2016 Debates of University Students from Serbia and Slovakia Strengthening Debating Skills and Promoting Democratic Values among Youth
In 2015, the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) and its partner, M.E.S.A. 10, continued the implementation of a project of innovative online debates between university students from Serbia and Slovakia. The project aims at promoting democratic values, strengthening debating skills and encouraging independent and critical thinking among university students in both Serbia and Slovakia. In cooperation with two universities from Serbia and two from Slovakia, two series of lectures and two debate tournaments on Euro-Atlantic integration, with a special emphasis on NATO, were organized.
The participating universities were selected with due regard to their curricula and emphasis on political science and security studies. The two universities from Serbia were Belgrade University and University of Novi Sad. In Slovakia, students from Comenius University of Bratislava and Matej Bel University of Banska Bystrica participated in the project.
The aim of the project “Strengthening Debating Skills and Promoting Democratic Values Among Youth“ is to promote democratic values among university students and to strengthen their debating skills. Debates covered the topics such as expectations from the NATO Warsaw Summit – what are the key challenges that NATO is facing today and what are the consequences if NATO fails to adopt an adaptation program; terrorism and how the EU would be able answer its threat; Russia – should the EU and NATO be ready for a prolonged confrontation, and what should be the EU’s policy; Serbia’s European agenda after recent parliamentary elections; expectations from upcoming Slovakia’s EU Presidency; Montenegro’s membership in NATO - Will Montenegro’s membership strengthen the security of the region or weaken it; Serbia and NATO IPAP - on Serbia’s agreed Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO in January 2015; refugee crisis and the response of the European Union; European integrations of Serbia - Can the process of EU integration be enough on its own to guarantee national and regional security; Russia`s new approach – Ukraine and Syria - Russia and its new aggressivity and assertiveness and Serbia's 2015 OSCE Chairmanship.
In 2015 and 2016, two rounds of debate tournaments between university students were conducted: one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester. Students indulged into vivid debates, often providing counter-arguments to each other. The student teams traveled to the host city with a direct broadcast of the debate for their domestic audience. Each city thus hosted a debate during the year. Audience members were encouraged to comment on the arguments presented during the debates and pose questions. Debate tournaments were preceded by lectures on NATO, security issues and regional cooperation. Each debate tournament included an opinion poll mapping the positions of students in the audiences on a number of issues.