The second seminar within the Regional Program of the Bulgarian School of Politics took place between 24-28th March 2010 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 32 aspiring politicians and civic leaders from 8 Balkan countries gathered together for a few days of discussing youth policies in the region, and to hear lectures from local practitioners and academicians on the importance of youth participation and inclusion in public life. The Deputy Mayor of Sarajevo, Mr. Miroslav Zivanovic, was invited to deliver an opening address.
The event began with presentations of reports from each country on existing youth policies and pending challenges, as well as some best practices and recommendations. Each country group then chose one member as country coordinator to work with other country coordinators as leaders in the preparation of a white paper on youth policy.
An important part of the seminar was the meeting with Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Culture and Sports of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mr. Gavrilo Grahovac, who welcomed Mr. Irina Alexieva, Executive Director of the BulgarianSchool of Politics, and the participants to his office in the Federal Government building. He and his colleagues made a presentation about the Federation’s youth policy and demonstrated some good practices involving youth in positive and creative activities, aimed at inspiring their continuing involvement in public work. Also present was Ms. Caroline Ravaud, Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who praised highly the Regional Program of the BulgarianSchool of Politics, and its efforts to unite youth of the Region.
Later that day, the local School of Political Studies organized a traditional Bosnian dinner for everyone. The dinner was attended by the Ambassador of Bulgaria to Bosnia and Herzegovina Mr. Andrey Trunski, who is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced diplomat focusing on Balkan issues. Ambassador Trunski has led several diplomatic missions to Bosnia, and has been actively involved in establishing diplomatic relationships between Bulgaria and post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina in the mid-1990s.
During the last day of the seminar participants discussed the potential of online social media as channels for political communication and involvement of young people. Another lecture focused on some of the most contentious issues in societies not only on the Balkans, but also in the whole world, such as the right of the state to regulate the markets and gay marriage. That was a clear demonstration that good politics and successful politicians cannot be narrow-minded, and need to be open to discussing and making decisions, which do not always have unequivocal meaning.
Then a group of participants, representing each country, proceeded to planning the content, structure, and the process of preparation of a White Paper on Balkan Youth Policy. They proposed the issues to be addressed, agreed on responsibilities, and drafted a plan for writing the paper, distributing tasks and assigning deadlines.
The concluding seminar for this year’s Regional Program is planned for Sofia in June. Participants will be awarded certificates of completion issued by the NewBulgarianUniversity, where they will also get credit applicable toward the Master’s program in Public Management.