SKOPJE – The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) organized a final event within its EU-supported project “Enhancing Youth Cooperation and Youth Exchange in the WB6” in Skopje on Monday, 7 February 2022. The event presented the results of two projects from North Macedonia supported within the 4th RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals. It was attended by representatives of RYCO, the Delegation of the European Union to North Macedonia and RYCO beneficiaries.
The supported projects achieved meaningful results in addressing and discussing prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination in media by focusing on critical thinking and leading positive regional narratives, and supporting youth in enhancing their leadership and entrepreneurial skills by creating a network of like-minded peers from the Western Balkans. The projects were implemented by the Association for Educational Development – Ekvalis and the Youth Entrepreneurial Service (YES) Foundation.
RYCO Secretary General Mr Albert Hani emphasized the continuous support that RYCO receives from the European Union which is an added value to RYCO’s mission and vision of enhancing youth capacities through regional exchange programs. “The EU has funded several past and ongoing RYCO projects thus supporting youth through programs implemented by CSOs and secondary schools.” he concluded.
In addition, Head of the EU Delegation to North Macedonia Mr David Geer said that the work of RYCO is acknowledged for working in the field of setting the environment for intercultural dialogue and active youth, underlining that the EU remains focused of youth as one of its key priorities.
Moreover, Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in North Macedonia Mr Vladimir Gjorgjevski stated that the selected 12 projects from the 4th open call focused on topics listed as important by youth in the preparatory project phase expressed through consultations and surveys within the Western Balkans. “This was also reflected in the projects of the two awarded lead applicants from North Macedonia, addressing media literacy and empowering youth entrepreneurs,” he pointed out.
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, peace building, 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 addressed above-mentioned issues and bridged the gap.