RYCO Youth Talk in Podgorica Highlights Importance of Youth Empowerment and Inclusion in the Processes of Cooperation in the Western Balkans

Podgorica, March 28, 2024 – The RYCO Youth Talk held in the premisses of European House in Podgorica echoed a resounding message about the pivotal role of youth empowerment in the Western Balkans, underscoring the significance of initiatives like the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) in fostering collaboration and dialogue across the region.

Building upon the legacy of the Berlin Process, which has been instrumental in prioritizing the aspirations of the Western Balkans towards European Union accession, the event emphasized the crucial role played by RYCO in amplifying the voices of youth and promoting reconciliation. It brought together a diverse array of voices, including young leaders, ambassadors, governmental representatives, and NGOs, to discuss key results of the Berlin Process, regional cooperation and the EU’s role in fostering stability and progress.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Dragoslav Scekic, Deputy Prime Minister for Demographics and Youth and Minister of Sports and Youth of the Government of Montenegro highlighted that

“RYCO has been a symbol of reconciliation and dedication to the future we aim to build together – a future based on understanding, friendship, collaborative work, and overcoming the legacy of the past. Through RYCO initiatives such as exchange programs, educational projects, and support for young people, Montenegro has invested in its own future and the future of the entire Western Balkans region.”

Reflecting on the achievements of RYCO in his introductory speech, Mr. Edin Koljenovic, Head of RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro, highlighted that

“We are deeply honored by RYCO’s recognition as a pivotal achievement of the Berlin Process, highlighting our steadfast commitment to amplifying youth voices within the frame of regional cooperation. By fostering collaboration and empowering over 31,000 young individuals, RYCO has demonstrated its unwavering dedication to the advancement of the Western Balkans. Our collective commitment to nurturing dialogue and collaboration presents a way to achieve a brighter future in our region.”

The subsequent panel discussion shed light on the multifaceted challenges faced by young people in Montenegro and the region, including the need for robust youth policies and empowerment programs. Participants also stressed the importance of inclusivity, advocating for the inclusion of youth voices and their participation in processes of European integration and regional cooperation.

H.E. Peter Felten, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Montenegro emphasized that

“the success of the Berlin Process hinges on contributions from every sector of society to achieve meaningful outcomes. Hence, I urge young people to actively participate and make their voices heard. RYCO serves as an example of effective regional cooperation and youth engagement, essential for both regional collaboration and EU integrations.”

H.E. Anne Marie Maskay, Ambassador of the Republic of France in Montenegro highlighted that

“Any investment in the future requires developing the ability to live together, which means the need for a strong involvement of young people. Promoting reconciliation and remembrance, diversity and cultural exchange, regional mobility, citizen participation, as well as rapprochement with the EU proves more challenging today than 10 years ago. This is why France actively supports RYCO’s work.”

“In conclusion, the journey of the Berlin Process reflects a broader narrative of empowerment and inclusion. As we continue to navigate the challenges of regional cooperation and European integration, the voices of our youth – articulated through forums and declarations – must not only be heard but also acted upon. The path forward lies in creating resilient structures adapt at converting the aspirations, needs, and innovative ideas of young people into tangible policy achievements, ensuring a prosperous future for the Western Balkans in the European landscape”, concluded Ms. Elvira Hadzibegovic, representative of the CSO, President Forum MNE.

The event served as a platform for open dialogue, fostering connections between young people and decision-makers. Key highlights included discussions on the progress made under the Berlin Process in fostering regional cooperation and bringing together stakeholders from various sectors within the region. The RYCO Youth Talk in Podgorica reaffirmed the collective commitment to empowering youth and building a brighter future for the Western Balkans, underscoring the importance of continued collaboration and dialogue in the region.


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