GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Dec. 21, 2012) – With a focus on “open government and transparency,” Albanian alumni from the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies met Dec. 13 in Tirana.
With 75 people in attendance, including 45 alumni, Marshall Center faculty and staff facilitated an evening roundtable that included Arben Imami, Albania’s minister of defense; officials from the European University Tirana and members of the Chief of the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation, Army Maj. Kristopher Mitchell. U.S. embassy officials were also on hand for the event.
“This event served as an opportunity to energize the alumni association that has, for the first time since the group’s formation in 2006, selected the security topic for the roundtable and partnered with the leading private university in Tirana,” said Dean Dwigans, director of alumni programs for the Marshall Center. “More importantly, the roundtable afforded the opportunity to bring to public discussion the need for open government to foster transparency as a means to counter corruption and encourage civic involvement.”
Attending alumni represented Albanian ministries, parliament and universities, Dwigans said. Joe Vann, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service faculty chair; Dr. Valbona Zeneli, professor of national security studies; and Barbara Wither, alumni programs representative for Southeast Europe, represented the Marshall Center.
The MC speakers were able to discuss the issues surrounding the economic cost of corruption and the use of e-government to foster transparency, Dwigans said. Further, the topic “emphasized transparency as an anti-corruption measure to foster economic and social prosperity as well as underlined the US Global Development Policy which stresses good governance and transparency.”
The roundtable also addressed use “e-government” tools to conduct business.
“Although Albania has shown interest in e-government in the past, the discussion of the uses and advantages of e-government as a civic enabler, a way to reduce cost and improve efficiency, and provide transparency and accountability, is an important message to a country faced with corruption issues,” Vann said. He added that a list of practical considerations was discussed for initiating an e-government plan.
Imami said the Marshall Center has helped to foster professionalism in the military. He added Marshall Center graduates form an important network in the defense ministry that has “transcended all other networks, including those in different political parties.”
The Marshall Center facilitates activity for 27 alumni associations across the region serving more than 9,300 members. It conducts between 35-40 events each year.