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Policy Statement: ‘The voice of each young person should be heard by their own government’

Posted on August 2022

From the 16th to the 18th of June, 2022 in Ohrid, North Macedonia, we started the #resilientpeace project with 12 relevant representatives of the Civil Sector and young people from North Macedonia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Kosovo and Serbia!!!





Resilient Peace - A Voice for Young People


‘The voice of each young person should be heard by their own government’



The action ‘Resilient Peace – A Voice for Young People’ led by Youth Alliance - Krusevo in cooperation with civil society networks from the region kicked off on 16th of June 2022 and gathered 12 (twelve) youth leaders from North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo in Ohrid, North Macedonia.

This statement is a policy deliverable of the enthusiasm, vision, and expertise shown at this prime event which is an integrative part of the two-layered action, aside from the “Youth-lens on peace and reconciliation” conference which will be implemented in the following period. It reflects visons and ideas on how the region can advance its cooperation and improve young people's lives in the process of peacebuilding. The statement offers recommendations to relevant stakeholders of the governmental agencies, to enhance cooperation, build on positive practices, and ensure security and stability of the Western Balkan region. The recognition and the validation of the results of the event was done through a structured dialogue whereby the participants had a unique chance to discusses in-depth their stances and challenges with Mr. Gabriel Escobar Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau for European Affairs, State Department, United States of America, Ms. Kate Marie Byrnes, United States Ambassador to North Macedonia and Eric Nelson, Ambassador in Residence George C. Marshall - European center for Security Studies a German - American Partnership.

Purpose of action

The purpose of this policy is to outline the following stances, visons and conclusion of the 12 youth leaders:

• Young people are in fact carrying the burden of the past generation`s behaviors and decisions.

Therefore, we should not avoid the history of the region and not talk about it simply because it is causing "negative peace" but instead we should find the right ways to openly discuss and deal with the past in a sensitive matter by diving deeper in its roots;

• Young people are the new generations that should find a common ground and build strong relationships around their commonalities, but also, we should discuss the obstacles that are causing the division and repulsion by tackling them in a proper way;

• A very alarming issue is the fact that the young people in our countries are heavily indoctrinated with ideologies and theories stemming from their schools, families, and surroundings, which makes the situation even more difficult and complex. So far, we have seen so many initiatives tackling all these topics but none of them had made a significant difference yet, meaning that this is an existing front we need to fight at;

• There is a “bubble” of people who are open and prone to peace and cooperation. We should not include only people who are part of that bubble and “with the same mindset”, but also include new people who are not part of that “bubble” and have differing opinions. That way we will challenge ourselves and broaden the cooperation among a greater audience;

• Another alarming issue is the lack of safe spaces where the young people can simply meet with their neighbors, interact with them, and hear their side of the story. That is the reason why we believe youth workers should be creating safe spaces for young people, where they would not need to carry the burdens from the past;

• We believe that we the young people, to some extent, are unbiased in comparison to the politicians who often let their personal bias and beliefs interfere with their professional goals and duties;

• The politicians are the political factors who have betrayed the youth and the youth’s trust in the political system, by creating a strained situation and bringing our countries to the relations we have today, which is why we need to question and challenge the system which divides and segregates us by bringing new people, new currents and new actors who will reshape the current status quo with the spirits of peace and bilateral cooperation. One way of doing so is to prepare/identify the “next leaders”;

• We must emphasize the need of effective advocacy and lobbying for pushing the policy makers into creating resilient policies, which will ensure and enhance the cooperation;

• We need to work on fighting against the stigma, prejudice, imposed attitudes, stereotypes, social pressure that the young people face in their everyday lives by creating the good rare examples of cooperation a common occurrence, not a surprise or a rarity.

Key messages for action

We, the young people, through youth – driven solutions want to have our voices heard, loud and clear.

We consider that each government should hear the voice of each young person in their country. Hence, we call on:

• Influence the key policymakers to reach a binding agreement in the process of regional cooperation and peacebuilding;

• Change the political dimension and refrain from any harsh narratives by establishing commonalities (which cannot be disputed);

• Relocate the reconciliation dialogue process from Brussels to the Western Balkan region, under the mentorship of EU, and make it more transparent – young people need to know what is happening to have their trust restored. Another crucial thing is to bring new momentum in that process to gradually start improving the relations;

• Create the environment by using the double-channel approach: on one hand - direct political engagement and on the other hand – advocacy & lobbying;

• Implement the foreseen strategies (if you design new ones, make sure you reach those who will really execute it, adopt them in Government with a meaningful legal security);

• Use the media, which has a fundamental role, offer space for the youth, and draw the needed attention;

• Political engagement and youth influence on the decisions, especially from young people in the local governance through the independent political youth structures is fundamental;

• It is important to create youth for youth principle - young people voting for young people;

• Interaction builds trust. The countries, the international organizations and the donor community at large need to support initiatives that encourage person-to-person contact—the more, the merrier.

You can download the PDF version here

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