In the framework of Western Balkans Youth Forum 2023, over two days, more than 100 young people, representatives of government institutions, and young journalists from Western Balkans gathered in Tirana, Albania, to discuss the implementation of the Berlin Declaration drafted during the last year’s Forum. Throughout the extensive consultations moderated in 3 different groups, they designed concrete, specific, and detailed action points for each of the three chapters outlined in the Berlin Declaration. The discussions tackled various issues focusing on concerns related to democratic participation, inclusive peacebuilding, and sustainable living.
Based on these pillars, young people called upon the decision-makers to reflect on the formulated action points and cooperate in different ways. Here is a brief summary:
- Resilient Democracies – Youth ask for more raise awareness campaigns on hate speech and polarizing narratives. They also want more mobility opportunities and better connections among youth institutions and organizations, such as high schools and CSOs.
- Inclusive Peace and Security – Youth believes that Governments should offer better conditions for youth, like discounts for traveling. They also insist on stakeholders to maintain dialogue on different topics and to provide meaningful participation for youth in decision-making processes.
- Sustainable Future – Youth expect environmental subjects to become an official part of education. They also expect that Governments put greater focus on reaching goals from the Green Agenda.
Within all discussions, two important cross-cutting topics appeared: the question of education and the question of mobility of (young) people in the Western Balkans.
Education was highlighted in all three groups, emphasizing two points: improving existing initiatives and integrating new, up-to-date, contemporary topics and methods into formal curricula that will ease young people’s civic and democratic participation, as well as their contribution to peacebuilding and securing sustainable living in Western Balkans societies. On the question of mobility, participants highlighted three crucial things: the necessity to improve infrastructure and connectivity among WB6 societies, as well as the need to make traveling sustainable and affordable to young people. The third essential topic was creating and offering more mobility opportunities within the formal and non-formal education sectors.
Additionally, referring to Chapter II of the Berlin Declaration, Enhance Security and Inclusive Peace, the implementation of YPS agenda in the Western Balkans was highlighted and the importance of improving regional infrastructure to facilitate travel and ensure accessibility by offering discounts to young people.
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About Berlin Process and Youth Forum
Since 2014, the Berlin Process has aimed to improve and intensify regional integration. It is designed to help accelerate the entire region’s closer alignment with the EU. Among its notable achievements is establishing a significant institutional mechanism known as the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), fostering connections among the youth in the area. Youth Forum, which is annually organized by RYCO, serves as a platform for youth meaningful participation in a key event that contributes to the EU integration process of the Western Balkans region.