Dr Valentin Inzko

“The role of civil society when political/administrative structures fail”

Civil society has played an important, sometimes decisive, role in different periods of human history. Well remembered is the historical importance of the Polish trade union SOLIDARNOSC, led by Lech Walesa, an electrician, or the Czech civil rights movement CHARTA 77, led by the writer Vaclav Havel. Both civil rights activists were later elected presidents of their respective countries.

In both cases, the old political and administrative structures failed and representatives of civil society came to power. These new structures were in turn replaced by even newer ones – in a democratic way. On the other hand, there are again informal structures that come to power, but then develop into totalitarian movements.

Ambassador Valentin Inzko served from 2009 to 2021 as (UN) High Representative in Bosnia Herzegovina and simultaneously EU Special Representative.

Valentin Inzko has been involved in Southeast European diplomacy since 1981, when he joined the Austrian Foreign Ministry and began working for the department responsible for relations with the region. He was assigned to the Austrian Embassy in Belgrade from 1982 to 1986, and in1992 he headed the OSCE Mission in Sandjak. From 1996 to 1999 Inzko served as the first resident Austrian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this capacity he was responsible for establishing the Austrian embassy in Sarajevo. Based in Vienna from 1999 to 2005, Inzko headed the Austrian Foreign Ministry department responsible for Central, Eastern and Southern Europe as well as Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus. From 2005 to 2009 he was the Austrian Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia.

Before joining the Foreign Ministry, Inzko held senior positions with UN Development Programme missions in Mongolia and Sri Lanka. His other diplomatic postings have included heading the Austrian Cultural Institute in Prague and serving as the Austrian Delegate at the United Nations, and as the Deputy Chairman of the UN Disarmament mission.

He is a Member of the Board of the “Vienna Economic Forum”, 

a Member of the Board of the Vienna based “Institue for the Danube Region and Central Europe”, and the Head of the Council of Carinthian Slovenians.

He studied Law and Languages at Graz University, and at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna.