The Creation of RYCO: a Chance for the Establishment of New Relations across the Region

Danko Runić, Heartefact Program Director, was in Tirana, Albania today for the constitutional meeting of the Governing Board of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans (RYCO). The RYCO Boost Conference was organized in parallel, attended by more than 80 representatives of government institutions, civil society, diplomatic community, and international organizations from across the region.

“Heartefact is the foundation organized a large number of program exchanges across the region who are gathered significant actors such as young journalists, representatives of institutions, political parties, civil society and cultural workers, of which many today have a decisive influence on the decision making process in their countries. In addition, through Heartefact Foundation we supported a number of initiatives in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo aimed at the development of critical and independent thinking as well as the promotion of human rights, tolerance, equality, minority rights, intercultural dialogue and regional cooperation. Establishment RYCO seen as an important opportunity to establish a new regional policy based on respect for diversity and human rights, which will be in its focus have efforts to reduce the ethnic distance across the Western Balkans and we are ready to make our experience share with the new organization “- said Runić.

The Declaration on the Establishment of RYCO signed on July 4 in Paris, during the third Summit of the Western Balkans, as part of the so-called “Berlin process”. It was signed by prime ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia. The signing of this Declaration is the culmination of efforts of countries in the region, but also civil society and international partners, to establish an institutional mechanism for cooperation between young people in the region. RYCO will be the first institutional mechanism that will allow the exchange of young people in the region by supporting projects that will be implemented by youth and student organizations, high schools and universities, informal youth groups, museums, research centers, media and other actors. It is anticipated that RYCO become operational in early 2017.

During the conference, Runić stated, “Since its establishment, Heartefact has organized a vast number of exchange programs across the region, which have gathered important actors such as young journalists, representatives of institutions, political parties, civil society and cultural workers, many of whom have a significant impact on decision-making processes in their respective countries. Moreover, the Heartefact Foundation has supported numerous initiatives in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo that aim to support the development of critical and independent thinking as well as the promotion of human rights, tolerance, equality, minority rights, intercultural dialogue, and regional cooperation. We see the creation of RYCO as an important chance for establishing new regional policies based on a respect for diversity and human rights, which will put lowering ethnic distance into focus, and we are willing to share our experiences with this new organization.”

The Agreement on the Establishment of RYCO was signed on July 4 in Paris, during the Western Balkans Summit, as part of the ‘Berlin Process’ by prime ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia. The signing came after years of efforts from not only the countries from across the region, but also from civil society organizations and international partners as part of a process aimed at establishing an institutional mechanism for youth cooperation in the region. RYCO will be the first mechanism for enabling youth exchanges in the region by supporting projects implemented by youth and student organizations, high schools and universities, informal groups, museums, galleries, research centres, the media, and other actors. RYCO will be operational in early 2017.