Western Balkans Youth Forum of the Berlin Process has officially started. More than 70 young people, actors, and stakeholders highly engaged in youth-related issues from the WB6 region and the EU have gathered in Berlin, to participate in the forum activities.
The event is designed for representatives of a wide range of relevant actors in charge of youth issues, including umbrella youth organizations of the WB6, youth structures at the EU level, institutions, NGOs, young activists, as well as experts on youth-related topics, and the topics of the Forum from the Western Balkans and the wider Europe.
The main topic of this year’s Youth Forum will include democratization and civic education, youth, peace and security, green agenda and energy security, as well as social economy and solidarity.
The opening remarks were delivered by Ms. Susanne Schütz, Director for South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, OSCE and Council of Europe, German Federal Foreign Office, Mr. Albert Hani, Secretary General of Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), and Mr. Ognjen Marković, Team Leader of Western Balkan Youth Lab, Regional Cooperation Council – RCC, moderated by youth representatives in RYCO Governing Board Ms. Andrea Mićanović and Mr. Prapashtica, were followed by an emotional dialogue by Ms. Krenare Gashi-Krasniqi, from Regional Youth Cooperation Office – RYCO and Mr. Frank Morawietz from Franco-German Youth Office – OFAJ.
This year’s Summit of the Berlin Process has a particular focus on energy security and a green transition, the Common Regional Market, and will establish a Youth Culture Fund, which will enhance the portfolio of RYCO and provide more opportunities for cultural exchange in the region, said Ms. Schütz, about the upcoming Summit, and added that these days it is more important than ever to stand united and overcome differences and it is the role of the EU and governments in the region to keep the Western Balkans firmly anchored on the European path.
“The Western Balkans lost a lot of time in getting stuck in differences and animosities and finally, now is the time to put the energy in a different direction – with aim of bringing similarities and concrete agreements which affect the future to the table the agenda of stakeholders. It is our obligation to ensure the better position of youth in the WB and to use their motivation to support the integration of the region to the EU.”, said Mr. Hani.
“The Berlin Process once again brings forward concrete results for the Western Balkans. We are pleased to be a part of it and we’ll continue building on its results having always in mind that one cannot achieve anything by living in a bubble of self-interest, but instead, should focus on mutual needs and cooperation”, said Mr. Marković.
From the very beginning, youth has been among the topics in the spotlight of the Berlin Process. As one of the most significant outcomes of the Berlin Process, RYCO has been involved in the design of the accompanying youth format since the Trieste Summit in 2017. In its efforts to promote the spirit of regional youth cooperation and reconciliation, RYCO has continuously tried to offer more and better opportunities to the youth of the region to engage in meaningful dialogue on topics important for youth and societies as a whole.
The organization of this year’s Youth Forum within the Berlin Process supports RYCO in achieving its strategic priority areas such as providing for youth, supporting multipliers, as well as advocating and raising awareness. It will result with a declaration developed by young people, which will be introduced at the Leaders’ Summit.
The Western Balkans Youth Forum of the Berlin Process 2022 is organized by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office in partnership with Franco-German Youth Office and Crossborder Factory. The Forum is supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Regional Cooperation Council’s Western Balkan Youth Lab project, and a regional project funded by the European Union (EU) Technical Assistance to Civil Society Organisations in the Western Balkans and Turkey (TACSO).