The Balkan Round Table (BRT) Leadership Conference 2016 brought together ten IUSY member organisations from the region at the end of July, hosted by DPSMYC Montenegro in Podgorica. During this conference we had the chance to update each other on the different issues that each country/organisation is facing and also strengthen our cooperation in the Balkans.
Find below the statement, outcome of the BRT Leadership Conference 2016.
BRT 2016 Statement on the strengthening of the region
In 2016, the Balkan Region is undergoing major and critical changes that are reshaping our region and our countries future.
We as International Union of Socialist Youth, strongly support and encourage the inclusion of the young politicians and the youngsters of each country, in this important phase of decision making the Balkan countries are taking towards European standards and integration.
The youth of the Balkans, deserve a brighter future, prosperous economy, with no political or ethnic conflict, where the rule of law is strong and where governments are responsive and responsible for their citizens problems.
Right wing extremism in Europe is creating new ways of infiltrating our life and politics by disguising it as center directed right wing party or sometimes even left. But once the curtains wear off, we then see the background and true interests of people behind them.
The increase of terrorism in the world and consequently the endorsing fear in the population is one of the main points on the agenda for the terrorists themselves and also of course for the right wing parties that are abusing the current situations in Europe to increase their power. “Power to the people” is the main foundation of Social Democracy, that’s why we need to find new efficient ways of battling the increase of right wing movements.
Firstly, we as social democrats should return to our roots. That is communicating with people, publicly fighting for their rights and heading towards public good. We must redirect our speech and actions towards the poorest people living without social and health care, living in most distant areas without infrastructure (no internet) and with harmed education systems. They are the ones that need the most help, and also the ones that will value our fight the most. We must not sympathize with any exclusion, racist or/and xenophobic speech. Not from right-wingers and especially not from left-wingers. We are a mirror of ourselves, and we are the ones that promote the acceptance of differences, diverse communities and inclusion. Let’s keep it this way. as we all know, the best way to get to people is by actually doing so. Meaning we should go out to the public with/as activists and talk to people in ghettos, harmed locations, and everywhere else. We need to promote our views to others, and of course best way to do that is by engaging with them. Social Democracy is a word that describes cooperation between people, and we are here to span it’s values.
Education is the most important tool you give young people to be prepared for the challenges of the future. We as IUSY Balkan organizations stand for universal free education for all sectors of the society, since only by allowing everyone equal access to quality education; individuals are able to pursue their respectable careers in an effective manner. We also strongly advocate for paying special attention to the groups that can be easily discriminated in the today’s society and allowing everyone to pursue their dreams freely, regardless of gender, race and religion.
We strongly recommend our governments to reform our educational system in a way that gives young people the possibility to get a job in the future. It is important to strengthen vocational education and to train our citizens throughout their life. We should find new ways of cooperation between us to pressure our governments and universities to benefit more from EU projects such as ERASMUS or HORIZON 2020. Furthermore, one of the biggest concerns for many new students is being able to afford housing while studying and having good infrastructural conditions. By adopting these ideas we believe it would benefit everyone, not only the students or young people, but it would result in a better and more productive society for all
Youth unemployment is one of the most important issues our countries are facing and this is something that not only affects the present but also the future of our economies and lives. All around the Balkan the youth struggles to find a job. The average unemployment rate for young people is higher compared to other ages, in the Balkan Region it varys from 17% to 53%.
To solve the unemployment problem we must start from the roots all the way up to the leaves.
First of all, we as a social-democratic organizations should advocate for a better guidance in youth career. We recommend member organizations to urge their governments for the creation of career-orientation offices for youth who will start their journey into the labor market.
We recommend member organizations to implement policies that encourage youth entrepreneurship. We also suggest a re-distribution of the budget so there can be more opportunities for youth start-ups.
Furthermore, we strongly recommend vocational trainings for all upcoming students. We urge the governments to implement curricula which is more skill-based and provide more experience for the upcoming students in the labor market. We also encourage the creation of national internship programs. We suggest the implementation of youth guarantee beyond borders.
We as IUSY members strongly support integration of the Balkan countries towards the European Union.
That being said, we have to ensure regional stability and improve regional cooperation.
IUSY stands for strong social policy therefore current policies could be improved on a regional level in a cooperative manner.
So far, Regional Youth Cooperation Office was established, but still it is necessary to provide better scope and by that including Slovenia and Croatia.
We have a say as one that is why we all support the work that each organizations are doing in their own countries.
Bulgaria is one of the countries from the Balkan region with the lowest standards of living, biggest youth migration and big depopulation of many of its cities and villages. Corruption and the presence of organized crime representatives (prime minister of Bulgaria – Boyko Borissov is a well known member of the organized crime structures in the 1990s) in state power is obvious, even the French Ambassador in Bulgaria says this in a TV interview on 30th July 2016.
We, IUSY Balkan members, support our comrades from Bulgaria in their fight for freeing the country from criminals in state structure and taking decisive steps to reform the judicial system and prosecutor’s office according to EU recommendations and following the good example of Romania’s National Anti Corruption Agency.
IUSY supports the struggle of Social Democratic Union, Social Democratic Youth and the Civil Society in Macedonia on their fight for democracy and against the totalitarian regime of Nikola Gruevski and VMRO-DPMNE. We encourage all the political actors in Macedonia to fully implement the upgrade of Przino Agreement to guarantee that the upcoming Macedonian elections on December are free and fair.
On the 21st of July, Albania made history by approving unanimously and with consensus the reform of the justice system. Political leaders have shown responsibility and strong democratic values by voting to create a new independent, fair and free judicial system, a reform in complete coherence with the Venice Commission recommendations.
It is with great optimism for the future of the country and for the Albanian youth, that IUSY and the young politicians of the Balkan region, salute the new judicial reform, and its consensual approval, which will open a new chapter for the European Integration of Albania. We feel that political parties should always come together when they are passing critical and important policies that will affect the lives of their citizens. Political dialog, consensus, constructive cooperation is always better than separation and political war. This spirit of leadership is necessity for our countries in the critical steps needed to be undertaken on their path towards a better life. We, IUSY will always support political actions that respect the principle that people’s interest always comes before party interests.
We, the Balkan youth organizations, feel the necessity to continue on strengthening our cooperation. During the Balkan Round Table 2016 in Podgorica, Montenegro we agreed to organize more joint activities, in promoting regional cooperation, unity, and social democratic values.