PRISTINA – The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) organized a final event within its EU-supported project “Enhancing Youth Cooperation and Youth Exchange in the WB6” in Pristina on Tuesday, 8 February, 2022. The event presented the results of a project from Kosovo supported within the 4th RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals. It was attended by representatives of RYCO, the European Union Office in Kosovo and RYCO beneficiaries.
The supported project successfully brought together youth from Kosovo and Serbia and provided them with an opportunity to enhance their skills and employability opportunities through tailor-made training sessions on soft and technical skills. The NGO Lady partnered with the Children’s Center The Little Prince (Udruženje građana Dečiji centar “Mali Princ”) from Serbia in efforts to help youth overcome obstacles to reconciliation and cooperation.
Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Kosovo Ms Krenare Gashi Krasniqi welcomed the participants and pointed out that RYCO is very happy that we are concluding this project together which aimed to strengthen cooperation between the youth of the Western Balkans.
“Needless to say, this year has been challenging, the pandemic has taken the toll on all of us, making it impossible for most activities to happen physically but we are happy that we still managed to virtually bring young people from across the region to share their experiences with each other,” Ms Gashi Krasniqi underlined and added that it is very important to share experiences with others and to show how important youth exchanges can be towards strengthening regional cooperation.
On the other hand, Representative of the European Union Office in Kosovo Mr Stergios Tragoudas said that the project is complementary to the other EU initiatives such as the Erasmus+ that enable mobility and intercultural learning in the region. “The EU will continue supporting RYCO in all the projects that will give more opportunities to the youth in their future,” he concluded.
The projects supported by RYCO and the EU within the 4th RYCO Open Call across the Western Balkans fostered reconciliation and regional youth cooperation, as well as strengthened the capacities of the civil society to adapt to the COVID-19 environment. They were implemented from February to October 2021.
During the application phase, 129 applications were received which brought about 400 partnerships from the region. The overall financial envelope for the Call was 333,000 Euro.
On youth support
Over the years, the EU has invested considerable efforts to support youth exchanges in the region. In this context, youth organizations and schools from the Western Balkans have been cooperating closely enabling mobility and intercultural learning in the region. Furthermore the region has profited from various EU-flagships initiatives and programs such as Erasmus+ or Cross-Border Cooperation, as well as from other EU financial instruments aiming at encouraging youth exchanges directly or indirectly.
Moreover, Western Balkans public authorities and civil society organizations have cooperated on numerous initiatives related to human rights, peace building, conflict resolution, sustainable development, youth exchanges, etc.; however, until recently, the principal opportunity for mobility and youth exchanges focused on young people visiting countries beyond the Western Balkans. Cross-border youth mobility was also welcome; however, these various mobility opportunities were not structured. The two-year RYCO project supported by the EU enhanced youth mobility, youth cooperation and youth activism in the Western Balkans thereby supporting the process of reconciliation in the region thus addressed above-mentioned issues and bridged the gap.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.