The weather in Slovenia might not be the best these days, but our disposition sure is sunny, as Centre for European Perspective is again hosting International Study Visit within the U-LEAD programme. The event began on Tuesday, 12th of November and will continue throughout the week.

The topic of the visit is “Cooperation between Business and Local Communities”.

There are currently 19 local officials from Ukraine taking part in the study visit with the vast majority being heads of amalgamated hromadas.

The study visit began with a welcome speech by Ms Katja Geršak, Executive Director of CEP who warmly welcomed the participants and presented CEP team and the work of CEP in the U-LEAD project. She was followed by Ms Berta Mrak, the Head of the Department for Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, Central Asia and the Arctic at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Slovenia, who welcomed the group from Ukraine and gave an insight into work the Ministry does with Ukraine, bilateral relations between countries and the high-level visit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia that occured last week in Kiev. She was followed Mr Andrii Borodenkov, First Secretary from the Embassy of Ukraine in Ljubljana, who expressed his pleasure at being able to greet the study group from Ukraine on a U-LEAD study visit to Slovenia. He shared a few examples of the work the Embassy does, spoke about especially about the cultural cooperation of the countries and examples of Slovenian and Ukrainian economic cooperation.

After a short warm-up session and introduction of participants held by Ms Meliha Muherina, Project Manager at CEP, the theoretical part of the visit begun.

First lecture of the day was given by Mr Gorazd Orešek, from SPIRIT Slovenia – Public Agency for Entrepreneurship, Internationalization, Fore­ign Investments and Technology, who spoke about SME support in Slovenia, attracting investments to the local environment and establishing conditions conducive for entrepreneurship in a local community, especially when speaking about industrial zones.

The following lecture was given by Ms Nina Seljak, from the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, who spoke about the results and good practices from cross-border projects Slovenia is involved in and how this practices could be transferred to Ukrainan local communities, when speaking about cross-border connections and projects.

The last speaker of the day was Ms Larisa Vodeb, who focused on the work of Chamber of Craft & Small Business of Slovenia and Enterprise Europe Network.

With the theoretical part done, we will move to ‘the field’ in the following days.

On Wednesday, the participants will visit the Municipality of Tolmin, where they will hear more about the development of the municipality, the influence large events and music festivals have on local community and historical ties between Slovenia and Ukraine. The historical ties will alse be explored with a visit to Javorca memorial church and First World War Museum in Kobarid. They will also meet with the Mayor of Tolmin, Mr Brežan.

Thursday will offer a brief respite from driving as we stay in the municipality of Brda. On a visit to the Municipality, the participants will hear more about the development of the municipality, local projects and development of the cross-border cooperation in the region. The participants will also have the opportunity to visit the cooperative Klet Goriška Brda, where we will be a bit spoiled with a presentation of the work and a degustation. On Friday, participants make a trip across Vipavska dolina and towards Kras to the Škocjan Caves Park, where they will be met with the Director of the UNESCO protected nature park, Mr Stojan Ščuka. The visit to the Park will end with the visit to the Škocjan Cave and certificate ceremony.

The visit is taking place in the framework of the multi-donor action U-LEAD established by the European Union and its Member States Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Poland and Sweden. It aims at contributing to the establishment of multilevel governance that is transparent, accountable and responsive to the needs of the population of Ukraine. U-LEAD with Europe is supporting the Ukrainian Government, represented by the Ministry of Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine (MinRegion) as a key political partner in the coordination and implementation of the decentralization and regional policy reforms. The Program carries out demand-driven and targeted trainings for officials at the national, regional and local level.

U-LEAD with Europe Study Visit: 12th to 16th November 2019