Category Archives: Europe

Alan Riach, Thursday, October 2, 2014

pciture“Reflections on Scottish Literature, Nationalism, Referendum, & Recent Elections”

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The distinction of Scotland in literary identity was claimed in the 1920s by Hugh MacDiarmid as the rebuilding of political sovereignty in the country. Now, almost a hundred years later, the independence referendum focuses our attention on the relations of artistic exploration and political unrest. The relation between artistic exploration and political unrest has been apparent throughout the history of a democratic United Kingdom, in which the voting citizens of Scotland have been regularly disenfranchised.  Professor Riach will discuss the relations between cultural production civic government and social discourse, and their ramifications in a dialogue of Scottish national identity

Alan Riach is Professor of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, working in the fields of 20th century Scottish, Irish, American and post-colonial literatures, modern poetry, and creative writing. His critical writings have appeared in numerous books and journals internationally. Alan was Associate Professor of English and Pro-Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. He studied English at the University of Cambridge as an undergraduate, and then received his Ph.D. in Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow.

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Filed under Arts & Culture, Europe, Fall 2014, Past Events

Chris Anderson, Elena Osinskaya & Jill Anderson, April 23, 2014

“Regional Views of Ukraine’s Current Crisis” 

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The most urgent issue in international diplomacy continues to be the developing crisis in Ukraine.  policy makers and analysts around the world anxiously await developments to what some fear could become the largest forced annexation of European countries since the fall of the Soviet Union.  But, what started this crisis? Who are the Ukrainian people?  What is their relationship to Russia, and what are their perspectives on the crisis?  Three Iowans with substantial ties to the country will share insights on Ukrainian society and history and how regional differences have shaped recent events.

Chris Anderson is a Ph.D. candidate in the UI Department of Political Science studying comparative politics.  He has a BS in Economics from Iowa State, and a MA in Russian Studies from Jagiellonian University in Poland.  He is interested in democratization and nationalism in Ukraine and Georgia.   He has made more than a dozen trips back to Ukraine since 2004.

Elena Osinskaya was born in Ukraine, eventually earning her undergraduate in Moscow.  She is the Language Initiatives Manager in the UI Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.  She is working towards  a Ph.D. in International and Comparative Education.


Jill Anderson is a Ph.D. candidate in the UI Department of Political Science, focusing on International Relations and Comparative Politics.  She holds a BA in Political Science from Central College.  As spent a 2 years teaching English in Yarmolyntsi, Ukraine as a Peace Corp Volunteer.

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Filed under Europe, Governance Issues, Past Events, Spring 2014, U.S. Foreign Policy, War & Conflict

Diana Rus, February 12, 2013

Diana Rus_1“Romanian Reflections on the EU”

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In February 1992 the Maastricht Treaty laid the groundwork for what would soon become the European Union. From the very beginning, the EU rapidly became one of the largest and most influential intergovernmental unions in the world, and in 2013, twenty years on from its establishment, its 27 member states stretch from Cyprus to Scandinavia. However, in recent years the global economic downturn has left its mark on the European community, and what has become known as the “Euro Crisis” has left many wondering if the EU has done more harm than good.

Diana Rus is a Fogarty Scholar at the Injury Prevention Research Center, University of Iowa, as well as a researcher at the Center for Health Policy and Public Health at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Diana’s research focuses on injury and violence prevention, specifically injury surveillance systems and road safety. She’s actively involved in several European Commission funded research projects and joint actions in the field of safety, including “JAMIE: Joint Action to Monitor Injuries in Europe” and “TACTICS: Tools to Address Childhood Trauma, Injuries and Childhood Safety.”

Diana will present her views on Romania’s role in the EU, and if EU membership has helped or hurt Romania. Romania, which joined the EU in 2007, is one of the newest members of the community and its success or failure in wake of the financial crisis will be crucial in determining the future success of the European Union as a whole.

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Filed under Business, Europe, Past Events, Spring 2013

Former Ambassador J.D. Bindenagel, November 14, 2012

“The Eurozone Debt Crisis”

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The current euro zone debt crisis centers on Germany and is an existential crisis about European Union political integration. Chancellor Angela Merkel explained that “if the Euro falls, Europe falls.” She described the challenge as “the most difficult since the Second World War.”  The Eurocrisis is reminiscent of two European conflagrations lasting three decades, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and the two twentieth-century World Wars (1914-1945).

Over the past two decades, a united Germany has accepted its EU integration responsibility to move toward a European Monetary Union, to introduce the euro, and now to resolve the current Euro crisis.  There is little doubt that Germany is obligated to support EU integration: constitutionally, historically, and morally.

In a recent article published in the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Ambassador J.D. Bindenagel discussed the Eurozone debt crisis and its importance to the global economy, and he will share his views on the crisis for this ICFRC program.

Ambassador Bindenagel is an expert on German politico-military history and policy.  He is a former U.S. Ambassador and career diplomat who served in East, West and united Germanys during the end of the Cold War. He had a part in the reunification of Germany, the Balkan Wars, debates on North Atlantic Treaty Organization security policy and expanded membership, and in German national security from 1972 to 2002. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1999 as U.S. Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues.  He was a consultant and interviewed as an eyewitness for “The Wall: A Country United”. A Houston PBS documentary about the fall of the Berlin Wall, produced, written and directed by Eric Stange.

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Filed under Economics, Europe, Fall 2012, Governance Issues, Past Events

Dr. Anel Okic & Dr. Nina Jovanovic, October 24, 2012

“Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Small Country with a Big Government”

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Bosnia and Herzegovina and its capital city of Sarajevo, often called the European Jerusalem, has the most diverse demographic and political structure in Europe, and perhaps of any other country in the world.

Dr. Anel Okic

Placed in heart of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina has always been a place of numerous conflicts and wars. During the aggression in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the years of 1992-1995, both Dr. Jovanovic and Dr. Okic remained in the country, but Dr. Okic experienced the difficulty of being a refugee apart from his family.

Dr. Nina Jovanovic

Nina Jovanovic and Anel Okic are both medical doctors and graduates of the University of Sarajevo School of Medicine.  Dr. Jovanovic is a resident in Ophthalmology at the County Hospital of Zenica and a Junior Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health in the College of Public Health in Zenica. Dr. Anel Okic is a resident in the Surgery department at County Hospital of Zenica and a lecturer at the Nursing High School in Zenica. Dr. Okic also holds a Masters Degree in Sports Management from the University of Travnik.

Both doctors were actively involved as leaders of the Medical Student Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina and officers in IFMSA (International Federation of Medical Students Associations). They are both very active in organizing numerous student, medical doctor and health worker activities. They have visited more than 50 countries all around world, organizing and attending different educational projects and trainings.

In September of 2012, Jovanovic and Okic organized a conference on trauma and injury prevention on behalf of the University of Iowa that attracted 200 participants and was the first international conference of its kind to be held in Zenica. Currently they are both visiting scholars at the University of Iowa studying trauma and injury prevention in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health.

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Filed under Europe, Fall 2012, Governance Issues, Health & Medicine, Past Events

Wojciech Przyblyski, April 6, 2012

Wojciech Przblyski

“The Political Scene in V4 Countries and the Perception of the USA”

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As President of the Res Publica Foundation (and Editor-in-Chief of the Res Publica Nowa Quarterly), Mr. Wojciech Przyblyski belongs to the Free Speech Partnership, a network of editors from intellectual and cultural journals in former Soviet Republics established to undertake joint publishing projects. Specializing in recruiting high-level experts for analysis and critical evaluation for their seminars, conferences, and publications, he and his organizations are at the center of Central European political debates today.

Read Mr. Przblyski’s publications:

On Friday April 6th, the Foreign Relations Council hosted Mr. Przyblyski for a lecture-luncheon, and he shared his thoughts on the history and current political developments in the Visegrad Group (also known as the V4), a coalition of four central European countries committed to working in tandem on a number of political, economic, and other relevant issues. He spoke extensively on a variety of topics, including the definition of “central Europe” (East of the West and West of the East!) and how this ambiguous geographical position has affected sociopolitical discourses on identity and aspirations of the Visegrad member nations. As all V4 countries are members of the European Union, Mr. Przyblyski walked us through the unique ways in which the Eurozone debt crisis affected Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.  Our lecturer remarked on the current environmental issues facing V4 nations, and commented on the state of journalistic freedom in Poland (read more here and here).

The Visegrad Group

At each of our lectures, we present our audience members with trivia cards to see how well they stack-up in their knowledge of international history and affairs.


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Filed under Europe, Past Events, Spring 2012