The Story of Borjan Eftimov, President of the University Student Assembly of the Faculty of Law in Skopje, North Macedonia
Student assemblies are the platform through which young people can express their problems, present their ideas and they can be a starting point from which they will engage in achieving the desired changes, said the President of the University Student Assembly in Skopje – Borjan Eftimov.
This year, students have their first legitimate representative body at the largest university in North Macedonia “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”, after a long struggle. The University Student Assembly is a result of the requests for new student organizations introduced in the Law on Higher Education after the mass protests at the informal student plenum in 2015. Borjan was one of the most active members and fighters in those student movements.
“Young people, as a progressive version of society, must constantly fight for positive change, progress and development,” Borjan said at the beginning of our conversation when asked why there is so much engagement and activism for youth policies.
“All significant historical and social changes have been made, i.e., were initiated by young people and students. They are the generator of new ideas and times that will hopefully ensue in this geographical region,” he added.
Borjan is studying for a master’s degree at the Faculty of Law in Skopje, and he has been participating in this fight since his high school days. He believes that the lack of representative bodies restricts young people in expressing their views and in being part of the decision-making process on matters that are in their interest. Improving the youth standard, creating more spaces for cultural upliftment of the youth and increasing the opportunities for quality socialization are just some of the changes for which such representative bodies should fight.
“However, such forms of association are not in themselves sufficient to bring about all the changes that young people need in a society, mainly because of their bureaucratic nature. The main drivers of change in a society are the informal forms of youth activism. Such activism is in fact a driver of new ideas and mass change,” Borjan stated.
According to him, students from the Western Balkan region face almost identical problems and can line up many solutions by sharing their experiences. “There is no reason why these people should fight common problems on their own. There is no reason why there should not be international student cooperation, which will be used to share ideas through which young people from one society would help solve the existing problems of their neighbors,” Borjan explained.
He is optimistic that although young people do not currently have much decision-making power, this can be changed through joint efforts, association, cohesion and collective action. “If we want to achieve anything, we have to do something together. It is not impossible, yet it isn’t easy either,” said the young leader of the student representative bodies.
Thus, the student organizations from Skopje in which he is a member have recently started cooperating with students from Kosovo* and Albania, from which initiatives and potential future steps have already emerged.
“Only through mutual association and international solidarity can we, as a generation, be a generator of social change in the entire region, because change is needed everywhere. The priority of young people must be to move towards something better than what is offered to us now,” concluded the President of the University Student Assembly Borjan Eftimov.
This story was produced during the three-month Program for Students of Journalism in the Western Balkans within the framework of the advocacy project “A Better Region Starts with Youth” implemented by RYCO with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany. All journalists’ work is their own and the content of any given article does not represent the opinion of RYCO, and RYCO cannot guarantee the validity and the accuracy of the information that these stories contain.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.