Responding to European Aspirations of Western Balkans Youth

BUCHAREST – RYCO Secretary General Mr Đuro Blanuša gave his remarks at the opening of the conference entitled “How to better respond to European aspirations of the young generation in the Western Balkans?” organized by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in Bucharest today.

The two-day conference is taking place in the Romanian capital and is gathering over 200 young people and decision-makers from the EU and the region who are exploring creative ways to inspire and empower young people in finding and improving their professional prospects in their societies while restating the support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans.

Speaking at the conference’s opening session, Mr Blanuša reflected on the current situation of the young people in the region with particular attention to the latest data on their support for the EU Integration. He also noted that the surrounding in which RYCO but also the young people from the region and the EU are working is highly fragile.

“The next ten years will be decisive for the region and its EU path. The outcome of the recently held elections for the European Parliament as well as the decision that the Council of the EU will take at the end of June about the opening of the accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia are the two important developments that will set the tone of the enlargement talks for years to come”, Mr Blanuša highlighted.

“We are still facing a discouraging situation in the region when it comes to the attitudes of young people towards their neighbors,” RYCO Secretary General underlined that this is the exact fact which RYCO wants to change with its programs.

Mr Blanuša recalled that the latest data show that the young people of the Western Balkans feel disconnected from the key public institutions, such as parliaments and governments, and invited the Western Balkans 6 decisions-makers to treat this fact with respect since it may be harmful in the long-term period.

The opening session which started with a keynote address by the Romanian EU Council Presidency, was also participated by President of the European Youth Forum Ms Carina Autengruber, Head of the Western Balkans Regional Cooperation Unit of the DG NEAR Mr Colin Wolfe, Regional Cooperation Council Secretary General Ms Majlinda Bregu and Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway Mr Haakon Blankenborg.

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