Tirana, Albania – 36 young representatives from the region, participating in the WB Youth Forum 2023, called upon various stakeholders and decision-makers to reflect on the formulated action points and cooperate in different ways. They took a central role in the most anticipated youth event, by presenting to local stakeholders concrete action plans that they have formulated on how to address the 3 main pillars of the Berlin Declaration: Resilient Democracies, Inclusive Peace and Security, and Sustainable Future and reach possible cooperation. The event was co-organized by RYCO for the 3rd consecutive year, with the invaluable support of the German and Albanian governments, held in conjunction with the Berlin Summit 2023 from 6-7 October.
Under the theme “Balkan Youth Express,” this forum brought together more than 90 participants including 36 young participants from the region, ministers, different local and regional stakeholders, institutional representatives, and more. Ultimately, a space and a platform for youth to track the developments stemming from the Berlin Declaration in 2022, set the pillars of the Declaration for 2023, and establish tangible actions and activities to transform these aspirations into reality was created. Additionally, to have the opportunity to address all of this at the high-decision-making table of WB and EU actors.
The event commenced at the Center for Openness and Dialogue in Tirana, and from there, all participants embarked on a train journey from Elbasan to Durres. Along the ride, youth engaged in productive discussions focusing on the 3 main pillars of the Berlin Declaration in order to shape the action plans. A day later, the youth formally presented the action points to local stakeholders at the concluding event at Piramida Center.
“This forum, organized by RYCO, provides a fantastic opportunity for us to exchange ideas and collaborate towards a brighter future for our region – highlighted Lazar Simić, Young Participant from Serbia.
Minister Bora Muzhaqi highlighted in her opening remarks at COD, the significance of this year’s pre-summit activities, including the WB Youth Forum, as Albania played a dual role, serving as the chair of RYCO and hosting the Berlin Process Summit.
“As the chairman of the Governing Board of RYCO and in my capacity as Minister responsible for Youth in the Government of Albania, I would like to welcome you to Tirana and wish you all to experience two joyful and productive days of activities.” – stated Ms. Muzhaqi.
RYCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Denis Piplaš, moments before embarking on the train ride emphasized once again the crucial role of young people in taking action and being part of the decision-making processes:
“Today, as we stand all here together, our purpose is clear—to uphold our promise of meaningfully involving youth in decision-making processes. The Youth Forum represents our annual flagship event, a tradition we have upheld since 2021 on the margins of the Berlin Process Summit. Through this event, we are creating a space and a platform for the youth of our region to draft action points stemming from the aspirations of the Youth Berlin Declaration in 2022” – Mr. Piplaš expressed.
The forum played a crucial role in the broader framework of the Berlin Process initiated in 2014, aimed at fostering regional integration and strengthening ties with the EU. Within this initiative, the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) has emerged as a vital institutional mechanism, connecting and empowering the youth of the Western Balkans. The upcoming 2023 Berlin Process Summit in Tirana on the 16th of October promises to not only showcase the region’s commitment to integration but also to empower its youth and solidify collaboration among decision-makers.