Young leaders at the Albanian Minostry of Foreign Affairs: diplomacy, hate speech and freedom of expression

On Monday, 9th March 2015 Center of Excellence of the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with No Hate Speech Movement Albania organized Auditorium on diplomacy and importance of combating hate speech online and offline. In the opening speech Ms. Odeta Barbullushi, Albanian vice-minister of Foreign Affairs highlighted the importance of active youth involvement in social life in the country and their responsibility to react on hate speech and generate positive message as digital natives and actors of change. Youth policies are gaining more and more attention in Albania and it is inspiring to see that more state actors are starting to see potential for changes in young people. High level of speakers at this event is another proof that youth are being taken seriously and there is an emerging dialogue at different levels – at the same time, it would be impossible without efforts of young leaders, who initiated this event._DSC2400

Professor Elvis Hoxha – Albanian political thinker – continued introductory part of the event with a very interesting lecture about the true face of diplomacy, hate context and regional cooperation in the Balkans. He made participants think over and doubt by offering them to compare how diplomacy should work with its reality and powers standing behind every political decision. The importance of this lecture was that it did not advocate for well-known dogmas – vice versa, it urged every participant to search for his or her own answers.

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Second part of the Auditorium was devoted to youth participation and was run by young leaders – Anisa Hysesani – Albanian Youth Peace Ambassador and Iana Minochkina – Coordinator of the No Hate Speech Movement Albania, OSCE Youth Ambassador and Executive Director of the Youth Center “Perspektiva”. This year Council of Europe is celebrating 20 years anniversary of its presence in Albania and we decided to show how two recent initiatives of the Youth Department of the Council of Europe – No Hate Speech Movement and Youth Peace Ambassadors – developed in Albania, which opportunities they open for young people and how they can get involved. It was inspiring to see that there ongoing initiatives sharing the ideas of No Hate that were organized independently by young people in Albania. On the last day of winter, a group of students organized “Free Hugs Day” in Tirana City Center – young people with “no hate” hearts were sharing hugs, smiles and spring mood with people passing by and engaging them in the discussion about tolerance and non-discrimination. At the Auditorium Mariola Ceku – one of the students, who organized the initiative – presented their activity and when she was asked, why did she take part in it – her answer was worth a million: “Who else, if not young people?!”

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Main conclusion of this event is that diplomatic developments and regional cooperation in the Balkans are closely connected with the need to devote efforts to combate hate speech online and offline, increase public awareness and introduce adequate educational approaches to reduce ethnic stereotypes and social stigma in the region between Slavic-speaking and Albanian-speaking population. This is especially the case when we talk about young people, who in majority of cases become targets or perpetrators of hate speech – as “digital natives”, young people are more linked to internet reality and have a great capacity to become actors of change online & offline. It is very important that state, international organziations and civil society develop adequate framework to react on hate speech and discriminative notions online and that in these efforts they cooperate with young people. Diplomacy and healthy cooperation do not come from the state – they start with each of us.

It is always inspiring to co-organize and take part in the events that bring together active youth and state actors – young people have enormous potential to become actors of change and they have innovative vision for many social and economic problems that state institutions face on a daily basis. Bringing together young energy, fresh ideas and decision-makers is a key to better and more inclusive future – and it feels great to be a part of these developments in Albania.

Here you can download presentation from the activity: NHSM PRESENTATION PERSPEKTIVA & MFA

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