Diplomacy&Beyond: Ksenija Škrilec

Diplomacy & Beyond talk series hosted H.E. Ksenija Škrilec, ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to Hungary and Bulgaria. The discussion was moderated by Rita Ferreira. The topics of the talk were concentrated on career in diplomacy, the importance of cultural diplomacy, Slovenian-Hungarian relations and current European issues.

Number of participants: 34

Date: 8 December 2015 | Tue | 6 pm

Venue: Kodolányi János University of Applied Sciences (1139 Budapest, Frangepán u. 50–56.)

Photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1069964956401186.1073741834.389448327786189&type=3

Summary: The Institute for Cultural Relations Policy continued the series of talks entitled Diplomacy & Beyond for the third time, in cooperation with Kodolányi János University, by inviting the Slovenian Ambassador to Hungary H.E. Ksenija Škrilec to have a moderated talk, with Rita Fereirra from ICRP as the moderator, on 8 December 2015. The talk was held for around one hour with the format of question-answer. By the end of the talk, the audiences were welcomed to ask their questions.
The talk started with a discussion about Ambassador Škrilec’s personal career: her student life and her experience studying abroad in Hungary for both of her undergraduate and graduate studies. She also talked about the different opportunities she encountered during her life which led her to the current position as an ambassador. She also elaborated the situation in Slovenia during the fall of Yugoslavia as a part of her journey and also how being a woman does not hinder her in politics, but it benefited her.
The discussion continued with the topic of Slovenia’s position within the European Union. When asked about the progress Slovenia encountered during its membership in the EU, Ambassador Škrilec commented on the fact that EU is a work in progress. As the union consists of countries with different identities, the differences should be celebrated since it represents the EU’s value of diversity within member states. However, she argued, there is a need of unified political mind-set in order to move forward and create a stronger ground for EU within the global political arena. She also highlighted Slovenia’s achievements after joining the union. Out of the group of countries who joined the union in 2004, Slovenia was the first to adopt Euro, to join Schengen agreement and also to hold the EU presidency. The achievements proved Slovenia as a rising member in the union.
The discussion moved forward on the topic of enlargement of EU. Ambassador Škrilec stated that Slovenia and Hungary have been the major supporters of EU enlargement to the Western Balkan. She argued that the stability of EU is connected to the stability of Western Balkan. Therefore, the accession of Western Balkan countries is seen as a great tool to achieve the stabilisation of that region vis-a-vis the stabilisation of EU.
When asked about the challenges EU still face, she commented on two things. First, member states are still reluctant to work together because some still believe that working together means weakening their sovereignty and control. However, she saw it as a problem and argued that by allowing the union to have authorities in certain aspects will strengthen the EU itself. The second challenge is that the decision making process in EU is too slow in regards of financial and migration crisis. These crises have the probability to happen again in the future. Therefore EU urgently needs some protocols to handle crises in the future. This discussion related to the question we asked on Slovenia’s current action on building fences in their border to handle the incoming refugees into their territory. She stated that the action taken is seen as a temporary tool to keep the people crossing their borders in control. She, again, urged the EU to take a common approach to this matter to help the refugees and to control the EU’s borders.
Lastly, the discussion moved to the relation between Hungary and Slovenia. She stated that the relation between the neighbouring countries is excellent. Political dialogues between both governments occurred regularly to strengthen their relationship. The fact that there are national minorities of Hungary in Slovenia and vice versa put them in a good relationship and affected the relation to grow stronger. She highlighted that Hungary and Slovenia are good neighbours with no common history which means there are no grounds to have conflicts. When asked about the challenges in the bilateral relation, she commented that the people-to-people relations between the national minorities and the society in both countries should be strengthened by working hand-in-hand on projects that will benefit both parties.

Aldoreza Prandana