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European Western Balkans
Regional cooperation

Strategies for the youth need to be high on the regional agenda

Youth; Photo: Pixabay

TIRANA – It is crucial to involve the youth perspective in the framework of the 10 Flagships of the Economic and Investment Plan, because it is a key beneficiary group of all investments and projects implemented in the Balkans, concluded the participants of the panel discussion „Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans: What’s in for youth?“, organized by Cooperation and Development Institute (CDI) from Albania.

Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) Secretary-General Albert Hani, said that this regional youth office has paid a lot of attention to the development of a Strategy for the Youth, which will more specifically show the wishes and challenges of young people in the region.

„We are looking to unify the problems, but also the solutions for young people in the Western Balkans region. That is why we have paid a lot of attention to the new Youth Strategy for the period 2022-2024“, said Hani.

According to him, RYCO also cares about all political and social aspects of the young people in the region.

He added that RYCO helps a large number of students and youth organizations in the region with numerous projects.

Deputy Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport in Albania Bora Muzhaqi agreed that comprehensive strategies for the youth were important and said that Albania for the first time was working on a Strategy for the Youth.

“For the first time, we will have a Strategy, because in the previous period there were only Action Plans for Youth. Now, all these documents will be included in one comprehensive strategy which would help young people”, told Muzhaqi.

According to Muzhaqi, the Strategy will cover all important social aspects that affect young people in Albania, which includes the issues of youth employment as well as their inclusion in democratic processes.

She stressed that the process of writing this strategy is accompanied by extensive consultations with young people from all regions in Albania.

Miljana Pejić, Secretary-General of the National Youth Council of Serbia (KOMS), reminded that KOMS had been a part of the Western Balkans Youth Cooperation Platform (WBYCP), launched by CDI in 2017, from the beginning. WBYCP is a grassroots regional youth platform, which brings together the umbrella of youth organizations that operate in the six Western Balkans countries.

According to Pejić, as the umbrella organization of young people in Serbia, KOMS is trying to find the best ways to include youth organizations, as well as individuals and informal groups in its network.

“We helped to find the best way to be aware of network potential to include member organizations, but also other stakeholders, individuals, and informal groups”, told Pejić.

Kamil Valica, Team Leader DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said that North Macedonia is an example that the implementation of a “Youth Guarantee” is possible. This was a pilot activity launched in 2018 by the Employment Service Agency of the Republic of North Macedonia in three employment centres (Skopje, Strumica and Gostivar), and in 2019 it was implemented throughout the country.

“On the example of North Macedonia, we can see that this is possible. These topics need to be a real political priority, which means that they must be high on the agendas of the governments”, Valica said.

He stressed that the example of North Macedonia shows that the funds donated by the EU are very important in support of the program, but domestic funds are also needed for the full implementation of the Youth Guarantee.

Tobias Koeck, President of the German Federal Youth Council (DBJR), stated that one of the main challenges is how to reach all young people, not just the highly educated, adding that young people are needed for the stability of the entire region.

According to him, this requires the cooperation of youth organizations at all levels – local, regional and European.

He concluded that such dialogues need the logistical support of the European Union and the government, in order to offer young people confidence.

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