The Western Balkans Youth Forum 2023 took place in Tirana, Albania, serving as a significant convergence point for young voices in the region. With the support of the Albanian and German governments and the co-organization by the Regional Youth Cooperation Office RYCO (www.rycowb.org), the event saw 36 young representatives joining forces to call upon various stakeholders and decision-makers. They were central in reflecting on and advancing action points, aligning with the three core pillars of the Berlin Declaration: Resilient Democracies, Inclusive Peace and Security, and Sustainable Future.
With the theme “Balkan Youth Express,” the forum blossomed into a diverse gathering of over 90 participants, not only youth but also ministers, local and regional stakeholders, and institutional representatives. This collective sought to track the developments arising from the 2022 Berlin Declaration and lay down foundational pillars for the upcoming year, transforming theoretical aspirations into tangible actions and activities. It also created a space for high-level dialogues involving Western Balkans and EU actors.
In the broader context, the forum is a vital element of the Berlin Process, aiming at fostering regional integration and enhancing connections with the EU. RYCO has emerged as a pivotal institutional mechanism within this initiative, dedicated to connecting and empowering the Western Balkans' youth. Looking ahead, the upcoming 2023 Berlin Process Summit in Tirana promises to highlight not only the region’s commitment to integration but also its dedication to empowering the youth and solidifying collaboration among various decision-makers and stakeholders.
In essence, the forum embodies a dedication to propelling a brighter future, addressing the challenges of today while gearing up for the opportunities and potentials of tomorrow. The collective efforts of young representatives, supported by ministers, local and regional stakeholders, and institutional representatives, emphasize a future where youth are not just seen but are also heard and involved in shaping the course of the region’s development. Each discussion, each formulated action point, is a testament to the vigor and commitment that defines the Western Balkans’ young generation, ready and equipped to lead into a future of Resilient Democracies, Inclusive Peace and Security, and a Sustainable Future.The venue, the Center for Openness and Dialogue in Tirana, buzzed with energy and anticipation. Participants embarked on a symbolic train journey from Elbasan to Durres, a setting that allowed for in-depth discussions focusing on the critical areas outlined in the Berlin Declaration. The youth, taking center stage, engaged in shaping comprehensive action plans that were later presented to local stakeholders at the concluding event at the Piramida Center.
You may find the Conclusions of the Youth Forum below, as well as more information on RYCO's website: WB Youth Forum 2023 in Tirana: Empowering Youth to Act on Berlin Declaration – Regional Youth Cooperation Office (rycowb.org)