Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) became fully operational on July 4. One of the common goals and tasks set at the last year’s Western Balkan Summit in Paris was achieved. Exactly one year after the representatives of the six Contracting Parties signed the Agreement, RYCO was on the agenda of the Western Balkan Summit again, but this time as one of the most concrete and tangible results of the Berlin Process.
RYCO contributed to this year’s Summit with its first project which served as an example of projects which RYCO would like to support in the forthcoming period, as well as an example of goals and values which RYCO wants to achieve through its activities – reconciliation, cooperation and exchange. The Trieste Summit was enriched with an event where six young musicians from the Western Balkan region played together as part of the official event with high officials on July 11.
Representatives of RYCO also participated on the several events of the Trieste Summit. Secretary General Đuro Blanuša, as well as Deputy Secretary General Fatos Mustafa, took part in panel discussions and high-level meetings with relevant stakeholders and decision-makers.
Secretary General participated in the panel discussion at the Youth Forum side event organized by the European Commission on July 11, where he presented the process of establishing this independent institutional mechanism and intergovernmental organization dedicated to young people in the Western Balkans. Blanuša put a special focus on the concrete activities that are already being implemented, as well as on plans and challenges in the next period, presenting what kind of support young people can expect for their projects and ideas.
On July 12, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano hosted an important high-level meeting with all six Foreign Ministers from the Western Balkans, including high representatives of German, French and Austrian Governments. Secretary General Blanuša was invited to present to the officials the current achievements and progress in RYCO establishment so far. Secretary General emphasized that the Agreement on the Establishment of RYCO was ratified by the Parliaments of all WB6. He also underlined that all six Contracting Parties ensured their budgetary contributions and that with the contribution of the European Commission, which amounts 500.000€, RYCO’s Budget for the year 2017 will be 1.500.000€.
Secretary General stressed out that RYCO’s results were reached thanks to the strong political support of the Contracting Parties, but also thanked for the tremendous support and efforts of the European partners – Governments of Germany, France, Austria and Italy, including the huge support coming from the Franco-German Youth Office, as well as the involvement of the civil society, especially youth organizations from the Region. He concluded with asking for even stronger support and engagement of all partners in the coming period in order to make RYCO strong and sustainable, but above all reliable partner to the youth of the Western Balkans.
During the meeting, all officials gave unequivocal support to RYCO’s further work, taking into the account the results achieved so far, as well as RYCO’s future plans, while the German Minister of State for Europe, Mr. Michael Roth, urged all countries, particularly the Contracting Parties, to extend their financial support to RYCO in upcoming years.
On the other hand, RYCO Deputy Secretary General Fatos Mustafa participated at the Civil Society Forum (CSF) on 12 July. On the sidelines of the CSF, Mustafa introduced RYCO’s work to Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Macedonia Zoran Zaev and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dačić, as well as to several representatives of well-known civil society organizations, think tanks and donors.
RYCO became a part of the official Trieste Western Balkan Summit Declaration issued by the Italian Chair. “The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) – a tangible result of the joint efforts since the Berlin Summit – has now started its work and presented its first work programme to foster cooperation among the youth of the region. In this connection, a suggestion was made that RYCO implement a “citizen’s laboratory” and set up a project dedicated to preventing radicalization. The participants welcomed EU’s financial support for implementation of its programme and promised to ensure pro-active cooperation and support with RYCO. They thanked the German-French Youth Office for its contribution in establishing RYCO,” reads the Declaration.
RYCO is already starting preparations for the next summit which is going be held in London. Officials of the Foreign Office have already contacted RYCO Secretary General to establish the necessary cooperation channels related to the preparation of the next Summit and the adequate participation of RYCO in this event.