Kosovo Alumni EventGARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Dec. 20, 2012) -- A meeting with the president of Kosovo and discussions about countering corruption highlighted a one-day event led by alumni of the Department of Defense’s European regional center for security studies.

The outreach networking event drew 60 people from Kosovo, the U.S. Embassy as well as George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies faculty and staff. Atifete Jahjaga, the president of Kosovo provided the keynote address. The Kosovo alumni of the Marshall Center had not gathered since 2009.

An evening roundtable discussion, which included 51 alumni, included Joe Vann, Naval Criminal Investigative Service chair for the center; and Dr. Vabona Zeneli, professor of national security studies.

More on the Marshall Center's meeting with the President of Kosovo

The gathering focused on staving off corruption in Kosovo. The Transparency International 2012 Corruption Perception Index, which measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption, ranked Kosovo 105 out of 176. That is the second highest ranking in Southeast Europe, making corruption “one of the most important security problems facing this new country,” said Dean Dwigans, director of alumni programs for the Marshall Center.

“This event … afforded the opportunity to bring to public discussion the economic and social costs of corruption and methods of countering this corruption in a country in transition,” Dwigans said.

Dwigans said the roundtable brought together members of the defense and security community to address the issues surrounding corruption, “an important and continuing problem for Kosovo as a new country and one in transition.”

He added that the event afforded the Jahjaga the opportunity to emphasize the commitment to fighting corruption by the whole of society and underline the future work of the Anti-Corruption Council she had recently established.

Further, the roundtable introduced the idea of e-government to participants: how it works, what it can do and its ability to encourage open government.

Vann and Zeneli were also afforded the opportunity to privately meet with Jahjaga. Vann said Jahjaga expressed her deepest appreciation for the continuing support provided by the Marshall Center. A Marshall Center distinguished alumni, the president specifically cited the benefits that Kosovo-government participants receive attending Marshall Center resident, nonresident and alumni events.

"President Jahjaga was very thankful that the Marshall Center conducted this conference and stated she would welcome follow-on support from the Marshall Center to help in addressing this serious challenge," Vann, at the Marshall Center, said.