decision-makers. 


How do you imagine the evening of 12 March, when you and your comrades will have to defend concrete measures to meet the challenges of tomorrow's Europe? 

Rocío Rodríguez: This evening must lead to decisive action and not simply be reduced to words. It's not just about posing for a nice picture with a bunch of talented and interesting young people. We really want to make a difference and speak for our generation. We have a lot of concerns, and hardly anyone is listening to us. 

Anja Mager: We have worked hard over the last few months to develop these proposals. We expect the people we will be addressing to really listen to us. As Rocío rightly says, we are not here for the picture. We really need deep changes, because our generation is going to live and go through these changes. So this project should not end with the Nuit des Idées, but continue with the concrete implementation of our proposals. 

Ozer Sahoglu: I fully agree. I also expect an inclusive environment, which will allow the expression of our ideas and proposals. And I hope that it will allow young Europeans to show solidarity to meet the challenges that our generation faces. 


What will be your strategy to try to convince your audience of experts and political figures? 

Anja Mager: Our strategy will be very simple: tell the truth, and explain our reality. Beyond statistics, we will also tell stories, real facts that concern us all on a daily basis. 

Rocío Rodríguez: In fact, it is not a question of strategy, nor of submitting to the rules of the political game. We are here to tell the truth, to appeal to common sense. We are not here to sell a product, but to draw the attention of decision-makers to problems that need to be addressed immediately. 

Ozer Sahoglu: That is exactly what we are here to do. 

La Nuit européenne des idées au Collège de France (Teaser)
La Nuit européenne des idées au Collège de France (Teaser)
The Institut français and the event

Organised by the Institut français, the European Night of Ideas at the Collège de France is presented as part of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. 

During the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, from 1 January to 30 June 2022, the Institut français is working towards the objectives defined by the government for this Presidency. The Institut français will therefore be implementing a series of cultural events and activities to promote European creativity. 

Find out more about the Institut français cultural programme for the FPEU 

L'institut français, LAB