Regional meeting of youth people from Dayton Quadrangle countries

Group of young enthusiasts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia gathered together at a seminar held between May 31st  and June 3rd, which was organized by the Youth Forum of Igman Initiative. This meeting that was supported by Friedrich Ebert Foundation and Igman Initiative took place on Zlatibor, with a purpose to make a contribution to the improvement of cooperation, reconciliation and normalization of relations in the region.

Idea to establish a regional forum of young people appeared in 2009, during sessions held in the framework of the School of Democracy in Brac, which was organized by the Civic Committee for Human Rights from Zagreb. Beside distinguished professors, academics, politicians and representatives of various non-governmental organizations, around twenty young people from all four countries signatory to the Dayton Agreement also took part in the conference that year. “First informal session of the Forum happened spontaneously, but it was nevertheless concluded with a clear vision and desire to make a step forward and contribute to the regional development, reconciliation and promotion of coexistence” – said Alma Cagalj from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since then, this informal network had organized or co-organized various Igman Initiative thematic conferences. “Forum of new regional policies and European integrations” was one of the more prominent projects, held on Fruska Gora in May 2010. “These days, as a Youth Forum, we came to a point of being recognized in our local environment, as well as in many embassies and foundations that provided us with financial and developmental support” – Alma Cagalj added.

“Youth Forum is a unique and completely innovative initiative different from all other currently active in the region. For a relatively short period of time, Youth Forum managed to team- up a significant number of young people from all four countries, bound by the idea of better regional relations, establishment of peace and stability on the basis of friendship and understanding” – Tanja Bakalbasic from Montenegro pointed out. “Zlatibor seminar was a contribution to the reinforcement of the regional network and an opportunity for setting-up clear goals for further work. Future framework, obligations and steps that are to be realized in the next few months when Youth Forum is going to present their new activities and long term strategy were determined” – Tanja Bakalbasic also mentioned.

“I am very satisfied with past events that took place on Zlatibor. I hope we’ll start using ideas that we came up with on Zlatibor, in the next period. Finally, I feel that we are moving on in the right direction and I believe that this joint meeting should serve as a strong enough incentive for continuation of cooperation” – Ana Subasic from Croatia emphasized.

New friendships made on Zlatibor, as well as cooperation with people that share the same values and hope to spread those shared beliefs among young people of the region, is what made the strongest impression on Nikola Grujic, participant from Serbia, and in his opinion that was the most important achievement. “Readiness to cooperate, maintain open communication, mutual respect and tolerance is our credo and our connecting force” – Nikola Grujic reports.

Beside members of the Youth Forum, co-presidents of Igman Initiative for Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Aleksandar Popov and Vehid Sehic also attended the meeting.

“The idea of antiwar engagement is our foundation and we are committed to the establishment of trust and democratic values. Igman Initiative’s mission is to promote and facilitate local and regional dialog in the field of politics, economy and culture” – Mr. Popov said. “At times, there are differences between views expressed within Igman Initiative, but we always manage to reach agreement, because our relationship is based on respect and trust” – co-president for Serbia mentioned.

“Human being was always the focus of our interest, not a politician. Development of a relationship based on trust and tolerance is necessary. We will assist you in addressing subjects that you select, as well as in building atmosphere of trust” – Mr. Sehic said. “It is important that you know, love and believe in what you do, in order to achieve success” – co-president of Igman Initiative for Bosnia and Herzegovina added.

“Setting-up the Youth Forum of Igman Initiative and devising activities that attract young people from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro to work together in a struggle for peace, reconciliation and neighborly relations, as the main and most important path toward regional cooperation and European integrations, was a real refreshment for us as an organization” – Ana Manojlovic, FES Program Coordinator for Serbia, said. “Zlatibor seminar was an opportunity to come up with a number of clear ideas for further work on reconciliation projects, as well as an opportunity to see what type of Youth Forum’s activities, with support from FES and Igman Initiative, can be launched in the following period” – Ana Manojlovic said.