Youth Demand Reformed Western Balkans

NOVI SAD – The fourth three-day Regional Youth Leadership Forum concluded in Novi Sad, Serbia today with a panel discussion on the Western Balkans in 2030 – Visions, Wishes, Realities, attended by the RYCO Secretary General Mr Đuro Blanuša, the prime ministers of Serbia and North Macedonia Ms Ana Brnabić and Mr Zoran Zaev, and the Regional Cooperation Council Deputy Secretary General Ms Tanja Miščević. The forum gathered around 200 young opinionated leaders and policy-makers to discuss regional salient topics and challenges.

The closing plenary session kicked off with the inputs and recommendations of young people who clearly demanded a reformed Western Balkans

The youth demand change of narratives in the region that will serve the regional interests, more regional solidarity, but also efficient public institutions, a better involvement in decision-making processes as well as better economic prospects in the whole Western Balkans. They underlined that we should not forget the past, pointing out that politicians should not force people to choose between past and future but rather offer an understanding that building a better future goes together with remembering the past. Finally, they encouraged their peers to be active citizens and actively contribute to the democratic development of their societies.

Mr Blanuša commended the young people’s willingness to tackle the question of dealing with the past and underlined that the media should also use events such as the Regional Youth Forum to promote what the youth have to say, too. He also reminded that migration, depopulation and demographic development should be among the key questions to be addressed in the region.

Mr Zaev reminded the participants that the progress in the region has occurred, outlining that the policies are shifting towards changing the lives of the people through enhanced regional cooperation. He also urged young people to fight for their place under the sun thus showing how proactive citizens can contribute to the change.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister of Serbia said that the region witnessed tectonic shifts in the last five years, underlining that the meetings of leaders from the region are occurring regularly which was unimaginable previously. Ms Brnabić pointed out that the best way to include young people in decision-making processes and change societies to their needs is to directly ask them what and how should be changed.

The panel was enriched with the contributions of professor of the University of Zagreb Mr Dejan Jović and moderated by the Chairman of the European Policy Centre Governing Board Mr Srđan Majstorović and President of the European Movement in Serbia – Local Branch in Novi Sad Mr Aleksandar Simurdić.

The fourth Regional Youth Forum was organized by the European Movement in Serbia – Local Branch Novi Sad and the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence with the support of numerous entities among which is the Regional Youth Cooperation Office.

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