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4th Conference of the European Network of (ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry
"Into the Next Millenium Moving Forward to Our Own Future"
Luxembourg, February 19-21, 1999
Inaugural Address by Peter Lehmann, Chair
A warm welcome to you delegates, participants, guest and other interested people. "Into the Next Millenium Moving forward to our own future" is the motto from our congress. What is meant: We are the ones, who have the right and who are obliged to decide about our own future or to be a meaningful part of the decision-process of our the future, the future of the users, ex-users and survivors of psychiatry. We are the ones, who have to be considered to be the authority on users', ex-users' and survivors' of psychiatry interests by the governments, the administrations, the public, the media and the different professional groups. To formulate these interests and to find strategies to achieve our interests we are here.
A special welcome to delegates and participants of these countries which are here the first time! Welcome to delegates and participants from Belarus (White Russia), Welcome to Greece, Welcome to Macedonia, Welcome to Portugal, Welcome to Ukraine!
When we met in Reading, we had the idea to make the next congress in Luxembourg. Manuel Turmes from the Luxembourg delegation had the idea. Even if I personally have planned different congresses with my German colleagues in the past, a follow-up congress in Luxembourg was in far distance in 1997. Our desk Clemens Huitink had the connection to Luxembourg all the time, but I am convinced that I speak for the whole board: We all did not look through, whether all preparations are going on perfectly and whether all plans and wishes will come true. Last year then we made our application to the European Community, but in late autumn we heard, that they would not give us any money. A catastrophe.
At the same time it looked as if the congress really could take place here, because our Luxembourg friends had succeeded to find organisations inclusively the department for health of the Luxembourg government to give some money. We, the board and the desk, then took all money we had to finance the congress, so it looked as if we could run the congress with a lot of good will, saving here and there some money, and good luck. When we had our one and only preparation meeting here in last October, I could not share the meeting with the organising committee (Carlo Bamberg, Roger Conrardy, Marco Thill, Manuel Turmes, Daniel Würt, Jeff Zeimet) and with the very supporting Ms. Monique Haan-Kolber and Roland Kolber from the Atelier Therapeutique Walferdange. lt was because I had to go to a congress in Brussels for one day, so for me the whole project "European Congress" kept very far and unclear. Of course we planned the agenda of the congress, but in my deepest heart I just prayed "God help that it will function, keep the catastrophe away from us." Three weeks ago the board met in Germany, and it looked, as if God did not hear my prayer. You should sleep in the Youth hostel in rooms for 8 to 16 people, and a bus should bring you for each lunch and coffee break to the Youth hostel and back. All our plans to make a congress as pleasant as possible with this low budget seemed to fail. Some of us couldn't sleep any more, what shame will come upon us. What should we do in that situation? Leave it all? Or start a congress under unacceptable conditions? Again we had good luck. With the support of our German friend Franz-Josef Wagner, who came here from nearby city Trier, Clemens succeeded to make it possible to have now luxury-suites in the Youth hostel. Only two to three persons in one room. Compared with the real luxury we had in the previous meetings in Zandvoort, Elsinore and Reading, it is a big comedown, but the alternative would have been simply: no congress.
If the aim was to run a congress under acceptable conditions, we are convinced and happy, to reached our aim. We have to thank a lot of persons and groups for supporting the Network:
And, of course, we do not forget to mention the most important supporter of this meeting, the European Commission, whose generous grant within the program "Support for Representative European Co-ordination Organisations Acitve in the Field of Equal Opportunities for Disabled People" made this meeting possible at all.When I finished, Mr. Pierre Camgagna, representing the Luxembourg Ministry of Health, will give us a speech.
We, the board and the desk, have the impression, that a very important preparation (beside the work of the Organising Committee) has been done by Monique Haan-Kolber, Roland Kolber and their Atelier Therapeutic Walferdange. As they have not been obliged to do anything for us, as a little gift we present them with a book about the history and work of the European Network, written in German language.
When we go through the programme, you may recognise the next dilemma we faced: to have a lot of contents in the plenaries and working groups, and to have a lot of recreation time. We tried to make a compromise. This morning is the opening ceremony, at midday you will listen to Joel Slack and his report about alternatives to psychiatry in different European Countries, and in the afternoon we will have our regional meetings Part 1. At night we will have a reception in Luxembourg City. By the way, from there we have to go to the Youth hostel by foot or bus. The bar in the Youth hostel will be open until 11.00 p.m., but afterwards you can buy drinks at the reception as long as it is open.
Saturday is the day for real work. Working groups twice, one plenary to lament about the statutes, another regional meeting. But there are a lot of breaks between, and at night after dinner we reward ourselves with a party. The bar will be open until 2.00.
On Sunday there will be the reports of the working groups, we will discuss our strategies and will have elections. So far the programme.
I hope that we will have a good atmosphere with tolerance, creativity, effectiveness and co-operation.
At last I want to say thank you to our "man behind the desk", Clemens Huitink, who made the biggest part of the preparation work within our network. Even when the board was going to lose the track of the current tasks, Clemens kept it and did his job, and he did it very well.
Next point of the programme is the self-presentation of all you delegates. You all have one minute each to introduce yourself: Your name, where are you coming from, and your organisation.
But before, as the outgoing chair of the Network I take the privilege to tell you four special wishes I have to you: First: In the Youth hostel you hear every little noise in each room. Especially during nights I ask you kindly to be as considerate as possible. Second: All you heavy smokers please respect the wishes of the non-smokers to breathe good air, especially the wishes of the participants who suffer from asthma and other diseases of the respiratory system. Third: We meet on a European bevel, and the congress language is English. A lot of us speak only little English. So I beg especially the people from Britain and these ones who speak brilliant English: Please speak slowly and in easy words. Only then we can really communicate, otherwise some dominate others, and this is not the purpose of this meeting. As I have the experience that this wish is often overheard, my forth wish goes to the people who speak and understand only few English: Whenever you cannot follow the discussion, tell it at once. Resist loudly! I will do the same. I want to understand everything. Please support me. If we understand each other in our "Babylonian House Europe", it will be good for all of us. Thank you very much!