One year ago I took an interview with Simon Panek, the leader of People in Need Organisation, Czech Republic. Few weeks ago Vaclav Havel, the former president of Czechoslovakia and Czech Republic said that he would like Simon Panek, the leader of the biggest humanitarian and development organisation in post-comunistic countries to be the future president of Czech Republic. It can remain of the role that post-comunistic countires in Europe start to play in development cooperation. The new EU members are suppose to fulfill the agreement from Montreal that says: till 2010 they contribute 0,17% of the national budget to the ODA. It is still far from reality in Poland.
Vaclav Havel, one of the most famous and important fighter for democracy in Central Europe would like People in Need humanitarian organisation head Simon Panek, 42, to become the next Czech president. The presidental elections will take place in Czech Republic in 2013 , however the discussion has begun. Havel said the parties running in the May 28-29 general election should tell the voters whom they would like to propose for head of state to be elected in 2013 (the president is choosen by indirect election by the Parliament of the Czech Republic). Vaclav Havel told his opinion in the weekly Respekt magazine few weeks ago.
"He (Panek) has been for long broadly known as one of the students´ leaders in the revolutionary time (November 1989) and he spent the 20 years they have passed since then mainly creating People in Need and working for this most significant Czech foundation that is today active all over the world and is sometimes able to help more than the state itself," Havel told Respekt.
Simon Panek is the executive director of the People in Need, which he co-founded in 1992. Since that time the foundation has grown to be the biggest organisation this kind in Central and Eastern Europe and has administered projects in thirty-seven countries over the past fourteen years. Nowadays there are more than two hundrat people working in the organisation. People in Need provides relief aid (recentlly in Haiti) and development assistance (now in more than 10 countires: Afganistan, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Angola ect), while working to defend human rights and democratic freedom (Burma, Cuba, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine). The democratic aspekt is very important not only in human rights projet but also in development one.
What needs are Central and Eastern European countries able to respond to in development cooperation?
Listen to Simon Panek to find out the Central European perspective: