The Inaugural Conference of the Youth Forum for Cities in Transition — held in Mitrovica from 23-27 September 2013 Youth from Belfast, Derry-Londonderry, Haifa, Jerusalem, Kaduna, Kirkuk, Ramallah, Tripoli and host city Mitrovica shared and explored local experiences, gaining invaluable and practical knowledge on how to build sustainable cooperative relationships within and across their communities and cities.
In her opening remarks at the event, the President of Kosovo, her Excellency Atifete Jahjaga, stated:
“From the city of Mitrovica, which unfortunately is divided in the middle, together you are sending strong messages of tolerance, understanding and peaceful coexistence. You who are sending strong messages that diversity is a value which should unite us and which enriches a society, a country.”
“It is the divided cities which remind us of a bitter past, which have left behind serious consequences, consequences which in many cases are still present. They remind us of the danger which comes from exclusion and refusal to accept and respect one another, to accept and respect diversity. Above all they reminder us
how important peace is, how fragile it can often be, and how difficult it is to be built on ruins of destruction, the trust between people.”
The situation in the cities differed widely — from ongoing violent conflicts (e.g. Kirkuk, Tripoli) to long-lasting conflicts (e.g. Jerusalem), to cities already recovering from conflict (e.g. Belfast and Derry-Londonderry). The delegates also focused on how youth activism develops, the potential of civil society, and especially the role of youth in conflict resolution.