TIRANA – On the occasion of the International Youth Day, RYCO Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, Mr Đuro Blanuša and Mr Fatos Mustafa, wrote a letter to the youth of the Western Balkans and the stakeholders involved in the youth related field. The letter reads the following:
As prejudice and stereotyping continue to shape attitudes in the Western Balkans, the culture of separation does not serve the interests of youth, the region and European integration, we have to jointly work hard and enable the youth of the region to bring the much needed change.
RYCO believes that the young people of the region should take part in creating a culture of mobility, intercultural exchange and reconciliation. They should be active contributors to democratic development, social and economic prosperity and European integration in an increasingly open Western Balkans region. Also, we believe that the Western Balkans governments should provide proactive support to youth exchange and youth engagement in decision-making processes within and across the region.
This is the reason why RYCO will focus its program activities on creating opportunities for young people to engage in activities that build mutual understanding and reconciliation in the civic, social, educational, cultural and sports domains. We will initiate and participate in policy-making and advocate for continuation of reforms. Moreover, we want to support the development of a political and social environment that empowers and facilitates youth exchange. In pursuing this mission, we want to demonstrate our commitment to human rights, human dignity and the building of peace based on mutual respect and trust.
But this will not be achieved only through work of RYCO. That is the reason why we are asking the people and decision-makers in the region to join their forces and enable the youth of the Western Balkans to be the change-makers. Our young people are willing to take this role seriously and it is our responsibility to support and enable them to fulfill it.
Young people are taking an important role in our work – the Youth Representatives in the RYCO Governing Board, whose voice is equally heard and valued as the voices of the Ministers of Youth, are governing our work, more than a half of the RYCO staff are the young people. And it gives results!
We are laying down cornerstones of our work every day. We are reaching new milestones every month. And we are going to continue doing so until we can start enjoying the fruits of this important work by seeing the region that is changing and valuing the young people no matter where they are coming from or what their nationality is.
Change is coming – and RYCO will play a key role in defining what it looks like. There is considerable and growing demand among civil society organizations and within public education institutions to address the causes of stereotyping, prejudice, hate speech and radicalization. The number of the received project proposals within our first Open Call is a clear confirmation of this demand.
We are so happy to see that the first RYCO supported projects are now being implemented, bringing the youth of the region closer together and supporting them in discussing the common past, present and future. More importantly, the projects, we hope, will create long-lasting friendships in the region that will foster the needed change.
Having in mind all the above-mentioned, we would like to wish a happy International Youth Day to you, the young people of the region, and invite you to join us in making the Western Balkans a better place for all. Because we believe in you – we will always repeat that a better region starts with youth.
Đuro Blanuša, RYCO Secretary General
Fatos Mustafa, RYCO Deputy Secretary General