Thursday, May 19, 2011

Croatia: About delay, trainings, EU, and discussions

As a following up of the Balkan trip Auke Minnema and me went to Croatia to train the people of the initiative group there. After this we plan to go to Slovenia, the country we unfortunately could not visit the last time during our Balkantrip.

We thought that we calculated the time quite well. We left at 10 AM (9 o'clock Croatian time) and arrived in Zagreb 4 pm. However we did not calculate the large traffic jam in and around Belgrade (because the Serbs were working on all these roads) neither we counted on the fact that we were seen as and treated like criminals by the Croatian border police.

After the warm welcome of three angry looking customs officers searching through all we have (with a special interest for my pocket travel flat-iron), we finally arrived in Zagreb some hours later. There, Drazen, our local coordinator guided us (reasonably successfully) to our hotel. However because of all the delays during the trip, we arrived more than 2 hrs later. The students were already waiting for me! We had five minutes to change and to fresh up before going to the students. Tired of the 9 hours drive, I gave my training about leadership as good as I could. Fortunately the reactions were positive.

The next morning the training for the Initiation group has begun. it was a full and constructive day. I started with the session: "EU about identity and integration". I discussed about the different strategies about the EU and the question about: "does a European identity exists and how can we identify our identity within the EU?". I also talked about the different strategic directions in the European block. This course was requested because of the growing EU skepticism fed by the trial of a Croatian general in the The Hague tribunal and the dissatisfaction about the politics of the government and the way how the Government promote the EU integration. Besides there was a fear that traditional values will be harmed, and the economy and agriculture negatively be influenced.

When I finished the session about the EU, Auke gave an explanation about the basic values of Christian Democracy. After the lunch I discussed about how to develop a party strategy. I used the Dutch party ChristianUnion with all its ups and downs as a case study. This was followed by a lecture given by Auke about party democracy based on spread power and influence. Especially the part about the code of conduct & behaviour provoked interesting discussions.

It was a long day of trainings. The reactions were very positive. after the training we invited the two leaders of the movement, together with Drazen for a coffee. It was an encouragement to hear their evaluation of the day. They were enthusiastic to build the movement further and to look constructively for their role in the elections later this year. Also we discussed about the following up of the events by the movement and about possible other future activities in collaboration with the ECPM.

In the evening I chose not to go to bed too late. I was thankful about the busy but very successful days in Zagreb and about the "society movers" we met and their vision and enthusiasm to change and to have impact in their societies based on basic Christian Democratic values (like Public & Social justice, solidarity & reconciliation, spread responsibility, and stewardship); resulting into basic principles like the protection of life from the beginning to the end, respect for family based on marriage between one man and one woman", human dignity, social market economy, and environment & sustainable development.

Tomorrow we travel further with aa next stop Slovenia!

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