TIRANA – The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) organized an online final event within its EU-supported project “Enhancing Youth Cooperation and Youth Exchange in the WB6” in Tirana on Thursday, 3 February 2022. The event presented the results of two projects from Albania supported within the 4th RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals. It was attended by representatives of the Local Branch Office in Albania, civil society, representatives from the German and French Embassy in Tirana, and RYCO beneficiaries.
The supported projects successfully exchanged good practices in promoting tolerance among vulnerable minorities in the region and initiated collaboration and dialogue among youth in the Western Balkans through cultural, historical, and rural tourism. They were implemented by People in Focus and the Institute of Romani Culture in Albania.
Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Albania Mr Kreshnik Loka stated in his opening remarks that young people, once again, showed their commitment and interest in working and meeting their peers from the region and underlined that this project paved the way for sustainable cooperation not only between young people but also between civil societies of the region.
The projects supported by RYCO and the EU within the 4th RYCO Open Call across the Western Balkans fostered reconciliation and regional youth cooperation, as well as strengthened the capacities of the civil society to adapt to the COVID-19 environment. They were implemented from February to October 2021.
During the application phase, 129 applications were received which brought about 400 partnerships from the region. The overall financial envelope for the Call was 333,000 Euro.
On youth support
Over the years, the EU has invested considerable efforts to support youth exchanges in the region. In this context, youth organizations and schools from the Western Balkans have been cooperating closely enabling mobility and intercultural learning in the region. Furthermore, the region has profited from various EU-flagships initiatives and programs such as Erasmus+ or Cross-Border Cooperation, as well as from other EU financial instruments aiming at encouraging youth exchanges directly or indirectly.
Moreover, Western Balkans public authorities and civil society organizations have cooperated on numerous initiatives related to human rights, peacebuilding, conflict resolution, sustainable development, youth exchanges, etc.; however, until recently, the principal opportunity for mobility and youth exchanges focused on young people visiting countries beyond the Western Balkans. Cross-border youth mobility was also welcome; however, these various mobility opportunities were not structured. The two-year RYCO project supported by the EU enhanced youth mobility, youth cooperation, and youth activism in the Western Balkans thereby supporting the process of reconciliation in the region thus addressing the above-mentioned issues and bridging the gap.