On April 5th, 2016, the Atlantic Council hosted speakers Antonio Spilimbergo, Moreno Bertoldi, Laura Lane, and Katerina Sokou to discuss the migrant crisis in Europe and how it could create an economic opportunity for Europe. Spilimbergo began the discussion with some of the facts and data about the immigrants, such as current and projected estimates. He also talks about the effects of immigration on natives; arguing that the migrants do not steal jobs because their skills are complimentary to those of natives and that natives upgrade their skills in response to competition. Spilimbergo, Bertoldi, Lane, and Sokou discussed what society can do for the displaced migrants. They point out how several organizations have helped these refugees integrate into society, such as teaching them the native language. They argue that governments, civil society, and businesses must work together to destabilize the situation. After the discussion, attendees were given the chance to ask questions.
On Wednesday December 10, 2014, I attended an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that helped me gain insight on the role of the European Union. In the event David O’Sullivan was the guest speaker giving his perspective on European and U.S. relations. David O’Sullivan just recently became the EU Ambassador in November. At the start of the event O’Sullivan introduced his self and spoke about his previous jobs. For instance, he mentioned that one of his first jobs in relations was with Comi-con. When asked what he thought his key role as the new EU ambassador he said that his key role was to continue the work of previous EU ambassadors. O’Sullivan also spoke about the role of the EU. He stated that the EU is the largest trading partner in the world and strives to increase foreign policy and a security actor. The ambassador also noted that the EU provides the largest amount of funds for peace keeping operations in Africa. He then went on to speak about open trade and relations with the US and the EU. According to O’Sullivan, open trade can help improve the economic situation but it is a not a solution in itself. He stated that the EU is the only country that allows open markets with developing countries. O’Sullivan argued that trade is beneficial to everyone that’s involved in it. He stated that the EU is currently in the process of negotiating with the US. From the ambassadors viewpoint the cooperation of the EU and the US will help encourage the cooperation of other countries. O’Sullivan feels that the cooperation between the US and the EU is very important in the 21st century because they share many of the same values and for security reasons. He then went on to say that the EU and the US’s relationship was like the relationship of best friends. In addition to his discussion of the EU and the US’s relationship O’Sullivan went on to discuss Russia. He pointed out that it was harder and more costly for the EU to make sanctions against Russia but they did because they want to help solve the problem. In sum, I enjoyed this event because I was able to use my knowledge from my world politics class to understand and gain insight on the EU and what’s going on in the world.
“What Italy has to offer”
A student is inspired to ask about the influence of Catholicism in Italy by surrounding paintings.
Entrance/End of Tour at the Italian Embassy
“What is going on in Italy?”-A trip to the Embassy of Italy in Washignton DC, USA.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014. At approximately 11:30 am, after passing the security check points, Franco Impala, the First Secretary of Press & Public Affairs Office at the Embassy of Italy hosted 24 visitors from Marymount University. After being greeted by the speaker, our tour began at the entrance of the Embassy with an answer to one of our very own Western European professor’s question about the surprising modern structure of the building because Italy whom is well known for its exquisite architecture a mix of Renaissance architecture, Neoclassical architecture, Early Christian and Byzantine architecture, Gothic architecture, and so on. The Italian Embassy in the United States was reconstructed in 2000 the design was an representation of the diamond shape capitol of Washington DC.
We were lead to one of the rooms on the left of the entrance which was actually one of the meeting rooms surrounded by what seemed to be a mix of Gothic and Early Christian styled paintings. Which one of our students pointed out to the speakers assistant. An interesting point was made by the speaker which had observed how Americans looked at presidential candidates religious background where as in Italy religion does not questioned neither do their private lives conflict with their political capabilities. When asked about their opinion on the political change going on now in Italy they said the would rather not say.
To collaborate, anyone going to this trip was sent two links to brush up on the countries background and current events involving the government to come up with questions to ask as the intellectually curious students we are. The following links we sent to students:Country’s profile- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17433142 “Italian president asks Renzi to form government”-http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26222179
With this knowledge in mind the only questions in everyone is thinking is what is going to happen next?
Meanwhile, we engaged in a little trivia which we has suspected would occur before we left campus. We gained more information than we had thought when participating in this activity. However, one of the most shocking things we learned was the original definition of the famous ciao which most think would be (hello! or bye!) actually meant“I am your slave!”
According to the Italian representatives and the information they provided to thousands of people during the European Union Open House in 2013 (Italy in Numbers), Italy is the “1st among western countries troops contributors to UN Missions (1,100+ troops), the us invested $25.3 Billions (8.7% of total FDI in Italy), and 25 Million+ Italian-Americans (according to Italian-American organizations)”.
The Embassy of Italy’s current Ambassador is Claudio Bisogniero. The representatives seemed eager to answer any questions. The speaker definitely did his homework on Marymount and suggested students going to Italy of sites to see and of social interactions in Italy. Both representatives basically gave us a quick course on Italy on all aspects of the culture. They moved us to what seemed to be a press auditorium to watch av 28 minute video on what would consist a tour to Italy just before we left the building.
At the end of the tour what I took from it was the urge to attend future events coordinated by the Italian Embassy and to follow the political changes in Italy.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013, The Woodrow Wilson Center’s European Studies program hosted Lord Lothian, formerly the Right Honorable Michael Ancram Member of Parliament, in a discussion of the shift in United States foreign policy. Lord Lothian emphasized the implications the pivot of focus to the Asia-Pacific region may have for the future of the Euro-Atlantic relationship in the context of the present global tensions, particularly in the Middle East region. Lord Lothian’s extensive experience in foreign affairs includes a career as a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1974 to 2010. After his service as an MP, he was appointed to the House of Lords as a Life Peer. Presently, he serves on the Intelligence and Security Committee and is the Chairman of Global Strategy Forum.
The discussion focused on three key areas: shifting Western foreign policy since the fall of the Berlin Wall, identifying a new phase of problems, and the challenges Europe will face with waning military support from the United States. Lord Lothian noted that after the Cold War there was a “unipolar moment for the United States to use its power to benefit the world…but after the Balkans (when the U.S. and other European powers failed to intervene against the USSR), it drifted”. He explained that with the events of the 9/11 attacks there was a clear existential threat to respond to in Afghanistan, however the purpose got “muddled up”. He stated that pursuing the Taliban was like “pushing water up hill” the trouble with which is that it will come down again. Thus, it was clear that Western forces must stay until the job was done, but the issue became defining the “job”. In this context, Lord Lothian identified three other areas where a new phase of problems has developed: Syria, Jordan, and the Pacific. With regards to Syria and Jordan, Lord Lothian underscored the “untenable position” we are getting drawn into in our misunderstanding of the Arab Spring and the rise of militant Islamism, which we perhaps unwittingly supported. Here again he points out that it is unclear what we are doing. Finally, Lord Lothian posited what the shift of the United States’ influence and interests towards the Asia-Pacific region means for Western foreign policy. Arguably, he maintains that such a shift poses enormous problems for Europe including undermining NATO possibly to the point of collapse, and exposing European countries’ inability, or in some cases unwillingness, to provide defense for the European Union at-large. Britain and France are incapable of financially supporting a larger military, Germany is not willing to “underwrite European security outside of the European theatre”, and other countries would face the impossible task of increasing their defense budgets “150-200%”. Lord Lothian’s final assessment: Europe is simply not able to conduct security the same without the United States.
In closing, Lord Lothian took the time to answer audience questions. One of the interesting points he made was in articulating the challenges that the European Union faces in its attempt to unify the European countries. Lord Lothian noted that there is a distinct difference amongst European citizens with regard to their identity. European citizens do not feel identified with their nation. There is an internal movement in Europe and the demographics are shifting. Europeans are not like Americans in the sense that each American, regardless of state of origin, identifies as an “American”, part of the nation at-large. Europe is made up of distinctly different people who do not consider themselves “European”. Thus, unifying them under one centralized government is not necessarily possible as it is in the United States of America.