Youth Promote Reconciliation and Cooperation in Times of COVID-19

PODGORICA – RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro in partnership with the Association of Women Entrepreneurs and with the support of the French Embassy in Montenegro, organized the Intercultural Youth Hub, which took place in Podgorica from 25 to 27 September. The event brought together twelve young people from Montenegro, belonging to different, ethnic, national and religious groups to work with them on their intercultural skills and competences. 

The official opening of the event was attended by Head of the RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro Mr Edin Koljenović and Charge d`Affaires in the French Embassy in Montenegro Mr Laurent Goncalves. It was pointed out that youth cooperation in times of COVID-19 is going through some major challenges, but the cooperation between RYCO and the French Embassy continues, while allowing youngsters from Montenegro to meet and cooperate despite the challenges caused by the pandemic. 

Addressing the participants, Mr Koljenović presented the work of RYCO, putting a focus on the partnership that RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro has developed with the French Embassy in Montenegro since its establishment.

“Intercultural Youth Hub is one of the activities that arose as a product of this fruitful cooperation and friendship – due to which RYCO vision and mission materializes despite the challenging times we are currently living in,” Mr Koljenovic highlighted.

Mr Goncalves stated that these kinds of events present a strong instrument for establishing social connections, intercultural dialogue, and social integration in our societies.

“RYCO Local Branch Office in Montenegro is one of our key partners and we are pleased that together we managed to develop a strong and long-lasting friendship – at the heart of the European project,” he concluded.

The Intercultural Youth Hub brought together twelve young people aged between 18 and 25, coming from different parts of Montenegro, belonging to different, ethnic, national and religious groups. Through a unique three-day program consisting of interactive workshops and debates, participants had the opportunity to get to know one another, build trust, and thus reduce the level of ethnic distance that  is still at  considerably high levels among young people living in Montenegro. This ethnic distance produced by the ethnic narratives and stereotypes which are taken for granted by youngsters who did not have the opportunity to meet and spend time with their peers who belong to different groups has a strong impact on the overall social cohesion, and that makes this sort of gatherings essential for the  democratic development of the Montenegrin society. 

Furthermore, the event provided young people with an opportunity to build their capacities in areas of youth participation and activism, and to raise their awareness on opportunities for participation in mobility programs throughout the Western Balkans in times of COVID-19.

The participants of the Intercultural Youth Hub were representing the Secondary Vocational School Spasoje Raspopovic Pogdorica, Secondary Vocational School Berane, Secondary Vocational and Higher Education School “Sergije Stanić” Podgorica,  Economic and Catering High School Bar, Secondary School of Economics and Catering Niksic, and Grammar school “25 May” Tuzi.

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