The emerging bridges built by a crowd | WeBalkans | EU Projects in the Western Balkans

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Young European Ambassadors share their dynamic initiatives, events, and ideas shaping the EU integration journey of the Western Balkans.


The emerging bridges built by a crowd

Author: Ema Meçaj, Young European Ambassador from Albania

When was the last time you listened to a song? Take a moment to think about it. Probably it was several minutes ago, on your way to school, office, home or maybe at a social gathering. Different studies suggest that listening to music contributes to emotional development and creativity. But for me its values and power go beyond, because at the end of the day, music has the power to connect. I am Ema Meçaj, a Young European Ambassador from Albania and this is an article for a unique festival organised at the heart of Europe.


Where and when it took place?

From 25-27 April 2024, Brussels welcomed the Balkan Trafik Festival, which gathered participants from all around the world, to come and celebrate the vibrant Balkan culture. For three days, the festival provided a platform for exchange and promotion of the European Union and Balkan’s values, by forging links between the cultures.


Teamwork makes the dreamwork. Who joined the festival?

Among the YEAs who participated were Arjana Rudari, Damjan Zlatanovski, Dmitriy Churin, Tarik Bico, Teodora Cekic and myself Ema Meçaj, from the Western Balkans. We were joined by Mykyta Anikieiev, Nika Tepnadze and Teodora Drucec, who are Young European Ambassadors, coming from the Eastern partnership. If I had to describe our team in three words,

I would use three Cs:



So, tell us more. What happened during three days and how were young people engaged?

The atmosphere was captivating, with artists coming from the Western Balkan, Greece, Moldavia, Ukraine and beyond, to perform, celebrate multiculturalism and unite people. The YEAs represented the network and interviewed the artists, before their performances at the backstage. I would single out the conversation with Ivan Kovavecic, from Barcelona Gipsy Balkan Orchestra.

Together with Teodora, we had an insightful conversation with him, but what stood out for me was this sentence: “We have integrated gypsy elements into the name of the band, because we treat music like Gypsies treat life, with no borders and no limits. We are the ones who can choose our own direction.” While listening to Ivan, I couldn’t agree more with his words.

During the last day, YEAs attended a meeting between actors in economic, cultural & tourism ecosystems. Now let me state briefly, that I come from a country whose biggest aspiration has always been to become part of the united European family. Back in the 90s, after the fall of communism and the rise of democracy, people were saying out loud: “We want Albania to be like the rest of Europe!”. For Albania in this case and for all the Western Balkan countries, change has always been linked with the European values. The meeting was an opportunity to connect, reflect about the pathway of Western Balkan’s accession to the European Union and envision the European perspective of our region.

As young people, we had the opportunity to express and share our thoughts with different stakeholders, not only about our aspirations, but also about the current challenges the world is facing. I left the meeting with this thought: Today’s youth who are working towards promoting the belief in the promise of Europe, will be the next generation of decision-makers who need to continue working to keep that European promise.


Why is Balkan Trafik Festival different from other festivals and how does it promote the European Union values?

Now that some weeks have passed, I recall the memories of good music and people embracing the values of different cultures.  What I witnessed for three days in a row, staying in the middle of a crowd who were constantly laughing and dancing, is that music can significantly promote the messages of diversity, solidarity and social cohesion. These are the values European Union stands for and these are the values each one of us needs to embrace.

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