Bregu: Youth in the Western Balkans is its most valuable resource

Bregu: Youth in the Western Balkans is its most valuable resource

SARAJEVO/TIRANA, April 19 (FENA) – “According to Balkan Barometer 2021, 93% of young people in the Western Balkans age 18-24 believe that public administrations should strengthen mechanisms for consulting and involving young people in decision-making. This clearly shows the path for all our further actions in which youth, policy-makers and donors will sit together to discuss in a constructive way youth priorities, youth needs and ways in which these needs can be met,” said Majlinda Bregu, Secretary-General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), at the opening of a two-day First Informal Donor Coordination Meeting on Youth Agenda in the Western Balkans, organized by RCC’s Western Balkans Youth Lab (WBYL) project today.

The RCC is already implementing many activities directly impacting the youth, such as dedicated work on the implementation of the Common Regional Market (CRM), including travel with ID cards and regional roaming agreement. RCC also recently launched a network of girls and women in STEM and is working on recognition of professional and academic qualifications in the region. Furthermore, we will soon publish the Study on Youth Unemployment which could contribute to the introduction of Youth Guarantee in the region and will launch the second edition of the Balkathon competition, which directly supports youth and their best innovative ideas.

“These and many other activities aim at positioning the Western Balkans youth as the most valuable resource that we have, giving the voice to those young people who can contribute to the region, who are able to make a difference, today and in the years to come. Championing regional cooperation and exchange for years, we in the RCC believe that there is always more that we can learn from each other. In these times especially we can learn from each other in abhorring animosities and polarisation that has altered the political discourse, and the public civility in our time,” concluded Bregu.

Liselotte Isaksson, Head of Sector – Civil Society, Social Inclusion and Human Capital in Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programmes Unit, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission said during her opening remarks that the pandemic has made very clear that economic recovery will be the biggest challenge ahead of us which is why the EU has come up with the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans which supports the digital transition and fosters regional economic cooperation and integration and convergence with the European Union. “Younger generations are in the focus of that work and youth remains in the center of structural reforms in the Western Balkans. We have to work hard to make an environment where young people see their future in the region.”

In the following two days, the First Informal Donor Coordination Meeting on Youth Agenda will provide a forum for relevant youth-related regional and international stakeholders– representatives of governments, national youth councils/youth umbrella organizations, donor community and relevant regional organizations – with the intention to establish a Broad Coalition on Youth as the Informal Donor Coordination Mechanism in the Western Balkans, aiming to provide help in prioritizing youth issues in the region by supporting the alignment of regional governments’ youth policies and priorities and donors’ programs and interventions in the youth sector, stated the RCC.