TIRANA – In the period of 8-12 April, the city of Tirana was filled with the incomparable energy brought from the 24 young people, representatives of municipal councils, municipal offices, youth councils, and CSOs, coming from all over the Western Balkans. They participated in the fifth edition of the Youth Trail under the motto “Together for Safety”.
The official opening ceremony took place on 9 April, with the presence of the organizing organizations. During his intervention, Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania Ambassador Vincenzo Del Monaco said that youth portfolio is a critical aspect in OSCE’s efforts towards democratization.
“This is because youth lies at the root of any democratic system. I am delighted to see how rich the Youth Trail’s agenda is, and I hope all of you will make the best out of this extraordinary experience,” Mr Del Monaco pointed out.
H.E. Ms Sophia Pilippidou, Ambassador of Greece to Albania, praised the power of young people to bring a positive change in society and highlighted their potential to be key agents of a positive transformation also throughout the whole region.
Moreover, Ms Aspasjana Kongo, General Coordinator of the Tirana European Youth Capital (TEYC) 2022 at the National Youth Congress, underlined that 2022 is a year dedicated to youth all over Europe, including the Western Balkans. She encouraged the participants to actively contribute to the programme of activities as part of TEYC and she is looking forward to their new initiatives, projects and ideas.
RYCO Deputy Secretary General Mr Denis Piplaš greeted the participants during the official ceremony and highlighted RYCO’s role in ensuring sustainable peaceful societies and building safe communities through active involvement of young people.
“More than 1000 activities were organized with the support of RYCO, involving more than 27,000 young people from all over the region of WB6, during the period 2018-2021,” Mr Piplaš stressed and reminded the participants of the role of the RYCO Governing Board in which young people are represented equally together with Ministers of Youth in the region.
During the program, the participants immersed themselves into key concepts of youth participation and active citizenship in support of the safety and security agenda. Thus, they covered topics ranging from ladders of participation, regional cooperation and volunteering to youth mainstreaming, effective communication and media literacy and fact-checking for community safety.
Head of the RYCO Local Branch in Albania Mr Kreshnk Loka, in the course of his session, said that most of the time, the lack of security is created by the fear from the unknown.
“This is why RYCO is actively working in supporting the youth of the region to meet and to get familiar with each other and with each other’s challenges and similarities,” he said and added that after coming back from RYCO exchanges, young people challenge and break the stereotypes and report a higher level of trust towards their peers.
Moreover, Ms Ines Bulajić, Project Coordinator of RYCO’s ROUTE WB6 project, presented to the participants the importance of volunteering and the efforts of RYCO in order to strengthen intraregional volunteering opportunities for young people.
During their stay in Tirana, the young people also covered topics ranging from juvenile justice, policing, and gender to mechanisms and structures that exist for young people to shape policies and actions. Moreover, the participants dealt briefly with various aspects of smart safe cities, and the role of open data and e-participation.
The Youth Trail was implemented by the OSCE Presence in Albania in close collaboration with the Regional Youth Cooperation Office, the Municipality of Tirana, Tirana European Youth Capital, and the National Youth Congress and with the support of the Austrian Development Agency, the Embassy of Greece to Albania, and the Permanent Mission of Italy to the OSCE.