Lawrence Meredith

Director NEAR C: Neighbourhood East and Institution Building, DG NEAR, European Commission

Diana Jabłońska

Head of Unit, NEAR C1, European Commission

Diana Jabłońska works at the European Commission, in DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR). She is the Head of Unit for the team following Georgia, Moldova and the Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Partnership. From 2016-2018, Diana was Deputy Head of Unit in the Unit contributing to the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus and promoting regional cooperation under the Eastern Partnership.

Just before joining the Georgia, Moldova and Economic and Investment Plan team in 2021, Diana led the Institution Building Unit, TAIEX and Twinning, which mobilises Member States’ experts to support administrative reforms in Partner countries in line with EU priorities. Diana has been working in the European Commission since 2003 in different policy areas, including employment, education and the Erasmus + programme, regional policy and cohesion. She started her career in the Polish administration, where she was responsible for developing the first cohesion policy programmes.

Iurie Țurcanu

Deputy Prime Minister for Digitalisation, Government of the Republic of Moldova

As Deputy Prime Minister for Digitalisation in the Republic of Moldova, Iurie Țurcanu coordinates the country’ public service provision, electronic public service development, implementation of digital solutions in public administration and the development of the information society. He previously led the Chief Information Office of the national government as national Chief Information Officer and national Chief Technology Officer and has ten years of hands-on experience designing and implementing the Republic of Moldova’s e-Transformation strategy.

Mr. Țurcanu is co-author of Moldova’s e-Transformation strategic programme, leading co-author in defining government-wide enterprise architecture, and the key actor in designing Moldova’s Program for Modernisation of Government Services, which includes the World Bank’s MGSP Project and the Government of Moldova’s Action Plan for public services modernisation. With more than twenty years of experience in software engineering, he also has extensive experience designing and developing enterprise IT solutions in the public and private sectors.

Guram Guramishvili

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia

Guram Guramishvili has been a Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia since March 2021. The areas under his responsibility are ICT, Post, Transport and Logistics Policy. Before joining the ministry, Mr. Guramishvili worked in various branches and positions in the state-owned Georgian railway Joint Stock Company (JSC), where he served in high-level positions as Deputy Director General, Infrastructure Director, and Member of the Supervisory Board. Mr. Guramishvili holds a Doctoral Degree in Transportation from the Georgian Technical University.

Valeriya Ionan

Deputy Minister for Eurointegration, Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine

As Deputy Minister for Eurointegration in Ukraine, Valeria Ionan is in charge of the national programme for digital literacy, the development and growth of SMEs, new digital professions, the online protection of children, European integration and the digital transformation of regions. In this role, Valeria and her team have launched the national Diia.Digital Education project. This has provided a national platform for digital education, where more than 1 million Ukrainians have already started to work on their digital skills. To help entrepreneurs, the team has also launched the Diia.Business platform, where free online consultations on taxes, sales, marketing and HR are available, along with free online courses, columns from market leaders and other useful services.

Before working in the Ukrainian government, Valeriya was an entrepreneur. She launched ‘Quadrate 28’, which specialises in teams on outsourcing for SMEs, and also ‘MC Today’, an online magazine for entrepreneurs. She has got certificates from the MBA programme at Edinburgh Business School Eastern Europe in Marketing, Organisational Behaviour, Negotiations. Valeria speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English and Spanish. Learning Chinese.

Bakhtiyar Mammadov

Deputy Head of the Administration of the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Bakhtiyar Mammadov has more than 18 years of experience in managing complex legal issues in government sector. As a Deputy Head of the Administration of the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport of the Republic of Azerbaijan, he supervises the activities of subordinate structural divisions in accordance with regulations, analyses international best practices in relevant fields, and participates in drafting legal normative documents in the field of ICT. In 2020- 2021 he was Deputy Head of the Law and Legislation Department of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

In 2019 he took a course on Basic Principles of International Communications Regulation and Policy. He had previously gained a US government-sponsored Fulbright scholarship as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Iowa College of Law, following involvement in numerous international projects such as the UN Development programme, World Bank sponsored programmes, and the EU’s TACIS programme. His 1995 diploma in Jurisprudence from Moscow State Academy of Law followed a PhD in Philosophy from Moscow State Lomonosov University, where he also completed his undergraduate degree. His first role after graduation was in the Baku branch of the Leningrad Financial Economic Institute, currently known as the Azerbaijan State University of Economics - UNEC.

Harmick Azarian

Digital Government Transformation Lead, Ministry of High Tech Industry of the Republic of Armenian

Harmick Azarian is an expert in digital transformation strategy design. A technologist by profession, Harmick has extensive experience working on public and private sector digital transformation programmes in Europe, Asia and the US. In addition, Harmick has founded start-ups and delivered multiple large scale technology programmes.  Harmick is currently working at the Republic of Armenia Ministry of High Tech Industry, on the creation of a digital service standard to increase quality of digital public services in Armenia, in line with the wider public sector reform agenda at the Armenian Government.

Gérald Audaz

Head of the Economic Development and Digital Transition Team, Unit C1, DG NEAR, European Commission

Gérald Audaz is Head of the Economic Development and Digital Transition Team, Unit C1 in the European Commission’s department responsible for relations with the Eastern Partnership countries. A development cooperation expert with 14 years of experience, Gérald implemented successful structural economic reform and business support programmes in Sierra Leone and Tunisia where he lived for several years. With an initial academic background in political science and international public law, Gérald recently graduated from Paris Business School HEC with an executive certificate in Corporate Finance and from the Frankfurt School of Management with an executive certificate in SME finance.

Thibault Charlet

Programme Manager Digital Transition and Economic Development, Unit C1, DG NEAR, European Commission

Himmat Singh Sandhu

Digital Development Specialist, World Bank

Himmat Singh Sandhu is a Digital Development Specialist with the World Bank, focusing on support to governments on expanding access and use of digital connectivity by individuals, businesses, and governments. With the World Bank, he has primarily focused on the Europe and Central Asia and Latin America and Caribbean regions, working with governments to improve the enabling environment for infrastructure development, expand Next Generation Networks to unserved and underserved areas, and support greater digital adoption and use across society. Prior to joining the World Bank Group, Himmat worked as a management consultant for the Telecommunications sector, engaging with global top 10 telcos in South Asia and West Africa. Himmat holds an Bachelor degree in Telecommunications Engineering, and Master degrees in Business Administration, as well as International Economics.

Nick Thijs

Senior Policy Adviser, OECD/SIGMA Initiative

Nick Thijs is a Senior Policy Adviser on public administration reform and service delivery at OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management), which is a joint initiative of the OECD and the European Union. He has 20 years of experience as an expert on public administration (reform), capacity building and organisational development, as an academic, a civil servant, a consultant, and a trainer.

Jesús Lozano

EU Senior Expert in Digital Economy, Member of the European Innovation Council, Entrepreneur, Business Angel and Author

Jesús (Chus) Lozano is a senior expert in digital economy, specialising in the design of strategies and programmes for building capacities in the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems, the industrial digital transformation of companies, and innovation clusters in emerging countries. Much of his work has been developed in the Eastern partner countries.

With a background as a tech entrepreneur and tech investor, Jesús Lozano is the author of numerous analyses of the digital economy. He is also the author of the ‘Lozano Methodology for the Development of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems’, the ‘Top Challenge Incubation and Acceleration Program’, and several educational pieces of training on entrepreneurship and digital transformation.

Fabio Nascimbeni

Human Capital Development Expert, European Training Foundation (ETF)

Fabio Nascimbeni is a Human Capital Development Expert at the European Training Foundation (ETF), where he mainly focuses on digitalisation and learning innovation activities. A Senior Fellow of the European Distance and eLearning Network (EDEN), Fabio has collaborated with various universities and with international institutions such as the European Commission, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNICEF. He has been active in the field of learning innovation and digital education since 1998, designing and coordinating more than 40 research and innovation projects across Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the southern Mediterranean and South East Asia.

Tanel Tang

Team Leader, Support Group for Ukraine, DG NEAR, European Commission

Tanel Tang is the Team Leader for Policy and Reform Coordination at Support Group for Ukraine, DG Neighbourhood and Englargement, European Commission. He is the thematic lead for the Eastern Neighborhood countries on cyber. He has worked in Support Group for Ukraine since the beginning of 2018. His previous duties include Estonian Presidency at the European Union 2017, Political Section of the EU Delegation in Kyiv 2015-2017 and various diplomatic positions in Estonian foreign service. Tanel holds Masters Degree on political science and political economy of post-communist transition of the Central European University.

Arturas Piliponis

EU4Digital Facility Team Leader, EY

Arturas Piliponis is a Consulting Partner at EY, leading EY digital services dedicated to the EU institutions. Arturas has more than 24 years of experience in managing complex eGov and digital transformation projects in government and public, and financial and telecommunication sectors. Over 16 years of his experience have been dedicated to providing assistance to national authorities in key areas of the digital economy and society in line with EU norms and best practices, including projects in the Eastern partner countries. His fields of expertise include strategy and organisation-wide business transformation, and IT-enabled transformations including programme and project management.

As Team Leader of the EU4Digital Facility programme, Arturas directs the execution of its activities in the Eastern partner countries across six thematic areas, overseeing a team of international experts specialising in the digital domain. Arturas holds an MS in Finance from Kaunas University of Technology.

Irina Matthews

Irina Matthews, EaPConnect Project Manager, GÉANT

Previous professional experience includes delivering business objectives on a global scale (American Express), as well as project management aimed at adoption of learning technology and developing associated professional competencies for the non-profit sector (further education sector and local government, UK).

The main focus of Irina's professional interests includes the transformative impact of technology for life-long learning; human capital development, organisational development and transforming communities via international development projects.

Besnik Limaj

EU4Digital Cybersecurity EAST Team Leader, GFA Consulting Group

Besnik Limaj is the Team Leader of the EU-funded ‘EU4Digital: Cybersecurity EAST’ project. this is mplemented by a consortium led by GFA Consulting Group GmbH (Germany) and included the E-Governance Academy Foundation (Estonia), Detecon International (Germany), and Action Global (Cyprus) in partnership with the German Federal Office for Information Security. He has an extensive background as a team leader and Senior IT Key Expert. He holds an MBA degree from the University of Sheffield and a Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership from the from Chartered Management Institute in London.

In addition to his formal education, Besnik is a certified expert in cyber security, holding a plethora of relevant certificates (TRANSITS I CSIRT Cyber Security Train-the-Trainers training, Metasploit for Pentesters, Advanced Cyber Security Programme, Certified Information Systems Security Professional training, Advanced Ethical Hacking, Certified Ethical Hacker, Wireless Hacking and Security). Furthermore, Besnik possesses in-depth knowledge of various programming languages and technologies (MS SQL Server 2000-2016, Oracle 11g and 12c, MySQL, ASP.NET, VB.NET, JDeveloper, ANSI SQL, XML, PHP, Apache, HTML, CSS), and has been a speaker at and attended numerous international cyber security conferences.