Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, was awarded on November 21 the European Youth Capital 2016 title. The award ceremony took place during the European Youth Forum’s Council of Members in Thessaloniki, which becomes European Youth Capital in 2014. For the first time in the history of EYC project this title was awarded to the city from non-EU-member country, the fact, which testifies to the successful youth policy of the president and the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The European Youth Forum gave the award based on an application from Ganja that focused on strong local and European youth participation and the commitment to work on human rights. Commenting on the award, the President of the European Youth Forum, Peter Matjašič, said: “we congratulates Ganja for their strong, diverse and detailed proposal and their commitment to tackle issues such as youth participation, education, social inclusion, employment and volunteering”.
“Connecting” will be the key theme for Ganja as European Youth Capital 2016. The program aims to promote close cooperation across borders and bring together policy, research and practice for young people. The Azerbaijani government and local youth-related organizations are committed to working in close cooperation with young people, paying special attention to disadvantaged and marginalised youth.
Ganja won over rival bids from Vilnius (Lithuania), Varna (Bulgaria), Galway (Ireland), La Laguna (Spain) and Badajoz (Spain). A European jury met on 15 November to evaluate the applications. The jury is composed of the representatives of
the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in Europe,
the Committee on Culture and Education and the Intergroup on Youth of the European Parliament,
the Committee of the Regions,
the Council of European Municipalities and Regions,
the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe,
the University of Montpellier,
the municipality of Cluj Napoca, the Romanian National Youth Council, and
the European Youth Forum.
Peter Matjašič praised all participants, adding: “The six shortlisted candidate cities all presented promising visions on how to foster participation of young people in their community and empower youth organizations to act as agents of changes”.
The European Youth Capital (EYC) is a title granted to a European city for a period of one year, during which it is given the chance to showcase its youth-related cultural, social, political and economic life and development. The EYC initiative encourages the implementation of new ideas and innovative projects with regards to the active participation of young people in society and seeks to present a role model for the further development of other European municipalities.
The first European Youth Capital was Rotterdam (The Netherlands) in 2009, followed by Torino (Italy) in 2010, Antwerp (Belgium) in 2011, Braga (Portugal) in 2012, Maribor (Slovenia) in 2013, Thessaloniki (Greece) in 2014 and Cluj Napoca (Romania) in 2015.