The conference received a lot of attention from parliamentarians, diplomats, the staff of the Office of the Seimas, representtives from international organizations and academicians. Participants were welcomed by Vydas Gedvilas, first Deputy Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Emanuelis Zingeris, Signatory to the Act of Independence of Lithuania, President of the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy, Donatas Augulis, Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jake Jones, Director of the International Republican Institute Belarus office, and Michael Padraic Murphy, Resident Director of the Belarus Program of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs at the Opening ceremony. Jonas Milerius, Secretary General of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Mantvydas Bekesius, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, former Chief of the Secretariat of the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Audronius Azubalis, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Gintaras Steponavicius, former Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania, Remigijus Simasius, former Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania, other parliamentarians - Arvydas Anusauskas, Rokas Zilinskas, Paulius Saudargas and Juras Pozela – and others have shared their knowledge and insight with young leaders during three sessions of the academy.
In the first session participants were introduced to the peculiarities of parliamentary work. The Academy started from the presentations about the official work of the parliament and highly important daily routine, which is often invisible: relations within political groups, coordination of work among political groups, the Office of the Parliament and parliamentary committees as well as relations with other state institutions. The presentations were focused on the practical aspects of parliamentary activities that might be known only to a long-term member of the Parliament or an Office staff member well familiar with the institution’s activity principles.
The second session presenters addressed the qualities required by a professional politician; they looked into the features that help to be successful in this field, the qualities that an individual is normally born with and the ones that need to be acquired and developed. The participants also discussed such concepts as leadership, team work, oratory skills, management of crisis situations and other basic skills necessary for a politician. Special assignments for the development of these qualities and acquisition of skills were carried out during group work sessions.
During the last session, which was dedicated to encourage young leaders to pursue political career, Lithuanian politicians were invited to share their experience, tell their success stories to their peers and encourage participants to get more actively involved in political activities with their personal examples. During working groups participants got acquainted with the process of running for parliament and try to prepare plans of their political election campaign.
The aim of the project was to establish and spread democracy in Eastern Partnership countries within the youth dimension in order to build friendly democratic neighborhood in the region and strengthen cooperation through carrying out the Third International Young Leaders Academy. Main goals were:
- To organize the Third International Young Leaders Academy,
- To expand the network of young leaders,
- To promote the project to the society,
- To complete the project and evaluate.
As a result, for the third year in a row the International Young Leaders Academy were carried out to provide young leaders with necessary knowledge and skills for the career in professional politics, encourage them to involve in the field in order to build strong democratic neighborhood in the region this time. New members have joined expanding the network of young leaders; and ties with existing members of the network were tighten to stimulate cooperation among countries within youth dimension, new initiatives and other projects. Through multiple media channels the news about the Third International Young Leaders Academy has reached the society in Lithuania promoting the project, its aim and results. The project was successfully completed and evaluated in order to further sophisticate the conduction of the project and extend results.
The Third International Young Leaders Academy encouraged participants not only exchange their experience in the field of professional politics, but also discuss about democracy, active citizenship and youth leadership. “Values, respect for people, courage, leadership, responsibility, judgment, intuition, quick orientation, and mobilization of people are those values that were unanimously mentioned in the presentations of parliamentarians from different parties. However, the discussion, whether one is to be born or to become a politician, produced different opinions. Probably the truth is somewhere in the middle, because it all depends on the inner attitude, determination and success of man,” summed up Viktorija Braziunaite, Organizer of the event and Chair of the Young Leaders Forum.
Young Leaders Forum is grateful to donors and partners of the Third International Young Leaders Academy. The main donors are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania through the Development Cooperation and Democracy Promotion Programme; the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Taipei Mission in Riga and Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. Partners and friends of the project are the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy, the Institute of International Relations and Political Science of Vilnius University, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.
The Young Leaders Forum was established as a result of the Vilnius Declaration adopted during Democracy Days in Vilnius in 2010, when Lithuania was holding the chairmanship of the Community of Democracie (CoD). More than fifty young leaders from different countries then signed the Vilnius Declaration founding the youth pillar within CoD – the Young Leaders Forum.