Survey findings

Youth perceptions on peace in the Western Balkans.

Key messages

Young people are central actors in the building of sustainably peaceful societies in the Western Balkans. They share a common cultural heritage and mostly view one another with trust and curiosity, although at times with caution. Their hopes and values across the region are closely aligned. Most are confident that their generation is a positive force in their society and are optimistic about being able to resolve some of the persistent challenges in the region.

Young people are central actors in the building of sustainably peaceful societies in the Western Balkans

Yet some significant challenges remain. Trust between government and society is a critical aspect of peace and social cohesion. Repairing the broken connections and trust between young people and decision-makers is an essential task. Paving the way for young people’s increased engagement and sense of agency is equally critical. Mechanisms for youth to report experiences of discrimination and violence and for institutions and authorities to address these issues are needed. 

On the other hand, trust, relationships and interactions among young people, across societal divisions, are also important aspects of peace and social cohesion. Divisive narratives represent an important obstacle to this goal. The region’s divisions and conflicts have not left young people entirely untouched, but for the most part, young people express openness to friendship with members of different groups. More young people are optimistic than not about peace and improved relations in the region. Still, more opportunities for young people to meet and build friendships across ethnic, religious and geographic lines should be fostered, because they are associated with a wide range of positive outcomes.



An average of 19.5% of youth are civically engaged, but over 65% are interested in being more active


Regional relations:

At least 42% of youth expected regional relations to improve. Just 8% expected them to deteriorate, while the rest expected no change


Youth collaboration:

61-91% of young people agree that youth exchanges can have a positive impact on regional relations


Divisive narratives:

49-75 % of young women and men are concerned about fake news and conspiracy theories


Outward migration:

An average of 52% of youth say that they see themselves living abroad in 10 years


Youth perceptions on peace in the Western Balkans.