Tirana has been awarded the ‘European Youth Capital 2022’ title by the European Youth Forum, a collaboration between various youth organizations, funded by ERASMUS and the Council of Europe, among others. The ceremony was held in Amiens, France, and it was attended by the French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Albanian capital’s project beat off those of four other short-listed cities: Baia Mare in Romania, Kazan in Russia, Poznan in Poland, and Varazdin in Croatia.
This title is given to a municipality to encourage youth participation in public life and to strengthen European identity.
The official website states that “Each year, a new European city is given the chance to showcase its innovative ideas, projects and activities that aim to raise up young voices and bring a new youth perspective to all aspects of city life.”
The title is not awarded in recognition of existing youth policies or accomplishments, in contrast to what the Municipality of Tirana (social) media campaign claimed. Mayor Veliaj organized an “Award Celebration” event today, and municipality employees flooded the social media with posts lauding the mayor for yet another award won.
Unfortunately, Mayor Veliaj has e record of spinning the facts in a way that results in a distorted reality. He has done this with his “world record” in planting trees, regional record in assessing earthquake damages, multiple inexistent awards won, as well as claiming to promote young people, while actually awarding municipality projects to municipality employees in potential conflict of interest.
Other cities that were awarded the title in the past include Klaipėda in Lithuania (2021), Amiens in France (2020), Novi Sad in Serbia (2019), Cascais in Portugal (2018), Varna in Bulgaria (2017), Ganja in Azerbaijan (2016), Cluj-Napoca in Romania (2015) etc.
Municipal selection is made on the basis of an application, which goes through two stages and each participating municipality pays a fee of €700. Then, each municipality is committed to organizing at their own expense, a range of cultural, social, and youth-centered activities aimed at strengthening youth organizations and youth participation in city decision-making.
Earning the title of “European Capital of Youth” means that the Municipality of Tirana will organize all activities promised in the final application, which will need to be fully financed from its budget.
The Municipality of Tirana with be responsible of organising four annual Forum activities: two meetings of the Council of Members and two meetings of the General Assembly.