seeinaction.org

‘THESSALONIKI REUNION’ 2022

The Networking Forum Semi-Annual Meeting

Report of the event

DAY 1 [15.04.2022] [Friday]
Welcome and introductions 33.3%

Ms. Anna Bampili, General Coordinator of SEE in Action 

Mr. Metodija Strojceski, president of Youth Alliance – Krusevo and coordinator of the initiative for the establishment of youth cooperation offices between North Macedonia and Greece

Mr. Gjorgji Tasev, Official Governmental Representative North Macedonia

 Mr. Kostas Filippidis, president of the Association of Active Youths of Florina (OENEF

DAY 2 [16.04.2022] [Saturday]
Seesion 1,2,3 and Round Tables 66.3%

Session 1:  How can we prevent future conflicts and disputes?

Moderator:

Alexandros Pavlou, Partnership Development Manager of SEE in Action

Speakers:

o Ms. Petra Balažič, Political Advisor, Regional Cooperation Council

o Ms. Biljana Dukovska, President of the Macedonian Anti-Poverty Platform

Notes:

How can we prevent future conflicts and disputes?

  • Preventing by promoting equal role and treatment
  • Each voice counts
  • The western Balkan conflict of the past is popping up again
  • Liability of the new generation
  • The generation turnover

-How can we be sure that young people will believe in the institution?

  • The young people are looking the answers in the European Union, the Union that gives the chances for freedom in travel, in studying in working, not only as a benefit, but also as a principle.
  • It is very annoying when there is will for meeting the economy of other country and you have to wait in the border for more than two hours.
  • Young people should have the proper perspective, and having the sense that the opportunity will be there. And if we give up off the sense from the start than there is no reason to really try.
  • Key words-having proper perspective and sense of perspective
  • This includes the EU perspective, that every young person should know that staying in their home economy because there is a will that one day that economy will become part form the EU economy and all of the benefits that bring.
  • Socio economy and freedom of movement
  • One of the latest surveys shows that fewer and fewer young people believe that their economy from the Western Balkans, will become an equal member of the EU one day.
  • So when there is a loss of perspective, there is no other way than to leave the home economy.

Social resilience (particularly disinformation/media literacy /critical thinking)

How can youth be more implemented in the intergovernmental process?

The past regional conflicts are still having an impact on regional cooperation, therefore the steps Socio economy opportunities EU perspective Social resilience are very important. 

This Is taking longer than expected, but there is hope if the young people were more actively involved, they will be able to let the voice to those who are constructive and thinking about the future and not the past.

The third of the young people say that they do not care at all about politics, this is probably because they fill like they do not have venue threw which they can phrase their opinion so they fill that their opinion does not matter at all. There is need for the young people to actively be involved in the democratic practices overall, by voting, legitimate and peaceful protests or other form of democratic expression.

In order to do that, there is the Western Balkan Youth Lab?? Project to provide mechanisms for the inclusion of young people in decision-making.  On national level, there is need for more including young people in all stages of democratic process. Not just to be present but to have a voice and influence.  Most important thing is the youth perception to be part of the EU action plan.

-Is there space for believing that this generation will change the current situation?

Following the EU strategic agenda, every single young person should take actively part in the National Youth Councils, Youth organisations, Youth workers, so is necessary to map the rest of the inactive youth to take part of every youth activity, because only by that way there is a full picture of the situation for start in acting of any sort of change.

-Our region suffers from stereotypes, poverty, high unemployment trade except from the governmental policies, university situation, how can be bottom up process so can the society achieve prosperity?

                Just small steps are done, but the key things are:

Responsibility for one young person to take another next to him, so that action can be the real step forward.

If the senior people, allow to be replaceable in any kind of thing, with young people, that is real perspective future. The change will never come if the senior does not let and give space to the young people.

The anger, injustice, hopeless are the words that describe the last two years and describe the feelings of the young people nowadays.

So, there is responsibility for giving the mechanism tool, for strengthening the voices, also there has to be a believing of the vision of peace not as the senior has a vision of peace. They have to be included in the dialog with listening to the real problems.

The young people should be the decision makers, they need to feel the social safeness, to support the development, overcome the mistrust. The communication must continue, and North Macedonia should follow the steps to the countries which are already in EU.

Networking session

‘Neighbourhood Barometer’ [Biljana Stojceska]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Networking session Principles for neighbourhood policy [Facilitated by: Aigli Sakellari]

 

Participants of the networking session: 

 

Conclusion of the open sharing discussion:

  • Vision/aim: missing element: evaluate how young people are involved in good neighborhood relationships.
  • Welcoming
  • Politics among youngsters
  • Scared to move to Greece, as a result of negative experiences
  • Analysis in the human rights in Greece (survey region)
  • Opportunity to learn native language (Balkan wars)
  • Positive approach (Barometer)
  • Focus on what unites us instead of what divides us (positive experiences)
  • Business + politics = frame (use tools inside this frame, focusing on people under 18 y.o)
  • People of high socioeconomic status are more likely to have a positive opinion and be more open-minded about neighborhood relationships.
  • People of lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be close-minded and negative about neighborhood relationships.
  • Language (English) gives people the opportunity to connect, but not everyone has that opportunity.
  • Lack of content representing Greece and Greek things on Macedonian television, and the other way around
  • Poor infrastructure (NMK – Gr.)
  • Culture, media, language, education, identities

 

Participants of the networking session:  

Conclusion of the open sharing discussion:

How do we imagine our future?

-Future of tolerance

-Collaborating human rights

-Solving poverty in both countries

-Historical narrative

-Increase Euroscepticism

Conclusion- it is a privilege to be part of the networking, working more on what the media presents.

Networking session Today and future action plan [Facilitated by: Anna Bampili]

Participants of the networking session: 

-Marija Bandulova (Young C4C Ambassador, CDSEPR), Eva Cvetkovska, Hristina Stefanovska (Young C4C Ambassador), Blazhen Maleski…..

 

Conclusion of the open sharing discussion:

-Running manifestation art resident programs and common activities for the promotion of young people;

-Art is very important for bringing young people together;

-Need to continue with cooperation and to make it stronger ;

-There are still stereotypes in things and we have to sit at the same table to face them and after that cooperate on a high level;

-Really important is to keep young people more open to cooperation, formal education is a problem in the countries ;

-A lot of elements are happening now, we need to be the change and to bring bridges between the countries;

-We need non-formal education to be recognized;

-Mental health is very important, to feel free to be involved and to get together in order to create something;

-We need to work together in order to know how to spread our views and ideas in order to promote each other heritage;

-To overcome the disparities between the two countries we have the privilege to implement joint cross border projects and that can be crucial for the future actions plan;

-To recognize the needs and to work on them as future action plan;

-Young people are not motivated enough, we need to step up and motivate them by pointing out something concrete;

-Joint projects, joint activities;

-Cooperation in political aspects, mayor political agreement;

– Future platform or future networking plan for engagement;

-Future action plan as a survey of what is need to be fixed and what youth from both countries’ needs;

-We should be the Avangard part of the history;

-We need to change the mindset of the institutions and people who have power.

In the context of the first session on “How can we prevent future conflicts and disputes?” we discussed the impact of conflicts on institutions and good governance, which are essential to ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of societies. On this basis, participants talked about ways to involve young people in the process of preventing future conflicts. In particular, the theme of the discussion was “Today and Future action plan”.

-We need to change mindset of the institutions and people who has power.

In the context of the first session on “How can we prevent future conflicts and disputes?” we discussed the impact of conflicts on institutions and good governance, which are essential to ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of societies. On this basis, participants talked about ways to involve young people in the process of preventing future conflicts. In particular, the theme of the discussion was “Today and Future action plan”.

In this context the participants proposed various ideas between facilitating young people’s communication among countries, shifting to subsidiary education, and increasing visibility.

With regard to education, it was noted that often education in schools tend to widen the gap between societies. Youth activists and educators need to “feed” the desire for cooperation and conversation with the other side. Further networking of people, conversation and cooperation, which can be achieved through Erasmus programmes between North Macedonia and Greece, exchanges that are not supported so far with some exceptions, would be positive. Therefore, a targeted next action for the future could be to facilitate exchanges between the two countries.

Furthermore, we as an initiative, and as organisations in general, should strengthen informal education and specialisation in subjects necessary for young people to enter the labour market through seminars. Such subjects could be introduction to digitalization and technology, CV or interviews preperation. These would result in training, participation and enhancing cooperation among the two countries.

Much of the discussion focused on the attitude of young people in the two countries in terms of cooperation, activism or interest in participating in the decision-making process. There were different attitudes – some argued that young people’s attitudes and mentality have changed since COVID -19, that they are not as interested, others argued that they simply do not receive enough information about their participation in organisations and activism. Furthermore, the point was raised that we cannot know with certainty what young people’s wishes and needs are in order to determine the orientation of our actions to strengthen cooperation. For this reason, it was suggested that a survey be carried out to find out the main problems young people think should be addressed in a range of issues such as unemployment, education, environment, etc. Once this action has been completed and with a definite result, it would be possible to draw up an agenda with concrete steps to address the issues in the context of general cooperation between different organisations on both sides and individuals.

However, in order to facilitate these ideas and make an impact, visibility is important. A strong presence needs to be established in both social media and conventional media. The larger the audience gained, the greater the participation and impact.

Session 2:   How can we accelerate action to achieve youth-friendly neighborhood policies?

Moderator: Anelija Mitrova, Operations Coordinator of Youth Alliance – Krusevo

Speakers:

-Mr. Ognjen Marković, Team Leader at Regional Cooperation Council

-Mr. Marko Gjorgievski, Director at National Agency for European Educational Programmes and Mobility in North Macedonia

-Mr. Metodija Stojceski, Coordinator of the Initiative for Establishing Youth Cooperation Offices between North Macedonia and Greece

-Ms.Aigli Sakellari, Strategic Planning Manager of SEE in Action

Notes:

  • Aiming to increase the number of young people involved in decision-making processes (still not per EU standards in the Balkan)
  • Young people should be consulted and involved
  • Bridge young people and policymakers together are the core
  • Highly interested in improving mental health and poverty
  • Encouraging young people to take the lead
  • Hope to have Youth Policy Labs in the future in the region or in broader
  • ‘We are not the future; we are the present’
  • Political department helps
  • ‘At the end of the day, it’s all about people being involved’
  • Have to be optimistic
  • RCC is open to youngsters and is working with governmental institutions
  • When change occurs during elections, it slows down the process
  • The role of the National Agency: engaging young people in the initiative and youth policy
  • Young people are expected to be more engaged after the pandemic
  • Approximately 1000 events around Europe for youngsters
  • Issues about youngsters will not stop
  • The National Agency will contribute to this through Offices for Youth
  • The National Agency is in contact with the Bulgarian National Agency in order to reach inclusion
  • The National Agency must collaborate with other countries (i.e Serbia and Albania)
  • Open Balkan allows more mobility among students (Serbia, N. Macedonia and Albania)
  • We know about each other, yet we do not collaborate enough
  • For everything to start to implement, one needs to have optimism and will
  • ‘I really believe in good Balkan relationships’
  • ‘Young people are only a reflection of the society they live in’
  • Young people lack information about the other country, but claim they hate it
  • We need to meet people from each other’s countries
  • Relationships amongst the Balkan countries are more or less the same, and for that we need to organize events in which the youngsters can meet.
  • People-to-people relationships
  • We have to advocate for change from scratch
  • Universities have a crucial role in this (they only explain the regional cooperation in theory)
  • Creativity and imagination are crucial when aiming for change
  • ‘You think of the problems as a mountain, but it takes small steps to overcome them’
  • Ask first and then provide tools
  • Young people need to push more points to the government (pressure will work)
  • Young people should give feedback

Institutions should also show support

Networking session: Definition of youth-friendly neighborhood policies [Facilitated by: Ioanna Panagiotidou]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Networking session:

Actions for youth-friendly neighborhood policies [Facilitated by: Eleni Vasdoka]

Participants of the networking session:

 Conclusion of the networking session:  

-Horrible public administration

-Paper policy

-Taking the stuff in our hands

-Mapping the issues

-Lack of regular strategic issues

-The offense to the Greek people using the word…North Macedonia” on different occasions

Conclusion and proposals:

-Making events with common (art, culture, food)

-Education in the institutions for the new generations

-Monitoring and speaking out

 

Participants of the networking session: 

Concussion of the networking session:  

As part of this session, we discussed young people from both countries, their interests, actions, and involvement in society. We don’t need to be active only to achieve a goal, we can cover the needs. We can stand for our rights and a better future. Young people are in lack creativity and imagination.  A Participant in our session informed us that in North Macedonia there is one youth national strategy, but not a regional one. Young people from smaller cities are feeling lost, where can they address their needs, make international cooperation or just interact with young people from the region and share the ideas. Therefore mapping from both sides is needed and a policy paper that will reach universities and students.  . Macedonian people expressed themselves that in the past they were careful with mentioning the name Macedonia in any context while communicating in written form. They felt like they will offend their greek partners or maybe that will bring complications in the collaboration.

 

 

In addition, we can work on promoting mutual and common characteristics that will build a stronger bond and wake the interest of the people from the other side of the border. We gave an example of architecture. Promotion of ancient theaters that exist on the territory of North Macedonia can show the similarity with the greek ancient theaters. North Macedonia is not promoted as tourism destination and that can make people cross the border and get to know our country.

Much of the discussion was focused on youth councils  who can be activated and we can have partner cities and organise projects that will tackle the young people. We have researches  among young people so now we need to work on collaboration.

As a  conclusion the issue is not having enough support from official national authorities and we should activate ourselves more and involve in the educational system.

Networking session:

Prespa agreement to the prism of young people [Facilitated by: Nikos Bakirtzis]

Participants of the networking session:

Concussions of the networking session:  

  • The Prespa agreement is a success story of our region that solved a decades-long conflict amongst 2 countries
  • It should not be only business based, but also studies-based (i.e exchange programs)
  • Important is that the youth is included in the agreement (which is something that should have started before the agreement)
  • Youth cooperation(s) can influence the politics too
  • This is a step in the right direction and a basis for deeper cooperation
  • We should become more open and less scared to and off each other
  • Local communities and academic facilities should also be used for this cooperation
  • ‘Pick your allies’
  • Researchers should be sent to rural areas too
  • Fake news is not the only reason for opposition
  • ‘A youth that is inactive in their own country cannot be active outside’
  • Organize activities without mentioning the Prespa agreement
  • Avoid labels
  • Respect each other’s laws and institutions

After the second session, the discussion was dedicated to the way young people perceive the Prespa Agreement. Many different views were heard on the subject. Some were of the opinion that the world is becoming much more open-minded and receptive, while others were of the opinion that we are just as likely to live in societies that are closed-minded and critical.

Many in Greece at a young age do not know where North Macedonia is, and many have a negative opinion without even knowing about the content and the context in which the agreement was signed. Other young people are against the agreement but nevertheless believe in and want cooperation between young people of the two countries. It was said that in North Macedonia they do not have a problem with Greeks for the most part and, stories were told about students from North Macedonia who either expected to be treated negatively because of their origin by their Greek counterparts and about people that were surprised by the impending friendship between Greek and North Macedonian students. But most agreed that the defenders of the agreement belong to a bubble and that most of the young people probably don’t even care.

Furthermore, criticism was raised against the use of labels such as emphasis on nationality when talking about the citizens of the two countries and their relations. According to one view, the use of labels such as nationality, color or preferences can work in two ways. Either they can work in a unifying way by creating a sense of belonging to a group, but they can also work in the opposite way, placing someone against a group and widening the gap between people. “Labels” and words in general take on the meaning we give them and depend on how we use them. Possibly we could take a more critical attitude towards what makes us feel this separation.

In line with the above, the discussion moved on to what happens with people that disagree with the Agreement. In order to integrate them into a different way of thinking, we have to accept the societies that we were born and raised. Not every action should be advertised as being conducted under the Prespa Agreement, instead should be implied. It is not necessary, for example, when we organize a basketball game or a training seminar to say that it is being done within the framework of the agreement. It can be just a game or a seminar that brings together young people from the two countries.

Session 3: Finding ways to promote and implement cooperation?

Moderator:

Ms. Anna Bampili, General Coordinator of SEE in Action

 

Mr. Ivan Damjanovski, Professor at the Political Science Department, Faculty of Law, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje; Affiliated Researcher at the Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” – Skopje

  • Several layers of social cohesion are connected with individual freedom and social justice;
  • Social capital meaning is a way to describe the benefits to be social, that is the glue that keeps people together to act more effectively;
  • Network and trust is a key factors in institutional and voluntary activities;
  • Social capital cohesion leads to cross border cooperation;
  • Recent statistics show that level of trust is not a satisfactory level in our societies;
  • More than 50% of people in Greece and almost 50% of people in North Macedonia think that factor of sustainability is;
  • Factor researches show how to facilitate cross-border cooperation: with proactive cooperation, by targeting the policies, institutional setup, and cultural cohesion.

Mr.Yorgos Christidis, University of Macedonia | UOM · Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies Doctor of Philosophy

  • Experience of bilateral cooperation can teach us how we can proceed with normalization pushing relations forward;
  • We have an Interreg IPA CBC program involving Greece and North Macedonia for cross border cooperation through joint projects and activities;
  • When you have finances from the EU is easier to cooperate;
  • We have common issues and problems, for example, environmental issues determined by geographically definition and we need to join our forces together on solving common problems that concern both countries;

The biggest problem in cooperation between Greece and North Macedonia is the involvement of the governments;

Key stakeholders for a socially cohesive society? [Facilitated by: Biljana Stojceska]    

Participants of the networking session:

 Conclusions of the networking sessions:

Making a working group of:

-People from the academia

-People from the ministry

-Chambers

-NGOs

Mapping the Local Authorities, Communities, trying to work with influencers and famous sportspeople who have a great public role.

New ideas are always welcomed [Facilitated by: Alexandros Pavlou]                  

Participants of the networking session:

 Conclusions of the networking sessions:

  • sharpening critical thinking that should be implemented in the educational system
  • art will save the world
    good cooperation with greek artists
  • artists are bridge makers and young people should be involved too
  • ideas can be transmitted through art projects
  • people can communicate with many means
  • poetry can expand cultural knowledge amongst one another 8. non-formal education can help us connect with culture 9. teach the children to draw flags and other basic knowledge about N. Macedonia/Greece
  • cooking class
  • multi-national festivals
  • presenting universities of the other country transport
DAY 3 [17.04.2022] [Sunday]
Brainstorming 100%

System Thinking Workshop

[Biljana Stojceska]

Brainstorming session about relevant elements for youth bilateral cooperation:

  • Civil Society Organizations
  • Education/ University Systems
  • Culture + Art
  • Tourism
  • Entertainment
  • Institutional support/ local
  • Support from society
  • Community/ Family
  • Legal framework
  • Infrastructure and transportation
  • Political contacts/Connection/ Advocacy
  • Health/ Social Security
  • Environmental concerns
  • Human rights
  • Labor market
  • Digital transformation
  • R+D
  • Final conclusions
  • The top 5 key fields for bilateral youth cooperation: Education; Human Rights; Sustainability and Resilience; Media; Mobility and Culture

Principles of networking and next steps 

Principles of networking:

  • Participation
  • Accountability and Transparency
  • Non-discrimination
  • In accordance with international and national law
  • Solidarity
  • Commitment

Next steps:

Preparation of open declaration which will be signed by relevant representatives and individuals