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Sun. April 02, 2023
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International Affairs Forum

Around the World, Across the Political Spectrum

United Kingdom in the Mediterranean: Wisdom of Future Meeting the Experience of the Past

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Following successes of the similar programs in Europe (Vienna and Geneva notably), the Istanbul-based International Organization along with its European (think-tank, academia, cultural diplomacy and media) partners decided to launch the special executive program for future leaders on its own.

Hence, by the Program’s launch on 24th February 2023, this format gathered participants of diverse professional backgrounds and varied geographies, including Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East – largely the emerging leaders from the government, intl organisations or industry. The FLEP Executive Program’s concept is rather simple: Participants are spending a whole day with top level speakers – mainly the world leaders that shaped events of the past decades (two per month, last Friday-Saturday in month) in an open, Chatham House rules-based atmosphere, all situated within the historic premisses of the city on two continents.

The second to the former Austrian state President, was the UK Tony Blair’s cabinet member, Defence Secretary Geoffrey William Hoon, who spend the full day with the highly anticipating audience of the Program.

Worth of mentioning is that Excellency Hoon received his education at Jesus College in Cambridge. Later in his exceptional career, he has taught at universities in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Secretary Hoon is a trained lawyer and a former senior cabinet member in the Tony Blair’s government of the United Kingdom. He has held a number of senior ministerial roles in addition to his time spent as a Member of Parliament (1992–2010) and a member of the European Parliament (1984–1994). From there, Secretary Hoon worked his way up to become an experienced senior industry executive with AgustaWestland, where he operated in both the defense and civil aerospace markets on an international scale. And more recently, he has held positions as a non-executive director (NED) as well as the chair of a charity and a private sector organization.

During the day-long exchanges with the FLEP participants Excellency Hoon elaborated on his career path, notably his role in the Labor Party, while contextualizing it in the general historical framework (premodern and modern political history) of Britain. He generously and enthusiastically shared elaborate views on the political structure of the United Kingdom and its main power brokers. In addition, he discussed the political development of the nation's history in the post WWI, interwar and post-WWII periods.

The Post-war recovery, European integrations, Cold War, formation of multilateral forums in Europe (such as the Council of Europe, EEC, and Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe), fall of the Berlin wall and subsequent democratization in Eastern Europe, NATO and its R2P role, Brexit, Euro-MED dialogue as well as the war in Ukraine were main point that mesmerized participants all through the day.

Vivid exchanges of views and opinions marked the closuring part of the 9 hours long lecturing and tour-de-table. Content intensive, inspiring reflective and farsighted, yet amicable and family-like atmosphere with a direct, personal access to the notable guest (full of coffee-breaks and meals spent together) deeply impressed all. Closing the event, Excellency Hoon and President of ICYF Taha Ayhan (as a principal host to the event), jointly encapsulated what all participants already concluded in the course of the day- that the Program offers unique setting, unparallel anywhere else in the world. They both agreed that this particular format is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for emerging leaders from the state, intergovernmental and corporate sectors of all meridians.

And, indeed, the Program meeting hall was filled with the future that started on 24th February 2023 with the FLEP Istanbul program. The magic ship of knowledge and wisdom now sets its sails. It will reach its next fascinating port on insights in exactly a month time.

Author:

Shaikha Al-Marri, of Queen Mary University of London (MS in Intl Public Policy). She was attached to the office of the Qatar’s Minister of Sports and Youth (Youth Advisor). Represented her country at the UNESCO Pre-Summit 2022. She is active friendship ambassador for the Foundation of Friendship Ambassadors associated with the United Nations.

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