Youngsters from the Balkans speak up

Article published on May 20, 2010
Article published on May 20, 2010
By Fredrik Mjell Translation by Joana Cansado Carvalho On the 29th of May, a conference was held in Brussels on the future of the enlargement to the Western Balkans. Organised by the EPC (European Policy Centre), the European Fund for the Balkans and the EXIT festival, this event launched a dialogue between European leaders and the Balkans’ youth.
The exchange turned the light on these youngsters’ initiatives and on the venture of the EU’s enlargement.g

photo : balkanfund.or

Young people in the Balkans take their countries’ future accession to the EU for granted. Listening to them, the deepness of their conviction and the certainty of their engagement are clear. The expression 'a story of change' is uttered again and again when they speak up, four words that more or less sum up their life stories. "We have brought together these different representatives with the goal of presenting you with different perspectives" - Hedvig Morvai-Horvath, from the European Fund for the Balkans, explained. During the conference, a ten-minute report sketched the portrait of these satisfied young Europeans. Smiling and relaxed, the film showed youngsters concerned with the prospects of their homelands. Afterwards, it was time for a Q & A session between Franz Cermak, from the DG Elargissement, and the Balkan youngsters. Numerous questions were tackled, namely the future of Kosovo, the liberalisation of visas, the problem of the delimitation of the Slovenian-Croatian borders and the political trends in the various Balkan countries. Precisely the issues the EU is striving to solve.

This meeting allowed the taking on of 'sensitive' issues, while opening the way for a profound reflexion on the European stakes in the Balkans. These young people were thus given an opportunity to express their hopes, apprehensions and needs regarding the European project. A spontaneous dialogue, opened to everyone, during which most of the dilemmas posed by the enlargement were addressed. Franz Cermak stressed that Europe cannot promise a future free of conflicts, although it is giving it its best shot, provided that each country does the same.

By the end of the conference, politics gave way to a more cultural, less academic exchange. The EPC joined efforts with the EXIT festival to present the works of several Balkan artists.