Diplomats mark 60th anniversary of the European Union at LAU
The Delegation of the European Union, the Italian Embassy in Lebanon and LAU organize a lecture titled “Europe at Sixty. A State of the Union” in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute.
Following the gathering of European leaders in Rome on March 25 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, European diplomats in Lebanon met at LAU Beirut to discuss the main achievements and current challenges the European Union is facing. They debated potential future scenarios for the block recalling that its founding principles included socio-economic solidarity, respect for human rights, unity and the rule of law for a peaceful Europe.
“Like you, we value tradition and build on it for a more promising future,” said LAU Provost George K. Najjar to the ambassadors. “As an institution bridging the past, the present and the future, our university is committed to strengthen its partnership with the EU, upholding, fostering and promoting the shared values of human rights, democracy, diversity, rule of law, gender equality and multi-lateral cooperation in pursuit of a better future for the coming generations.”
Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon Christina Lassen told the audience that this anniversary was an opportunity to look back at how much the EU has achieved throughout the years. “It is a reminder of why we decided to have the EU in the first place and why countries have decided to join this cooperation,” she said. “We are proud of what we have achieved.”
On his part, Ambassador of Italy Massimo Marotti emphasized that “the European integration process cannot stop as a result of the current crisis and the new challenges. Addressing the people’s concerns in order to relaunch the European model is our key challenge.”
According to keynote speaker Secretary General of the European University Institute of Florence Vincenzo Grassi, “It is time for the EU to turn its weakness into strength and to recreate a new European solidarity. The reasons to be together as a union are still strong, and Europe can still be a key player on the international scene. United we stand, divided we fall.”
Grassi’s talk led to a number of questions from an audience, including LAU students, not only about the refugee crisis―one of the main challenges the EU is currently facing –but also about the defense strategy on the European continent, among others.
A member of the audience, former M.P. Nayla Mouawad, recalled the crucial role that the Union is playing in fighting terrorism in the region – whether through its educational and social programs or its diplomacy. “Your work is essential for the stability of our country and region and we are thankful.”
Beyond the numerous ideas exchanged during the lecture, students had the opportunity to directly interact with the speakers.
Chair of the Department of Social Sciences Marwan Rowayheb, associate professor of political science and international affairs said, “This event is very important for students, especially for those enrolled in political science. It gives them the opportunity to interact with European diplomats and experts, and to have a real view of what 60 years of collaboration mean in diplomacy.”
For Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Tamirace Fakhoury, master of ceremony, the university has become a platform for cross-cultural interactions. “It is a space to enhance global partnerships while deepening our collaboration with European institutions and member states.”
LAU students are the first beneficiaries of that. “It helps to see how unity lacks in the Arab world, and to hear, from the source, a real diplomatic language we need here,” said third year student Ameer El Samman. Her colleague Rima Yassine agreed: “For a first-year student in political science and international affairs like me, such opportunities boost my self-confidence.”