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Miloš Vučević, Source: City of Novi Sad

Miloš Vučević: In our city, the voice of young people is clearly heard and respected

Miloš Vučević: In our city, the voice of young people is clearly heard and respected

An interview with the Mayor of Novi Sad, the European Youth Capital 2019

The Serbian city of Novi Sad received the prestigious title of European Youth Capital 2019. This title was awarded to the city by the European Youth Forum for the duration of one year.

The EYC title empowers the youth by creating opportunities and giving them a voice. Moreover, it is only awarded to cities which have already proven their dedication to youth work.  

The Mayor.EU spoke to Miloš Vučević, Mayor of Novi Sad, who commented on what the city has done to earn its EYC title. In addition to this, Vučević disclosed how the youth has been affected by the title and what opportunities have arisen since it was awarded to Novi Sad.

Mayor Miloš Vučević, what does the European Youth Capital 2019 title mean to you?

Apart from the Title that we are very proud of and which will forever be inscribed in the history of Novi Sad, it has brought a complete turnaround when it comes to involving young people in creating policies that are directed towards them. The year 2019 changed forever, but also rejuvenated, Novi Sad.

Thousands of young, creative inventors were involved in OPENS programs. Our goal was not only to show Europe how much creative energy, intelligence, and talent we have, but to tell all young people that they should be actively involved in creating policies that can create a better environment for their life and work.

When you say OPENS, the first thing that comes to my mind is giving young people a chance to hear their voices, but also to be heard, to actively participate in building a better society. That is why OPENS 2019 is not only a phenomenal title that we are all proud of, but it is our system for the future.

What makes Novi Sad different and which achievements would you say resulted in your city earning this prestigious title?

With this Title, we have shown that we are very competitive in Europe in the field of youth policy. Our girls and boys have shown that they can present the most demanding programs; OPENS 2019 cooperates with over 40 youth organizations and over 100 partners from the region.

Youth participation in social processes in Novi Sad has been at an extremely high level for the last 8 years, and we have left the creation of the Local Action Plan for Youth to youth organizations. The city provided them with logistical and financial support.

All of this was a signal that we are on a good path to improve the policy towards young people, and that was recognized and the title got into the right hands. Novi Sad became the only city outside the EU to take the Title.

Expanding on the previous question, what projects and initiatives did Novi Sad undertake during its EYC campaign?

The programs did not stop. We continue to encourage young people to actively participate in social processes, to show their creativity and innovation. And that is why our message is that the doors of Novi Sad are always open.

The programs consist of seven pillars that focus on creating development opportunities for young people, in all areas of life. We opened a Youth Office. We have invested a lot in the development of the creative industry, youth work, and entrepreneurship. We have created a Youth creative polis in Chinatown and a unique Youth Center.

We are developing youth organizations, networking with organizations from the region and developing inclusive youth policies. These are just some of the projects and initiatives that are still alive.

What opportunities have arisen from your EYC 2019 title? More importantly, how have they contributed to the development and improvement of the lives of the youth?

The youth have many new and great places in the city, and many opportunities to develop their creativity, with financial support. Also, my door is always open for them, and we opened the door for the Prime Minister of Serbia to point out the problems and needs. And it is no coincidence that a regional initiative known as the "mini Schengen" was launched in Novi Sad.

This initiative gathers and provides economic freedoms and connects the Western Balkan countries that are not yet members of the EU. In doing so, it strengthens their economies, increases the living standards of citizens, and creates conditions for young people to stay.

As the Mayor of the European Youth Capital 2019, what advice would you give to leaders who are striving to improve the lives of the youth in their cities?

Just let them follow what Novi Sad is doing. In our city, the voice of young people is clearly heard and respected. We understand each other much better because we are less burdened by the generation gap. And we just made it so.

It is no coincidence that Novi Sad became the Youth Capital of Europe 2019, and now we are helping other local governments to implement such mechanisms of cooperation with young people in their local policies.

I advocate that young people have their voice and their place in determining and creating their own future. As a politician, I will be very proud when we do that in the whole region. That such a policy towards young people becomes the rule, not the exception.

The European Youth Capital is a title awarded every year to a different city aiming at empowering young people, boosting youth participation and strengthening the European identity. Awarded cities are announced after a year-long selection process, where a jury panel composed by different European organisations select the most outstanding bid. The next call, for the European Youth Capital 2025, will be launched in October, with the selection process going on throughout the following year.

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