Her Excellency Ksenija Škrilec graduated at the Eötvös Loránd University in Hungarian and German philology. After completing the International Relations postgraduate programme, she joined the doctoral school of Andrássy University. She has been working in the Slovenian Embassy of Budapest since 1992 where she first filled the Secretary position, then she was appointed the ambassador’s deputy. During her years of service, she mainly worked in the field of economic policy and bilateral relations. Beside Hungarian and Slovenian, Her Excellency is fluent in German, English, Serbian-Croatian and Spanish languages.
The ambassador has been fulfilling her position in Hungary since 2013, which will come to its end soon. In her speech, she presented the numerous successes and cooperation possibilities highlighting the good, friendly relation between Hungary and Slovenia. The title of her presentation comes from Slovenia’s most famous poet, France Prešeren. Ms. Škrilec believes in the importance of the exemplary friendship between Hungary and Slovenia because the two countries are not only neighbours but they are good friends of each other, and they have a harmonious and smooth diplomatic relation. She added that one of her aims in Budapest was to bring Slovenian and Hungarian citizens closer in various aspect and levels, which she succeeded to achieve: an active political dialogue has commenced between the two countries, universities and secondary schools started to cooperate and the protection of minorities also received attention from the two parties in the past few years. The ambassador thinks that the minorities are key elements in linking the two countries, thus the Slovenian and Hungarian minority groups have the same rights as their inland fellows. The gender equality is also considered essential. For instance, the number of women working in the Slovakian Parliament is high, which is a good rate among the European states.
Slovenia has a very diverse geographic structure with its beautiful landscapes, sea, ports, huge forests which tempt many tourists; therefore the country puts great emphasis on the development of tourism and country image. People are protecting the nature and the environment including forests, big bear populations and bees. One of the ambassador’s project was a program called “Breakfast with Honey” which was launched in Slovenian and Hungarian elementary schools where children could learn about bees and honey while having breakfast together.
The guests of the roundtable discussion were Dr. János Bóka, Dr. István Szent-Iványi who was the Hungarian Ambassador to Slovenia between 2010 and 2016 and Zoltán Egeresi, from NUPS’ Centre for Strategic Defence Studies. Dr. Szent-Iványi said that few years ago the foreign policy of the two countries were different from what we have today: in the past it was a simple good neighbour relationship while today this relation has evolved into a serious strategic partnership where the parties mutually respect and acknowledge each other. According to the former ambassador, this relationship is one of the most well-functioning diplomatic relation among Hungary’s relations.
Zoltán Egeresi highlighted the importance and positive role of Slovenia within the Western Balkans states. The ambassador considers good communication and the gestures to each other as the basis of all strategic relationships. She closed the session by adding that Slovenia, together with the Western Balkans states is currently working on its role fulfilled in Central Europe.
The Ambassadors’ Forum at Ludovika event series will return in September 2017 when the first guest will be Turkey.
After completing his university studies, Gordan Grlić Radman first worked in Switzerland and later at the Unversity of Zagreb. After Zagreb, he worked again to Switzerland where in 1992 he began the establishment of the Croatian Consulate Network (in Bern, Genova and Zurich) at the request of the newly formed Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thereafter, he continued his career in Sofia at the Croatian Embassy there and, since 2012, he is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Croatia to Hungary.
The ambassador accentuated in his speech the importance of Hungarian-Croatian relations and added that the two countries helped each other even before 1992. He emphasised, that before joining the EU, the country had to face serious difficulties. When they became part of the EU in 2013, they sought to transfer their experiences to the ex-Yugoslavian member states, especially to Montenegro and Serbia. H.E. believes that the policy of a “good neighbour” is a key concept, because the abovementionned countries and Hungary have to face similar economical and various other challenges like Croatia does, thus they can support each other. An example of this cooperation was the migration crisis two years ago which, due to the complexity of the EU, generated different reactions among the population.
He highlighted the importance of the Hungarian-Croatian border opening which further strengthens the relation between the two countries with focus on tourism and culture as well. At the same time, he added that they will take major actions to significantly reduce waiting time at border crossings.
The facilitator of the roundtable discussion was Dr. János Bóka, Vice-Dean for Education at the Faculty of International and European Studies. The guests of the roundtable discussion were Dr. Edit Bencze, lecturer of the Kodolányi János College, whose main research area is the integration processes in the Western Balkans with special focus on the Croatian accession and Dr. János Hóvári, lecturer at NUPS, former ambassador to several countries and security policy expert. Dr. Bóka asked the guests to share their views on the accession of the Western-Balkans to the EU. Dr. Hóvári explained that we need to be open for new members and that upon their membership, a new union would emerge. He fully agrees with the idea of helping our neighbours. The experts discussed whether the migration crisis can destabilize the region and become a serious security threat to the surrounding countries in the area. However, according to the ex-ambassador the excellent Croatian border control system handled the challenge appropriately, and since the crisis is more serious in Greece, Greeks should take the Croatian system as an example to follow. He believes that the biggest problem of the EU is the lack of vision, which could be solved by working with a new management and by reconsidering existing issues.
The academic year’s last session of the Ambassador’s Forum at Ludovika is going to be held on 10 May, where the participants can meet H.E. Ksenija Škrilec, ambassador of Slovenia to Hungary.
This year’s last Ambassadors’ Forum at Ludovika welcomed H.E Mr. Rahul Chhabra, Indian Ambassador to Hungary as a special guest. His Excellency has a graduate degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics and Masters in Business Administration from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta, where he was placed on the Roll of Honour. In the past, he served as Director for External Publicity at the Ministry of External Affairs and Director in the Foreign Secretary’s Office and also served in China, the United States, France, Belgium, Senegal, and the Philippines.
Moderated by Dr. János Bóka, Vice-Dean for Education of Faculty of International and European Studies, the Forum took place with the presence of the experts, Dr. Imre Lázár Head of Department at the Ministry of Human Capacities and Jári Ferenc, Head of Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Hungary.
In his opening speech Mr. Chhabra gave a broad introduction about India including geographical, economic, cultural and many other aspects, as well as about Hungarian-Indian relations. The Ambassador presented his country’s geographical dimensions, also in comparison with Europe. He talked about the population density, the fact, that India is in possession of the 1/5 of the world’s water supply, and most of all, the unique Mars mission, the country was the first to launch. Challenges India currently faces, like the extreme poverty, the health care system and the improvement of the educational system were also mentioned.
The historical overview of the Hungarian-Indian relations corroborate that the countries sustain a strong relationship, India has been in the top 3 investors in Hungary for years. Tourism is significant, the Indian culture is very popular in Hungary, and furthermore Hungary supports the Indian aspiration to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Mr. Chhabra mentioned the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programme that provides opportunity for 200 Indian students or practicing professionals to pursue studies in Hungary.
The experts analysed the role and position of India in global politics, but the highlight of the event was the cultural programme organized by the Embassy. The first artist was Pandit Rajesh Gangani, a „tabla” performer, a classic Indian music on percussion instruments. He was followed by Saumya Shukla, presenting a north Indian folk dance, the „kathak.” The cultural event was completed by a photo exhibition of the artist Bijoy Mishra, presenting his work on India.
Dr. János Bóka, Vice-Dean for Education at the Faculty of International and European Studies opened the latest event of the Ambassadors' Forum at Ludovika with this renowned quote from German chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Special guest of the current event was His Excellency Vladimir Sergeev, Ambassador of the Russian Federation accredited to Hungary. The invited experts, Anton Bendarzsevszkij, director of Pallas Athene Geopolitical Foundation, and András Rácz, Senior Research Fellow of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs also shared their thoughts on the themes highlighted by the ambassador.
Following the introductory of Mr Bóka, His Excellency presented a thematically structured speech focusing on the bilateral relations of Russia and Hungary, the Ukrainian situation, the global fight against terrorism concerning Syria and Iraq, as well as Russia's relations with the United States, the European Union, and NATO.
The conclusions regarding the Russian-Hungarian relations were that despite the fact that there was a 50% decline in trade between the two countries in the past two years, high-level visits in 2015 and 2016 as well as rich cultural relations are proofs of a complex and fruitful cooperation. His Excellency also stated that there is still a substantial potential for further development concerning economic and trade relations. As it was mentioned, cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, e.g. developments in Paks nuclear power plant, is of high importance, as well as regional cooperation. As Vladimir Sergeev explained there is a comprehensive and open foreign policy dialogue between the countries and even though there are issues with disagreements, the two states have a similar approach to most important questions.
The situation in Ukraine, the status of Crimea and the Donetsk Oblast region as well as the global fight against terrorism were topics of great interest among the participating analysts at the panel discussion. The abovementioned topics were discussed from different points of view, the action of NATO and the EU were also discussed from Russia’s viewpoint that differs from that of western countries.
The active discussion that developed among the ambassador and experts along with the activity of the audience clearly shows that the role of Russia as a global super-power in world politics is still followed with great interest as well as the fact that the actions of Russia divide policy makers, experts and public opinion alike.
Among others, participants asked His Excellency on his opinion about the turnout of the US elections, while there were also voices of criticism of Russian’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. Regarding the American president-elect, both the special guest of the event and the experts were cautious to phrase strong statements. His Excellency was positive about Donald Trump’s statements of the US-Russian relations so far while he also noted that promises are one thing and what happens after he becomes a president is another. The experts agreed that foreign policy is a weakness of the president-elect, however it is clear that he will be advised by experienced consultants, thus a significant change cannot be expected, and it I too early for euphoria. As far as the Syrian conflict was concerned, Vladimir Sergeev underlined, that Russia urges a political solution, while the experts have highlighted the fact that despite the promises of the Russian president, military presence hasn’t been diminished but intensified in the region.
All these issues clearly show that Russia is a key player in world politics with a significant influence. The Henry Kissinger quote, cited by the moderator in his welcoming speech, describes the situation perfectly: “Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium.”
„Great-Britain is not turning its back on Europe and Hungary.” This was the main conclusion of the last event of the Ludovika Ambassador’s Forum series, the special guest of which was H.E. Iain Lindsay, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Hungary.
The last event of 12 October is considered to be a special one for many reasons. First of all, it took place in the Chapel of the Ludovika building due to the great interest, secondly, it was opened by Prof. Dr. András Patyi, Rector of the University. Mr János Bóka, Vide-Dean for Education at the Faculty of International and European Studies, took the role of the moderator and introduced the special guest of the Forum. Further increasing the uniqueness of the event, Mr Lindsay greeted the guests in Hungarian language, furthermore he honoured the audience with a Hungarian introduction of the current Forum’s topic.
The presence of His Excellency was determined by those significant events that occurred during the past few months in the United Kingdom, namely the referendum taking place on 23 June about the country’s EU membership that resulted in an overall vote to leave the European Union. The result of the referendum has shaken the governments and public opinion of the European states and third countries as well. The so called Brexit already took its economic and political effects right after the vote, however the consequences are going to be remarkable after the two-year-long series of negotiations and the closure of the withdrawal procedure.
Since the abovementioned situation was accompanied by a great attention in Hungary as well, the visit of Mr Lindsay to the National University of Public Service enjoyed a great interest. As Mr Patyi mentioned in his opening remarks, the audience had a chance to get first-hand insight into this complex political issue. Accordingly, the details of the referendum, the viewpoints of the different groups of the society, as well as the presence and future of the United Kingdom and its relationship with European countries and international organisations were discussed during the Forum.
The opening speech of His Excellency was followed by a round table discussion with Prof. Dr. Gergely Egedy, professor of the University and Márton Ugrósdy, researcher of the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Ludovika Ambassador Forum series will continue with the Russian Federation as the special guest represented by H. E. Szergejev Vlagyimir Nikolájevics.
After its great success, the Ludovika Ambassador’s Forum continues in the new academic year. The first event was held on the 27th of September with H.E. Rastislav Káčer, ambassador of the Republic of Slovakia, as a special guest. On this occasion challenges and opportunities to the future of Europe, a particularly timely issue, served as the main topic of the Forum. In accordance with the traditions, special analysts were also invited to share their opinion and thoughts on the topic in an informal way. This time Dr. Sarka Cabada Waisova, associate professor of the University of West Bohemia and International Chair of the National University of Public Service and Dániel Bartha, Director of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy contributed to the event, while NUPS was also represented by János Bóka, Vice-Dean for Education at the Faculty of International and European Studies.
His Excellency has been building his career in the field of security policy and strategy since 1992, however, he is also an expert on transatlantic cooperation. In his opening speech, H.E. Rastislav Káčer addressed issues influencing the future of Europe with an emphasis on the major differences between the United States and Europe. The special guest of the Forum and the invited analysts agreed that the present and future of Europe is shaped by its war-torn history, as well as the significant diversity existing within the continent. Nevertheless, the successfulness of European integration was not a question, in spite of the fact that the analysts also agreed that Europe is currently in crisis. The European people are divided by the migration crisis, there is a gap between reality and perception while the media continues to influence the population.
During the discussion the role of the elite in shaping politics and history itself were mentioned and also questions about the composition and role of the elite of our times. The guests of the roundtable discussion also agreed that both the institutions and the security of Europe is shaken and the current situation needs to be analysed and dealt with.
The participants raised many questions resulting in further discussions about migration and its management, while it was also questioned whether the region serves as a bridge between West and East.
The following guest of the Ambassador’s Forum at Ludovika is going to be H.E. Iain Lindsay, ambassador of the United Kingdom accredited to Hungary.