SARAJEVO 24th November – Now, and not in some distant future, is the right moment to put joint efforts and invest in young people of the Western Balkan region by fostering dialogue and understanding across cultures. This is the joint message from the RYCOgnized Vison Conference that brought together in Sarajevo more than 250 participants, including representatives of public institutions of RYCO contracting parties, international and regional organizations, EU Delegation, Embassy of Republic of Germany in BiH, along with teachers, educators and high school students. Event served as a pivotal platform to showcase RYCO’s commitment to fostering regional cooperation, empowering youth, and advancing peacebuilding efforts in the Western Balkans.
On the opening ceremony RYCO Secretary General Albert Hani emphasized the importance of the role that young people in the region carry in the process of peace building and reconciliation calling all parties on urgent action.
“The journey we are taking is not easy. It demands full time commitment, resilience, collaboration and dedication to support youth and their voice, while at the same time supporting peace and reconciliation in all the region,” said SG Hani.
He concluded that there is no public policy that is of no concern to youth and that attention of all social actors is required in order to provide most adequate responds to youth needs and to assure their voice to be heard.
In front of host, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Josip Brkic, said that now is the moment to act as the young people are undeniable present. Thus, as he said, concrete steps are needed, such as investment in education and health, along with implementation of all relevant measures related to youth policies.
“This event is not just celebration of past achievements, but also an opportunity to reflect on the collective journey we all undertake, and to set the course for the future,” said Deputy Minister Brkic.
Event that took place from 22-24 November was an opportunity for various parties to exchange opinions and offer different perspectives related to betterment of conditions and promotion of the role of youth in society. Through different panel discussions, participants had a chance to learn how youth policies and interests can find its space in different processes of decision and policy making, public governance, security, gender equality, as well as transport, trade and economy.
With RYCOgnized Vision, along with other exchanging and inclusive programs, RYCO strives to create conditions for meaningful participation of youth in policy making. By doing so, RYCO is recognized as an indispensable component in building a peaceful eco system in the region.
Integral to the conference was the screening of a short documentary showcasing the real impact of education as a catalyst for peace, particularly through Superschools Homestays, encapsulating lived experiences through hosting that promote regional cooperation. The Superschools program, a school-to-school exchange mobility scheme, spanning two open calls, has supported 160 schools, fostering 80 partnerships and involving 320 teachers. Over 2000 young individuals have been actively engaged, contributing to the program’s far-reaching impact.
When asked about this transformative experience, Sara Križić, student from Catholic School Centre “Saint Francis” Tuzla, shared:
“The Superschools experience was something for me that I will never forget and that I will forever cherish. I met so many great people down the line and experienced things that I would have not experienced if it weren’t for this program and for the whole organisation. Not only have I gained friends for life, I have also gained knowledge that I would never want to replace with anything in the world”
The conference concluded with networking sessions and a joint dinner honoring educators, fostering further collaboration among regional stakeholders.
This initiative project financed by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aims to empower youth, institutions, and civil society organizations and also position RYCO as a central hub for cooperation, knowledge-sharing, and practical engagement in youth, peace, and regional cooperation.