For the sixth year running, the Young European Federalists, (JEF Europe) with the special support of its member section, JEF Norway, are promoting long term co-operation and integration in the Western Balkan region under the project “Balkan Training Days” (BTD). From 18th to 20th of January 2008 the follow-up of the fifth edition of the BTD with a focus on organisational and leadership training took place in Skopje, Macedonia.
“Nationalism deeply affects society in Serbia, as shown by the results of the first turn of the elections” commented Samuele Pii, President of JEF Europe. “Following the principle of a mono-ethnic sovereignty doesn’t help to solve the real problems of Serbian citizens. If Serbia will close the door to the European Union in the second turn – on 3rd of February – a new wave of nationalism will strike the Balkans” continued Pii.
JEF Europe supports the Serbian democratic forces and demands a new EU policy for the Western Balkans in order to introduce regional cooperation, social market economy, rule of law, confidence in the future and full membership in the EU.
“In the long run we believe that the BTD will contribute to create a sustainable civil society and promote democratic values and collaboration across both visible and invisible borders” expressed Ingvil Nürnberg, Vice President JEF Norway. “Neither Norway nor the Balkan countries are EU members, but we believe that there is no other future than a common future for all Europeans within the European Union. We shall therefore continue our work to reach the goal of EU membership” Nürnberg declared.
The BTD gathers young people from Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Norway, and will this year also include participants from Moldova. However, the seminar is often overshadowed by the persisting issue of visa restrictions. JEF Europe is against any visa regime within the Balkans, and between the Balkans and the European Union.
“Visas mean borders, but where there are borders we are ready to cross them” declared Pii. “The fact that the Moldovan youth was unable to be present in Skopje as a result of visa requirements shows that this unjust system must come to an end! Free movement for all Europeans!” Pii concluded.