The Agreement on establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) of the Western Balkans has officially been signed during the Western Balkans Summit in Paris on 4 July 2016. The Paris Summit 2016 followed the Berlin Summit in 2014 and the Vienna Summit in 2015. At the Summit in Vienna on 27 August 2015, the governments of the Western-Balkans –Six had signed a Joint Declaration where they expressed their will to create a Regional Youth Cooperation Office. A Working Group with representatives of the Youth Ministries and of youth organisations of the six countries was then established in order to develop concrete proposals about the mission, structure, activities and financing of the future institution. The Working Group handed over its proposals to the governments on March 1st, 2016. After the finalization and approval of the documents by the governments in the following months, the Agreement to create RYCO was ready to be officially signed for the Western Balkans Summit in Paris the 4th July. The entire process has been accompanied by the Franco-German Youth Office which established a Moderation Team tasked to facilitate the working process.
The RYCO-Agreeement in Paris was signed by the Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Denis Zvizdić, the Prime Minister of Kosovo Isa Mustafa, the Prime Minister of Macedonia Emil Dimitriev, the Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Đukanović and the Prime Minister of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić. The signing ceremony took place at the Elysée-Palace in the presence of: French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, High EU Representative Federica Mogherini, Italian Minister of Foreign Affaires Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Slovenia Miro Cerar, Prime Minister of Croatia Tihomir Orešković, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture and Sport Tibor Navarcsis and several ministers of Foreign Affaires, Economy, Youth , Sport and Education from the Western Balkans and from EU-countries.
The RYCO-Working Group and the Moderation Team of FGYO had been invited to assist at the signing ceremony in Paris
Before the signing ceremony, the RYCO-Working Group and the Moderation Team of FGYO in cooperation with the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) and LOJA – Centar for Balkan Cooperation, had participated at one of the side events of the Paris Summit, the «Connecting Youth »-conference organized by the European Commission with more than 150 young people from the Balkans and other European countries. During this conference, one session was especially dedicated to the presentation of RYCO. The YIHR and LOJA had paralley also organized three local events in Tirana, Podgorica and Belgrade with young people from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, as a way to connect directly the youth in the region with the Paris Summit and the signing of the RYCO-Agreement.
After the signature of the agreement the period of its implementation will follow: especially the nomination of the members of the Governing Board of RYCO, the designation of the General Secretary, the hiring of the employees of the Secretariat, and the opening of the central office in Tirana and the local branches in the 5 other countries. All these steps are planned to take place in the next six months. The aim is that RYCO becomes operational beginning of 2017. The RYCO-Working Group and the FGYO-Moderation Team have developed a road map for this implementation period during a meeting before the Paris Summit in Belgrade on June 28th. A joint-Coordination-Team – composed by representatives of the Foreign Ministries of Albania, France and Germany and by the FGYO-Moderation Team, will faciliate this implementation process, in cooperation with the governments and civil society actors of the Western-Balkans-Six.
The RYCO-working meeting in Belgrade the 28 June in Belgrade and the participation of the Working Group and of the FGYO-Moderation Team at the Paris Summit was made possible thanks to the support of the Balkan Trust for Democracy and of the European Union.