PLJEVLJA – The RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro in cooperation with the Council of Europe organized the activity Block the Hatred. Share inclusion! took place in Pljevlja, on the 23rd of November 2022. This event aimed at involving students from different communities, especially those vulnerable and marginalized, in the open discussion with the decision makers on the topics that are relevant for them in light of challenges in the local communities they are facing. The event took place in the Municipality of Pljevlja, which represents one of the most diverse towns in Montenegro.
The opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Edin Koljenović, Head of the Local Branch Office Montenegro, Regional Youth Cooperation Office, Ms. Angela Longo, Programme Manager, Council of Europe, Mr. Siniša Bjeković, Ombudsperson of Montenegro, Ms. Biljana Pejović, Head of Department for gender equality, Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, Ms. Savo Rašović, State Secretary in the Ministry of Sports and Youth, Mr. Goran Drobnjak, Director for International Co-operation, European Integration and EU Funds, Ministry of Education, Mr. Emir Pilav, independent advisor, Municipality of Pljevlja.
The second part of the session was devoted to interventions made by young people who were presenting their views on the challenges they face in the local communities they live in, as well as their viewpoints on the ways forward – how the circumstances could be improved to allow their personal development and provide the impetus for them to stay. This part of the session was moderated by Ms. Bojana Lalatović, Program Officer in the RYCO LBO in Montenegro.
This part was followed with a Q&A session that was particularly valuable, bearing in mind that young people were able to directly address and engage in the conversation with representatives of the Municipality, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Human rights, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ombudsperson, CoE and RYCO representatives. The discussions were structured around the key topics encompassed by the campaign namely:
● Tolerance and diversity in their local communities;
● The position of vulnerable groups;
● hate speech, bullying, and discrimination in its various forms;
● What needs to be improved in their communities to achieve social cohesion;
● How the status of vulnerable groups could be improved,
● The power of youth activism, etc.
Mr. Koljenović used this opportunity to present the work of RYCO and its main achievements in the field of stimulating regional youth cooperation in the Western Balkans. “The event Block the hatered, share inclusion, arose as a result of the successful partnership with our colleagues from the Council of Europe. The event allowed young people from north part of Montenegro to address decision makers and other stakeholders, to share their experiences and expectations in the field of antidiscrimination – united in their joint mission of making our society more resilient when it comes to that phenomenon and, in general, more prosperous” Mr. Koljenović underlined.
In the closing part members of the “Breznica” Football Club, a non-profit organization that promotes gender equality, peace, tolerance, and regional cooperation, presented their club and their work in the local community on the aforementioned topics and closed this event with a football match at Sports Center “Ada”. The meeting was concluded with the positive messages on how the youth activism and networking with the competent institutions and bodies in different relevant fields can contribute to creating a sustainable and enabling environment for the improvement of the position of young people in Montenegro.