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March 31, 2023

The Aspen Institute: The world at crossroads, the need for values redefined

First convention of the international network of ASPEN institutes in Romania

The ASPEN Institute Romania organised the first convention of the international network of ASPEN institutes in Romania, between September 9 and September 14, the theme being ‘Twenty years past – Twenty years forward: perspectives for Central and Eastern Europe.’

‘The ASPEN Institute is a place where ideas can be shared and exchanged in a safe environment,’ ASPEN Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson, stated in the opening of the press conference yesterday. Isaacson is former President and CEO of CNN and ‘Time magazine Editor.

“In the United States, the Aspen Institute brings together Republicans and Democrats alike, in a space where they can take some distance from their divides and meet somewhere in-between. In Romania you have a vibrant political life, a vibrant public debate and you need a place where people can talk of a calm and more rational manner about fundamental values and matters,” he added.

Among the speakers there were also journalist Emil Hurezeanu, Ford USA Vice-President Steve Biegun, former Italian Foreign Minister and former ASPEN Italy President Gianni de Michelis, representatives of big companies with operations in Romania (Enel, Petrom) and experts on international affairs.

The debates, opened by Mircea Geoana, President of the ASPEN Romania Institute, and moderated by Walter Isaacson, addressed the changes that have irreversibly moulded Europe in the past 20 years and meaningfully changed the course of history. The participants reflected primarily on Europe’s prospects of economic and political development in the following decades, with a special emphasis falling on the long-term consequences of the current crisis. The debate focused on interventions by key-figures of international business, government and academia.

‘This is a wake-up call for Romania. Now we have the opportunity of getting out of the passive state and of becoming active in order to find solutions. The role of ASPEN Romania is to stimulate the debate regarding these solutions and also to help Romania’s voice to become more influential in Eastern Europe,’ Mircea Geoana, President of the ASPEN Romania Institute and Speaker of the Romanian Senate stated in the opening of the debates. He further said it had been wrongly thought that accession to the EU and NATO would automatically resolve all the country’s problems. Participants agreed the world crisis wood lead to ‘a re-organisation of the world order’ and to a re-distribution of force ratios between the great economic powers, between cultures and civilisations and between continents.

Geoana noted that the crisis also challenges the free market and society development models, which calls for re-thinking the balance between the market, state and civil society.

‘No one and nothing can be a substitute for a national project, for a national ambition of determining one’s destiny. Our elite has the obligation of remoulding society, we must be active in the organisations in which we are members and allies because we are no longer the new-comer, we are members. This crisis is a wake-up call for this region and for Romania,’ Geoana also said.

The debate is part of a series of events organised on the occasion of the convention of the international network of ASPEN institutes in the world (US, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, India), which takes place in Romania this year. Among the participants there are ASPEN Institute US President and CEO as well as former President and CEO of CNN and ‘Time’ magazine Editor Walter Isaacson, Steering Committee Chairman, former President and CEO of the Wachovia corporation and founder of the Equity Capital Markets group for Europe Robert K. Steel and Steering Committee Honorary Chairman and President of Estee Lauder Inc. Leonard A. Lauder.

Other events organized around the international reunion include a meeting with National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu, a discussion with deputy prime-minister Dan Nica – both aimed at identifiying common problems and solutions for the current economic conte

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