After a year of intensive preparations, the Aspen Institute Prague is now beginning its operation. Like the Aspen Institute in the U.S., its branch in Prague will be a strictly independent, non-partisan and non-ideological organization. Indeed, the composition of the Board of Directors will guarantee the Institute’s independence not only in theory but also in practice. Just as Madeleine Albright sits next to Condoleezza Rice on the Board of the Aspen Institute U.S., the Board of the Aspen Institute Prague brings together renowned experts and respected personalities of Czech and European business, as well as representatives from across the political spectrum—a formula not often encountered in our region.
In its activities, the Aspen Institute Prague will endorse several priorities crucial for the future of the Central European region. One of our main objectives will be a systematic search for young talented leaders and the support of their personal and professional development. This will be achieved, among others, by sending them to programs organized by the Aspen Institute in the U.S.; for example, to participate in the Socrates Seminar, where outstanding young professionals from Central Europe will have the opportunity to interact with their counterparts from around the world. Soon, the Aspen Institute Prague will be organizing comparable seminars in the Central European region. The feature distinguishing the Institute from other non-profit organizations with a similar focus is its effort to engage not only political and business leaders, but also the world of science, art and sports.
Every year, following the well‑established tradition of Aspen U.S., we will invite renowned personalities to Prague to debate current world affairs. This year we are hosting Madeleine Albright and fifteen other former foreign ministers from around the world to celebrate the Institute’s opening.
Apart from public programmes aimed at a diversified audience, an integral part of the Aspen Prague agenda will constitute closed‑door expert seminars dedicated to specific contemporary issues. The first such event is planned for autumn 2012, when Central European politicians and government officials will meet in Prague to discuss the future financial framework of the European Union. The underlying aim of such meetings is to provide a neutral platform for sound debate of crucial issues that concern all of us, where decision and policy makers can, in a focused manner, exchange views and search for possible joint solutions.
All this, however, could not have happened without the personal engagement of many people involved in the Institute’s establishment, whom I would like to thank for their confidence and support. Special thanks to the Executive team, and to the members of the Board of Directors and Supervisory Board, who have decided to dedicate their expertise and professionalism to the Aspen Institute Prague.
I am looking forward to seeing you at our events.
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