*Intervention and reflection on the roundtable “Connecting youth within Albania and across the region: perspectives for enhanced youth contribution to the European integration process of the Western Balkans“*
‘[We] are very young and have a long time to change things’, this is how the Director for Western Balkans at DG NEAR at the European Commission, Genoveva Ruiz-Calavera, would address us the youngsters of Albania. We are at the same time the hope and the actors of change that will bring Albania forward to be a better country for its citizens and advance on its EU path. And most of all, time seems to be on our side.
Being young and very outspoken, I find myself talking a lot about the inter-generational cooperation where the decision-makers of today should have more youth around their desks. The world will be inherited by these youth by the not so distant future, where decisions of today will affect the greater part of these youngsters’ adulthood. Thus, we most of all deserve some seats at the decision-making table. I am very glad that the European Union is making youth participation more meaningful and is encouraging the same in countries ‘about to become Member States’. Such an example was the last Friday’s roundtable discussion.
Before I get to the content of the roundtable, let me express how glad I was (at a personal level), that the roundtable was composed of 115 stakeholders on youth issues, that I myself had met in different occasions but never sitting all together. I was glad that we finally found the ground where we could gather, listen to each other, argue but most of all do it in the spirit of a constructive discussion and paving the way for cooperation. We can share different opinions and might have different ways to solve things, but we must sit down and resolve our differences bearing in mind that what we do, what we say, shapes the future of the youth in Albania.
Now, I hope you are still patient to read a few more sentences on the content. At the roundtable, we spent valuable time with thank you notes, descriptions of organizations and complaints. It sounds very typical of any meeting, but for us to really grasp the opportunities that are being offered, we should start by analysing our problems instead of just stating them as complaints, and most important, we should be able to offer solutions. This is only the first homework that we should do. It is not related to any EU criteria, it is related to the further development of our society.
The second homework that follows the one of performing analysis and finding solutions, is that of daring to admit personal responsibility. In our society, we are so used to pointing the finger to somebody else, to complaining and putting the blame on state structures or international organizations. It is very simple, if each of us was to take responsibility to reporting a lack of service, or something that should be fixed by holding the institutions accountable on delivering better services, we would live in a far better society.
If somebody does not respect my right to pass at the zebra lines as a pedestrian, I will lecture for free to that person on my right and even held him/her accountable by having the next-by police officer reporting the case. Just think for a minute about all these simple cases in our everyday life that we neglect or choose to ignore, but indeed are so important and affect the overall life expectations in our society. I am so hopeful that the youth of today in Albania, will not shy away from personal responsibility, but instead it will choose to act, just like the millions of youth around the globe that have united with the action of a single individual in the #Fridays4Future. I am confident that through these simple acts we would transform our country and never want to leave it.
UNA Albania is committed to inspire and teach the youngsters in Albania how to become a #LocalSuperhero. It takes one action at a time, by each of us, and if united, the transformation of Albania will take place sooner and at a deeper level of our society. UNAA strongly believes in this and through its example and representation in different meetings, it tries to send this message even further.
P.S: Me speaking as Alba, this is what really got me in UNAA.
y Alba Brojka.