The history of Thessaloniki,
EYC 2014

The process that we followed in 2011 during the candidacy of Thessaloniki as the European Youth Capital of 2014 is still one of the best in terms of cooperation.

Following the political decision to apply,

our administration found itself before the question of what young people want, what young people suggest, how young people and youth organizations can get involved in designing and implementing the European Youth Capital project.

And it is at this point that we provided the only and most practical answer that could be given. We asked young people themselves. With the start of a four-month open dialogue with young people, we exhausted every question, suggestion, idea and comment on how young people see the city, what they would like from their municipal authority and how they dream of a year devoted to themselves. At each meeting in the City Hall of Thessaloniki, we presented results and suggestions both on the questions raised by the application for the title of the European Youth Capital and on setting a municipal youth policy.

This long, lasting and open consultation has given us the advantage of having genuine contact with young people and youth organizations, while at the same time it helped us record all formal and informal youth groups/organizations of the city and connect with active youth initiatives.

From January to November 2011

the Municipality of Thessaloniki played a key role in the effective mobilization and active participation of almost all of the youth community in the city. At the same time, through this dialogue, as well as through the presentation (for the first time) by the Municipality of cooperation opportunities, new schemes and youth initiatives were created, while the benefit to the municipality was great, since young people came for the first time in the Town Hall, visited the venue, the people, the employees, the elected officials, the Mayor. They discussed with them and presented their ideas and proposals for Thessaloniki. A different youthful perspective.

All this potential of the city,

with its 150,000 students and 200,000 young people, as well as over 100 youth organizations and initiatives, has led us to be a successful European Youth Capital in 2014. The Municipality of Thessaloniki decided that most of the program of actions should consist of proposals that the youth organizations themselves will implement.

Also important was the fact that youth organizations had the majority in the European Youth Capital Board of Directors.

What did the European Youth Capital nomination mean for the city of Thessaloniki?

Confirmation
of the confidence

of the Municipality towards the civil society. The collaboration with youth organizations that resulted in the creation of many events throughout the city, the activation of a network of people and the active participation of young people who otherwise would be at home.

The creation of a large network of volunteers.

Young people volunteered in the European Youth Capital, were trained and supported our actions. According to our statistics, 55% of them were volunteers for the first time. Many of these volunteers continue as active citizens and volunteers in new movements, youth organizations in the city and the volunteer network of the Municipality. Also, it is a great pleasure when young people’s initiatives are supported by those people who say with joy that their first experience with volunteering was at the time of the European Youth Capital.

The city market.

The organization of the European Youth Capital brought to Thessaloniki large-scale events and a large number of visitors. According to the statistics of Thessaloniki Hotels Association, in 2014, 200,000 new visitors came to our city and the tourist traffic in 2014 surpassed every precedent.

Cooperation with international organizations.

A strong card in the hands of the city when implementing the European Youth Capital was the institutional cooperation with all international organizations that have youth actions. The European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the OSCE, the UN. From this cooperation, synergies have emerged that go beyond the level of promising letters sent to the European Youth Capital and the Municipality of Thessaloniki. It is worth mentioning, indicatively, that the Council of Europe in its 2015 report on youth in Greece mentions Thessaloniki and the implementation of the European Youth Capital as one of the few cases where the Guidelines for Youth participation apply locally. At this point we should also mention the cooperation with cultural institutions such as Goethe and Anna Lindh.

The real benefit from the implementation of the European Youth Capital was youth activation, acceptance and participation.