TIRANA – The bilateral meeting between Governing Board members of Montenegro and Albania took place in Tirana on 6 December. Together with RYCO Local Branch Officers from Podgorica and Tirana, GB members discussed about challenges of strengthening regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and the role of RYCO in creating a better region. The meeting was initiated by the Youth Representatives in the RYCO Governing Board, organised by RYCO, Franco-German Youth Office and CrossBorder Factory with the financial support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Among the others, the key questions addressed during the meeting were the following – What challenges, pitfalls and opportunities does regional cooperation offer in its political context, from an intercultural perspective and in concrete institutional cooperation? How do young people from the countries of the Western Balkans perceive these challenges? Can “a spirit of regional cooperation” be named and strengthened more concretely and what instruments are available here? What personal experiences and inspirations do the participants in this dialogue associate with the concept of “regional cooperation”?
Followed by the meeting, a public discussion with young people, representatives of youth structures and institutions, as well as some of the RYCO grantees, was organized in Tirana. RYCO GB members stressed the importance of regional cooperation in the field of youth and pointed out that RYCO’s role is not only about investing in knowledge and skills of young people, but also in contributing to the positive change in the value system and creating an enabling regional environment where young people are recognized as a solution for existing challenges.
Speaking at the public discussion, Youth Representative of Montenegro in the RYCO Governing Board Mr Dimitrije Jovićević said that it is important to think as the region, not as the nations, since the region has the common interests such as mobility, culture and economy. He also underlined that RYCO is not owned only by the governments in the region, but also by the young people.
Furthermore, Youth Representative of Albania Ms Dafina Peci pointed out that the regional cooperation should be driven by the spirit not by calculations. She said that the region is missing intercultural competence for a number of reasons such as missing information, lack of knowledge and lack of intercultural competence to make intercultural dialogue. The Youth Representative concluded that when we are missing a solution we should create a new horizon for the regional thinking.
Director General of the Youth Directorate in the Ministry of Sports of Montenegro and representative in the RYCO Governing Board Mr Nenad Koprivica brought to the participants’ attention the political dimension of the regional cooperation. He said that it is important since the cooperation should be institutionalized and underlined that Montenegro and Albania already exchange the practice in youth policy. Mr Koprivica pointed out that the regional cooperation is among the top three foreign policy priorities of Montenegro and underlined that the Government wants to see the young people as its key partner in this endeavor.
Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sport of Albania and representative in the RYCO Governing Board Mr Shpati Kolgega said that the environment in which RYCO was created was a difficult one, but despite this fact, RYCO is a result of political will that managed to make RYCO operational and growing despite these differences. He underlined the need to have people who have regional cooperation as a priority rather than everyday politics, and called for the need to keep in mind how the political decisions affect RYCO and its work.
The meeting was first in the cycle of three Regional dialogues, and the remaining ones will take places in Belgrade and Pristina in the upcoming period, involving remaining four RYCO Contracting Parties.