Katarina Mihajlović, a student of the secondary School for Textile and Design in Leskovac, has won the first prize in the art competition for the 2017 calendar of the development programme European PROGRES, on the topic "Europe: A Wise Choice," while the second and third prizes went to Sandra Grbić from the Nova Varoš Grammar School "Pivo Karamatijević" and Milan Veličković from the Grammar School "Svetozar Marković" in Surdulica. Ramūnas Janusauskas, Head of Information, Communication and Press at the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Serbia, and Novi Pazar Mayor Nihat Biševac presented a laptop and tablet computers and mobile phones, as prizes for the best 12 students whose works are on the pages of the calendar. The Grammar School "Pivo Karamatijević” from Nova Varoš was declared to be the best school in terms of the number and quality of submitted works and was awarded a computer and a projector.
"The quality of our lives directly depends on our environment, and you have confirmed by your artwork that we all share the same goal – a tolerant, ecologically clean environment where personal and social development constitute priorities," said Ramūnas Janusauskas at the awards ceremony held today in Novi Pazar. He also added that in the course of the ten years in which the European Union, in partnership with the Government of Switzerland, has supported this art competition, two generations of high schoolers graduated, who creatively presented their vision of the European Union and European values.
This year's topic "Europe: A Wise Choice" inspired young artists from 30 secondary schools in South East and South West Serbia to present their views on the European Union by using as guidelines the topics covered in the "European Diary" – a handbook for secondary schools. Judging by the works submitted, Europe is a wise choice because the EU membership would contribute to better environmental protection, better conditions for work and life of farmers, more opportunities for travel, education and scientific and technological development in a society without discrimination, with equal opportunities for all.
In addition to the first three award-winning works, the pages of the European PROGRES calendar for the coming year will also feature the works of Jana Mihajlović of Leskovac, Kristina Jović of Aleksinac, Lisina Dulaj of Bujanovac, Anica Petrović of Leskovac, Nikola Nikolov of Surdulica, Luka Bošković of Raška, Milena Filić of Leskovac, Sadmir Hamidović of Sjenica and Milan Todorović of Surdulica.
In his address to students at a lecture organized as part of the campaign "Europe – it is you", which the EU and the Swiss government support through European PROGRES, Ramūnas Janusauskas pointed out that young people in Europe, both in the Member States and in countries that aspire to be members, have many opportunities to improve their skills and realize their potential.
"During this event today, you will hear how to get a scholarship, how to acquire professional practice, or learn a new language in one of the EU countries. I hope that the campaign will inspire you to take advantage of numerous opportunities that Europe offers, and those who persevere and succeed will be the driving force behind the development of this area, as well as of the region and Europe," said Janusauskas.
When presenting to students the opportunities that EU offers, a member of the Europe Team Teo Taraniš stressed that, as demonstrated by the past experience, young people in Novi Pazar are interested in topics related to the process of European integration.
"It is important, however, to bring this process closer to young people in order for them to better understand what the concrete benefits are that they can achieve, and precisely that is the goal of the campaign "Europe - it is you". Education and volunteering programs for young people, especially Erasmus Plus and the European Voluntary Service, are just part of what is available to young people from this region," said Taraniš.
Through a series of activities and events that will be organized within the campaign in South East and South West Serbia by June 2017, the youth and the general population will have an opportunity to find out more about European integration and how they can positively impact upon their personal development, as well as the development of their communities.
Ramūnas Janusauskas, Head of Information, Communication and Press at the EU Delegation, also visited young entrepreneur Almedin Muratović who was granted sewing machines, with the support of the EU and the Government of Switzerland, through European PROGRES, and who will launch his own production of baby and children's clothes.
"With my own production, quality and experience in working on sewing machines, I can be competitive in the market, and I also plan to employ my fellow citizens," said the twenty-six year old of Novi Pazar, who has been granted equipment worth almost EUR 10,000.
The European Union and the Swiss Government, through European PROGRES, together with the Government of the Republic of Serbia, support a number of initiatives that encourage employment in 34 less developed municipalities in Serbia. Almedin Muratović was one of the 22 young entrepreneurs who have been given support amounting to around EUR 180,000 to start their own businesses, and in the long run to contribute to the creation of jobs and to the boosting of competitiveness of the local economy.
Mayor Nihat Biševac expressed his satisfaction at the fact that Novi Pazar, as the youngest city in Serbia in terms of the average age of its population, was chosen to be the host of events that bring together young people and offer them an opportunity through European programs, such as European PROGRES, to broaden their knowledge, acquire practical experience, start businesses. "We hope that you will use your knowledge to improve your cities and municipalities and thus contribute to the convergence to European standards in all fields," concluded Biševac.