WESTERN BALKANS – Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. Established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly, the Peace Day provides an occasion for everyone to commit to strengthening, building, and promoting peace.
Peaceful societies are achieved when cooperation, dialogue and mutual understanding take place at all levels. By contrast, when people live under distorted and divisive narratives, prejudice, and negative perceptions of the other, peace and stability are threatened.
On this day, RYCO takes the opportunity to remind the Western Balkan governments and societies of the essential need to build a prosperous and peaceful future together. A future that is built upon values of acceptance, trust and mutual understanding.
As our recently published study Shared Futures outlines in voicing out the stands of more than 5400 youth from the Western Balkans, young people are central actors in the building of sustainably peaceful societies in the region. They share many commonalities and mostly view one another with trust and curiosity, although at times with caution. Their hopes and values across the region are closely aligned. Most are confident that their generation is a positive force in their society and are optimistic about being able to resolve some of the persistent challenges in the region.
While calls for greater attention to peacebuilding processes and regional reconciliation in the Western Balkans are not new, there is a need to ensure that all actors remain involved in a process that seeks peace, justice, and inclusion in every place of the region.
We need a region that is built upon the ideals of peace and provides a better environment for its young generations because they deserve a peaceful future.
When young change-makers connect by sharing experiences and ideas, learning about each other and building friendly ties through youth exchanges, educational and mobility opportunities, peace and reconciliation in the region are enhanced.
In addition, when young people are enabled to contribute to the prosperity of their communities and when decisions are made having their voices in mind, peace blossoms.
That is why RYCO invites youth to keep creating a better region and join their efforts of working together towards realizing their dream of a more prosperous future. Together, we should stand up against barriers and obstacles that hinder these processes.
Let this day serve as a reminder of the utmost importance of friendly and peaceful relations in the Western Balkans, and of empowering our youth to be real agents of positive change in the region.
These peace messages have been written by the Western Balkan young people who took part in the “P.A.C.E. – Peace and Conflict Education” project supported by RYCO within the fourth Open Call for Project Proposals co-financed by the European Union.