| CIS Hosts Croatian Ambassador to the U.S. |
Croatian Ambassador to the United States, Josko Paro, visited the University of St. Thomas Center for International Studies and its Distinguished Diplomacy Program on Jan. 27. During the meeting, Ambassador Paro talked with students, faculty and friends of the university about the history of Croatia, its current economic situation and Croatian hopes for their country’s future. The meeting was chaired by UST’s provost, Dr. Dominic Aquila, and attended by several community leaders.
During his lecture, Ambassador Paro said one of the biggest post-Communist challenges for Croatia is the move from a command economy to an open-market economy. Croatia acceded to European Union membership in 2013, which the ambassador noted came at the height of Europe’s economic crisis.
He said Croatia wishes for each of its neighbors to become a part of the E.U. so that borders can be opened to trade, instead of putting up walls. The ambassador made it clear that issues of European integration, historical animosities and friendships, and the old Cold War geopolitics continue to shape Europe of the 21st century.
This event was one in a series of meetings in which the Center connects foreign dignitaries with UST and Houston’s business and community leaders. Central to all meetings is the attendance and participation of UST students.
Richard Sindelar, assistant professor in the Center for International Studies, has championed this approach to introducing students to such opportunities.
“We are ultimately here for the development of our students,” he said. “Hosting foreign government and business leaders gives our students an important opportunity to join the conversation, not just sit passively.”
With the inauguration of the Distinguished Diplomacy Program in 2013, the Center has reinvigorated a long history of promoting the understanding and practice of diplomacy that dates back to the Center’s second director, Professor William J. Cunningham.
Dr. Hans Stockton, director of the Center and chair of international studies, said whether or not students enter the U.S. foreign service, he believes all CIS graduates will conduct one form of diplomacy or another.
“Diplomacy and ‘being diplomatic’ are skills we apply in business, law and community leadership on a daily basis,” Stockton said.
As one student said, Croatia is a country most haven’t had the opportunity to hear much about, so the students particularly welcomed the opportunity to interact with Ambassador Paro and ask questions.
One day soon, there may even be a UST Study Abroad program in Croatia; initial thoughts were exchanged about exploring this option further with the Croatian Embassy.