Vlada republike SrbijeGovernment of the Republic of Serbia


RYCO supporting youth projects aimed at regional reconciliation

Published 24.10.2017.

RYCOParticipants in the conference “RYCO for the future,” held on 23 October at the EU Info Centre, said that youth in the Western Balkans seem deeply prejudiced against their peers from neighbouring countries, poorly informed about different cultures, adding that many of them have never been outside their countries. The participants agreed that improved youth cooperation could contribute to the Western Balkans integration with the EU.

Presset: Solidarity and cooperation – fundamental EU values

Opening the conference, Head of Information, Communication and Press at the EU Delegation to Serbia Paul-Henri Presset said that RYCO, being the first regional mechanism of its kind seeking to bring young people in the region together with a view to promoting reconciliation, cooperation, tolerance and solidarity, was important for the Western Balkans countries, for the region as a whole and its EU path.

“The EU fully supports initiatives that foster the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation among the youth in the region,” Presset said, noting that the region could advance only through joint action aimed at promotion of tolerance, solidarity, mobility and cooperation.

Presset told Euroactiv that “RYCO is very important for the European integration process as it promotes solidarity and cooperation, the fundamental values of the EU. Illustrative example can be drawn from post-World War II cooperation between Germany and France,” he said and added that “thanks to such mechanism, today we have the peaceful and cooperative EU.”

Jan Lueneburg of OSCE Mission Serbia said that the organisation he represented supports greater participation of the youth.

“We are very happy to see Belgrade branch of RYCO become increasingly active,” Lueneburg said and added that OSCE Mission supported the first CfP launched by RYCO Belgrade.

Blanusa: RYCO is fighting against bias

RYCO Secretary-General Djuro Blanusa said that one of RYCO’s priorities, modelled after the German-French youth office, was to bring young people closer together and make them more at home with each other’s cultures they are otherwise vaguely familiar with.

Young people are deeply prejudiced, have many stereotypes and are even scared; mobility rate is too low and so is their desire to travel across the region and the EU, Blanusa said at the EU Info Centre-hosted conference.

Blanusa stressed that RYCO wanted to offer young people a chance to travel and see Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, BiH, etc.

“We want to reach those youths that haven’t had a chance to meet other cultures and languages that, perhaps, are not that different from their own,” Blanusa said and added that more than 80% of young people from East Sarajevo had never been to Sarajevo.

Blanusa also said that nearly two thirds of the youth had negative attitude toward their peers from other countries in the region.

“We need more tolerance and respect for diversity,” Blanusa said and added that through RYCO programmes, the youth will gain new experience and impressions that they would later on be able to share with their communities.

Klasnja: Bringing the youth closer to EU values

Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Snezana Klasnja said that Serbian Government actively supported RYCO, adding that the goal of such cooperation was to improve the quality of life of young people in the region.

“Mutual understanding, fighting against bias, meeting peers and different cultures through exchange of ideas and spending time together – that is what RYCO strives for,” Klasnja said, adding that a third of young people in Serbia had never been abroad.

Klasnja said that RYCO was an avenue to bring EU values closer to the youth, to broaden their views outside national borders and see the region as a space of joint action.

EUR900,000 for the first batch of projects

Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) launched the first call for proposals aimed at reconciliation in the region, youth connectivity and promotion of European values.

Marija Bulat, a representative of Belgrade RYCO branch, said that the first CfP was aimed at CSOs, youth organisations and high schools, whereas in the future, she said, RYCO might also support informal youth groups and individuals.

“We will financially support projects and launch CfPs at least twice a year,” Bulat said and announced that next CfP will be launched in spring 2018.

RYCO has allocated EUR900,000 for the first series of projects. Deadline for application for proposals worth between EUR10-35,000 closes on 15 November.

In July 2016, in the framework of Berlin Process, six Prime Ministers of the Western Balkans signed an agreement on the establishment of RYCO. The organisation is headquartered in Tirana, with five local branches in Belgrade, Pristina, Skopje, Sarajevo and Podgorica. Belgrade office is currently being set up and should be up and running by the end of 2017.

Source: europa.rs




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