As a key preparatory event for the approaching Western Balkans Summit in London, scheduled for July 2018, and in support to our agenda of building stronger societies, the British Council in cooperation with the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) organized the Western Balkans Youth Conference in Pristina on 26 and 27 March 2018.  In the conference, activists from youth-oriented organizations from the region developed a set of policy recommendations and messages to be presented to the Western Balkans governments.

The Conference focused on how to support the young and youth organisations in the Western Balkans region. It provided an opportunity for sharing best practices and reflections on youth policies with emphasis on joint discussion how to ensure that young citizens from the region are contributing to the Berlin Process as policy designers and monitors as well as beneficiaries. 

Among the 26 conference speakers were also HM Ambassador in Pristina Ruairi O’Connell, Deputy Director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Western Balkans Department Peter Bainbridge and RYCO Secretary General Ɖuro Blanuša.

Nearly 100 participants of the conference were joined by representatives of regional organisations and initiatives as well as by key international development partners working with and for youth in the region. Together they developed recommendations and messages for Western Balkan governments, which enhance the reach of diverse youth voices, incorporate the latest research on youth policies and participation, and foster a shared understanding for addressing key challenges and priorities together. The developed platform closes the gap between policy and practice and will ensure that there are effective mechanisms for youth voices to be heard along the way.

Clare Sears, British Council Director Western Balkans said during the proceedings that the organization was: “Excited to be providing this platform for so many young voices around the region to contribute to the Western Balkans Summit in London.”
Ambassador O’Connell remarked that: “Young people are a force for change, and they must have a strong voice in policy debates across the Western Balkans. The UK is proud to host the WB Summit in London in July. This week’s WB Youth Conference marks the climax of the British Council Active Citizens project, which gives the chance to young people to present their recommendations at the Summit. "
RYCO Secretary General Blanuša noted that: “As one of the most tangible results of the Berlin Process, RYCO is today a fully functional platform for youth cooperation and reconciliation processes in the region. It brings new positive perspectives for its citizens, especially for young people.”