Youth exchanges in the Western Balkans

Project description

Title: Western Balkans School Exchange Scheme
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)​​​​​​​
Co-funded by: European Union (EU)​​​​​​​
Country: EU accession countries in the Western Balkans​​​​​​​
Lead executing agency: Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO)​​​​​​​
Overall term: 2020 to 2024

A theatre group with exchange students poses together on stage. Copyright: GIZ:


The economies of the Western Balkans share a complex historical legacy and have many current challenges in common. However, distrust, prejudice and intolerance between the different ethnic groups remain widespread and undermine regional cooperation and joint action. Greater understanding, tolerance and solidarity are needed to change this.

Dialogue between young people is particularly important to encourage peaceful coexistence in the region. The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) was therefore founded in 2016 to promote reconciliation and cooperation through exchange programmes. With support from relevant ministries, RYCO enables schools to collaborate and run youth exchange programmes. The institutional dimension to this creates a long-term and sustainable prospect of reconciliation.

Young people participate in a workshop in Prizren on conflict, violence and peace. Copyright: GIZ:


The regional school exchange scheme is established in the Western Balkans and RYCO’s institutional competences have been strengthened.


The project supports RYCO with an organisational analysis, establishment of core processes, introduction of IT tools and different training measures for staff.It  advises RYCO on the development and implementation of the regional school exchange scheme. In this scheme, schools in the region set up partnerships, jointly apply for technical and financial assistance and receive other support with their exchanges.

The project is co-funded by the European Union (EU).

Last update: September 2022

Young people hold a volleyball. Each of them has a European value written on their arm. Copyright: GIZ:

Additional information