Tirana – The Berlin Process Leader’s Summit, which took place on 16 October in Tirana, welcomed leaders from the Western Balkans region, EU member states, and top EU representatives. Tirana marked the first time in a decade that a capital from the Western Balkans (WB) region was chosen as the sole venue for hosting such an important event.
This year’s summit emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in the Western Balkans in the current context of geopolitical uncertainty and war on European soil. All participants highlighted the importance of strengthening connectivity, transport, trade, energy, and digital ties in the Western Balkans as well as between the region and the EU.
Building on the Ministerial Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Economy, and Roma Integration Forum, as well as the Leaders’ Dialogue on Climate Partnership, the Business Forum, Youth Forum, Civil Society Forum, the Digital Summit and the Joint Science Conference in the past few weeks, the leaders took stock of the progress, ongoing challenges, and prospects for regional cooperation in the Western Balkans as a stepping stone towards the gradual integration of the region in the EU policies, mechanisms, and instruments.
The WB Youth Forum, which is organized annually by RYCO with the aim of building bridges between youth and decision-makers and fostering dialogue and collaboration, successfully concluded a few days prior to the start of the summit.
In this vein, RYCO Secretary General Mr. Albert Hani, reminded everyone in his speech of the successful organization of the WB Youth Forum in Tirana as a side event of the Berlin Summit, where around 100 young minds discussed the progress and new pillars of the Youth Berlin Declaration, adopted last year at the Berlin Summit.
“This year we heard the youth and transferred the venue from a conference room to a train, as a symbol of connectivity but also as a source of creativity and inspiration for the youth” – Mr. Hani added in his speech.
RYCO SG also pointed out that RYCO as a “child” of the Berlin Process and the bigger EU family, continues to provide youth with different opportunities that allow them to be vocal and be heard at the decision-making table.
“Today, after seven years of hard work, we can proudly declare that we have matured and are ready for a more impactful role as the Leading youth policy institution in the region. Our unique and robust infrastructure stands at the disposal of the European Union, friends of the region, and all local and international organizations that are eager to foster positive change in the Western Balkans. Our dedicated team of over 55 young professionals is harmonized with the needs and concerns of our youth” – stated RYCO SG in his talk.
On the other side, RYCO received recognition also from the Federal Chancellor Scholz. While bringing to attention the specific resolutions reached in Tirana, Scholz noted once more the support that Germany is giving to RYCO by investing 1.2 million euros in funding and 300,000 euros in the new youth culture fund.
The idea for the next Berlin Summit to happen in Germany was welcomed by all leaders, marking the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Process.