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The European Union and the Kosovan Youth – A Wide Range of Solutions to a Single Problem

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Author(s): Anna Szolucha

Journal: Central European Journal of Public Policy
ISSN 1802-4866

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 18;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: civil society development | Kosovan youth | civil society in Kosovo

ABSTRACT
This article explores the ways in which the European Union fosters the development of civil society in Kosovo. In particular, it focuses on how the EU shapes the role of students and young people as well as the extent to which it contributes to their position in the “bottom-up” capacity building processes in this country. The Union has mainly concentrated its efforts on encouraging student mobility, acknowledging the value of students’ experiences gained abroad that could be translated into genuine reform, and enhancing diverse institutional capacities of Kosovan administrations. At the same time, however, it has continuously reaffirmed a broader objective of the European involvement in Kosovo, namely that education of young people ought to help foster social cohesion and aspire to a genuine reflection of the diversity of Kosovan population in the student body (EUA’s Contribution to the Bologna Ministerial Meeting, 2007). The rationale behind this article is to account for the current role that the EU plays in fostering the development of civil society in the context of the failure of Kosovo’s authorities to produce any satisfying results approaching the achievement of this broader objective. This article identifies opportunities that the Union provides in the area of youth education and empowerment in the context of civil society development. Significantly, it assesses the relevance of these opportunities for current situation and needs of civil society development in Kosovo. The analysis also highlights the most important barriers that are hindering student involvement at various levels of the decision-making process. The broadest question this project addresses is the EU’s practical ability to foster the “bottom-up” capacity building in self-government and civil society developments. The reason why the role and the position of students and young people in civil society development is absolutely crucial is that they are highly under-represented in decision-making processes at the university level as well as in political institutions: a very curious situation, given the huge number of people under thirty in this country. Due to their young age, they are also the best potential “targets” of civil society development projects. They can learn the rules and skills of self-organisation and extensive cooperation and the experience they gain may, then, influence public policy and make it easier to address the ethnic and generational conflicts that Kosovo is likely to face in future.

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