6th Annual EUSAIR Forum

Izola, Slovenia | 11-12 May 2021

The Windmill of Excellence

is the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) award for those who used their vast experience in development of macro-regional strategies to contribute to the common good. Throughout the centuries, windmills in saltpans have been used to convert the wind power to pump the saline water. The most famous were the windmills in the Fontanigge area of the Piran Salt Pans, where the legendary “fleur de sel” is still produced. The water, with a little help from the sun and the wind, is thus transformed into salt – it is as if the four elements were reunited in the four sails of the stone windmill. Today, the traditional method of salt production is preserved as an important part of Slovenia’s cultural heritage.


Vice Governor of Crete for European and International Affairs, Vice President of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe in charge of Maritime Affairs. He holds a Degree in Civil Engineering from the Democritus Technical University of Greece and Master of Science in Planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science. From 2001 until 2014, he was Chief Executive Officer of the Heraklion Port Authority, Crete, Greece.

Mr. Alexakis has been active in the prioritization of the flagship projects and the necessity of embedding them into national and regional policies, taking full advantage of the European financial frameworks and programmes. He has succeeded in engaging the related parts of the local, regional and national economy and stakeholders, making them aware of the opportunities and future perspectives. Understanding the strong maritime dimension and potential for future development, Mr. Alexakis has launched an effective dialogue for the blue economy sectors and cross-sectorial objectives for the environment, tourism, connectivity and the territorial cohesion of the Adriatic Ionian Region.


Holds a degree in political sciences from the University of Ljubljana. She gained vast experience in international cooperation as Minister Plenipotentiary in numerous diplomatic posts. In 2014, she joined the Slovenian National Coordination Team for EU macro-regional strategies and significantly influenced the active participation of Slovenia in the Danube, Alpine and Adriatic-Ionian strategies. Since 2019, she has been the Head of International Cooperation and Project Management at Primorska Technology Park.

Ms Cipot has a strong believe in the new generations and their entrepreneurial spirit that will create a better tomorrow. She made an outstanding contribution to EUSAIR youth involvement through a national competition for entrepreneurial ideas of young people. With her broad understanding of macro-regional cooperation, she has managed to expand national POPRI competition to all EUSAIR participating countries through the networking of EUSAIR technological parks. Understanding transnational challenges, Ms Cipot inspires youth to connect based on knowledge and to create a better future.


Vice President for Construction, Transport and Communications at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. In 2017, she became president of the Forum of Adriatic-Ionian Chambers. She has been a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Construction, and since 2015 a member of the working group in the Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia for the non-systematic attraction of investments in the Economic Council.

Ms Čagalj studied Civil Engineering at the University of Split. She has been actively participating in the work of Adriatic-Ionian region for years. She organized the 1st Joint Conference Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce, Cities and Universities in Split in 2018. The conference brought together more than 120 institutions from the three civil society regional networks: Chambers of Commerce, Cities and Universities. Ms Čagalj then made it clear how much joint effort and close cooperation means for the overall progress of the region: “The economy is a prerequisite for the development of cities and universities, and without educational staff, the economy could not turn.”


Holds a PhD in the field of architecture from the University of Primorska. As project manager of EU funds, she has been involved in several projects in the Interreg, Adrion Program, and Creative Europe program. She gained her experience at the Scientific and Research Centre in Koper. She currently heads the Cultural Department at the Institute for Youth, Culture and Tourism of the Municipality of Koper–Capodistria.

Emilija has made an exceptional contribution to the work of EUSAIR TSG Quality of Environment since 2016. She has efficiently supported the coordinators of the pillar and the development of the first flagships of the EUSAIR project within the Quality of Environment Pillar. Moreover, Emilija also developed the first cross-pillar project involving the Quality of Tourism and was the first employee at the Facility Point Office in Izola to show the path of the further development of the first generation of EUSAIR flagship projects.


She holds a master’s degree in the field of biodiversity. Her professional career has been devoted to the field of fisheries, from her bachelor’s degree, through the Institute of Hydrometeorology of Montenegro, elementary school where she was a biology teacher, research at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, working in international consultancy to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, where she met with EUSAIR. Milena still works for the Ministry as Head of Fishing Fleet Resources and Management Department.

Milena has been involved in EUSAIR since its early stage – preparation and drafting of the Strategy, to which she contributed from the very beginning, both in the governance of the Blue Growth Pillar and in the governance of EUSAIR at the national level. During the Montenegrin EUSAIR Presidency, she was especially active in preparation of the 4th EUSAIR Forum, where a high-level panel and a thematic session were devoted to the field of Blue Growth – Aquaculture. She was the first Pillar 1 Blue Growth Coordinator from Montenegro, and she still makes an exceptional contribution to the work of EUSAIR TSG 1.


Holds a master degree in architecture from La Sapienza – University of Rome. As Counsellor in the Permanent Representation of Italy to the EU from 2014 to 2019, Ms Rusca was responsible for Macro-regional Strategies. Since 2020 she has been an independent expert, in charge of assisting the city of Venice, for participation in the Horizon Europe Mission “100 Carbon Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030”.

She made an outstanding contribution from the very beginning of the EU debate about a macro-regional approach in regional policy, and throughout her career as cohesion policy and territorial cooperation expert. In 2014, during the Italian Presidency of the EU, Ms Rusca chaired the Friends of the Presidency Group of the Council dedicated to Macro-Regional Strategies, and prepared Council Conclusions on EUSAIR, adopted and endorsed in 2014. She strongly supported the development of macro-regional strategies at EU and national levels, including their effective governance, their better embedding in programs supported by EU Funds, and a wider and systematic analysis of their added value and results.