On 4 September, whilst summer was still in full bloom in Athens, the Greek NREN GRNET was not on holiday! In fact, they welcomed the South East Europe NREN Directors meeting to support collaboration and enhance GÉANT services take-up within the region. This initiative, launched by the GÉANT Partner Relations team during the Project’s previous phase, is now being developed further within the GÉANT Project (GN4-3).

The meeting gave NRENs across the region a fantastic opportunity to share experiences and best practices.  Directors and senior representatives from ARNES (Slovenia), BREN (Bulgaria), CARNET (Croatia), CyNet (Cyprus), MREN (Montenegro), MARNET (North Macedonia), RASH (Albania) and ULAKBIM (Turkey) attended the event. Representatives from Kosovo and Bosnia & Herzegovina also took part to further understand the benefits of working with GÉANT. The day started with a warm welcome from GRNET’s recently appointed CEO Aris Sotiropoulos, followed by Erik Huizer (GÉANT CEO) and Sebastiano Buscaglione (GÉANT Senior Network Architect), who introduced the new network topology opportunities in the GN4 Phase 3 Network (GN4-3N)  project. This is a significant refresh of the GÉANT network designed to support the needs of Europe’s R&E community in the next 15 years.

And as you would expect, such an active forum generated a number of ideas on how to ensure that the new connectivity is efficient, reliable and inclusive. For example, discussions focussed on the exploitation of land connections in the region.

The one-day meeting was very interactive, participants gave an overview of their network and service plans in their country with conversations that sparked suggestions and collaboration opportunities. For instance, every NREN recognised and agreed that education is a strong driver to gain support from local governments. The day continued with detailed presentations on the EOSC regional project NI4OS, which supports most countries in the region, stimulating great interest in future participation; followed by CyNet’s presentation on IdP Marathon: ‘’our best training ever!’’, in the words of George Konnis, CyNet Director.

I also had the opportunity to introduce myself as the new member of GÉANT Partner Relations team. My update on the Community Programme and the current learning and development opportunities were received with so much enthusiasm that BREN volunteered to host security training in the near future; such a positive outcome!  And when all participants cheered in favour of the creation of a steering committee for the organisation of a regional event in 2020, it was the final proof that the day had been productive!

So, if you want to join this inspirational phase of the dedicated programme for the Western Balkans, get in touch with GÉANT Partner Relations at: partner-relations@geant.org