Integrity, freedom of speech, and solidarity: The community of writers and translators of the European book sector stands together for independence and diversity
Brussels, 7 September 2020
Thirty-eight delegates and representatives of EWC organisations from twenty-one countries participated in the three-hour video meeting, the first virtual Annual General assembly in the history of the European Writers’ Council, on Monday 07/09/2020.
“We defend free, independent and diverse voices; this is our contribution, to democracy, to integrity, to a world society that wants to live together, not against each other”, said novelist Nina George, President of the European Writers’ Council, in her opening speech. After the presidential adress, the President of the Union of Belarusian Writers, the novelist Mr Barys Piatrovich addressed the assembled colleagues.
Piatrovich thanked the members and the leadership of EWC for the constant support since mid August: “We thank everyone for the solidarity and support we received after the publication of our statement. We are excited that Europe and the world, thanks to your help too, have finally paid attention to our country and our people struggling for freedom, democracy, and the right to choose.” Piatrovich gave a vivid description of the current situation in Belarus, and the pressure and persecution under which writers in Minsk, for example Pavel Seviarynets or Svetlana Alexievich, are also suffering.
Desire to be with a free Europe
More than ever, the members of the EWC are called upon to continue to stand up for their colleagues and friends and, as Piatrovich stressed:
“It is important for us to make Europe understand what monster we have to fight with and to see what an aggressor country it neighbors. The Belarusian people have consolidated and clearly expressed their desire to be with a free Europe and must understand that Europe is also with them. As for the members of our Union of Belarusian Writers, we will continue the struggle that has lasted for 26 years.”
Five new members were welcomed by the Assembly of the European Writers’ Council:
The European Writers’ Council is delighted to announce the ratification of five new members and welcomed the colleagues warmly by the Assembly:
—The Society of Hungarian Authors – Szépírók Társasága
—The Literature and Criticism Association (LCA) – Cyprus
—The Norwegian Society of Authors – Forfatterforbundet
—La Société des Gens de Lettres – France
—The Syndikat, The Association of German Language Crime Writers – Germany
The EWC continues to expand its diversity, competence, collegiality and cohesion through this strong enrichment of its new members and colleagues. The European Writers’ Council represents now 160,000 professional writers and translators in the book and text sector in all genres, from 46 European national organisations of professional writers and translators in 30 countries including the EU, the EEA countries Iceland and Norway, as well as Belarus, Montenegro, Switzerland, and Turkey, altogether writing in 32 languages.
Prepared for the future
Follow-up surveys on the impact of Covid-19 on writers income, the infrastructure of the european book sector and on the diversity of literature are planned as well as an increased exchange among EWC members through digital seminars and online meetings.
Furthermore, the results of the new Election Committee for the period 2020-2021 voted by electronic mail before the AGM were reported. The assembly welcomed the following representatives, who will carry out the preparation and election of the next EWC board in 2021:
—Alicia Aza Campos, The Spanish Writers’ Association (ACE)
—Paula Havaste, The Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers
—Conor Kostick, The Irish Writers’ Union
The place and date for the next AGM of the European Writers’ Council in 2021 is 5.-7- June 2021, Berlin, hosted by the Verband deutscher Schriftstellerinnen und Schriftsteller / German Writers’ Union – provided that the sanitary protection measures fully allow it.
The meeting was technically prepared, conducted and supported by Ms. Eva Stütze in collaboration with Autorenwelt, the german initiative and service for writers of any genre.
In response to the issues faced by various organisations in organising general meetings in the context of Covid-19, the Belgian government has published a Royal Decree on Thursday 9 April 2020 which provides in a number of exceptional measures to ensure proper functioning of organisations like EWC. The decree allows to conduct votes and discussions via electronic channels and to hold General Assemblies online.