Yagmur Ceylan Korkut Hassan

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, intl organizations, 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 on two continents.

The very opening of the program has been reserved for the paramount name of European and world statecraft, Austrian state President, Dr. Heinz Fischer, who spend the full day with the highly anticipating audience of the Program.

Excellency Fischer served as the national state president for two consecutive terms (2004 – 2016). Witness to an active maker of major events of the past 4-5 decades, he also served as Minister of Science of the Republic of Austria from 1983 to 1987 (Fred Sinowatz government), and as the President of the National Council of Austria from 1990 to 2002. Between 1992 and 2004, Dr. Fischer was Deputy Chairman of the Party of European Social Democrats (PES).

From 1995 to 2002 he was President of the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for the Victims of National Socialism.

In June 2016 Heinz Fischer was named President of the Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres, and soon after as the President of the Austrian Society for Chinese Studies.

Finally, in January 2017 Heinz Fischer was named president to the Board of the Institute for Human Science, while in August of that year, Excellency Fischer was appointed as co-chairman of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens – a function he holds up to this very day.

During the day-long exchanges with the FLEP participants, Excellency Fischer elaborated on his career path, notably his role in national and European politics, on meetings with the heads of state and governments of many countries including the biggest powers during his long career.

He generously and enthusiastically shared elaborate views on the political climate and structures of Austria and Europe before WWI, in the interwar period, and especially in the post-WWII recovery period.

In addition, Dr. Fischer discussed the main challenges for the past 100 years – from poverty, Nazism, armaments, confrontations, and lack of democratic and tolerant societal fabrics, collective actions, and the crisis of the international multilateral political bodies than open the road for open military confrontation.

Vivid exchanges of views and opinions between the speaker of honor and participants marked the closing part of the 9 hours long lecturing and tour-de-table.

Content intensive, inspiring reflective, and farsighted, yet amicable and family-like atmosphere with direct, personal access to the notable guest (full of coffee breaks and meals spent together) along with the perfect organization of principal host deeply impressed all.

Closing the event, Dr. Fischer and President of ICYF Taha Ayhan (a principal host to the event), jointly voiced what all participants already concluded in the course of the day- that the FLEP Program offers a truly unique setting, unparallel anywhere else in the world.

Two Presidents both agreed that this particular format is a 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 enthusiasm and hope for the formidable and attenable tomorrow that started on 24th February 2023 with the FLEP Istanbul program.

The fascinating voyage of knowledge sets its uncharted waters sail. It will reach its next mesmerizing port of wisdom and insights on the 24th of March by hosting the Prime Minister of Belgium and the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

*The author is Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer at the Madinah Group Istanbul Turkey Office. She was attached to the office of the European Union Youth and Education Turkey, the Turkish National Agency, and the Turkish Republic Prime Ministry Investment Office.

**The Diplomatic Insight does not take any position on issues and the views represented herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Diplomatic Insight and its staff.