A new, 16th generation of the School of Democratic Leadership, organised by the NGO Civic Alliance, officially started at the EU Info Centre on 12 February. The ambassadors of Bulgaria, Norway and the United States officially marked the start of studies for the new intake, which will focus on European integration, especially in the area of the rule of law.

The Bulgarian Ambassador, Mladen Cervenyakov, said that a lot of challenges lie ahead for the European Union and something needs to change.

“But first, we need to figure out what Europe we need. We don’t want Europe at multiple speeds. We do not want the Balkans to remain on the periphery of Europe,” said Chervenyakov.

The US Ambassador, Margaret Ann Uyehara, said that Montenegro has strengthened its democratic institutions, created a more stable environment for foreign investment and continues to be a haven of peace and stability in the region, which is why it deserves to be praised. She stressed the importance of initiatives such as the School of Democratic Leadership.

“I honestly and sincerely believe in investing in the education of the future leaders of this country and that is why your discussions here today are so important. You will have great opportunities to learn more, to exchange viewpoints and to talk about what democracy means for you and how you are going to help to all your colleagues to make this important cultural shift,” said Uyehara.

The Ambassador of Norway, Arne Sannes Bjørnstad, explained the Scandinavian model of consensus, as well as the importance of dialogue.

“If I can give you, young leaders and politicians, one piece of advice: try to see the quality in the other side’s argument and, even if you don’t agree with it, try to find common ground, because there is no way to find a common solution without each other. That is the beauty of the European Union; that is the beauty of NATO, because we do work together. And together we are strong, not individually,” said Bjørnstad.

The Programme Director of the Civic Alliance, Boris Raonic, said that this, the 16th generation of the School of Democratic Leadership, will be special because of Montenegro’s specific position in accession negotiations. The mission of this generation of the school will be to help negotiations in Chapters 23 and 24.