3-4 October 2013 – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The contribution of volunteering to building a stronger Europe led the European Union to designate 2011 as the European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship, aiming to showcase the fact that “volunteering is one of the key dimensions of active citizenship and democracy, putting European values such as solidarity and non-discrimination into action”.
In its 2011 Communication EU Policies and Volunteering, the European Commission committed to “follow up on initiatives promoting cross-border volunteering in the context of the 2013 European Year of Citizens”.
A change in EU discourse can be noted, in that the EU appears be increasingly concerned with encouraging people to volunteer in order to gain skills, and increase their employability. When referring to the European Voluntary Service (EVS) in its Communication Youth Opportunities Initiative, the European Commission justifies EVS with the fact that “such work experience in another Member State can provide important skills and help young people enter the labour market” rather than recalling the intercultural and solidarity dimension of the programme.
The Policy Agenda for Volunteering in Europe (P.A.V.E.) states the fact that “volunteering should not be exploited as a solution to Europe’s challenges but be properly valued as an expression of European values, a legitimate counterbalance to injustice and an appropriate expression of solidarity amongst its citizens”.
This high-level conference debated Cross–Border Volunteering in the European Year of Citizens – What is it for? Promoting European Citizenship or Increasing Employability? through the presentation of different thematic examples, and channeled the conclusions into the wider debate in the European Year 2013.
Sarajevo, symbol of interculturality
The conference took place in Sarajevo, the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, capital of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity and the centre of the Sarajevo Canton.
Often referred to as the Jerusalem of Europe, Sarajevo is famous for its cultural and religious diversity, and centuries-long coexistence of adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism. The city is the leading political, economic, social and cultural point of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and its beauty places it high in travel guides, which repeatedly listed it as a one of the best cities in Europe to visit.
Conference organisers CEV in cooperation with CEV member organisation, the South East European Youth Network(SEEYN), a network of organisations from the Western Balkans. SEEYN involves young people in global issues, as a means of reconciliation in the region and promotion of respect for differences among societies.