The Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans

RYCO will be aiming to “promote the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation between the youth in the region” through exchange. A working group has developed a common proposal for its establishment, which was signed by the Prime Ministers of the Western Balkans – 6 – Participants on July 4th, 2016 at the Western Balkans Summit in Paris.

The Institutional Framework of the Working Group

During the Western Balkans Summit in Vienna, the 27.8.2015, the  Prime Ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have signed a “Joint Declaration on the establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans”, in which they declare that they have agreed to “create the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans, as a regionally-owned structure that leads and coordinates youth cooperation in our region”, aiming “to promote the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation between the youth in our region”. In order to establish this structure, the Prime Ministers declared that they have agreed to “task relevant institutions of the participants to develop, in close collaboration with the Working Group on regional youth cooperation concrete proposals for the mission, structure, activities and financing of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office, to be finalized by 1 March 2016”, also stating that “the Franco-German Youth Office will provide the Working Group with technical assistance”. The working group handed in this proposal on March 1st 2016. In the past months the governments of the Western Balkans-6 finalized and approved the proposals. The Agreement for the creation of RYCO was finally signed at the Western Balkans Summit in Paris on July 4th, 2016.

The Members of the Working Group

The Working Group consists of 13 members (one representative from the Youth Ministry/Directorate for Youth/National Agency for Youth, and  one representative from Youth organizations, for each of the  WB6-Partcipants). The moderation of the working process  was handed over to the Franco-German Youth Office, as proposed in the Joint Declaration from the 27.8.2015. The moderation team consists of  three persons: Frank Morawietz, Nicolas Moll, Bujar Luma. The Joint Declaration from 27.8.2015 has set as deadline for the Working Group the 1st March 2016, in order to develop concrete proposals for the  mission, structure, activities and financing of the RYCO. Concretely the WG delivered the following documents: After several meetings and four months of intense work, the WG delivered concretely the following documents to the six governments::

  • Draft of the Agreement for the creation of RYCO
  • Draft of the Statute of RYCO as an annexe to this Agreement
  • Definition of the mission and of the activities of RYCO
  • Organigram proposal for RYCO
  • Budget proposal for the first year

The goal and the necessity of RYCO

The Western Balkan societies share both common heritage and common challenges. Conflicts of the past decades have brought with them different forms of prejudice and intolerance, while its aftereffects have continued to be underlined by a lack of opportunities for youth resulting in massive youth unemployment figures and heavy brain-drain across the region. Additionally, young people are facing numerous obstacles often created as a consequence of administrative barriers and mental barriers caused by lack of trust, lack of information, and existing prejudice.Time has shown that only through joint action in promoting tolerance, solidarity, mobility and cooperation we, as a region, can progress.

The establishment of the Regional Youth Exchange Office (RYCO) puts the concepts of friendship,reconciliation and cooperation at the forefront. It is inspired by the experience of the Franco-German Youth Office, along with other successful European youth cooperation projects, which established new relationships and significantly improved cooperation.

The unique apporach of the foundation process of RYCO is marked by the different levels of cooperation. It is first and foremost a cooperation between different countries of the region and their young people. The WB6 participants are cooperating with international stakeholders to find common grounds and are looking for synergy effects and reciprocital support at the same time. Moreover is the equal participation of civil society and government a modern approach to ensure inclusivness and create a most promising youth office for the region.