Andrej, while still in his teens, was a young journalist for the leading Serbian daily Danas. With great courage, he wrote about the human rights violations committed against Albanians in Kosovo. It was his interest in cross-cultural dialogue that inspired him to establish the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), one of NED’s star grantees in the region since 2007, when he was just 20 years old.
Andrej, now 30, developed YIHR from its humble beginnings into one of the premiere youth dialogue and cross-border cooperation organizations in the region. YIHR, which was the first youth organization to work across the Serbia-Kosovo border in the aftermath of the 1999 conflict, continues to be the most active organization promoting youth exchanges between the two countries.
Additionally, under Andrej’s leadership, the organization grew into a regional network with branches in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia. Today, it is the most prominent youth organization in the Balkans and is one of the most active human rights groups. As a result of its success, Andrej is one of Serbia’s leading youth activists.
YIHR also organizes the Prishtina Youth Summit, which brings together 150+ young leaders to engage in dialogue about topics they deem important for the future of the Western Balkans. It provides an opportunity for young leaders to exchange experiences and knowledge about activism in post-conflict areas throughout the world.
Several years ago, Andrej left YIHR after mentoring a talented group of young leaders who would replace him, a move based on his belief that YIHR should be a youth-led organization. Since then, Andrej has formed another very successful organization called the Heartefact Fund, which is also supported by a NED grant.
Based in Belgrade, the Fund uses film, theater and art to address issues of interethnic prejudice and intolerance, and improve cross-border cooperation and dialogue. Additionally, the fund organizes events and performances that affirm the values of a free and open society.
Since it was founded, the Fund has either produced or financially supported a number of successful exhibitions, film productions and plays, some of which are multiple award winners, such as Grebanje Ili Kako Se Ubila Moja Baka and Hipermnezija.
In addition to leading the 7-person team, he is also a theater director whose focus continues to be on human rights issues. He recently directed a play about gay rights set in concentration camps during World War II, an adaptation of the Martin Sherman play Bent in a Serbian context.
Through encouraging dialogue, developing youth education initiatives, and creating public art projects, Andrej has helped the region’s youth become more interested in the democratization process. He is, and will continue to be, a creative and innovative leader of the pro-democracy movement.