The third annual Prespa Forum Dialogue took place in Struga on June 15–16, ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Prespa Agreement between North Macedonia and Greece. This year’s forum featured discussions on the topic “Widened European family by 2030: Mission (Im)possible)?”. It was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the auspices of Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski.
Hundreds of guests and participants attended the forum, including the heads of state of Montenegro, Croatia, and Albania, regional prime ministers and foreign ministers, and high representatives of the UN, OSCE and other international organizations. The forum also gathered representatives of the academic and business community, civil society, and youth organizations.
Panelists discussed pressing regional and European political-security issues, the Western Balkans integration processes to the EU, the perspectives of strengthening regional cooperation and good-neighborly relations, and the fight against corruption.
RYCO was present at Prespa Forum, as the only intergovernmental organization dealing with peacebuilding, reconciliation, and cooperation in the Western Balkans through youth exchange programs. RYCO Secretary General Albert Hani was a speaker at the panel Session “Reconciliation and Democracy as Catalyst of Change in the Balkans”.
“Reconciliation is impossible without youth. Youths live in a traumatic era and are in crisis mode for a long time. We should admit that it is an era of challenges, fast changes, different threats to peace, wars, conflicts, poverty, etc.”, said Ms. Hani.
Prespa Forum was a great opportunity to strengthen cooperation with existing partners and explore possibilities for new collaborations, intending to improve the position of the youth in the Western Balkans.
The regional cooperation is better with cooperative regional institutions, was a main message of the productive meeting of regional organizations: RESPA, MARRI, RCC, RAI, CEF, and WBFEU, initiated by Mr. Hani.
RYCO Secretary-General also had bilateral meetings during the Forum. With UN Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas, Jenca Miroslav he discussed potentials for joint projects and cooperation in fields of peacebuilding and youth empowerment.
During the meeting with Minister of Digital Transformation of Slovenia Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Mr. Hani confirmed that we need digital competencies for a better-connected region and discussed possible cooperation on youth topics with an emphasis on fighting hate speech.
Mr. Hani also had the opportunity to present the needs of youth in the region to Nicolas Faye, Head of the Western Balkans Department of the French Ministry for European and Foreign Affairs.
Besides RYCO SG, the Montenegrin Youth Representative in the RYCO Governing Board Jelena Fuštić also participated in Prespa Forum. As the representative of the local NGO Forum MNE, Fustic was in the Youth Panel Discussion “Modalities for the Enhancement of Good-neighbourly Relations & Regional Cooperation”.