Caught in a vicious circle between old-fashioned backwards oriented politics and nationalisms on the one hand and the lack of economic, educational and social perspectives on the other, young generations in the Balkans seem to be losing patience and when possible emigrating to the West in search for a better life. UN agencies and experts speak about a massive demographic revolution in Eastern and Southeast Europe that is changing society more than a majority of developments in the past. Meanwhile, democracies in the region are vulnerable and the EU integration process is not delivering fast results. 2018 was frequently described as the “Year of Hope” for EU enlargement and for a better future for the Balkans. The EU Commission presented a new enlargement strategy, only to be followed by the Balkan’s Summit in May 2018. As the EU presidency country of the second half of 2018, Austria worked towards keeping the region a high priority on the EU agenda. Yet, the question remains whether enthusiasm for EU enlargement can be restored. Pressured by the looming democratic and socioeconomic crisis in the Western Balkans as well as the return of a geopolitical power struggle to the region, it is obvious that a new momentum for enlargement and the overall political and socio-economic development of the region is much needed. Societies in the region are in dire need of alternatives and alternative progressive engagement and action.
Our initiative/series Young Generations for the new Balkans 2030: Towards Alternative Horizons sets the spotlight on youth, their progressive stances and hopes for the future.
However, together with local and international partners, we discuss and analyse the overall situation of the Western Balkans in the region, the international system, EU and NATO integration through workshops, seminars, panel discussions, policy recommendations and art in order to understand the reality and to set trends for a positive future of our neighbouring region.
We pose tough questions about the region, educational opportunities and limits, emigration and alternatives, reconciliation, and hopes in relation to the EU, as well as possible illusions. We aim to explore and promote alternatives to the status quo and embark upon the tough road to action needed to make an alternative horizon possible. The project is a common initiative led by European and regional institutes that features stakeholders, activists, and young people from the region and the EU.