Southeast European Forum Brings Together Alumni and New Attendees

Ambassador-In-Residence Eric Nelson gives the closing remarks at SEEF

Southeast European Forum Brings Together Alumni and New Attendees

The Southeast European Forum held their closing session on the campus of George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, May 26. The one-week course brought together 41 participants from 13 countries to focus more in detail on the regional security issues within Southeast Europe.

The forum places particular emphasis on current and emerging issues relating to the region, with this year’s focus on cyber security—a topic front and center given the need to enhance capacity and capability in the field.

“SEEF is a unique course at the Marshall Center that blends new attendees with alumni,” says the director of alumni programs, Chris Burelli. “Bringing new participants and alumni together in the same course offers the new participants special insight into the alumni network and enables them to learn directly from alumni how they have benefited from their participation in Marshall Center programs,” he adds.

Of the 21 alumni who attended SEEF, two were classmates who both graduated from Marshall Center’s "Leaders of the 21st Century" course back in 2004.

“The mix of new and returning participants creates an energized learning environment, leveraging alumni expertise and experience,” says Matt Rhodes, professor of Regional Security Studies, who is also one of the leads for the seminar.

Addressing participants in his closing remarks, the Marshall Center Ambassador-In-Residence Eric Nelson referenced Margaret Mead’s quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

Speaking on the Center’s mission to educate, engage and empower, Nelson encouraged participants to take action. “I hope you are coming out this with a strengthened sense of agency. And that’s what we call empowerment.”

SEEF is an annual seminar that focuses on regional security issues within Southeast Europe and their relevance for stakeholder policy priorities. It builds on the Marshall Center’s regional Alumni Forum and Balkans 360 strategic initiative as an anchor program for regional engagement. The seminar places particular emphasis on current and emerging issues related to strategic competition and the role of external actors, hybrid and irregular challenges, Euroatlantic integration and cooperation with and between NATO and the European Union. 

The George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies, founded on June 5, 1993, is a renowned international security and defense studies institute. A bilateral partnership between the U.S. and Germany, it is a lasting cooperation that promotes dialogue and understanding among the nations of North America, Europe and Eurasia. In 2023, the Marshall Center marks its 30th anniversary, re-emphasizing its commitment to carrying Marshall’s vision, an enduring legacy that continues through the security education initiatives of the Center.