The concluding seminar within the Regional Program of the Bulgarian School of Politics took place between June 17-21 2010 in Sofia, Bulgaria, marking the completion of this year’s Regional Program activities. Participants from 8 Balkan countries convened for the third time this season, to discuss prospects for Balkan cooperation in designing and implementing youth policies.
On June 18th participants were welcomed to the Bulgarian Parliament, where they discussed youth policy-making with several young MPs and observed the parliamentary session. Next they went to the Bulgarian Presidency to learn about the development of the presidential institution in Bulgaria, and met with members of the President’s administration. In the afternoon, they had their first seminar session and put the finishing touches on a White Paper of Youth Policy on the Balkans. The evening concluded with a celebration of Balkan diversity, with every country holding an improvised exhibition of traditional foods, beverages and souvenirs. Several Regional Program graduates from previous years attended to meet and talk with the soon-to-be alumni, and shared the excitement.
June 19th was a day for intense learning and group work. Divided into three groups, participants had to play a role game, and devise a strategy to convince a foreign minister of powerful EU member country in the benefits of continuing EU enlargement. The afternoon panel had participants focus on education related issues, with lectures focusing on the Bologna Process and its impact on Balkan countries. The Irish Ambassador to Bulgaria, H.E. Geoffrey Keating spoke about the importance of designing policy solutions addressing the causes of brain drain in order to prevent negative emigration of young skilled people from the region.
The last lecture of this year’s Regional Program focused on practical tools for advocacy and lobbying. Three groups of participants had to deal with real-world scenarios on public policy challenges and design a strategy to identify and involve powerful stakeholders in addressing the issue at hand.
The seminar concluded with a certificate awarding ceremony traditionally hosted by the New Bulgarian University and its rector Prof. Liudmil Georgiev. Certificates were presented to participants by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mr. Georgi Pirinski. In his address to the graduates of the program, Mr. Pirinski emphasized the fact they were about to join a ever-growing regional network of alumni, most of whom have already walked the path from Regional program participants to regional decision-makers.