Jul 5, 2023

Young Leaders of the Western Balkans Gather for the Opening Event of the "WeLead” Project

The “WeLead: EU Scheme for Young Professionals in the Western Balkans” (WeLead) project, a four-year initiative funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the CEF, was officially launched today at a high-profile opening event in Ljubljana. The project is intended to contribute to good neighborly relations and the advancement of the EU integration process of the Western Balkans through improved regional cooperation of young people.

The meeting, attended by young leaders from across the Western Balkans, served as a platform for interactive discussions, guided networking, and inspirational storytelling. The discussions revolved around leadership - the required leadership qualities when leading in complexity, how to lead with meaning and purpose, overcoming intercultural differences anchored in history, accelerating the joint development of the region, and building sustainable and inclusive societies. It is crucial to empower the next generation of leaders to drive a positive impact and address the challenges the public administration is facing. This meeting aimed to create a space where talented individuals from diverse backgrounds can come together, exchange ideas, and collaborate towards meaningful solutions.

The meeting provided ample networking opportunities. Unique perspective and expertise contributed to the quality of the discussions and the outcomes we aim to achieve. We firmly believe that by working together and leveraging our collective strengths, we can shape a better future for all.  By fostering a supportive network of future leaders, we can leverage our collective strengths to navigate challenges. 

We kicked off day two of the meeting with the keynote address by Ms. Tanja Fajon, Minister of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Slovenia. In her address she commended the young activists and emerging leaders for their participation in the project, urging them to seize the opportunity to network, learn, collaborate, and promote stability in the region. Furthermore, she encouraged them to return to their institution as voices of inspiration, leading by example.

We were also honored to welcome Ms. Anita Angeloska Bezhoska, Governor of the National Bank of the Republic of North Macedonia, Ms. Ranka Miljenović, Executive Director, European Policy Centre, Serbia, and Milva Ekonomi, Minister of State for Standards and Services, Albania , as distinguished speakers on the occasion.

In a video address President of the Republic of Slovenia, Ms. Nataša Pirc Musar congratulated successful candidates on being selected for the WeLead project: «I am sure that this EU scheme for young professionals in the Western Balkans is an exciting way for your professional development. The better student you are, the more you are connected, and the more doors will be open to you. Your achievement in securing a place in this program is evidence of the exceptional commitment, perseverance, and motivation that you demonstrated throughout the highly competitive selection process. Rest assured that you will receive outstanding leadership expertise from the most accomplished professionals. I have confidence that you will become the cohort of young leaders who will leverage this knowledge to the fullest and serve as exemplars, guiding those who aspire to return. You are acutely aware that leaving home and residing in a foreign country are invariably challenging. Still, I encourage you to embark on a mission and become the catalyst for the transformation that WeLead seeks.»

CEF Director Jana Repanšek also congratulated the present candidates and explained the various learning opportunities they would have through six project components: WeLearn, WeConnect, WeShare, WeExperience, WeWrite, and WeCoach. She encouraged the candidates to seize these opportunities to learn and connect, as it would empower them to make a difference. Ms. Repanšek expressed hope that after participating in the WeLead project activities, the candidates would continue to collaborate, exchange ideas, and contribute to building a prosperous and inclusive future for the Western Balkans. 

The meeting agenda was thoughtfully designed to encourage collaboration and foster a spirit of teamwork. This knowledge exchange will undoubtedly strengthen our future leaders' ability to navigate complex projects and make informed decisions. We will continue to facilitate similar opportunities for our future leaders to connect, share knowledge and collaborate. By nurturing their talent and providing an environment that encourages growth and learning. 

We would like to express sincere appreciation to each participant for their active involvement and contribution to the success of the opening meeting which took place on July 4-5, 2023 at the CEF in Ljubljana.