Debate #1 Together with our Diversities
#EU4Balkans in collaboration with DG REGIO-Interreg
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In a globalising world, Mayors play an increasingly important role in the interplay of the different levels of decision-making and they provide a bridge between local, national and international levels. They collectively carry out projects that open up new perspectives for living together, gender equality, sustainability and for diversity. In this debate, we have invited European leaders, mayors and deputy mayors, who are convinced that by changing the city, we can change the world. What the invited personalities have in common is their work with the specificity of their city and their inclusive vision of diversity in the future. This debate will allow an exchange of experience between Western Balkans and the EU cities. Through its format, the session will use culture as a key driver to overcome preconceptions concerning the Balkan countries and focus on what connects us but also highlight the richness of Balkan culture and innovation.
Moderator: Olaf Bruns
- Jasna Gabric
- Anuela Ristani
- Dominic Fritz
- Jean-Pierre Halkin
- Can Akın ÇAĞLAR
Mayor of Trbovlje and European Young Leader – Slovenia
Jasna is the mayor of Trbovlje, a former mining town in Slovenia. A member of the municipal council since the age of 25, she was the youngest Slovenian mayor when elected. Unemployment in her town has fallen by almost half thanks to her role in implementing a successful incubator for start-ups. Her effort also focussed on reforming the municipality to make it more efficient and responsive. These achievements have received widespread recognition, in particular from the City Mayors Foundation which named her Mayor of Distinction. She is seen as a role model for young female politicians.
Deputy Mayor of Tirana for International Affairs
Anuela is the Deputy Mayor of Tirana in charge of International Affairs and Sustainable Development. She joined the City in 2015 as Chief of Staff to the Mayor, Erion Veliaj, and was appointed Deputy after he was re-elected in 2019. During her work for the city she has overseen the Green City Action Plan, the Tirana Child Friendly agenda and the Resilience and Sustainability strategies. Prior to joining local government she established the National Youth Service where she also co-founded RYCO -Regional Youth Cooperation Office with the participation of the six Western Balkan Countries. Ms. Ristani joined the public service from more than a decade of experience with multinational corporations and International Organizations where she’s served as Marketing and Communications expert.
Mayor of Timișoara-Romania
Dominic is the mayor of Timisoara, Romania’s third-largest city. Before that he studied Political Sciences in different universities in Paris, Kontanz and York. Afterwards, he started working as adviser to the German Agency for International Cooperation until 2012, then he became personal adviser to the former German President for two years. In 2016 he became civil servant in the Presidential Administration of Germany for three years. In 2019 he moved to Romania but his story with the country started way before that. He first came to Timisoara in 2003, on a voluntary social year. Since then, he kept going back to Romania, he learned Romanian and he started different things in his new city. In September 2020, 53,25% of Timișoara’s citizens trusted him for the new start of the city.
Head of the Unit for Macro-regions European Commission at the Directorate General for Regional and Urban policy of the European Commission
Jean-Pierre studied at the ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles) in Brussels. He has been at the European Commission for 15 years. In 2006 he was Head of Unit of Natural Resources for five years. Afterwards, he became Head of Unit of Rural Development, Food and Nutrition Security for another five years. Since 2017, he is Head Of Unit of Competence Centre Macro-regions and Territorial Co-operation.
Can Akın ÇAĞLAR
Secretary General of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality
Can Akın ÇAĞLAR started his professional career at the Undersecretariat of Treasury as Deputy Chartered Auditor of Banks in 1985. During his 10 years’ service in public sector, he undertook various auditing tasks for numerous banks and financial institutions in Turkey. He holds a master’s degree in Financial Economics at Boston University of USA. From 2003 until 2011he served as Director General of Ziraat Bank of the Republic of Turkey. Another position he has held is the President of Insurance Association of Turkey, which is the highest ranking institution in the insurance sector. Before his appointment as the Secretary General of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, his last position was the Deputy Chairman of Executive Board of Eureko Sigorta.
Olaf is a Brussels-based journalist. A former Deputy Head of the Brussels office of the international Tv news broadcaster Euronews, he now works as a freelancer. Amongst others, he writes for the European Green Journal and is the deputy editor-in-chief of the quarterly magazine Progressive Post. He provides Media Training via Crown Media and teaches journalism at the Brussels-based media school IHECS. He holds a master’s degree in Social Anthropology form Paris VIII University with several years of social science research work in various African countries.