The ELF Regional Expert Forum has reached its third edition this year. How would you assess the project and its developments so far?
Coming from humble beginnings as a run-of-the-mill training programme in the Western Balkans, ELF Regional Academy and its offshoot programme – the Regional Expert Networks have become one of the more important capacity building projects not just in Southeast Europe but also more recently in Central Europe. The two projects aim to accomplish entirely different things but there is synergy in their goals and implementation. The Academy works to scout and select young talented leaders from more than 15 beneficiary organisations in order to train them on how to be better teachers in their respective organisations. In addition to being encouraged to do trainings at home, the best of these new trainers are then invited to moderate and manage events of the Regional Expert Networks (REN) project.
The REN project created a foundation for a best practices exchange platform based on a regional peer-to-peer exchange of expertise and experiences in such fields as data, political communication, policy development and research. We believe that this platform will only grow in importance as the IEC together with partners such as VVD International, Stichting IDI and FNF continue to develop its components.
Perhaps its worth mentioning, the regional training infrastructure built by these two projects is available for all ELF members who wish to organise a capacity building event in Southeast Europe. I think that this could be an invaluable resource for any new liberal foundation looking to do trainings in the region as it saves them time and energy needed to develop a brand new and functioning network of partners.
While being active within the ELF network, the International Educational Centre also holds many activities outside of it. What have you been up to recently?
While our sister-organisation- the Political Academy of HNS deals with the party’s internal capacity building needs, the IEC works mostly abroad and indeed within the ELF network. As a political foundation created by HNS (Croatian People’s Party) we are also happy to assist in implementing large-scale internal projects. One of the projects we are most proud of working is the university grade study programme on policy development which is supported by both Stichting IDI and VVD International.
After 6 months of lectures and homework, I am happy to report that the 3rd generation of students will be submitting their final policy papers in November, thus fulfilling their graduation requirements.
On the international front, I can highlight the MP and MEP candidates networking and training event in Prague which we are organising in cooperation with VVD and our fellow ELF member IPPS. This project is turning out to be a legacy event for both the IEC and VVD as we are already planning a 3rd iteration of the programme in 2019. I am happy that the project is connecting liberals on such a high level and helping to forge relationships that, I hope, will only grow in time.
2019 is knocking at the door. What are your plans for the future and what can we expect from you for next year?
Next year we are continuing with our projects – the Regional Academy and hopefully the Regional Expert Networks in the second half of the year. We hope to solidify the foundations of both of these projects and bring in more partners into the fold. On the home court, we will be changing our usual roster of projects with the Public Speaking School taking the place of the policy development study programme, while also exploring options for implementing women focused capacity building projects in the party inspired by a programme of our colleagues from the Boris Divković Foundation.
2019 is looking to be busy as ever before and I am looking forward to the work together with our partners long standing and new.