The International Republican Institute (IRI) co-hosted the third annual Europe and Eurasia Young Political Leaders Seminar (EEYPL) in Belgrade, Serbia from December 5-9, 2007.  Participants from across Europe and Eurasia attended the four-day event focusing on young political leadership in the 21st century.

Building upon the two previous seminars in Macedonia (2005) and Moldova (2006), this year’s seminar emphasized the use of technology in political and civic organization.  The trainings utilized the website, developed at the Moldova seminar, to enhance the regional network of young political and civic leaders.  Workshop topics included:

Snežana Samardžić Marković, Serbian Minister of Youth and Sports, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Michael Harvey kicked off EEYPL with remarks about their own early experiences with politics.  Harvey shared a story about his own young political activism during the 1976 presidential race, demonstrating that young leadership can have a significant impact.  

The opening morning also featured a panel of five young Serbian political and civil society leaders who discussed the challenges facing young leaders in Europe and Eurasia.  The panelists described their own inspiration for getting into politics, as well as some of the impediments within their own parties or organizations that can discourage young people from playing a larger role in the political realm.

For the concluding session of the seminar, the Center for the Development of Parliamentary Debate, a Serbian nongovernmental organization, staged a mock parliamentary debate.  Using training from workshops earlier in the seminar, the debate teams argued the merits of a quota system for young politicians in parliament.  After a moderated debate between government and opposition teams, the final outcome was determined through a formal vote by seminar participants; the opposition team, who argued forcefully against the quota system, was declared the winner.

EEYPL was co-hosted by IRI and the National Democratic Institute, in coordination with the American Council of Young Political Leaders.  The seminar was sponsored by the USAID.  More than 50 participants attended the seminar from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.

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