The United Nations in Kosovo organized a two-day Youth Assembly in Pristina, entitled “The Power of the Youth – Joint Building of Peace and Security”.
This event brought together 160 young representatives of various organizations from all over Kosovo. The goal is their involvement in decision making and making recommendations for institutions.
Today and tomorrow, young people from Kosovo, of different nationalities and interests, will participate in the development of language-related recommendations, peace building, and there will be discussions on human rights and project development.
“We are not only the future of Kosovo, but the present. It is time to participate in decision-making, to be those who are changing the world and make it a better place,” said Fatlinda Daka, representative of the Youth Operational Team.
Her colleague, Jovan Zivkovic told young people to use this event to convey their ideas.
“You are not alone on this road, you are at the same time with the UN Team and we can do it together. If you want to be young activists, use this Assembly for your voice to be heard. Use your voice so that your ideas can be heard because the youth of Kosovo is full of energy, and in order to be young leaders, you must have concrete ideas for the present,” Jovan said.
The Kosovo Youth Assembly was opened by the deputy head of the UN mission in Kosovo Christopher Coleman, saying that Kosovo’s youth could play a key role in building multi-ethnic trust and better functioning institutions in Kosovo.
“Youth is often in the forefront when prejudice is demolished. By being here you have made the first step towards building a more cohesive and more peaceful society in Kosovo and overcoming divisions that continue to prevent many young people in Kosovo from socializing with others. “
UNDP Permanent Representative Ulrika Richardson said that this two-day gathering is an opportunity for a great job to be done.
“Your role in building peace is fundamental. That’s why we are here today. You are the ones who can make a change in building reconciliation, dialogue and preventing future conflicts, you are the creators of peace,” Richardson said.
Jan Braathu, the head of the OSCE, reminded that Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe and that young people’s attitudes determine the character of a society. He suggested the institutions to respect and support the financing of organizations run by young people.
“If we have almost 53% of the population in Kosovo that is under the age of 25, then we have to see how the Kosovo budget is allocated. It has to be done more in that direction. Investing in young people is not just investment for young people but for the whole society. Understanding the needs of young people in Kosovo today, it will be determined how the policy will have positive results in the future. The youth must be included. We have to see that it is invested in young people. The youth must be consulted and be involved in the processes. Investing in the youth is investment in the future,” Braathu said.
The head of the OSCE mission also pointed to language barriers that exist among the Kosovo population. Recalling that the Serbian language is official language in Kosovo, Braathu pointed to the need to introduce Serbian language courses at Pristina University.
“It’s really a pity that there are no programs for learning the Serbian language. To remind you, there are two official languages in Kosovo, and English is not one of them, Albanian and Serbian are two official languages under the Kosovo Constitution and this should be respected,” he concluded.
In addition to the UN, UNDP and OSCE, the support to the Youth Assembly also was provided by UNICEF and the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Kosovo.
Deputy Minister Rexhep Hoti said that the ministry supports youth and their projects, saying that “freedom of Kosovo is a freedom for everyone”.
The same format of the Youth Assembly exists in New York.