Opportunities and challenges of young Montenegrins and their role in the European future of the country was the focus of this year’s commemoration of the UN Day in the Old Royal Capital of Cetinje. Decorated with UN and Montenegro flags, this town of immense cultural heritage hosted a panel discussion “The role of youth in the context of multicultural society and development” and the solemn ceremony afterwards, all jointly organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integrations, Ministry of Culture, Old Royal Capital and the UN System in Montenegro.
More than eighty participants of the panel discussion talked about different aspects concerning youth and their role in development of a country and fostering of a multicultural society. They exchanged opinions and crossed arguments about the role of the youth in the context of Montenegro’s development, priorities in creating opportunities for hearing the voice of the young people and challenges young Montenegrins are facing while searching for their place in a modern society.
A number of these issues were addressed in opening remarks of introductory panelists – ambassadors of USA and Turkey, representative of a non-resident Spanish Embassy, Government, Old Royal Capital, NGO ZID and the UN System in Montenegro. The panelists expressed their specific stands on education, employment, and multicultural barriers, with particular focus on the UN driven initiative “Alliance of Civilizations”, established in 2005 by Spain and Turkey with the aim to promote multicultural dialogue, tolerance and reconciliation among cultures globally.
The State Secretary for Political Affairs, Neboša Kaluđerović, who is also a Focal Point of Montenegro in the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations, highlighted the core values the Alliance – enhancing multicultural dialogue through media, education, youth and integration, while the Turkish ambassador to Montenegro Emine Birgen Keşoğlu, and the Minister Counselor in the Embassy of Spain Francisco de Miguel Álvarez presented a broader context of the Alliance and their countries roles in it.
Importance of investing in the youth was particularly highlighted by the US ambassador to Montenegro, Sue K. Brown, who reminded that future leaders were among them. She pointed out the value of voice of the youth as the “catalyst for change” and praised the role of Montenegro in the turmoil past of the region.
"Montenegro has many reasons to be proud. By saying that, I primarily think of multiethnic harmony”, she said.
Multicultural diversity was also highlighted as one of the greatest values of Montenegro by UNICEF Representative Benjamin Perks, who reiterated the commitment of the UN System to continue support to Montenegro the country on issues related to the young people. “We live in the region where the policy of intolerance shattered entire generation but still, Montenegro is a unique example of understanding between cultures. It is important not only to emphasize it, but to upgrade it further for the sake of benefits of future generations”, Perks said.
Momčilo Martinović, Secretary for Social Affairs and Youth in the Old Royal Capital of Cetinje, presented local management plans in the area of youth empowerment, while Director of the NGO ZID Igor Milošević reminded that the society itself should work on boosting activism among young population. “We simply have to be aware that the people are not born active. In order to create young active citizens, ready to contribute to the community development, such proactive spirit needs to be nourished, must be created, and we need to invest in it", Milošević added.
In an interactive discussion that followed, various participants voiced on youth related topics, including representatives of youth organisations, professors and students from different Montenegrin universities and the High School Gymnasium from Cetinje.
“The United Nations will play a crucial role in supporting the country in addressing key priorities during the process of European integration”, said Rastislav Vrbensky, the UN Resident Coordinator in Montenegro, in his speech at the solemn ceremony, organized in the Museum “Vladin Dom”.
With heads of resident UN agencies standing behind him, representing a strong commitment to work as coherent UN family, Vrbensky particularly stressed the importance of joint acting in addressing development issues by quoting the UN Secretary General: “In our increasingly interconnected world, we all have something to give and something to gain by working together”.
“Let us commit to do our utmost to realise the important vision of the UN and work jointly on further progress of Montenegro. As a self-starter of ‘Delivering as One’, Montenegro has a chance to become a globally recognized example of effective and efficient cooperation of UN agencies, Government and other national partners”, added Vrbensky in his addressing to numerous guests – representatives of Montenegrin political, economic, cultural and civil society and media as well as representatives of foreign and diplomatic missions in the country.
The ceremony in the museum, which treasures a number of Montenegrin artistic master pieces and relics including famous icon Filermosa, was an opportunity for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integrations, Milan Roćen, to launch the art contest named “Montenegro in the UN”, organized jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Ministry of Culture, Arts Academy, Old Royal Capital and the UN Family in Montenegro. “The best three art works will be awarded. Besides financial prizes, the best art piece will be exhibited in the UN HQ in New York upon reconstruction of the building, while the second and the third best art works will be displayed in the future UN Eco Premises”, said Roćen.
He reiterated Montenegro’s strong commitment to further strengthen partnership with the UN System in the time to come. “Montenegro fully affirms the values and principles of the world organisation by conducting a policy of dialogue and understanding, a policy of peace and solidarity, progress and development and a policy of full respect of human rights and freedoms. Montenegro has achieved significant successes in the framework of Delivering as One in the areas of protection of rights of children and refugees, gender equality, inclusion of marginalized groups and substantial construction of an inclusive society, the economic development of the principles of sustainability and environmental of protection”, the minister saidand reminded of highlights of the message the UN Secretary General to Montenegro in June this year, congratulating its fifth anniversary of the UN membership.
Successful cooperation with the UN System in Montenegro was also in the core of the speech of Aleksandar Bogdanović, the Mayor of Old Royal Capital Cetinje, who pointed out the broad context of that partnership.
”Speaking of the cooperation with the UN System in Montenegro, we must emphasize the meaningful and extremely constructive cooperation of state and local governments and the Montenegrin civil sector with United Nations agencies which operate in our country," said Bogdanović.