HEAD OF STATE
Benjamin FINKELSTEIN FELL (S4EN)
This was your first year at MEC. Why did you decide to sign up?
I decided to sign up to MEC because I had heard so much about MEC from my sister, who had taken part in MEC 2019. When my History teacher asked my class whether any of us wanted to take part, I was pretty sure I did but talking to my sister definitely sealed the deal.
What were your expectations in the run-up to an online MEC? Were these fulfilled?
I had high hopes for MEC. I was told that it was going to be fun and exciting. My expectations were definitely fulfilled! It was every bit as fun and exciting as I thought it was going to be. It truly was a great experience, and there were not as many technical problems as I feared.
What were your responsibilities as Latvian Head of State?
This year in MEC I was lucky enough to be Head of State, which entailed many responsibilities. On the second day of MEC I had to give an opening speech in front of 250+ students. I had to know a little about everything that goes on in the country I represented and I also had the responsibility of being my team’s leader. This meant that I had to organize a group chat, send out announcements, help my other ministers with any questions they had and make sure everyone was ready.
Do you feel you learnt anything from MEC or that the experience you gained might be useful in the future?
Definitely. I learnt so much [about] Latvia, the EU and politics in general. MEC also helped me speak more confidently in front of large groups. Also, after researching for (I’m not kidding) 10 hours straight for MEC, I don’t think I will ever complain about having to do HW for school!
Finally, were there any funny geopolitical spats between delegations or funny situations that made you laugh?
The entire week was filled with funny situations and geopolitical spats. An example is: the conflict between Croatia and Denmark. Croatia and Denmark began to insult each other in the chat for no apparent reason and it got so bad that the chairs of debate had to intervene before a war broke out!
I was also involved in a little geopolitical spat. We were debating about whether to impose sanctions on Myanmar (which has recently undergone a military coup, resulting in mass protest and military violence) but Cyprus kept on mentioning Turkey, and imposing sanctions on them. Eventually I got so annoyed, I said this: “Latvia would also like to remind Cyprus that Latvia shares a border with Russia but is not whining about it”! The entire week was filled with moments such as those!
LATVIAN MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Leyre FRUTOS LILLO (S4EN)
How did you feel in the run-up to the summit? Were you nervous about MEC going virtual?
I was nervous because I didn’t really know what to expect, [but] being together with other representatives from our school in the ‘Salón de Actos’ really helped me to give me more confidence and calm down.
Was there a lot of preparation and research involved in MEC?
Yes! It is hard to know how a country thinks and reacts in different situations, so you have to do a lot of research to find out your country’s position.
What was your experience of MEC like in the end? Did you like it? Which parts?
I really liked it and I think I learned a lot. My favourite part was when we got to listen to Ursula von der Leyen’s speech and ask her questions. She was really nice and very open with us, and she answered many interesting questions.
I also made friends with many people from Council 2 (Foreign affairs); we have a WhatsApp group, and we even do video calls sometimes.
Were there any funny moments / technical glitches that made you laugh?
There were lots of funny moments, but I think the funniest was on the last day. They played the European Anthem and a guy (who probably thought his camera was turned off) started singing and pretending he was conducting an orchestra. He didn’t realise that everyone could see him until somebody told him in the chat afterwards!
Many thanks to Leyre and to Ben!