In a dynamic gathering of young minds, activists, and parliamentarians at the 4th Bridging the Gap Conference held on February 23rd and 24th in Tirana, Albania, the focus was on amplifying the role of youth in political participation and shaping effective youth policies. Hosted at the Albanian Parliament, the event brought together representatives from the European Parliament, the European Commission, and young leaders from the Western Balkans, including our very own Besart Shabani from the Center for Intercultural Dialogue (CID).

Under the theme “Bridging the Gap: On youth political participation and youth policy,” the conference aimed at overcoming barriers hindering the active involvement of the youth in the political landscape. The discussions centered around their pivotal role in the European integration process, crucial issues of disinformation, and the significance of green and digital transitions.

Erisa Xhixho, Chair of the Young Members of Parliament and Activists from the Western Balkans, emphasized the responsibility of governments and legislators to create conducive environments for the education and career development of the youth. Highlighting the efforts of the Young Political Leaders Programme, she stressed the importance of building dialogue between future political leaders to foster trust and confidence for a more peaceful world.

Besart Shabani, representing CID, actively participated in the working group focusing on “Disinformation: a challenge for European Integration and Democracy.” During the weekend of collaborative work, leaders from the Western Balkans and European Parliament deputies drafted recommendations on various key topics, including the role of youth in the EU accession process, tackling disinformation, green and digital transitions for the Western Balkans, and fostering regional cooperation on youth issues.

The young leaders recognized the indispensability of involving youth in decision-making processes concerning their future. Besart emphasized the need to instill hope among the younger generation by making informed policy decisions and addressing challenges such as disinformation.

As a representative of CID, Besart Shabani’s presence and contributions at the conference underscored the commitment of organizations like CID to empower the youth, create collaborative platforms, and actively participate in shaping a brighter European future.

The 4th Bridging the Gap Conference served as a catalyst for dialogue, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas, reinforcing the belief that the youth, when given the right opportunities, can be key drivers of positive change in the political landscape and contribute significantly to the European integration process.