It is my pleasure to introduce to you the 2014 spring issue of the Aspen Review that arrives in times of substantial redefinition in transatlantic relations. Recent events at the EU Eastern border forced the Union to better coordinate its external action and strengthen ties with the US. The Crimean crisis also served as a vivid reminder of the importance of NATO existence. Moreover, geopolitical developments in Ukraine energized transatlantic relations putting Central and Eastern Europe to the foreground again. All of this is taking place while Europe is commemorating the enlargements of NATO and the EU, the anniversary of the fall of Communism and the centenary of the First World War. This new release brings you a number of relevant articles and commentaries analyzing the dynamic and interesting times we live in.
In the first quarter of the year our Institute organized events in all three areas of activity. The Policy Program was marked by a series of expert meetings on crowdfunding with relevant stakeholders in Prague, Warsaw, Budapest and Bratislava. Based on these closed-door meetings and consultations, a comparative study on crowdfunding trends and obstacles in the Visegrad countries will be published. The project Crowdfunding Visegrad is conducted in cooperation with Fundacja Res Publica, Creative Industry Forum and The Budapest Observatory, and supported by the International Visegrad Fund.
The flagship event of our Leadership Program took place again in the remote reaches of the Tatra Mountains in February. Like in 2013, the content of the second edition of Aspen Young Leaders Program – kindly supported by VIGO Investments – was consistent with the basic Aspen idea to step away from daily routine and reflect on different aspects of leadership. Thanks to a diverse mix of speakers and participants from various professional fields, as well as a broad array of topics the Leadership Program was an intensive debating and networking experience. Thirty emerging leaders from Central and Eastern Europe had the chance to discuss their social responsibility, personal challenges, ways to cope with burnout and motivation together with renowned lecturers, such as EU Commissioner Štefan Füle, Ari Vatanen, former Finnish rally driver and politician, Yemi A.D., choreographer and artist, Jan Pirk, heart surgeon, or Paul Kaye, the President of Rolls-Royce International for Central and Eastern Europe.
On March 12, together with The Chemistry Gallery we organized a public debate Art and Business, which was part of the 13th contemporary art fair – Art Prague. This event was another contribution to the discussion on cooperation between artists and commercial sector, which we initiated last year in New York with seminar F(o)unding Culture. This time in Prague we hosted a group of representatives from both fields: Radan Kubr, Partner at PRK Partners, attorneys at law, Pasta Oner, artist, Petr Plocek, Press Spokeperson at UniCredit Bank ČR, and Jiří Rákosník, Marketing Director at Heineken ČR. It definitely won’t be the last art-related event this year.
The beginning of March brought us a very special event – Walter Isaacson, the CEO and President of the Aspen Institute together with Madeleine Albright came to visit Prague. We used this opportunity to introduce them to our partners and supporters. Both guests, thrilled by the variety of our Central European network and the beautiful environment of the Kampa Museum, promised to join us in further activities.
For the upcoming months we have a plenty of engaging events in stock for you. The biggest one is our Annual Conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of the end of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe. Eminent speakers, including the Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, writer and journalist Mykola Riabchuk, former Prime Minister of Slovakia Iveta Radičová, Hungarian politician and former EU Commissioner Péter Balázs, and Adam Somlai-Fischer, the Founder of Prezi, have all confirmed their participation so please save the dates of June 9 and 10 in your calendar.
Enjoy reading and have an inspirational spring,
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