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Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

From June 9-20 our own Vice President of Public Programs, Carla Thorson, traveled with the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia’s “Changing Tides of History” tour of the Baltics as a scholar in residence. She kept a blog during the journey, writing at each port of call. Read her posts about Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Gdansk and many more  here.

If you are interested in future trips, learn more about the Philadelphia Council’s travel programs here.

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This week the European Union announced new sanctions against Iran. The sanctions are one part of the EU’s strategy to pressure Iran to resume negotiations on its nuclear program. The United Nations imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran last month, but the EU’s go farther, affecting the energy, transport and finance sectors. While American investment in Iran has decreased in recent years, the EU is Iran’s largest trading partner and the new sanctions could have a significant impact on many European economies.

The United States also imposed new sanctions on Iran this month, with the goals of halting financing for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that oversees missile and nuclear programs as well as curbing even further investment in Iran’s energy sector. They also target federal contractors that do business with Iran.

Learn more about the sanctions on Monday, August 2 when the Council hosts Jillian Burns, the Acting Director of the Iran Office of the State Department. She will discuss U.S. policy towards Iran, offering insight into the effectiveness of current sanctions and exploring Iran’s role in the region.

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This Monday, June 28, the Council is honored to host His Excellency Batu Kutelia, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, for a discussion of the state of bilateral relations and importance of Georgia as an ally in the Caucasus. The visit follows the Council of Europe’s Parliament overwhelming approval of a draft resolution condemning Russia’s policy in the North Caucasus, the same week that the Russian president is touring the United States. To register for the program with Ambassador Kutelia, visit the Council’s website.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, at the invitation of President Obama, traveled to the US on Tuesday to meet with business and political leaders in California and Washington, DC. Medvedev, who hopes to create a new technology mecca in Russia, made stops in San Francisco and Silicon Valley where he met with industry executives. Tomorrow he will travel to Washington to discuss the expansion of the economic relationship between Russia and the United States, which has largely been on hold since Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008. To learn more about Medvedev’s trip to Washington, read this article in the New York Times.

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Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has announced that he will be attending the upcoming nuclear summit in Washington, DC. Therefore, H.E. Batu Kutelia, Georgian Ambassador to the United States, Canada and Mexico, has had to cancel his scheduled visit to the World Affairs Council on April 7. The World Affairs Council hopes to reschedule for late June.

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Yesterday’s bombing in the Moscow subway brought renewed focus to the Caucasus, in the southern part of the Russian Federation, as officials expressed suspicions that the suicide bombers were from the area. While Georgia is not implicated, it shares a border with the area of the Russian Federation from where many militants have come in the past, including Abkhazia, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Ossetia. Learn more about Georgia, the state of bilateral relations and the importance of Georgia as an ally in the Caucasus in June, when the World Affairs Council hosts H.E. Batu Kutelia, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, Canada and Mexico.

For more information on Russian concern of spreading guerrilla warfare, read this article from the New York Times.

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The World Affairs Council was honored to host the President of Kosovo, Dr. Fatmir Sejdiu, on January 12. As the leader of the world’s youngest country, Dr. Sejdiu is optimistic about Kosovo’s future, but also recognizes the many challenges it faces. Regionally, Kosovo is challenged by Serbia’s continued refusal to acknowledge the state’s independence. Globally, Kosovo has only been recognized by 65 of the 192 sovereign UN member states, including the United States and 22 of the 27 European Union member states; notably absent from this group are Spain, Russia and China. As Kosovo’s second anniversary approaches, the president ended on a positive note: “We can’t forget, but we can move forward!”

To listen to the entire program with President Sejdiu, please visit our online archive. To read about the latest country to recognize Kosovo’s independence, Mauritania, click here, and to learn more about the Serbian position, read the recent New York Times interview with Serbia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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The Republic of Kosovo declared its independence in February 2008 and currently 64 countries have recognized her as a sovereign state. After almost two years of self-rule, the Council is honored to host Kosovo’s first President, Dr. Fatmir Sejdiu, on Tuesday, January 12th to discuss the future for this new nation.

For a look back at the days before and after Kosovo declared independence, visit New York Times journalist Andrew Testa’s slide show.

With its international allies and partners committed to ensuring the stability of Kosovo, watch BBC News’ coverage of President Clinton’s recent trip to Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, for the inauguration of a statue honoring our 42nd President.

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