4th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region

Speakers in chronological order


Corina Crețu

Corina Crețu was elected Member of the European Parliament in 2007. She was re-elected as MEP in 2009 and in 2014. In 2014, she was elected Vice-President of the European Parliament. Since October 2014 she is European Commissioner for Regional Policy.

Day I: 13.00 Opening Session


Andrea Nahles

Andrea Nahles, Member of the German Bundestag, is Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. The literary scholar attracted nationwide attention for the first time when she was elected Federal Chair of the Young Socialists in 1995. In 1998, she joined the German Bundestag. From 2009 to 2013, she was leading the SPD as Secretary General. She was born in Mending in 1970 and lives with her husband and her little daughter in her home country, the Eifel region.

Day I: 13.00 Opening Session


Peter Friedrich

Peter Friedrich (Social Democratic Party, SPD), born 1972, is Minister for Federal, European and International Affairs of the German State of Baden-Württemberg. In his role, Minister Friedrich represents the government on the full range of its policies in Berlin, in Brussels and abroad. Besides, he is the responsible Member of Cabinet for European affairs and the State’s development policies. Furthermore, he has been a Member of the SPD’s national Executive Committee since 2009. Before his appointment as Minister in May 2011, Peter Friedrich has been a Member of the German Parliament since 2005. He holds an M.A. in Public Policy and Management from the University of Konstanz.

Day I: 13.00 Opening Session

Day II: 16.00 Closing Session

Ivo Gönner

Ivo Gönner has been the Lord Mayor of Ulm since 1992. He served as President of the Baden-Württemberg Städtetag from 2005 to 2010. He has been President of the Council of the Danube Cities and Regions since 2009.

Day I: 13.00 Opening Session & 14.00 Thematic Session 1

Igor Bečić

Igor Bečić was born on 5 June 1971. By profession an economist. Member of the Serbian Progressive Party (member of the Executive Committee of the Main Board of the Serbian Progressive Party). He is a deputy in  National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia since 1997, and Vice President since 2014. The head of the permanent delegation of Serbian Parliament to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and  one of the vice-president of this organization.


Day I: 14.00 Thematic Session 1


Michael Theurer

Michael Theurer (FDP/ALDE), Member of the European Parliament since 2009 and Member of the Economics and Monetary Affairs Committee, former Lord Mayor of Horb in Baden-Württemberg and former Vice-Chair of the Parliament's informal network "MEP Danube Forum" (2010-2014), has long been active in promoting and further developing the Danube Strategy with a special focus on active citizenship. Theurer co-founded the Danube Parliamentarian Network Initiative in May 2013.

Day I: 14.00 Thematic Session 1


Karla Peijs

Karla Peijs has been the European Coordinator for Inland Waterway Projects since 2007. These projects are Priority Project 18: Rhine/Meuse-Main-Danube and Priority Project 30: Seine-Scheldt. She studied sociology with economics at Catholic University Nijmegen and at Free University Amsterdam. Between 1982 and 1989, she served as a member of the Provincial Council of Utrecht and Chairperson for the Christian Democrats in Harmelen. Ms Peijs was Instructor in Economics and Business Organisation at Utrecht High School and International Business School at Zeist and became its Head of Internal and External Relations and a Member of its Management Team in the late eighties. Ms Peijs served as a Member of the European Parliament between 1989 and 2003 before becoming Minister for Transport and Waterways in the Netherlands in 2003. In 2007, she became the Queen’s Commissioner in the Province of Zeeland

Day I: 14.00 Thematic Session 1



Gisela Erler

Gisela Erler was born in 1946, is married and lives at Lake Constance. She studied Sociology in Cologne and Munich and was engaged in the students’ and women’s movement. 1967 Co-founder of the first leftist publishing house in the FRG and the first women’s publishing house. From 1974 to 1991, she worked as a research consultant at German Youth Institute in Munich. In the early 1980s, she was a member of the market-oriented “eco-libertarian greens” and co-published the controversially discussed “Mother Manifest” of the Greens. In 1991 she founded pme Familienservice GmbH, a large provider of corporate work-life solutions. In 2011, Winfried Kretschmann appointed her as the State Counsellor for Civil Society and Civic Participation.

Day I: 14.00 Thematic Session 1

Lena Andersson Pench

Lena is Director in the European Commission's DG Regional and Urban Policy department with responsibility for "Territorial Co-operation, Macro-regions and North-West Europe" since 2014 ". She was previously the Audit Director in the same Commission's department during five years. During 1998-2009, she held management positions in various Commission departments in the field of audit and financial management and control.

During 1995-1998, she was a Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Gradin in charge of economic, financial, budgetary, research and competitiveness matters.

Day I: 14.00 Thematic Session 1

Winfried Kretschmann

Winfried Kretschmann of the Green Party has been Minister President of the State of Baden-Württemberg since May 2011. He cultivates a new style of politics and has set himself the target of implementing a process of ecological and social renewal in the State.

Day II: 09.00 Opening Session

Bogdan Lucian Aurescu

Bogdan Lucian Aurescu (born 9 September, 1973) is a Romanian career diplomat who has been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs on 24 November 2014. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1996 as a Desk Officer with the Legal and Treaties Directorate and has since held several different positions, such as Head of the Minister’s Cabinet, Director General of the Department for Legal Affairs, Agent for the European Court of Human Rights, Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Secretary of State for European Affairs and Secretary of State for Strategic Affairs. He is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Public Law Department of the University of Bucharest’s Faculty of Law, where he teaches International Law and International Jurisdiction. Bogdan Aurescu was the Romanian Agent before the International Court of Justice, where he coordinated the Romanian team in the case on Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea, finalized favorably for Romania on 3 February 2009. Between 2010 and 2011, Aurescu headed the Romanian delegation for the negotiations on the Romanian-American Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement (signed in September 2011), and the Joint Declaration on the Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century between Romania and USA (done in September 2011). He was awarded various distinctions of the Romanian and Polish State. He is author, co-author or editor of 15 volumes in the field of International Law.

Day II: 09.00 Opening Session & 11.30 Thematic Session 3



Günther H. Oettinger

Günther H. Oettinger is European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society since 1st November 2014. On 10 February 2010 he became European Commissioner for Energy and from 1st July – 31st October 2014, he was Vice-president of the European Commission. From 2005-2010, he was Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg (Germany) and, since 1984, a member of the regional Parliament ("Landtag"). He was the leader of the CDU Landtag group from January 1991 to April 2005. A lawyer by training, Günther H. Oettinger became actively involved in politics during his adolescence. He is a member of the Federal Executive Committee and of the Steering Committee of the CDU Deutschlands.

Day II: 09.30 Thematic Session 2


Franz Untersteller

Franz Untersteller, Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and Energy Sector, was born on 4 April 1957 in Saarland. After graduating from the Nürtingen-Geislingen University of Applied Science with a degree in Landscape Planning in 1982 he initially worked for the Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology). From 1983 he was parliamentary advisor to the Green Parliamentary Group in the Baden-Württemberg State Parliament before being elected to the Parliament himself in 2006. From 2006 to 2011 he also acted as deputy chairman of the Green Parliamentary Group. Franz Untersteller has been Minister of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector in Baden-Württemberg since 2011.

Day II: 09.30 Thematic Session 2


Pavel Šolc

Pavel Šolc is Deputy Minister for Energy and Industry at the Ministry of the Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic. Before joining the Ministry in 2009  he worked at the Czech Power Company ČEZ as Head of the Strategic Planning and Analysis Department during 1993—1999. Later he worked for the Czech transmission system operator ČEPS on several directorial positions. Mr. Šolc specialized during his studies in economics of power generation and modelling of energy systems.

Day II: 9.30 Thematic Session 2

Thomas Hampel

Thomas Hampel has been the head of the Police Operations Unit of the Bavarian State Ministry of the Interior, for Building and Transport since 2012 and in this capacity also acts as Deputy Chief of the Bavarian Police. Mr. Hampel joined the Bavarian police force in 1985. After completing his studies at the College for Public Administration and Legal Affairs in Bavaria (police faculty), he held operational and management positions at different police authorities including the Munich Police Headquarters and Upper Bavarian Police Headquarters. After graduating from the German Police University in Muenster-Hiltrup he was the head of the Munich airport police station. Following that, Mr. Hampel was assigned to the Police Department at the Bavarian State Ministry of the Interior, for Building and Transport where he performed various functions, e.g. as head of the administrative office of the Internal Security Working Group of the Standing Conference of Interior Ministers of the German states, as deputy head of the subcommittee “Law enforcement management, operations and crime fighting” within the framework of the Internal Security Working Group, and as deputy head of the Police Operations Unit. In 2012, Mr. Hampel attended a seminar on security policy organised by the Federal Agency for Security Policy (Bundesakademie für Sicherheitspolitik, BAKS) in Berlin.

Day II: 09.30 Thematic Session 2

Markku Markkula

Markku Markkula was elected President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in February 2015. A member of Espoo City Council in Finland, he is a member of the Board of Helsinki Regional Council and Chairman of Espoo City Planning Board. President Markkula also works at Finland's Aalto University focusing on EU research, innovation and education policy. He has held several important positions related to innovation ecosystem development in Finland such as leading a €20m research programme "Energising Urban Ecosystems" and has been involved in several open innovation initiatives related to the Espoo Innovation Garden and Aalto University. In Finland he has been on the Board for several companies and organisations such as Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation and Technology. President Markkula is a former member of the Finnish Parliament (1995-2003).

Day II: 09.30 Thematic Session 2


Erich Unterwurzacher

Since 2012 Erich Unterwurzacher heads the Directorate within the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy which guides the implementation of Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund programmes and projects in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Prior, Erich Unterwurzacher managed financial assistance to candidate countries of the Balkans and Turkey, and led their accession negotiations. Between 1996 and 1999 Erich Unterwurzacher was at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (IEA/OECD) in Paris and dealt with energy security matters, where he worked already from 1987 to 1991. From 1991 to 1994 he was with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Day II: 09.30 Thematic Session 2

Dijana Bezjak

Ms Bezjak acquired her first research and consultancy experience in the United States during her Master’s degree in organizational development at the Business College of the Bowling Green State University in Ohio.  In Croatian Ministry of Regional Development, she was in charge of the accreditation process for EU pre-accession funds, comprising the tasks such as programming and preparing the implementation procedures, mainly for grants to local and regional self-government units. In the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Crafts, Ms Bezjak is in charge for Directorate for EU Programmes and Projects i.e. being Head of the Intermediary Body in charge of implementation of the Priority “Strengthening Competitiveness of Croatian Economy” 2007-2013, and Priority “Business Competitiveness” 2014-2020 financed from the European Structural and Investment Funds.

Day II: 11.30 Thematic Session 3

Aleksandar Andrija Pejović

Ambassador Pejović is the State Secretary for European Integration, Chief Negotiator for Negotiations on Accession of Montenegro to the European Union, National Coordinator for Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance. 

Day II: 11.30 Thematic Session 3

Eckhard Kreßel

Eckhard Kressel’s responsibilities cover the development and integration of Human Resources and Employment Relations policies within the Daimler Group including the cooperation with unions and works council boards. Furthermore, his task is consulting the Daimler board of management regarding all issues with reference to HR processes, compensation, health and safety and training and education policies as well as labour law and the exercise of all regulatory duties associated to these tasks.

Day II: 11.30 Thematic Session 3

Andriana Sukova-Toshev

Mrs. Andriana Sukova-Tosheva is an economist by education. In the past 20 years she has worked with big national and international teams, being part of governmental and NGO national and international institutions. She started as an economist for an agricultural cooperative farm. Later she joined the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry as a researcher before taking the position of Director of the Phare Programme Management Unit for several years. She then moved to the World Bank office in Sofia to work as an operations officer. In 2000 she was appointed a Deputy Minister for agriculture in charge of European integration and rural development, among other things.  Mrs. Sukova-Tosheva has also served as an adviser to the Minister of Finance and has been an Executive Director of one of the nationally recognized business NGO's. After Bulgaria's accession to the EU, Ms Sukova-Tosheva joined the Cabinet of Commissioner for Consumer Protection Meglena Kuneva. In August 2010 she was appointed Director in DG EMPL. She is in charge of ESF and FEAD policy and legislation preparation, negotiations on the regulatory framework for the 2014-2020 programming period as well as for the implementation of ESF/FEAD in 14 Member states.

Day II: 11.30 Thematic Session 3

Balázs Orbán

Balázs Orbán started his career in the Hungarian Ministry of Justice. In 2012 he joined Századvég, the biggest Hungarian think-tank as legal expert. Since 2013 he is the Director of Research at Századvég Foundation. Since 2015 he is an assistant lecturer at the National University of Public Service. In 2015 he became the General Director of the newly founded Migration Research Institute.

Day II: 14.00 Thematic Session 4

Alan Paic

Since 2010, Alan advises governments of South East Europe on issues related to business climate, competitiveness, and innovation. Ongoing projects include the South East Europe Competitiveness Outlook, a flagship covering 15 areas of policy, support for innovation policy and sectoral competitiveness in food&beverage processing and tourism. Alan previously worked as a strategy consultant in the private sector. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from Neuchatel University, and an MBA from INSEAD.

Day II: 14.00 Thematic Session 4

Gazmend Turdiu

Mr. Gazmend Turdiu took office as Head of Program Department at the Secretariat of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) on 2 September 2013 and Deputy Secretary General of RCC on 1 March 2014, after serving four years as Secretary General at the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2009-2013). Having joined the diplomatic service of Albania in May 1992 and held several positions, both in Albania and abroad. Mr. Turdiu was Ambassador of Albania in Bern, Switzerland (1992-1997), and Ambassador of Albania in Berlin, Germany (2003-2008). At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of his country, Mr. Turdiu has held the position of the Director of the Department for Euroatlantic Cooperation (1998-2000), Director of the Department of Europe (2003), and Director General for Legal and Consular Affairs (2008-2009). From 2001 to 2002, Mr. Turdiu served as Director General for Coordination of Foreign Aid at the Albanian Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Trade. During his career, Mr. Turdiu has been member of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (2009), President of the 10th Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention (2010-2011) and member of the Council of Foundation of the Geneva Center for Humanitarian Demining (2010 to 2013). Mr. Turdiu holds a Civil Engineering Degree from the University of Tirana. Born on 6 April 1959, he speaks Albanian, English and Italian. He is married and has two children.

Day II: 14.00 Thematic Session 4

Dorin Toma

Dorin Toma is a Senior Investment Consultant for the Diaspora Relations Bureau (BRD) of the State Chancellery of the Republic of Moldova. BRD is the institutional focal point in the national M&D framework, aiming to ensure diaspora's active involvement in the sustainable development of their home country, as well as enhance relations between the Government and its citizens abroad. Mr. Toma’s responsibilities are policy development, project management and promotion of economic initiatives.

Day II: 14.00 Thematic Session 4


Walter Deffaa

Walter Deffaa studied Economics at the Universities of Tübingen and TU Berlin. PhD in economics (University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim), he has been working since 1983 at the European Commission in Brussels where he is since February 2012 Director General for Regional and Urban Policy. He has previously served as Director General for Taxation and Customs Union (2009-2012), as Director General of the Internal Audit Service (2004-2009), as Finance Director in the Regional Policy DG (2003-2004), as Director in the Secretariat General (2001-2003), as Director in DG BUDGET (1999-2001) and as chef de cabinet for Commissioner Wulf-Mathies (1997-1999). He was a visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Brugge, Belgium (1999-2009) and has published many articles on the EC budget and audit.

Day II: 16.00 Closing Session

Igor Slobodník

Mr Igor Slobodník started his diplomatic career in 1992 in Prague, at the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Czechoslovakia as Private Secretary to the Minister. He occupied several positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, as well as at the Ministry of Defence of Slovakia. In 1993, he became Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Slovakia in Denmark. In 1997, he was appointed Ambassador of Slovakia to the United Kingdom, later serving as Political Director at the Ministry of Defence. In 2004, he became the Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the North Atlantic Council. In 2008, he took the position of the Political Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 2010 to 2015, Mr Slobodník served as Ambassador of Slovakia to the Federal Republic of Germany. In his current capacity as State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, Mr Slobodník is responsible for the security policy, external economic relations, development assistance, international organizations, the countries of the Eastern Partnership, Africa, Asia and Pacific as well as Americas.

Day II: 16.00 Closing Session

Eckart Stratenschulte

Eckart Stratenschulte is Director of the European Academy Berlin and teaches Political Science at the Free University Berlin and is the author of a couple of books and various articles. He graduated from Marburg university after reading political sciences, German studies and sociology.

closed since 13 Oct 2015
Registration 10 Sep – 13 Oct
Meeting Selection 15 Oct – 27 Oct
Event 29 Oct – 30 Oct
Language English
Costs Free of charge
Venue Böfinger Straße 50
Ulm, Germany
Bilateral Meetings
Participants 270
Meetings 207
Albania 1
Austria 116
Belgium 63
Bermuda 1
Bosnia-Herzegovina 9
Bulgaria 37
Croatia 37
Czech Republic 21
France 2
Germany 449
Hungary 75
Italy 5
Kosovo 1
Latvia 1
Luxembourg 2
Moldova 39
Montenegro 2
Netherlands 2
Norway 1
Poland 5
Portugal 1
Romania 156
Serbia 78
Slovak Republic 49
Slovenia 21
Spain 4
Sweden 2
Turkey 2
Ukraine 28
United Kingdom 1
Total 1211
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Before Event5811
After Event 1882