On May 13 – 16, 2014, the Slovak Atlantic Commission (SAC), with sponsorship from the NATO Public Diplomacy Division (NATO PDD) and the Embassy of the United States in Slovakia, Bratislava hosted the GLOBSEC Young Leaders’ Forum 2014 (GYLF 2014) parallel to the GLOBSEC Bratislava Global Security Forum 2014. GYLF solicited a unique opportunity to discuss the most pressing international security and foreign policy issues and to network with fellow participants. Furthermore, it also offered many formats to connect young professionals with seasoned diplomats, exceptional senior professionals and experts who participated at GLOBSEC 2014. Most sessions of the forum took place at the GLOBSEC Boat, which was chosen as a symbolic venue of GYLF 2014, symbolising the driving force, energy and dynamism of the youth.
GYLF convened an impressive group of 33 young emerging leaders from more than 20 countries for four days of engagement in off the record sessions with distinguished speakers on front-page issues and many other interactive formats like the Twinning Lunch, the workshop on leadership, City Talks sessions or the GYLF Pub Quiz. Moreover, during GYLF 2014, in cooperation with the Afghan Deputy Ministry for Youth Affairs and Kabul University, a public book collection for students in Kabul also took place and more than 250 books were donated to this cause. Aged 25 to 35, participants came from a variety of professionals and academic backgrounds and included elected officials, CEOs, academics and military personnel. In the run-up to the forum participants had been elaborating on the ideas and recommendations for these main panel sessions:
• Afghanistan Check-List: Writing a New Chapter
• Power Shifts: Renewing Western Leadership
• GLOBSEC Brainstorming on Ukraine
• Wake Me Up When September Ends – NATO After the Summit
These recommendations were sent to the chairs of the sessions prior to the forum in order to empower the voice of young leaders at the GLOBSEC forum. The voice of young leaders could be heard at most of the sessions as all participants were full of endowing ideas and questions and thus contributed to the overall success of the GLOBSEC forum as a platform for diverse, vivid and fruitful discussions.
“This forum is not just about networking but we also give you an opportunity to be fully involved in the Forum’s meetings, initiatives and research and interact with the Forum’s wider multistakeholder community. Be aware that you have a powerful role at GLOBSEC 2014, so make the very best out of it.” said Róbert Vass, the founder of the GLOBSEC Forum and Vice President and CEO of Central European Strategy Council, who introduced also a newly planned ALUMNI programme of Strategy Council at the Welcome dinner & Introduction session on the first day of the forum. The opening informal meeting allowed participants to get to know each other better in a friendly atmosphere, to learn about their jobs, projects they work on and initiatives they could cooperate on together.
Ambassador Rastislav Káčer, Honorary President of Central European Strategy Council, officially opened the four-day GYLF forum on the next day and welcomed all participants not only at the forum, but within the GLOBSEC community as such. The following keynote discussion on the challenges that lie ahead for the transatlantic security relationship moderated by Ian Bond, Director of foreign policy at the Center for European Reform, was with Amb. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO who supported participants in their activities towards strengthening the transatlantic bond and highlighted the importance of a strong and vibrant role of NATO.
One of the highlights of the forum was the lunch at the residence of H.E. Theodore Sedgwick, Ambassador of the US to Slovakia, which was organised on 15th May. Ambassador Sedgwick welcomed all participants of GYLF 2014 at the residence, but also invited other distinguished guests from the USA such as George Friedman, founder and Chairman of Stratfor and author of the Next Decade and the Next 100 Years books, Ian Brzezinski, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and others. Participation of these esteemed guests contributed to the fact that many participants have chosen the lunch with Amb. Sedgwick amongst the most memorable and valuable experiences.
During the next two days the off the record discussions featured Ivan Krastev, Chairman of Centre for Liberal Strategies, General John Allen, former commander of the ISAF and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, Kurt Volker, Executive President of the McCain Institute of International Leadership, Kathleen Koch, author and former CNN correspondent, and many other respected experts in the field. Discussions revolved around these topics:
• Redefining NATO’s Role
• Living History of the Iron Curtain: Fragile Freedom on the Eastern Front
• Great Expectations: ISAF’s Mission Revisited
• Russian Geopolitics: Let the Putin’s Games Begin?
• 10 Years after the Big Bang: Reflections on the EU as a Foreign Policy Actor in the Neighbourhood
• The Bitter Sweetness of Leadership
• Arab Spring Three Years On
During the closing remarks, all GYLF participants were awarded the certificates of attendance of GLOBSEC Young Leaders’ Forum 2014 with a strong commitment to contribute to the strengthening of transatlantic relations in the future. Ambassador Káčer concluded GYLF 2014 with noting that these active young Atlanticists are main movers and shakers of the large scale transatlantic policy change and welcomed them to the wider GLOBSEC community.