What a month behind us! In the first stage of evaluation of the new Young European Ambassadors, more than 47,000 votes were cast for the selection of our new Young European Ambassadors! After the closing of Open Online Voting on 30 September, the top 30 candidates from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia are evaluated by the Technical Jury and YEA Expert Jury guided by fairness, transparency, creativity, and leadership. Finally, the YEA Expert Jury will pronounce the 10 winners from each of the Western Balkans six – 60 in total, at the YEA Winners Announcement Event.
YEA Expert Jury members were chosen based on the values they promote, and the marks they left in making our societies better and more diverse. Not only are members of the jury inspiring and self-made individuals, but they also represent a mix of expertise and skills, and promote positive, relevant causes and EU values. Take a look at their life stories below!
Representatives from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) will be joining us for the live stream, together with the YEA team leaders, who will be by your side over the next years.
Selena Tasic, YEA Public Diplomacy Manager
Mr. Claus Giering, Head of Unit Communication and Inter-institutional Relations, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), European Commission
YEA Anniversary Video
Introductions of Jury Members
Closing remarks and technical information by the organisers
Born in 1994, Dafina Peci is the Secretary General for National Youth Congress of Albania, an umbrella organisation of 120 youth organisations. The Youth Congress played a key role in securing the “European Youth Capital” title for Tirana in 2022, in collaboration with the Municipality of Tirana.
Dafina holds two Bachelor degrees in Political Science and International Relations, as well as a Master of Science degree in Regional Policy and Security, specialising in Post-Conflict Security Establishment, Peacebuilding and Mediation.
Since 2017, she has been working as Associate Professor in Classic and Contemporary Political Philosophy and Politics and Democracy in South East Europe at the University of Tirana. Dafina was involved in the working group to establish Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO). Her RYCO connection has continued with Dafina holding the position of Albanian youth representative in RYCO’s Governing Board for the past three years.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Nejra Latić Hulusić is an award-winning film and TV director from Sarajevo. Born in 1995, she graduated from the directing department of her home city’s Academy of Performing Arts.
Nejra won the Balkan Discoveries Award in 2011 for her documentary “Undercovered”, co-directed with Sabrina Begović Ćorić. In 2011, she directed a documentary film “Her Cinema Love”, which has been screened at some of the most important documentary film festivals, including HOTDOCS, Visions du Reel, DOK Leipzig, Dokufest, and ZagrebDOX.
In 2018, Nejra won the HBO best pitching Award at Zagreb DOXPro, with further success in 2020 for her documentary film “Ćafir” which won the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival (BHFF) Jury Award for the Best Documentary and Audience Award for Best Picture.
Currently working as a TV director, broadcaster and documentary maker for BHRT (Radio and Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina – BiH), her latest directing project is the first Bosnian fiction web series for youth, “The Mocers” (Pdrugljivci). Beside her directing works, she writes weekly columns for Banja Luka’s “Lola” magazine and Al Jazeera’s Balkans Blog.
Born in 1988, Arineta Mula is a boundary-breaking mountaineer from Kosovo who has climbed some of the highest and toughest mountains in the world. In 2017, Arineta made history as a member of the first Kosovar team to climb Mount Everest. She has scaled numerous other challenging peaks, including the Matterhorn and the Eiger in Switzerland, and was the first ever Kosovar representative in the world-renowned Mont Blanc race in 2019. She has also taken part in expeditions in Indonesia, Russia, Alaska and Argentina.
As the CEO of “Montalb” since 2019, Arineta organises mountain expeditions all over the Balkans, and leads hikes through the “Peaks of the Balkans’ – a trail that criss-crosses Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro. A dedicated sportswoman, Arineta is also the CEO of Kosova Trail Running Association, an independent non-profit foundation.
As well as her mountaineering and sporting activities, Arineta volunteers as a motivational speaker, inspiring hundreds of young people at schools and universities across Kosovo. She is dedicated to the promotion of nature and is a regular commentator on topics related to wellbeing and adventure tourism. You can find out more about Arieneta in this BBC feature from 2019.
Ivan Marinovic is a multi-award-winning Montenegrin director, screenwriter and producer known for the film “The Black Pin”. Born in 1984 in Kotor, Montenegro, he graduated in industrial design at the Politecnico di Milano University in 2007 and received a master's degree in film directing at the famous Prague film and television academy – FAMU in 2011.
His feature debut “The Black Pin” premiered in 2016 at the Sarajevo Film Festival's Competition programmeand featured at over 60 international and regional festivals. The film was also a Montenegrin Oscar candidate for 86th Academy Awards. His next feature project “Forever Hold Your Peace” won the Krzsysztof Kieslowski award for best screenplay at Script East in Cannes 2019, and is currently in pre-production. Ivan also co-produced several films, including “All Alone” by Bobo Jelčić, and “Labour Day” by Mladen Đorđević which is currently in production.
Born in 1993, Toni Petkovski, also known as Toni Zen, is a well-known hip hop artist, working in the music industry for two decades as a DJ, MC, music and video producer and lyricist. He has released six studio albums so far, and held many live performances both as a solo artist and with his band FLEKA.
In 2010, he reached the finals of VIP Survivor Srbija, coming second overall. Soon after, he experienced a career high when he performed at one of the biggest concert venues in the region at that time – the Arena Boris Trajkovski in Skopje, Macedonia.
Toni is also active on social issues and is involved in programmes run by OSCE, USAID, and UNFPA raising awareness of challenges facing youth. Toni’s mission is to empower and set an example for young people by always seeking to improve and develop his own skills. He has recently added certified ski instructor, Japanese calligraphy, and SHODO/ZEN practitioner to his already impressive skill set!
Milica Crkvenjakov is a producer and author from Serbia. Born in 1997, she spent her youth as a volunteer and peer educator on topics ranging from ecology to addiction prevention. She is particularly passionate about women’s and LGBT+ rights, involving herself in educational programs on the topics over the past decade. On her online platform Draga Devojčice (Dear Girl), she creates videos covering all the topics of growing up as a girl – from first periods to standing up for yourself and falling in love.
She is determined to create a safe online space for girls and LGBT+ youth to be themselves and find support. Partnering with local feminist organisations, she organises workshops for girls across Serbia focusing on empowerment and finding their own voice.
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