When a group of NATO and European Union (EU) ambassadors met recently in Brussels, there were a lot of familiar faces in the room. At least a dozen of the diplomats at the meetings can trace their roots back to Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), where they spent time as participants in the Black Sea Security Program.

The program, under the direction of Sergei Konoplyov, launched in 1997 with the mission of encouraging regional security through cooperation and integration. Now in its 14th year, the program brings together senior military representatives and civilian security specialists from the U.S. and ten regional countries – from Armenia to Ukraine. The program falls under the umbrella of HKS Executive Education and is supported by a generous grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York together with U.S.-Russia and U.S.-South Asia Security programs.

“The free flow of ideas and direct interchange between participating officers results in greater understanding and cooperation on matters of mutual concern,” said Konoplyov. “The professional and personal bonds formed through this program last for a lifetime, and help build the bridges that bring people and nations together throughout Eastern Europe.”

The meeting in Brussels focused on a range of topics – both economic and security-related – with the diplomats intent on leveraging the institutional strengths of NATO and the EU to help build their visions of a secure and prosperous Europe in the years ahead.