Novi Sad, Serbia, became European Roma Youth Capital for a week, between 16-21 July 2019 through the efforts of RGDTS-Phiren Amenca and its Serbian partner, Minority Voice. Around 150 young people from 10 different countries took part in the one-week event entitled “So keres, Europa?!” – Roma Youth Social Forum, as part of the European Youth Capital program series.
During the forum, experts and activists organised workshops about human rights education and community activism, remembrance education and showcased educational tools and presented best practices. They also discussed the diversity of identities and narratives or the situation of minorities in Europe. Participants enlivened the European Youth Capital with community actions, flash mobs and cultural events organised in downtown Novi Sad, in order to build bridges between Roma and non-Roma communities. Participants performed a flashmob in the centre of Novi Sad, held art exhibitions and organized cultural events in the Nikola Tesla University Dormitory. With the help of local tour guides, the international group had the chance to learn about the history and the city’s important landmarks. The closing festival was held at the Brod Teatar summer boat-stage where international music bands and dance groups performed in front of hundreds of local people, invited guests and participants.
Besides the performances an advocacy group formulated recommendations and suggestions that they will send to the European Parliament and to EU member state governments. Members of national parliaments and government officials were also present at the festival, where these recommendations have been shared. Jelena Jovanovic, Deputy Leader of the Parliament of Vojvodina and Stefan Vavrek, Roma policy expert of the Bridge Party and member of the Slovak Parliament opened the festival and they both expressed the importance of Roma youth participation and movements like this. Meanwhile Lívia Járóka and Klára Dobrev, vice-presidents of the European Parliament, Ismael Cortes, member of Spain’s Congress of Deputies and other MEPs greeted the participants of the event via letters or video messages. The Hungarian Romano Glaszo (Human Voice) art group and Karaván Família music band; the Serbian Romano Ternype dance group and Orkestar RT Vojvodine Velos tambourine band; and the Italian TernYpe Dance brought the last evening of “So keres, Europa?!” to life.
The event was co-financed by the Visegrad Fund and the REC Programme of the DG Justice, European Commission. Phiren Amenca first organised “So keres, Europa?!” in 2015, at the time, more than 400 young people gathered in Cluj Napoca, Romania, to lay the foundations of cooperation between Roma and non-Roma youth. The second “So keres Europa?!” event was held in Varna, Bulgaria in 2017, with the participation of 150 young people from all around Europe. The movement continues and the next “So keres” will be held in Lithuania in 2021!