“IT IS KEY TO CHANGE NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS AND ENCOURAGE THE BUILDING OF POSITIVE RELATIONS BETWEEN NATIONS.”

At the end of September, I flew to Belgrade, where I attended the Progressive Leadership Program conference organized by our sister organization Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Belgrade. This year’s conference was entitled “Regional cooperation for peace and security”.

The first part of the training exceeded my initial expectations, as I went there with the goal of personal progress and acquiring new skills, but I returned richer for a new experience and a deeper understanding of the importance of international integration in the Balkans.

The training proved particularly important in light of the recent events between Serbia and Kosovo. The young participants, who came from Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia, had a unique opportunity to actively participate in a dialogue on many aspects, such as strengthening intercultural communication, exchange of perspectives, political experiences and the integration of the Balkan countries into the European Union. We realized how crucial it is to change negative perceptions and promote the building of positive relationships not only among young people, but also at the national level.

I particularly appreciated the approach of the workshops, which were designed in such a way as to encourage open and frank dialogue, critical thinking and analysis of current political events in all countries in the Balkans.

Sincere thanks to the FES Foundation and Ivana (FES Belgrade) for the exceptional organization of the program and the thoughtful selection of lecturers, speakers and trainers. I am grateful for this opportunity to participate in this exceptional training, which went beyond just acquiring knowledge, but also opened the door to lasting friendships and a deeper understanding of the Balkans and its complex political dynamics.

– Maja Mohar, project manager at the May 1st Institute