Political Youth Network Regional Conference: Human Rights and Regional Politics

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In the period 29 May- 1 June 2019 Political Youth Network Regional Conference was held in Belgrade. Young political leaders from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia participated in a three- day conference during which they had the opportunity to acquire knowledge about human rights and regional cooperation.

Beside official PYN program during the conference, participants had the opportunity to attend “Miredita, dobar dan” festival which introduces Belgrade public to the cultural scene of Kosovo, as a cultural contribution of the general aspirations of permanent peace establishment and normalization of relationships between Serbia and Kosovo.

The conference started with an introduction meeting followed by group work and open discussion among network members. Youth Initiative for Human Rights staff members gave the brief introduction to the work and mission of YIHR and went through the agenda of the conference with the explanation of every planned activity. The open discussion was based on the ideas participants had for the future activities of Political Youth Network.

The program continued with the visit to the Pride Info Center Belgrade. The host held a brief lecture on the history of pride parade organization in Belgrade and introduced the participants with the main issues LGBTI+ community in Serbia was faced with on an everyday basis. Q&A followed with an open discussion as an ending to an hour and a half long visit.  

After the short break, a panel discussion with Gordana Čomić, National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia member, was held. The topic of the discussion was “The Role of Parliaments in Regional Cooperation”. Ms. Čomić presented her work in the field of regional cooperation as well as the main obstacles and issues regional cooperation is facing today. During the discussion participants had the opportunity to ask questions and share their experiences in the field of regional cooperation work.

The following day program started with a workshop on the topic “Regional cooperation- achievements of the Berlin Process”. The workshop started included different methodologies in order to tackle the main issues in the regional cooperation process. Participants had the opportunity to express their opinions, share their experiences and acquire new knowledge regarding regional cooperation and its importance.

After the workshop the participants had the opportunity to meet with and talk with Nataša Kandić, founder of the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade and Milica Škiljević, former Serbia’s Regional Youth Cooperation Office board member. The topic of this panel was Initiative for RECOM and Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) as instruments of post-war reconciliation and European path of the Western Balkans. Ms. Kandić shared her experience in the field of regional cooperation in the scope of the Initiative for RECOM, while, Ms. Škiljević talked about her experience of working on regional cooperation as a board member of RYCO. After both speakers shared their experiences and contributions to their respective fields of work, participants were encouraged to ask questions.

Political Youth Network Assembly was held during the regional conference in Belgrade, as well. At the beginning of the assembly, Nikola Puharić, director of programmes in YIHR- Croatia presented PYN members the report on the activities which were conducted as a part of Political Youth Network project since the last assembly took place. After the presentation of the aforementioned report, PYN members were divided into 5 groups, based on the country they were coming from and were instructed to write down the ideas for future PYN activities. This workshop resulted in variety of constructive ideas which will represent the base for the planning of future PYN activities.

At the end of the conference all participants agreed on the idea the regional cooperation is of utmost importance for all political parties in the region and expressed their will to contribute to this process in the following period.

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