Project updates

Here you will find regular updates on the implementation of TransConflict’s Serbia’s project, ‘Strengthening Dialogue on Serbia’s Euro-Atlantic Integration through Local Youth Offices’.

Conference on ‘Strengthening Dialogue on Euro-Atlantic Integration through Local Youth Offices’

Tuesday 10th April, 2010 – A final conference, marking the successful implementation to date of part of TransConflict’s ‘Strengthening Serbia’s Euro-Atlantic Integration through Local Youth Offices’ project, was held on 9th-10th April in Sremska Mitrovica. The five Local Youth Offices (LYOs) – Kladovo, Novi Becej, Obrenovac, Sjenica and Sremska Mitrovica, respectively – who have directly participated in each phase of the project were joined by representatives from several other LYOs from throughout Serbia who have expressed an interest in participating in this initiative.

During the two-day conference, the participants had the opportunity to discuss a variety of issues related to both the process of EU integration and Serbia’s role in the international security arena, facilitated primarily through the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Programme. Mr. Jiri Jurik, from the Czech Embassy in Belgrade, provided a variety of insights into the Czech Republic’s own experiences of Euro-Atlantic integration; whilst Mrs. Zorica Labudovic, from the Ministry for Youth and Sports, provided a detailed overview of the Ministry’s work, placing a particular emphasis on the importance and role of LYOs as a mechanism for strengthening of youth activism and participation throughout Serbia. Mrs. Labudovic also talked about the increasing opportunities for young people to travel, including student exchange programmes, which many still do not seem to be sufficiently well informed about.

Mrs. Snezana Kresoja, from the Novi Sad-based Centre for Politics and Euro-Atlantic Partnership, opened up an interesting and provocative discussion about the topic of “Mythologising Euro-Atlantic Integration”; whilst Mr. Marko Savkovic, of the Centre for Civic-Military Relations from Belgrade, introduced the participants to a range of new security threats and challenges, emphasizing their interconnectedness and the need for increased cooperation and mutual efforts to find global solutions. The first day of the conference concluded with a short documentary on Serbia’s military neutrality – a topic which was discussed by our guest-speakers during the course of the day and which has also been explored during the series of workshops previously organised in cooperation with LYOs.

The second day of the conference was conducted in an interactive manner, with Mrs. Ljiljana Josic, from the European Movement in Serbia – Local Council Sremska Mitrovica, skilfully guiding the young participants through a workshop entitled “The EU and You”. During the final afternoon session – the main objective of which was to lay the foundations for the development of a joint strategy for promoting dialogue on Euro-Atlantic integration through Local Youth Offices – the participants were divided into two working groups and tasked with devising approaches to engaging young people on, and educating them about, issues related to Euro-Atlantic integration.

For photographs from the conference in Sremska Mitrovica, please click here.

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Panel discussion organized in Pancevo

Friday 2nd April, 2010 – TransConflict Serbia, in close co-operation with Gradjanska akcija (Citizens’ Action) from Pancevo, organised a panel discussion on Wednesday 31st March, entitled “Serbia and NATO tomorrow”. The guest speakers were Mr. Steffen Elgersma, from NATO’s Political Affairs and Security Policy Division (PASP) and Euro-Atlantic Integration and Partnership Directorate (EIPD), Mr. Jan Vlkovsky and Mr. Jiri Jurik from the Czech Embassy in Belgrade, and Mr. Aleksandar Radic, an independent military analyst.

The panel discussion – which was organised as part ofTransConflict’s ‘Strengthening Serbia’s Euro-Atlantic Integration through Local Youth Offices’ project – was attended by a large number of people, including public officials and academics, as well as representatives of the Students’ Association and former employees of the chemical industry. The representatives of the Czech Embassy opened the discussion by introducing the role and activities of the Czech Embassy as NATO’s Contact Point Embassy for 2009-2010, and by referring to the experiences of the Czech Republic in its transitioning to, and transformation into, a full member of both NATO and the EU.

Mr. Elgersma spoke about the intensive process currently underway to develop NATO’s new Strategic Concept and provided a variety of insights into constantly emerging security challenges and threats. Mr. Elgersma also talked about the present and future relationship between Serbia and NATO, possible modes of cooperation within the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Programme, NATO’s open door policy and Serbia’s military neutrality. Mr. Radic continued along these lines, giving a detailed explanation and analysis of the costs of military neutrality, the importance of stronger cooperation in our inter-connected world and the potential benefits Serbia can derive from closer relations with NATO.

Towards the end, Rastko Pocesta, a 12-years old pupil from Pancevo, surprised all the participants by displaying his thorough understanding of global affairs with a speech that emphasized the importance of openness and tolerance.

Questions ensuing from the presentations contributed to a lively and long debate on a variety of issues, including the legacy of NATO’s air-campaign in 1999, demonstrating that there is not only a huge interest amongst the public in Serbia to openly discuss security-related issues, but also a great need to provide them with up-to-date and impartial information.

For photographs from the panel discussion in Pancevo, please click here.

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