RYCO Youth Talks “Berlin Process Edition” caravan finished: Stronger youth involvement within the Berlin Process is needed

Western Balkans: Berlin Process – Road to the 10th anniversary was a topic that recently brought together youth and relevant stakeholders all around the Western Balkans region to discuss achievements, analyze the framework and the role of youth in this process. This opportunity was presented through Youth Talk – a series of events organized by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO). 

Starting in Albania, Youth Talk event sparked lively discussion among young people and representatives from the German and French Embassy, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Development Institute, and the National Youth Congress, under the moderation of Mr Kreshnik Loka, Head of the Local Branch Office (LBO) in Tirana. The dialogue centered on unpacking the Berlin Process from its beginnings in 2014 until today highlighted the achievements and celebrated milestones but also emphasized the role of young people and the need for their meaningful participation in decision-making and other relevant processes in this path.

RYCO’s Youth Talk caravan continued its journey to North Macedonia, where the Local Branch office and its Head Mr. Vladimir Gjorgjevski hosted the event in Skopje that engaged youth in a lively discussion with representatives of French and German Embassy, European Policy Institute, National Youth Council of Macedonia and representative of Cabinet of Prime Minister of Macedonia in charge for Youth and Youth Policies. The event highlighted the impact of high-level European processes and the role of RYCO in the positioning of young people in the region. The Youth Talk session served as an opportunity for young people to address issues they are facing, such as the need for better-functioning institutions, more open spaces for youth-led activities, improved skills development, along with a better educational system that can encourage better regional cooperation. Additionally, youth conveyed the message that authorities should prioritize young people as leaders for democracy and grant them the right to be active in the decision-making process.

The importance of stronger youth involvement in decision-making within the Berlin Process was addressed by youth in Serbia as well. Participants and panelists of the Youth Talk- Berlin Process edition reflected on achievements of the regional mechanism and cooperation, with a focus on economic cooperation, but also in the sphere of peacebuilding and reconciliation. Belgrade Youth Talk gathered together prominent guests, among whom H.E. Ms. Anke Konrad, Ambassador of Germany to Serbia, Mr. Fatih Akcal, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of France to Serbia, along with representatives of the Ministry of Tourism and Youth and European Policy Centre and Head of LBO Ms. Marija Bulat. Young people who participated in the event brought attention to additional topics and issues, such as generational trauma and persistent ethnic tensions in the region as they see it as one of the main reasons for the low level of youth involvement in peacebuilding efforts in the Western Balkans. 

Youth Talk organized by RYCO LBO BiH in Sarajevo, which coincided with the recent opening of negotiations on Bosnia and Herzegovina joining the European Union, gathered together a diverse array of voices – from young leaders to ambassadors, including Mr. Johann Sattler, Head of the EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with governmental representatives and NGOs to share their views on regional cooperation. Participants emphasized that the establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) is a big achievement of the Berlin Process, as it became a beacon of hope for youth empowerment and collaboration across the Western Balkans. During the discussions, young participants highlighted challenges on the road to reconciliation and a brighter future, along with issues, such as current political dynamics, poverty, persisting stereotypes, and a lack of meaningful programs focused on youth policies and empowerment. 

Participants of the Youth Talk event in Podgorica sent a strong message about the pivotal role of youth empowerment in the Western Balkans, underscoring the significance of initiatives like RYCO in fostering collaboration and dialogue across the region, in the discussion led by Head of LBO Mr. Edin Koljenovic. Young leaders, Ambassadors,  including H.E. Peter Felten, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Montenegro and  H.E. Anne Marie Maskay, Ambassador of the Republic of France in Montenegro, along with governmental representatives led by Mr. Dragoslav Scekic, Deputy Prime Minister for Demographics and Youth and Minister of Sports and Youth of the Government of Montenegro and representatives of NGOs, discussed key results of the Berlin Process, regional cooperation and the EU  role in fostering stability and progress. Participants of RYCO Youth Talk in Podgorica agreed that the Berlin Process as a comprehensive journey hinges on contributions from every sector of society to achieve meaningful outcomes, and as such, it calls for empowerment, inclusion, and active participation of youth. 

Final RYCO Youth Talk – The Berlin Process edition took place in Pristina. The event gathered young participants and prominent guests, such as H.E. Mr. Jörn Rohde, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Kosovo, representatives of the Cabinet of Prime Minister of Kosovo*, representatives of the French Embassy and Balkans Policy Research Group – BPRG. Moderated by the Head of the LBO Ms. Krenare Gashi Krasniqi, the panel discussion once again highlighted the importance of stronger youth involvement in decision-making within the Berlin Process and Western Balkans authorities. Participants recognized the Berlin Process as essential for establishing RYCO and its operation and reflected on how the process provided opportunities for exchange and intercultural learning among young people in the Western Balkans region. 

Youth Talk event in Pristina closed a first round of discussion focused on the Berlin Process and its 10-year achievements. In the upcoming period additional activities will be organized by RYCO and its partners in order to celebrate Berlin Process achievements, but also to continue dialogue on important topics that can contribute to youth empowerment and active participation in decision-making processes. 


*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.


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