FLEP: The Generational Call of the Two Presidents


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 emerging leaders (FLEP) on its own.

By its launch on 24th February 2023, this Program gathered participants of diverse professional backgrounds and different geographies, including Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East – largely the forthcoming leaders from the government, international organisations or industry. The FLEP Executive Program’s concept is rather simple: Participants are spending one entire 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 eternal city arching the two continents.

The very closing of the 2023 Spring semester has been reserved for as many as four prominent guests. Among them, only one being the serving Head of State or Government, Dr. Dritan Abazovic. Excellency Prime Minister is the raising star of the European politics – young and vibrant Head of the Montenegro government, European Mediterranean country.

Although exclusively invited for the FLEP program, his stay started with the evening visit to Hagia Sophia (one of the most known and most visited world’s temples). The very next morning, Dr. Abazovic was giving a key note at the University Medeniyet – a highly anticipated event which culminated by awarding the Prime Minister with the PhD (honoris causa) for promotion of human rights and ethics in international relations conduct. Before the official working lunch with the dignitaries from academia and business, Prime Minister paid a visit to the Museum of Modern Arts, where he and his delegation was briefed about the state of modern culture and arts in Europe and Middle East.

Accompanied by the State Minister of Interior (his Cabinet member), Ambassador, General Consul, and other dignitaries, Prime Minister finally met participants of the FLEP program for an exclusive, content rich and extensive, Chatham House rules-based talks, for the reminder of the day. Amicable, thoughtful and farsighted exchanges with the FLEP hosts continued all through the evening, during the informal working dinner charmingly but discreetly decorated in the truly breath-taking scenery of the roof top of the Conrad city landmark object.   

Number of significant matters were discussed throughout the day, with an emphasis on environmental issues and their protection and preservation, as well as positive peace and unity on a local, continental, and global level, something PM Abazović also recently addressed at the UN General Assembly in New York, and talked on the same at the numerous prestigious universities such as Oxford. With the Balkan area having witnessed violence in the form of war not too long ago, but having found peace, they have many lessons to share on how to accomplish precisely that in other parts of the world.

“We cannot change the past; we can only change the future!” was the PM’s direct appeal to the students: to let go of the old, work on reconciliation and co-create the new. He acknowledges technology and entrepreneurship as positive driving forces for the prosperity of Montenegro and the people living there (including recently launched State Space Program). The Balkans area in general, is continuously and relentlessly working on maintaining peace and finding further unity in the region without any before given political preferences. 

Apart from Montenegro’s primary income source, which is tourism (miles-long beautiful sand beaches with more than 200 days of sunny weather), the country is taking preservation of its natural habitat seriously. The fact that environmental protection is written into the Constitution already highlights the country as forward-thinking, ready to integrate sustainability into its state’s agenda. 

Despite all difficulties we are currently facing as a global society, the day was closed on a happy note by celebrating PM Abazović academic achievements; by the way, he had the chance to study at various prestigious institutions around the world and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Sarajevo for his work titled “Global Politics – Ethical Aspects of Globalization” and a master degree in political philosophy from the University of Montenegro. He also authored two books titled “Cosmopolitan Culture & Global Justice” and “Critique of Global Ethics.” 

Vivid exchanges of views and opinions between speaker of honour and participants marked (along with the Saturday dignitaries) the closing part of the two-day visit, 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) along with the perfect organisation of principal host deeply impressed all. Closing the event, Head of Government Abazovic and President of ICYF Taha Ayhan (as a principal host to the event), jointly voiced what all participants already concluded in the course of the day- that the FLEP Program offers truly unique setting, unparallel anywhere else in the world. Two Presidents both agreed that this particular format is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for emerging leaders from the state, intergovernmental civil and corporate sectors of all meridians.

Indeed, the Program meeting hall was filled with the enthusiasm and hope for the formidable and attenable tomorrow that started in February and peaked in June 2023 with the FLEP Istanbul program. The fascinating voyage of knowledge sets its uncharted waters sail. It will reach its next mesmerising port of wisdom and insights this year Fall with yet more fascinating guests and highest level speakers.

Marie-Christine Ghreichi
Marie-Christine Ghreichi
Marie-Christine Ghreichi is a recent graduate of Sciences Po, Paris specializing in International Security with a focus on Diplomacy and the Middle East Region. After completing her studies in the United States where she supported a transitional justice research collaborative, she worked with Catholic Relief Services in Beirut, Lebanon before then coming to Paris to pursue her master’s degree. She is passionate about international conflict resolution, human rights, accountable governance, gender rights and the Middle East.


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