TIRANA – The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has awarded over 700.000€ for a new three-year Regional Youth Cooperation Office’s (RYCO) project which will strengthen capacities of the National Volunteer Services in the Western Balkans, develop and test Regional Volunteer Service, scale up and promote a regional volunteer program.
The project will target young people, public institutions responsible for creation, development and implementation of the volunteering policy, civil society organizations, National Volunteer Centers as well as local communities of the Western Balkans in which short-term volunteer program will be implemented.
Youth from the Western Balkans are the main engine of reconciliation and societal reconstruction, able to apply European values, initiate and lead the intercultural dialogue and regional cooperation towards socio-economic and democratic development.
RYCO will implement the project in partnership with the South East European Youth Network, Youth Cultural Center Bitola, Young Researchers of Serbia, Youth Communication Center Banja Luka, Association for Democratic Prosperity – Zid, Lens, and Beyond Barriers.
On the occasion of its visit to Albania, a delegation of the Norwegian MFA, headed by Deputy Director of the Ministry’s Section for South East Europe Ms Annette Bull, accompanied by Norwegian Ambassador to Kosovo* and Albania H. E. Mr Per Strand Sjaastad, met with RYCO Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General Mr Đuro Blanuša and Mr Fatos Mustafa.
The meeting discussed the ongoing RYCO activities, especially those related to the project funded by the Ministry, but also the key challenges for youth and youth work in the region.
Mr Blanuša said that RYCO has a clear mandate in fostering reconciliation and mobility of young people in the region and that it aims to bring the young people together in order to meet each other and jointly discuss their past, future, differences and similarities.
“Young people are missing certainty and stability in order to plan their future in the Western Balkans,” RYCO Secretary General pointed out.
He concluded that RYCO can tackle some of the pressing issues such as employability of the young people in the region and provide programs such as the one supported by the Norwegian MFA, but that it cannot substitute national authorities which should invest more in the young people around the region.
*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