Crossing borders – physically and mentally
“It is so nice to experience cross-border cooperation in person. Normally, I would just be doing this from a desk,” said one of the participants of the 11th Network Consolidation Programme of Training for International Diplomats.
From 19 to 25 May, 17 alumni of the Foreign Office’s Training for International Diplomats from all over the world spent a week in Germany learning about cross-border cooperation as part of a Network Consolidation activity.
At least twice a year, Training for International Diplomats invites participants to one-week Network Consolidation Programmes, each with a guiding theme. The issue of cross-border cooperation met with such great interest in 2018 that it was repeated and deepened this year.
“The key component of cross-border cooperation is having people meet one another,” said a speaker for the government of Land Baden-Württemberg during a dialogue with participants.
The group put this idea into action with its intensive programme, travelling from Southern Germany to Switzerland, as well as to Liechtenstein and to France.
Participants held talks with national and international representatives, members of the High Commission and the leadership of the Council of the Region Grand Est. They toured the European Parliament in Strasbourg and the multilingual broadcaster Arte. During a visit to the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, the alumni also had an opportunity to learn more about international academic cooperation.
The complexity of daily life in cross-border regions became clear at meetings with civil society actors in Freiburg, the fire department in the border town of Rheinfelden and the Federal Police in Constance.
“I’m not used to seeing such peaceful border crossings,” explained one participant on a tour of Lake Constance. Another participant added: “Physical boundaries are easier to overcome than those in people’s minds.” The participants agreed that such travel is encouraging and serves as inspiration to dismantle walls in the spheres of administration, mobility and education – as well as in the head.
Training for International Diplomats
With the Training for International Diplomats programme, the Federal Foreign Office offers young diplomats from all over the world the chance to improve their professional skills under the motto "Diplomacy by Networking". The aim of this training initiative is to perceive foreign policy as an opportunity for cooperation and as a basis upon which to build the foundation for a working partnership on global matters.
In keeping with a network-orientated foreign policy, the Training for International Diplomats programme of the Federal Foreign Office places great value on keeping in touch with former participants after the completion of their courses. Therefore, a broad selection of instruments have been developed that allow for the promotion of global networks and the strengthening of relationships within the existing alumni network.