Debating in the Heart of Europe!

Event coverage by TNF!

, by Gosia Osypiuk, Laura Krawczyk

Debating in the Heart of Europe!

In the dim and distant past, in the small and jolly Czech Republic, a town was born. Little did Olomouc’s founders know that 11 centuries later, the town would become the Heart of Europe. Every year debaters from all over the world gather to display their skills in the art of argumentation and rhetorics, commonly referred to as debating. The following article is written from the perspective of two adjudicators who judged the Word Style format at the 2015 edition.

Whoever claims that length does not matter, has not been to the Heart of Europe debating tournament yet. Whether it’s the length of the debate, or the length of the sandwich, length is relevant. With over a hundred debaters from such exotic countries as South Africa, Thailand, Canada, South Korea and USA, along with around 30 judges and even more organisers, it’s reasonable to assume that size matters. Whether it’s the depth of the analysis of the arguments, the depth of the lovely river by the Palacký University, or the depth of someone’s eyes, depth is pertinent.

In July 2015 the daughters and sons of Moravian descent opened the gates to their land for everybody who was punished or banished from their homeland for spreading disquieting and courageous opinions and provided a platform free of scrutiny for participants to express themselves. This is how the 12th edition of Heart of Europe debating tournament and the quest for the golden egg began.

Apart from the debates, the participants were treated to sight seeing tours of Olomouc. There was sword fighting, UNESCO-certified city square touring and international night food tasting. There were bunnies and hedgehogs to keep us company late at night. There were lanterns with wishes written on them which we let go from the roof which came true. There was team-building and the memorable Czech stone jokes. A lot of stereotypes were broken and new friendships formed. The tournament is similar to JEF, after going to one event, you are hooked and want more.

Participants from the Heart of Europe Debating Tournament 2015.

Here is a summary of our favourite topic: ‘THBT the Eurasian Economic Union is going to be a threat to the European Union in the future’.

This proved to be a rather broad topic, even though at first glance the scope of the topic seemed rather mediocre. Having non-European teams proved to be a challenge when debating European issues. This topic required intense analysis of the nature of the two Unions with specific recognition of the formation of the EU. I would have liked to see a comparison between the European Coal and Steel Community and the Eurasian Economic Union, by illustrating that the EU is EEU 2.0 the opposition would have a foundation for a strong argument. We must look towards the past in order to understand the future. As Europeans, we cannot afford for history to repeat itself. The debaters acknowledged the threat of the Russian bear and and of the aggressor being an economic Power. It was deduced that whilst the EU is not going to expand for another 5 years, the EEU would like to expand, but is limited by its geographical location. The Crimean crisis was the key example presented by the proposition followed by the rise of the USSR during the Cold War. An interesting dark horse argument, was made by the proposition where they argued that the fight for expansion is about to start and the longer the EU holds off from expanding, the less Member States there are going to be to recruit due to the EEU getting to them first. The EU has a rather strict accession policy and is not very lenient with newcomers. The two most potential candidates Turkey and Ukraine are still miles off from fulfilling the membership requirements. In the meantime, they are not a part of the European Free Trade Association nor the European Economic Area and are missing out on more fruitful trading with the EU Member States. Russia as the founding member of the EEU practises the policy of terror and has the other members under its thumb. The dystopian world painted by Orwell in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ was aimed to be a futuristic representation of what is yet to come if the status quo of 1948 was not going to change. Little did Orwell know that he would be regarded as a prophet in 2015.

Laura Krawczyk (left) and Gosia Osypiuk (right) waving the Polish flag

We both had the extraordinary pleasure of judging the octo and quarter and semifinals, as well as the grand final. This was a very large achievement of which we are proud of. When only the crème de la crème were left, it was difficult to decide who the victor was, and most of the debates were won by a difference of one or two points. The judges looked for three criterias: the content and the style were out of 40 points each, whilst the strategy was worth 20 points and brought the maximum amount of points up to a hundred. Most debaters scored between 65 and 75 points. They were judged on the structure of their speech, the way they addressed the arguments of their opponents, how they replied to POIs, how in depth their analysis of the topic was, how fluently they managed to speak, whether they had logical links between their points and the manner in which they expressed themselves. Ultimately the golden egg was taken home by Canada Blue (proposition) after a tough call on the motion: ‘THBT EU’s development aid should be focused primarily on education’ which you can watch on YouTube HERE.

You don’t have to take our word about the tournament being an enriching experience, therefore here are a few quotes from the people behind this year’s edition:

Daniel Azaz from Slovenia as Tabmaster: “Goddamn amazing.”

Kuba Zálešák from the Czech Republic as a debater: “The tournament that will get you hooked - you attend once, you attend always.”

Allan Lee from Canada as a debater: “An unforgettable experience that combines both education and fun; would definitely go again.”

Stepan Klos from the Czech Republic as Tabmaster: “I really enjoyed how international and culturally rich this year’s Heart of Europe tournament was."

Hakim Ocal from Turkey as a debater: “A breathtaking event at the heart of Europe with a guarantee of being unforgettable.”

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