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ohrid panel one 2

OHRID, Republic of North Macedonia (August 26, 2019) – Panel one of the Ohrid Alumni Security Forum” consisted of (from left) Dr. Mentor Vrajoli, from the Kosovar Centre for Security Studies, Dr. Matthew Rhodes and Dr. Sebastian von Münchow, from the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, Dr. Monika Begovia, from the Atlantic Council of Croatia and Dr. Mehmedin Tahirovic, from the Armed Forces of Montenegro. (Courtesy photo)

By Public Affairs
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

OHRID, Republic of North Macedonia (August 26, 2019) – Faculty members Dr. Matthew Rhodes and  Dr. Sebastian von Münchow, and Alumni Specialist Drew Beck from the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies traveled to Lake Ohrid in the Republic of North Macedonia to attend and co-organize the “Ohrid Alumni Security Forum” Aug. 24 to 26.

This alumni forum is a traditional gathering of Western Balkan officials, representatives of NATO and Marshall Center staff held each summer by Lake Ohrid, known for its cultural richness and beautiful scenery.

It is organized and sponsored by the Marshall Center Alumni Programs, the North Macedonia Marshall Center Alumni Association, and the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, with support from the NATO Defense College Rome and the Regional Cooperation Council.

Each year, it invites different speakers to focus on key regional security challenges such as counterterrorism and violent extremism, organized crime, disinformation, and hybrid threats.

The Forum aims to create mutually beneficial cooperation on issues of common interest, including regional efforts to meet emerging security challenges.

A special highlight this year was an informal meeting by Dr. Stevo Pendarovski, the recently elected President of North Macedonia, with U.S. Ambassador Kate Marie Byrnes, German Deputy Chief of Mission Otto Graf, representatives of NATO, and the two Marshall Center faculty members.

As a previous attendant of similar events, the President underlined how much he valued these conferences as well as Marshall Center efforts as a whole to educate North Macedonian officials in Bavaria. Marshall Center faculty thanked the President for the kind gesture and outlined present and future Marshall Center activities with special emphasis on North Macedonia.

Rhodes said, “The Ohrid Security Forum is an outstanding example of a substantive initiative by regional alumni.  It has become an important event for highlighting current issues in Euroatlantic integration and emerging security challenges.”

Dr. Sebastian von Münchow said,“The Ohrid Security Forum is one of key regional events. It’s not only about the interesting insights presenters share with us. The Forum is an excellent occasion to informally discuss pressing issues with officials from Western Balkan countries. What we learn here, helps us to shape our programs in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. But it helps us to serve as interlocutor between Southeast Europe and western capitals.”