The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) in the Western Balkans has been launched
Sharing common challenges, the Western Balkans' societies decided to work together in order to empower young people. Growing up in a turbulent post-war environment, youth in the region is facing prejudice and intolerance, massive unemployment and important brain-drain.
To tackle these issues, six Western Balkan States (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia) have decided to take part in a regional initiative in order to promote reconciliation and cooperation between the youth in the region. On 4th of July, their heads of States met in Paris to sign the founding document of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) during the Western Balkan Summit, gathering German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, Austria's Chancellor and Italy's Finance Minister, as well as the Western Balkan leaders, who discussed key topics including migration policy, security and economic cooperation.
The establishment of the Regional Youth Exchange Office (RYCO) is inspired in the experience of the Franco-German Youth Office, to develop new relationships and improve cooperation projects. Based in Tirana (with one local branch per country), and operational in January 2017, RYCO will implement joint programmes for young people focusing on the principles of democratic governance, sustainable economic development, education and innovation.
The equal participation of civil society organisations and governments is a crucial approach to ensure an inclusive process and create adjusted projects and synergies. ALDA Skopje’s office and the members of Local Democracy Agencies from the Balkans participated in national consultations and in local working groups, discussing the implementation of this structure. ALDA welcomes this major initiative opening perspectives for Balkans Youth, and will continue to support regional cooperation and reconciliation in the Western Balkans as one of its main missions since its creation.