I am happy to present the new issue of our quarterly, commemorating the milestone events that took place in Central and Eastern Europe 25 years ago. The focus is on how the fall of Communism has affected global politics as well as the region’s economies and societies.
Transformation in Central Europe will also be the main topic of the 2014 Aspen Annual Conference in June. We will follow up on the discussions we had during last year’s annual event—Overcoming Barriers to Growth. The conference was held in October 2013 with the support of our strategic partner PRK Partners, attorneys at law. Recalling the collective achievements and failures of the past two decades, the conference hosted distinguished guests such as entrepreneurs Michaela Bakala, Gabriel Eichler and Zbyněk Frolík, writer and lyricist Michal Horáček, manager Libuše Šmuclerová or the Czech Olympic medalist Martin Doktor.
The second day sessions looked at barriers in the wider context of the transatlantic marketplace, with a keynote delivered by the European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. In his speech, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—Solving the Regulatory Puzzle, the Commissioner proposed establishing a body that would bring together the heads of EU and US regulatory agencies. This idea did not go unnoticed even by the biggest media outlets, such as The New York Times.
Two panels featured experienced businesspeople from both sides of the Atlantic, including the American Automotive Policy Council President Matt Blunt; the Czech Institute of Directors President Kamil Čermák; the Founder and Member of the Board of the Aspen Institute Prague Ivan Hodač or Peter Stračár, the CEO of General Electric for Central and Eastern Europe. All guests contributed to a very vivid debate, which you can watch on our website.
In November, together with the nationwide weekly Respekt, we held a public debate entitled Crowdfunding and Entrepreneurship as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The panel hosted four experts—Aleš Burger (Hithit.cz), Martina Jakl (SwissCzech Technology Transfer), Martin Hanzlík (ATRET Consulting), and Martin Strnad (Havel, Holásek & Partners, attorneys at law)— who discussed the practical, economic and legal aspects of alternative forms of supporting innovative business ideas. Even more attention will be devoted to this topic under our 2014 initiatives. Within the project Crowdfunding Visegrad, supported by the International Visegrad Fund, we will assess the state of play in crowdfunding throughout the Visegrad countries. The resulting analysis will be published in the autumn.
Our Institute closed its 2013 agenda with a Christmas party for all partners, supporters, Friends of Aspen members, and our program alumni. The diverse mix of guests, coming from different walks of life, be they business, the arts, politics, or the media, best illustrated the Aspen idea, which is to promote interdisciplinary cooperation. This theme will also recur in the second edition of the Aspen Young Leaders Program this February in the Slovak Tatras, supported by VIGO Investments. Much like last year, it will bring together about thirty emerging leaders from Central Europe, who will take part in workshops, seminars and discussions on the varied aspects of leadership, including motivation, ethics, decision- making, team-building and media management.
Meanwhile we held the first public event this year—an international debate entitled What did we learn from the economic crisis? Three economists: Lord Meghnad Desai, Professor at the London School of Economics, Jacek Rostowski, former Polish Minister of Finance, and William White, former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, will offered views on the post-crisis financial world.
Lastly, let me inform you that as of this issue the Aspen Review will be published only in English. This decision reflects not only the language preferences of our readers, but also our progressive regional expansion throughout Central and Eastern Europe, which calls for using a common language.
Enjoy reading, and have a great 2014!
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