A dozen Parliamentarians from Slovakia, many of them elected this past spring, attended a two day seminar at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, Nov. 8-9, to learn more about their roles in national security.

This seminar, the first designed specifically for parliamentarians from Slovakia, focused on the role parliamentarians have in managing the security affairs of their nation. An agenda of international speakers led the parliamentarians through discussions covering the security architecture under ministerial supervision and parliamentary control; developments in cyber security, emerging defense technologies, parliament's role in defense budgeting and planning; and civil society and non-government organizations as partners.

Marshall Center Program Director for Central and Southeast Europe Matt Rhodes who planned and organized the seminar said this was an important two-day discussion.

"We do four or five seminars like this a year with various countries but this was the first time we had one with the Slovaks themselves. This was a good opportunity to reach out to Slovakia because of their elections this past spring and because of their key geographic position in the center of Europe. Slovakia is a country of great significance despite its small size. Its location, as a neighbor of Ukraine, and the fact it currently holds the rotating position of the EU presidency, plays a very important role in shaping Europe and Euro-Atlantic security agenda," said Rhodes.
Rhodes said the seminar came about through an ongoing discussion the Marshall Center has with the American and German embassies in Bratislava as well as the Slovak parliament to see what would be of interest and most relevant to them.

Event Planner Craig Coder has worked at the Marshall Center since 2012 and has had a hand in organizing the logistics of many resident courses and seminars like this one. This one will stand out in his memory for a couple of reasons.

"This group was very engaged. During discussions, you could see how the parliamentarians from different committees found ways to connect and work together. I think the seminar provided the perfect opportunity to talk not only among themselves but to non-government agencies within their own country that they don't normally have the opportunity to do back home because of their schedules," said Coder.

Being located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen makes the Marshall Center easily accessible from all parts of Europe. Because of the location and distances, Coder said the Center made a decision where parliamentarians would travel together in an executive coach bus from Bratislava which made logistics easier and more cost efficient.

"There are always last minute changes to travel agendas and this seminar was no different. We had three parliamentarians cancel at the last minute and one parliamentarian who was able to attend at the last minute. These types of changes can become a burden for our travel planners and they certainly can affect the bottom line. But the bus option made logistics simpler and more cost conscious," said Coder.

The George C. Marshall European Center organizes more than 120 non-resident outreach events each year like this one in addition to its renowned resident programs.

More information about the Marshall Center can be found online at www.marshallcenter.org.