Day of the Four Freedoms in Belgrade: with youth and about youth

The first Day of the Four Freedoms under the subtitle “EU4YOU What’s in it for me?” brought together over thirty young people from Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania and Austria, took place on Friday March 24th 2017, in Startit Center in Belgrade. The aim of the event was to introduce young people with the opportunities and possibilities becoming available through Serbia’s accession to the  European Union (EU). Within this event, an exhibition was organized, presenting the most successful students’ works in the contest dealing with topics related to the European Union.

The event was opened by Mr Milorad Bjeletić, executive director of the Belgrade Open School, who welcomed the participants and stressed the importance of youth dialogue and events aimed at bringing together young people and encouraging them to express their opinions on relevant topics. After him, event participants were addressed by Mr Nikolas Bisel, on behalf of the EU Delegation in Serbia, who highlighted youth as the future leaders and  agents of change, as well as importance of their active participation in democratic processes.

Mr. Bisel commented on the theme of youth entrepreneurship, education and solidarity, which are the most common topics which young people dealt with within the contest, and stressed that it is important to have representatives of young people, especially the most vulnerable groups among them, in each of these areas.

Ms Milica Škiljević, representative of the Republic of Serbia in the Governing board of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans (RYCO), was the last speaker to address participants within the first panel.  She pointed out that young people should be equal as representatives of society like everyone else, and that it is important to involve them in decision-making processes affecting them. She encouraged the youth to always want more, to be better, because in this way they can contribute to solving social problems.

After the introductory words there was a panel discussion, titled “Let’s talk about freedom, opportunities and challenges” with the participation of representatives of three partner organizations in the project from Romania, Hungary and Slovenia, while a panel was moderated by Bojana Jevtović from Belgrade Open School.

Ms Virág Zsár from the Research Institute and the Center for Social and Economic Analysis “HÉFTA” from Hungary referred to the topics that the students engaged in their work and said she was very pleased that one of the most common theme was the freedom of movement of people, or the ability of young people to travel. She said it was very important that young people from rural areas in Hungary have the opportunity to travel and to be trained abroad and stressed that they, through the activities of their organizations tend to involve young people in decision-making processes.

Ms Dorotja Lakatos in front of the Harghita County Council, Romania, talked about the huge problem of youth unemployment, particularly relevant in rural areas of Romania, as well as the “brain drain” the state is trying to cope with. Ms. Lakatos pointed out that, in resolving these problems, we should focus on youth entrepreneurship and provide support to young people in the establishment of “start-up” companies. She also stressed the importance of training for young people in foreign countries, as well as the comeback of young people to their home countries after their time abroad, and putting newly acquired knowledge to work.

Mr Dejan Sič from the Library and Cultural Center of Lendava municipality, Slovenia, said that the residents of this small border town really feel that they enjoy the freedoms provided EU, on the way towards Western Europe. He underlined the multiethnic character as what’s distinguishing his city, and in particular stressed the importance of exchange of goods, capital and free movement of people in the creation of a broader multi-ethnic society in Europe.

After the panel discussion, Mr Vanja Dolapčev awarded the students, whose works won the contest, with prizes, and opened an exhibition featuring the most successful works submitted through the contest.

In the second part of the even, three roundtables where organized, in which event participants, with moderators Ms Natalija Golović, Ms Jovana Božičković and Ms Jelisaveta Jovanović, talked about education, solidarity and entrepreneurship. Participants of the round table discussions highlighted the problems faced by young people in these areas and listed main methods through which these problems could be resolved.