From September 19 to 23, 11 representatives of umbrella associations from Europe visited Belgrade as part of a study visit, with the aim of learning more about youth dialogues with institutions that KOMS has been implementing since 2019.
As part of the study visit, representatives of the National Youth Council of Macedonia (NMSM), the Estonian Union of Youth Associations (ENL), the Latvian Youth Council (LJP), the Slovak Youth Council (RMS) visited the premises of KOMS, as well as the premises of significant organizations and institutions for youth dialogues with institutions.
On the first day, the participants visited the premises of the National Youth of the Youth of Serbia, where we discussed the mandate and advocacy efforts of KOMS, youth policy, its key actors and mechanisms of active participation of young people, as well as youth dialogues with institutions from the youth perspective, which KOMS continuously carried out from year to year.
During this meeting, we concluded that some of the most significant aspects of the dialogue between young people and the institutions, and especially the Prime Minister, are that they raise and maintain the focus of the public on topics that are important for young people, which would otherwise be neglected, as well as that they create space for issues of importance for young people are included in other public policies, not only youth policies.
On the third day, we had two meetings with representatives of key institutions: the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. As part of the meeting with Jovana Radonjić, advisor to the head of the Government for education, at which the efforts that the Government of the RS is making to improve the position of young people in Serbia were discussed.
We concluded that it is very important for the Prime Minister to hear what the needs of young people are, and that for any progress it is necessary to communicate openly about the needs and challenges that young people face. Also, we realized that one of the primary motives to continuously organize dialogues with young people is the fact of a worrying number of young people who want to leave Serbia, and above all their local communities, due to the lack of opportunities for employment, adequate housing and generally opportunities for a dignified life.
This meeting was significant because the representatives of other umbrella associations also shared examples of good practice from their countries, such as program financing, provision of space for umbrella associations and their member organizations, as well as improvement of youth inclusion mechanisms and youth work in units. local governments.
After that, in the premises of the Palace of Serbia, we met with acting the Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports of the Youth Sector, Snežana Žugić, as well as the Head of the Group in the Sector for International Cooperation and European Integration, Uao Pavlović.
On that occasion, we discussed with them the focus of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in the field of youth policy, the structure of youth policy and the most important mechanisms for the participation of young people in decision-making processes, as well as how the Ministry sees cooperation in the field of youth policy with the countries from which our guests are coming. and the ways in which youth dialogues with the minister influenced the further work and decisions of the ministry.
It was important for us to hear the opinions of our guests, so Juraj Lizák, director of the RMS office, pointed out: “It’s great to be informed that great things are being done outside the European Union and that, as we sometimes think, the Schengen border is not the end of the world.” We also have a lot of inspiration in the Balkans”. He also thanked KOMS for three great days in Belgrade, while it was a great pleasure for us to host them.
This study visit was the first in a series of study visits, within the Erasmus+ European Youth Together project called Youth Empowerment Incubator. The project’s activities are focused on youth participation in different European countries and rely on the contribution of youth and civil society across Europe, as well as on a comprehensive analysis of good practices of youth participation in decision-making processes and/or the goals of the EU Youth Dialogue. Through the project, umbrella associations from different European countries will have the opportunity to learn from each other, to exchange knowledge, experiences and, most importantly, good practices of youth participation in decision-making processes, which could be applied in other partner countries.
We look forward to continued cooperation and exchange of knowledge and experience with our partners. We will publish all future activities and events on our social networks, and one of the first activities in that direction will be impressions from the study visit to Slovakia, which will be held from October 9 to 13 in Bratislava.
The study visit was organized within the Erasmus + project “Youth Empowerment Incubator”, supported by the European Union.