Guide to SKOPJE

Young people should fight for what they believe in


Decreasing economy and lack of jobs are the biggest problems in the country according to young people in Macedonia. A quarter of young people declare themselves as citizens at risk of social exclusion, and an appaling 70 per cent of them believe that nothing can be changed in society, which was noted in a research into the profile of young people in Macedonia. Recently, an initiative has been launched to establish a National Youth Council, a body which serves to represent the voice of young people in the institutions. Balkon 3 talks with Ivana Jordanovska, President of Young European Federalists of Macedonia (JEF), about the Council and Macedonian youth in general.

What are the objectives of the National Youth Council?

– The National Youth Council is a body that serves to represent the voice of young people in the institutions. The Council has a facilitating role between the relevant factors. All decisions which may concern young people should be made in consultation with the National Youth Council. All successful Councils round the world operate according to the rule “Nothing for the youth, without the youth”, so we hope to achieve the same in Macedonia.

What would you change in our society?

– Firstly, the most obvious change would be to make the voice of young people be heard by those who should really be interested in it. If young people are the future of any society, and we wish to invest in the future, than we need to invest in our youth. But if you ask any investor they’ll tell you that without good advice and knowledge of the situation, even the best investment intentions can go wrong. Furthermore, what really needs to be changed here is the level of citizen participation at all levels and age groups, but mostly among young people. I put an emphasis on the young  because if you create a generation of active people today you will have active citizens in the decades that came before us.

Ivana Jordanovska

In your opinion, what is the biggest problem of young people in Macedonia?

– The biggest problems could be located in different areas, depending on our perspective. There is one thing though that cannot be denied, one thing which is a component of almost every problem that young people have, and that is their exclusion from social processes. This type of social exclusion is not characteristic only for Macedonia. On the contrary, the EU has recognized this problem since 2009 and actively co-operates with the youth in hope of resolving it through Structured Dialogue. Poverty and economic dependence are recognized as major obstacles in overcoming social exclusion of  young people. This is particularly evident after the economic crisis and prolonged European uncertainty, but in Macedonia the problem is even worse. Unbelievable 54% of young people are unemployed, and these numbers do not include those  who are currently studying at university and are dependent on their parents.

Do you co-operate with regional Youth Councils from other countries, especially Greece and Turkey?

– Since the Council has not yet been established and we are still working on it, there is no official co-operation with other councils. We have received a lot of support from the Councils of Lithuania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia whose representatives shared their experiences during  Days of Youth Networking. Also, we have frequent contacts and consultations with the European Youth Forum, a pan-European network of Youth Councils. We hope that in future we will have even more contacts and various co-operation projects with other Youth Councils.

Does Macedonia now have young people who think, read, debate and freely express their ideas?

– I think that we can assume there is a group of young people who think, read, debate and express their ideas. I don’t believe it applies to the entire demographic group of young people.

What message do you have for all young people in Macedonia?

– Fight for what you believe in and do not let anyone tell you that there is nothing you can do. If they do not understand your idea, it is probably because they do not understand.