European Affairs

In the most important Italian political development since the departure of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, opposition leader Umberto Bossi, head of Italy’s Northern League party, was forced to resign from his position in a scandal involving illicit handling of party funds.

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On January 20, 2012, The European Institute held a breakfast discussion of the Roundtable on Transportation and Infrastructure in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania. The panelists, which included The Honorable Eligijus Masiulis, Minister of Transport and Communications for the Republic of Lithuania; François Rivasseau, Minister-Counselor and Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union; Thomas Kelly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Ambassador Vytautas Nauduzas, Ambassador-at-Large, Special Envoy on Transport, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Lithuania; and Dr. Eugenijus Gentvilas, Chief Executive Officer, Klaipeda State Seaport Authority discussed Lithuania’s concerted push to become a major European Transportation hub and the impact these infrastructure priorities are having on Europe's roadmap for a single european transport area as well as on the future of NATO's Northern Distribution Network.

On December 21, 2011, The Honorable Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus presented her perspective on the priorities of the upcoming Cypriot Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and shared her thoughts on Cyprus’ and the EU’s approach to a rapidly evolving  economic and political order in the region.

Croatia's leaders signed an EU accession treaty on December 9, putting the country on course for a referendum next year and then full membership in July 2013. Marking the EU’s expansion into the Balkans, the step (after seven years of negotiations) was hailed by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy: “Croatia is a pioneer, demonstrating in a tangible way that the future of the western Balkans as a whole lies in the European Union.” Marking the event, “European Affairs” put three questions to Vice Skracic, Chargé d'Affaires in the Croatian embassy in Washington.

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On October 17, 2011, Her Excellency Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Finland's new Ambassador to the United States, offered her perspectives on Finland’s evolving role within the European Union, her nation’s approach to resolving the European sovereign debt crisis and the challenges of insuring greater political parity within the EU 27.  She also assessed the current state of Finnish-U.S. relations, emphasizing the need for continued transatlantic cooperation on shared economic, security and environmental challenges.