EUROPE – Within the framework and program of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the conference “Young People, Migration and The Demographic Challenge in the Western Balkans” took place online from 28 to 30 October. The conference aimed to offer insights on the Western Balkan youth migration as well as discuss its outcomes and impact in Europe and the region.
The final session on “Spotlights on Conference Take-aways” was attended by Secretary General of RYCO Mr Đuro Blanuša, Managing Director of German-Kosovar Business Association Ms Nora Hasani, Secretary General of the National Youth Congress of Albania Ms Dafina Peci, Managing Director of crossborder factory and Special Envoy for Southeast Europe of the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO) Mr Frank Morawietz and Balkan Correspondent for The Economist Mr Tim Judah.
Shedding a light on the importance of youth mobility and the work of RYCO in promoting regional youth cooperation, Secretary General of RYCO opened the discussion with key remarks on the present challenges.
“Migration and demographic challenges have various effects in the political, social and economic field and are impacting our Western Balkan societies. To tackle their effects and support young people in the region, an investment in proper reforms, youth policies and educational programs should be a top priority,” Mr Blanuša emphasized.
“We need more action and joint efforts to find joint solutions,” Ms Hasani added.
Speaking about youth engagement and opportunities in the Western Balkans, Ms Peci called into attention that the systematic contribution that RYCO and its partners are making in the region is connecting youth in the most effective ways.
“The young generation of the Western Balkans should get involved and active in discussions on the brain drain, mobility and opportunities for youth in the region and Europe,” Mr Morawietz underlined.
In addition, Mr Judah pointed out that there is a need to discuss the outcomes and impact of the brain drain and the shrinking of population in the context of Europe as a whole.
The concluding remarks were delivered by German Ambassador and Director for South Eastern Europe, Turkey and EFTA in the Federal Foreign Office Ms Susanne Schütz.
“This conference ends here but there is a lot to be done ahead. We have to look for ways to improve youth mobility and explore the concept of circular migration in Europe,” Ms Schütz concluded.
The topics discussed during the conference are also incorporated in a background paper titled “One Way Ticket No More: Seven Ideas for a Prosperous Western Balkans”, co-authored by eleven young representatives from the Western Balkans, supported by RYCO, crossborder factory and Analyst at the European Stability Initiative Mr Adnan Ćerimagić. The paper explores migration and demographic challenges in the region as well as provides recommendations for a prosperous Western Balkans where young people’s needs are addressed.
The conference is part of the official program of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union and is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, the Southeast Europe Association, the Aspen Institute Germany, RYCO and crossborder factory.