The Progressive Leadership Program builds on previous similar programs of the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES) with a customized curriculum that includes intensive and interactive workshops designed as a combination of theoretical presentations and practical skills for representatives of youth organizations of progressive political parties and civil society activists. This year’s conference was attended by young people from eight countries of the region: Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia. The Progressive Leadership 2023 program focused on the theme “Regional Cooperation for Peace and Security”.

The participants had the opportunity to discuss various security and political issues in Europe and the Western Balkan region, and they could also address questions to two outstanding speakers and experts on the situation in the Western Balkans, Dr. Vuk Vuksanović, senior researcher from the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, and Dr. Adnan Ćerimagić, senior analyst from the organization European Stability Initiative ESI.

During the four-day conference, the participants also trained in a workshop on a common future, young people’s perception of peace and cooperation in the Balkans, defining the main challenges, the main purpose of which was for the participants to present their view of the society in which they live – things that in society values and things they want to change; how can regional cooperation help in eliminating such challenges and what do they think are the main challenges of regional cooperation between countries or residents of countries in the region?

On the sidelines of the conference, the participants were also addressed by Mrs. Radmila Šekerinska, former Minister of Defense of North Macedonia from 2017 to 2022, who spoke about the 20th anniversary of the Thessaloniki Declaration and what the future of the Western Balkans will be.

You can see some highlights from Belgrade in the gallery below: