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  • Writer's pictureLjiljana Markovic

Serbian youth and the European Union

Updated: Mar 11

Serbian Alfa BK University organized the first international conference dedicated to youth and Serbia's path to the EU

Alfa BK University held the first international conference dedicated to youth and Serbia's path to the European Union. The conference was organized in the light of evident Euroscepticism and negative attitudes of young people towards the EU, as indicated by the results of the latest research by the Youth Umbrella Organization.

The conference brought together many distinguished professors, scientists and experts from the country and the world, and it was organized with the aim of especially hearing the voice of young people about the numerous problems and perspectives of the progress of modern Serbian society towards EU membership and their future.

This is the first in a series of planned international conferences that will be held at Alfa BK University in the coming period.

After the opening speech of the founder of Alfa BK University, Mr. Bogoljub Karić, on the importance of the role of young people in creating the future and destiny of modern Serbian society, distinguished guests and collaborators in the ongoing projects of the university presented their views at the conference.

The conference was chaired and moderated by Dr. Tihomir Simić, vice president of the BK Tesla business group, and co-chaired by the rector of Alfa BK University, Prof. Dr. Jovan Veselinović. H. E. Srećko Đukić, ambassador and member of the European Movement in Serbia, spoke on the topic of the advantages and disadvantages of Serbia's potential membership in BRICS, and the vice-president of the European Movement in Serbia, Dr. Vladimir Medjak, presented concrete consequences and obstacles for Serbia on its way to EU membership.

Greece Professor Dr. Jeffrey Levett who is Honorary President of the World Philosophical Forum, Athens,  Founding Dean of the Hellenic School of Public Health and inaugurator of the ASPHER Andrija Stampar Award in Public Health emphasized the importance of  Serbia's position in the region and its relationship with the EU from a philosophical perspective. One emphasis was the Balkans as the first and last Europe.

Also, Distinguished visiting Professor of the Faculty of Philology of the University of Belgrade, Harry James Birx from USA emphasized the importance of critical thinking and building a positive attitude in the process of making future decisions, relying on the philosophy and conclusions of great scientists and thinkers such as Charles Darwin and Friedrich Nietzsche.

The director of the International Institute for Middle Eastern and Balkan Studies from Ljubljana, Professor Zijad Bećirović, spoke about the key role of Serbia as a driver of European integration in the Western Balkans, while assistant professor at the University of Ljubljana, Nejc Brezovar, devoted his presentation to the potential advantages of lowering the voting age for young people.

Numerous guests participated in the conference, including the representative of the Belgrade Archdiocese, the Apostolic Nuncio in the Republic of Serbia, Archbishop Santo Rocco Gangemi, who drew attention to the historical need to build peace and understanding in the area of the Western Balkans, Europe and the world, and pointed out the natural and the indisputable belonging of Serbia to the community of European nations.

The work of the conference was focused on presentations by representatives of students from various faculties of the Alfa BK University from Belgrade, who presented the views of young people on the possibilities of Serbia's cooperation with the EU, especially from the educational, social, economic and political aspects.

The proposal for the conclusions of the conference was presented by the student of Alfa BK University Marko Jerotijević, who emphasized the noticeable skepticism and dissatisfaction of the young generation with the current pace and effects of the negotiation process between Serbia and the EU. He also emphasized the noticeable lack of a more concrete perspective for membership, appealing to European leaders for greater enthusiasm and commitment to the issues of group admission of all Western Balkan countries to the EU by 2030.

He particularly emphasized the need for a bolder step towards the group admission of these countries to the EU, emphasizing in this process Slovenia as a role model and closest collaborator, and Germany in the role of a potential strategic partner. The young participants of the conference welcomed the initiatives to lower the voting age to 16, so that they would have the same opportunities as their peers in Europe and the world. This would allow young people to become a part of political decision-making earlier, and they also advocated for the launch of new EU programs aimed at young people.

The conclusions emphasize the key role of unity and peace, as a fundamental European principle and prerequisite for building a stable and inclusive environment. Finally, in the proposed conclusions, the need to encourage the acceptance of European values was emphasized, while a strong appeal was made to create an environment and encourage their understanding and application, as the basis of general prosperity and development of society. This conference, achieving its initial goals, represents a pioneering undertaking that sets an example and paves the way for future activities of young people in the direction of increasing their social awareness and involvement.

At the same time, young people propose, for the purpose of their education, the organization of special courses, workshops, seminars and training programs, in order to familiarize them with the possibilities of accessing European funds, which would enable their direct involvement in the development and revitalization of the country. Knowing that many other countries such as Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic States were admitted to the EU through accelerated and simplified procedures, young people expect the immediate application of a similar model for our country. In this way, they expect that it would bring inestimable benefits both to Serbia and to all countries in the region.

The Republic of Serbia is objectively perceived as an indispensable subject and guarantor of stability and security in the Western Balkans region, so it is expected that the responsible EU institutions accelerate support for the closing of negotiation chapters and the determination of an achievable final date for our country's membership in the European Union.

The common conclusion of all conference participants is that even in this quite difficult political moment for the Western Balkans and Europe, the achievement of the stated goals can be an additional factor of stability for a better, happier and richer future for everyone in this area.


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