Lecture Hop correspondent Eliza Shapiro attended Dr. Danilo Türk’s speech on the European Union. Her report follows.
“There’s nothing left but loneliness / there’s nothing left to fear” were not the first words Bwog expected to hear upon entering Low Rotunda to hear the President of Slovenia speech’s on the European Union, but those were the words we got. The music bleating out of the speakers was a genre of easy listening so bleak as to be aggressive, and succeeded in sedating the sizeable audience. Bwog noticed one young man seated behind us dozing lazily.
It was a tremendous relief when the music was silenced so that the Director of Columbia’s Harriman Center, Catherine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, could introduce Dr. Danilo Türk. She provided some bibliographic information, an alliterative claim that Slovenia “stands as a shining success story” among the 29 Eurasian nations, and expression of gratitude to Dr. Türk for continuing Columbia’s “long association with Slovenia,” of which Bwog and those seated near us seem to have been unaware.
Dr. Türk delivered a thoughtful and comprehensive address on the current state of the European Union. He discussed Slovenia’s achievements as President of the EU Council in its first semester of this past year. Dr. Türk explained what he called Slovenia’s “inevitable” move during its EU presidency to be the first former Yugoslavian country to recognize Kosovo’s independence and spoke about strategies on negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol after its first commitment period ends in 2012.
Dr. Türk dedicated a large portion of his speech to the Georgian Crisis, tracing its origins back to the 1994 Moscow Agreement and calling for a review of the regimes that govern the Eastern European nations. The President used Georgia as a jumping-off point to highlight more general issues in the Caucasus region, chief among them energy, trade and communications.
Referring to the build-up of the Georgian Crisis, Dr. Türk made the claim that the 1990’s “optimistic era of globalization” and Unipolarity has ended and noted the introduction of a new reality of regional partnerships. He spoke diplomatically about Russia’s role in the Crisis, making clear his belief that the EU must not allow a single issue to determine the nature of relations between Russia and the rest of the continent or the rest of the world.
Dr. Türk also outlined some major current goals of the EU throughout his address, most significantly the EU’s strides towards building stronger trans-Atlantic partnerships and working to make Syria a more important player in the Middle East Conflict.
After a brief Q&A session, Bwog hurried out of the Rotunda into the rainy afternoon before the powers-that-be could blast the sad sap songs again.