On April 13, 2015, The European Institute, in cooperation with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Secretariat, held a discussion on the implications of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) for EFTA states. Georges Baur, Assistant Secretary-General of EFTA, presented opening remarks on the history and trade relations of EFTA, followed by a panel of experts, moderated by Michael Smart, Vice President of the Rock Creek Global Advisors LLC. The Honorable Gunnar Gunderson, Member of the Norwegian Parliament (Strotinget), discussed the economic opportunity that TTIP has for EFTA and underlined the importance for EFTA to acquire an equal preferential treatment from both the U.S. and EU. The Honorable Thomas Aeschi, Member of the Swiss House of Representatives (Nationalrat), highlighted EFTA’s openness to trade, exemplified by its current 25 FTAs with 35 countries, and encouraged a docking mechanism into TTIP for EFTA, Mexico, and Canada. Ambassador Miriam Sapiro, Founder of Summit Strategies International and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development program, outlined the premise of TTIP and the opportunity for the initiative to have an open architecture accessible to third countries. Lastly, Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Reginald Jones Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, discussed the obstacles of having TTIP as an open architecture for trade, underlining that most accession clauses in FTAs have never been acted upon.
On March 10, 2015, The European Institute held a meeting of the Roundtable on Triangular Relations on Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and future prospects for the EEU. His Excellency Tigran Sargsyan, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States and former Prime Minister of Armenia presented opening remarks. Vardan Aramyan, First Deputy Chief of Staff to Armenian President Sargsyan discussed the economic factors behind Armenia’s decision to join the EEU and Tatiana Valovaya, Minister for Integration Development & Macroeconomics at the Eurasian Economic Commission assessed the continuing evolution of the EEU, including Armenia’s accession. Klaus Botzet, Head of the Political, Development & Security Section at the Delegation of the European Union to the United States presented remarks on the European Neighborhood Policy and the future of EU-Armenian relations. In the final session, His Excellency Kadyr Toktogulov, Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States; Pavel Shidlovsky, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the Republic of Belarus; Yerkin Akhinzhanov, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan; and Mikhail Kalugin, Head of the Economic Office at the Embassy of the Russian Federation, discussed the prospects and challenges facing the EEU, including the Kyrgyz Republic’s accession later this year.
On December 19, 2013, The European Institute in cooperation with the Embassy of Finland hosted a breakfast event with Esa Härmälä, Director-General of the Energy Department at the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy; Dr. Christian Burgsmueller, Head of the Transport, Energy, & Environment Section at the Delegation of the European Union; and Mikhail Kalugin, Head of the Economic Section at the Embassy of the Russian Federation to discuss the progress of Finland’s efforts to achieve sustainable energy independence through diversification of energy resources, closer integration with the European Union’s single energy market, and the furtherance of regional energy projects with neighboring states, including the Russian Federation.
On November 29, 2012, The European Institute hosted a seminar following the Arctic Council’s formal Senior Arctic Official meeting in Sweden. This seminar brought together representatives of the Arctic Council’s member states and focused on the evolution of the Arctic’s governance and the prospects for ensuring sustainable economic development in this fragile and resource rich region. Panelists included: Berit Enge, Minister Counselor, Political Affairs, Royal Norwegian Embassy; Dr. John Farrell, Executive Director, U.S. Arctic Research Commission; Julia Gourley, U.S. Senior Arctic Official, U.S. Department of State; Ambassador Hannu Halinen, Ambassador, Arctic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland; Fred Larsen, CEO, Lamor; Ida Heimann Larsen, Minister Counselor, Economic, Royal Danish Embassy; Eva Hunnius Ohlin, Environmental Technology Officer, Embassy of Sweden; Sheila Riordon, Minister, Political Affairs, Embassy of Canada and former Canadian Senior Arctic Official; Brian Robinson, U.S. Coast Guard Liaison, Office of Oceans & Polar Affairs, U.S. Department of State; His Excellency Gudmundur Arni Stefansson, Ambassador of Iceland to the United States; and Ambassador Anton Vasiliev, Senior Arctic Official of the Russian Federation. James Graff, Executive Editor of The Week moderated the discussion.
By Geoffrey Paul, Middle East Specialist Based in London
Coincidence or historical irony? Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas goes to the UN General Assembly on Thursday to seek an upgrade in the international status of Palestine from “permanent observer” at the UN to “non-member observer state,” the same status as enjoyed by the Vatican. His bid comes 65 years to the day since, on November 29, 1947, the UN passed a resolution calling for the establishment of separate Arab and Jewish states in the British mandated territory of Palestine.
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