One Year Anniversary: Reflections from the Director

Prof. Vello Pettai in a meeting with the former OSCE HCNM Ambassador Lamberto Zannier.

Amid all the adjustments in our private and professional lives brought about by the pandemic in the past year, the ECMI has gone through its own significant changes. One of the most important ones was a change in the leadership. A new ECMI era began in March last year when Prof. Vello Pettai became the ECMI Director. On the occasion of his one year in office, Prof. Pettai writes a few words to reflect on this period.

There are always many challenges, when one takes up a new leadership position. What kind of new goals should be set for the organization? Will existing structures need to be changed? How can new ideas and directions be implemented?

But little did I imagine on March 1 of 2020 that one of my first tasks as the ECMI’s new Director would be to send the Centre into (a first-wave) lockdown and to prepare for a pandemic that would last more than a year.

In retrospect, of course, such an observation sounds almost banal. All of us have had deal with COVID-19 in our own way, with many having quite tragic outcomes.

Still, I am happy that in the course of the last 12 months the ECMI has been able to completely revamp its accounting and personnel structures. We’ve succeeded in increasing our core funding from our three Founders (despite budget cuts elsewhere in these difficult times). The Centre has a renewed focus on the German-Danish border region as well as Ukraine. And we are gearing up to celebrate our 25th birthday at the end of this year!

So perhaps “Corona, be damned!”? In any case, the strength of the ECMI team has definitely shown through for me over the last year, be it in home-office, on Zoom or (where possible) at a safe social distance. And even these drawbacks will eventually pass. 

For the next year, it’ll all be about a getting our engine fully revved up so as to start our next quarter-century with vigor and vision!

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