The Shape of (Central) Europe 2022


The speakers at the Annual Conference The Shape of (Central) Europe 2022 led a fruitful debate about, among other things, the role of values in these turbulent times. The Annual Conference, held on Wednesday, November 30th at Prague Crossroads was organized by Aspen Institute Central Europe in cooperation with media house Economia. The conference was held under the auspices of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The thematic line of the conference was values-based leadership. According to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala, every good policy is also a values based policy. “No political solution will last long if it lacks a values basis,” he stated in his opening speech. According to the Prime Minister, there are three basic values that we must not forget. They are Freedom, a value whose fragility has been shown by the Ukrainian struggle against Russian aggression. Solidarity; manifested mainly in the crises society has recently faced, and last but not least, Responsibility. According to Petr Fiala, this proved to be especially important during the Czech presidency of the Council of the European Union, when we were not only responsible for ourselves, but also for events in the whole of Europe.“It turns out that these values are shared by a large part of our society,” Fiala added.

Andrej Kiska, the former President of the Slovak Republic, returned in his speech to the values for which people took to the streets on 17 November 1989.
Another guest of honor was former Slovak President, Andrej Kiska. In his speech he recalled the events of November 17, 1989 and the values for which the people fought – freedom, truth, hope, decency, dignity. According to Fmr. President Kiska, we have not yet given up the ideals for which we took to the streets. “We make compromises all our lives, but we must never bend the value lines, not even if everyone opposes us, not even if we end up losing everything,” he emphasized.
The Former Prime Minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, also spoke about values in leadership. He also confirmed the importance of values-based leadership in today’s war-torn era. In his speech, he talked about values and interests and how to combine them in a world of conflict, competition, and cooperation. According to Alexander Stubb, we have to conduct a mutual and open values dialogue on multiple levels. Every country, every continent, has different interests and we need to find mutual consensus.

The regular topics of the annual conference – security, civil service efficiency and education – were set in the context of the current world scene. Compared to previous years, the conference increased its consideration of the future of the labor market. Next, there were follow-up discussion panels covered topics such as – Defense in Times of Interstate Conflicts at the Strategic Level, Effective Civil Service – Inspiration for Urgent and Complex Challenges, Significant changes await the Czech labor market and Successful Local Education Systems. The discussion panels were followed by the thoughts and perspectives of responsible ministers, government representatives, experts and knowledgeable speakers from academic, non-profit sectors, and government.

Zuzana Krzątała from Poland and Jana Hlaváčová from the Czech Republic, laureates of the Aspen CE Madeleine K. Albright Leadership Award, which is intended for young leaders who promote an active and responsible civic approach and values-based leadership.

Since 2019, the conference has also been associated with recognizing young emerging professionals with outstanding achievements in the active promotion of responsible citizenship, values-based leadership, and the development of innovative policies with positive societal impact in Central Europe. The Young Leadership Award is now named after former US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.
The newly minted Aspen CE Madeleine K. Albright Leadership Award ceremony was opened during the gala dinner at the Lobkowitz Palace by Elliot Gerson, Executive Vice-President of the Aspen Institute, sharing a letter from the Albright family in respect to the Award renaming. The first laureates of the Aspen CE Madeleine K. Albright Leadership Award were Zuzana Krzątała from Poland and Jana Hlaváčková from the Czech Republic. Miloš Vystrčil, President of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, and Pavel Řehák, President of the Board of Directors of the Aspen Institute Central Europe presented.

A recording of the conference can be found here.


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