BELGRADE – Almost unknown to the Serbian public – Đuro Blanuša became the first Secretary-General of RYCO – Regional Youth Cooperation Office, an organisation which has come as a result of the Berlin process. Until now, he was a senior advisor in the Sector for International Cooperation and European Integration in the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Serbia and also a Head of the Group for IPA Projects and International Funds. However, he recently got a remarkable role in the field of regional cooperation in the Western Balkans.
Before working in the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Blanuša gained years of experience working in the civil society and non-governmental sector. He worked in an international non-governmental organisation that promotes children’s rights – Save the Children.
Blanuša also worked on the local level by supporting young people and youth organisations in developing local and regional strategies, action plans, projects and activities.
While working in the Ministry of Youth and Sports, he has been the official representative of Serbia in European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ), statutory body acting as the governmental partner in the co-management structures of the youth sector of the Council of Europe.
In addition to this, he is a member of various regional and European expert groups in the youth field, and he was from the very beginning engaged as the governmental representative of the Republic of Serbia in the process for the establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office.
Having all this in mind, it does not come as a surprise that he was chosen to be the first Secretary-General of RYCO.
However, this choice did not come easy. The Open Call for the Secretary-General was launched last year, in the middle of December, and the Selection Committee of RYCO received 26 applications from six Contracting Parties.
After a thorough examination of applications, the Selection Committee chose seven candidates for filmed interviews. These filmed interviews took place at the end of January, in different capitals of the region and all candidates answered the same questions. The recorded interviews were then sent to the Selection Committee for evaluation.
Finally, on the basis of evaluations of the written applications and of the filmed interviews, the Selection Committee chose three candidates. They were invited to Tirana to meet the Governing Board. During this meeting, the Governing Board interviewed the three candidates for 25 minutes each. After few rounds of voting, the Governing Board chose the winning candidate.
In March in Berlin, the Governing Board by consensus confirmed Đuro Blanuša as the elected Secretary-General of RYCO. His term of office begun on 3rd April.
It is important to mention that the establishment process of RYCO has begun as a part of the Berlin Process in 2014 in the Western Balkan Leaders’ Summit. During the Western Balkans Summit in Vienna, in 2015, the Prime Ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have signed a “Joint Declaration on the establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans”, in which they declare that they have agreed to create the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans. RYCO is established in the beginning of 2017 and it is based in Tirana.
The mandate of RYCO is to support youth projects that aim at and contribute to promoting diversity and democratic values, enhancing sustainable regional cooperation amongst youth, and establishing new relations amongst young people in the Western Balkans region. RYCO also promotes fostering reconciliation and constructive approaches to remembrance, inter-cultural learning, increasing regional mobility, and promoting the European spirit of cooperation, understanding, and tolerance. Therefore, there is no doubt that the role of Đuro Blanuša as Secretary General of the RYCO is of utmost importance in promoting cooperation among the youth of the Western Balkans.