Find out the latest on EU-related activities and events in the Western Balkans
At this year’s EXIT festival in Novi Sad, Serbia, Young European Ambassadors (YEAs) organised and took part in a range of activities with the aim of promoting EU values, meeting other cultures, and contributing to discussion of important contemporary topics.
The first day of the festival was dedicated to getting to know their peers from around the Western Balkans and the rest of Europe, exchanging ideas, and sharing experiences and attitudes. It served as a chance for YEAs to inform people about what the EU offers and the policies it has. Visitors whom they interviewed included members of civil society organisations and other activists on social and environmental issues.
According to the visitors, the key topics that the EU should advocate for are recycling; more job opportunities for graduates; fighting against global warming and the use of nuclear energy; immigrants’ rights; the importance of adopting kids in gay marriages; and the environment – specifically the carbon footprint of the EU and sponsorship of inventions that create reusable energy. The overall opinion was that citizens can and should do more in tackling these important issues including contributing to increasing the inclusion of vulnerable groups in society, speaking out on human rights violations and in general being more socially active.
Visitors also shared initiatives in everyday life, but also during the EXIT festival, to preserve the environment. Some of the activities that they mentioned were volunteering to clean parks and neighbourhoods and teaching kids in schools how to recycle.
Their first associations with the EU included democratic politics, peace, equality, justice, human rights and EU funds for artists. Most of the people interviewed had participated in EU educational programmes or knew someone who had. These included sessions of the European Youth Parliament discussing problems faced by youth in Europe, Erasmus+ projects and other projects related to arts and culture that are funded by the EU.
At the end of the interviews, participants offered messages to young people from the Western Balkans on the future of the EU. Three of the most significant were:
“Be nice to nature, elderly people and kids because everyone appreciates gestures of kindness”
“The European Union was created to maintain peace in Europe, especially between France and Germany. The future of the Union is to prevent more wars like the Ukrainian one from happening.”
“The EU donates a lot of money; you should use it.”
During their four days spent at the Petrovaradin fortress, enjoying good music and diversity, YEAs showed once again that EU values are human values, that Western Balkan culture is part of EU culture and that the EU is not only the future of the region but the present as well.
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