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Monday, 7 May 2018

6th Annual Ambassadors’ Forum

On 3 May, SEESOX hosted its annual Ambassadors’ Forum at St Antony’s College, Oxford. This was the sixth in the series: in the well-established tradition of inviting to Oxford and presenting its work to all the diplomatic missions from the region of South East Europe in London. This year the working lunch was attended by nine Heads of Mission, two Deputy Heads of Mission and one First Secretary and the SEESOX group.

SEESOX briefed on the main themes which it addressed during the academic year 2017-2018, concentrating in particular on EU integration and the European Commission’s new strategy for the Western Balkans, the region’s geo-political challenges, the Berlin Process and the political economy of the region, including the impact of Brexit and other macro-economic challenges. The Bulgarian Ambassador briefed on the priorities for the Presidency and the Sofia Summit on 16/17 May, with the focus on the Western Balkans, and the themes of connectivity, regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations. There was general round table discussion of these issues, and on the forthcoming summit meetings in July (Berlin Process in London, and NATO in Brussels). Our Forum discussed the future of the Berlin Process, the meaning of the London Summit and what messages this gives now that the UK is leaving the EU, especially regarding a range of security concerns. The second part of the Forum focused its discussion on SEESOX’s flagship project, the Greek Diaspora project, presented by two SEESOX researchers who briefed on the main goals of the project including a survey aimed at Greeks in the UK, the creation of an interactive map and research into philanthropy, brain drain and the diasporic impact on domestic politics. This presentation led to a wide-ranging exchange about the diasporas of other South East European countries with references to issues such as size, role, brain drain, make-up, voting issues, remittances, cultural ties, and education of the region’s diasporic communities around the world. It was agreed that there is genuine scope for comparative studies which SEESOX is determined to undertake.

David Madden (Distinguished Friend of St Antony's)

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