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Current state of European union to be examined April 10-13

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor
(217) 333-5491;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The current state of the European Union will be examined in-depth at a series of events planned April 10-13 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Georges Savvaides, the ambassador of Greece to the United States, will present the "State of the European Union Address" at 11 a.m. on April 10 at the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana. The talk, free and open to the public, is the centerpiece event of European Union Day, hosted annually on campus by the university’s European Union Center.

Savvaides, who has served as ambassador since July 2002, previously held posts as secretary-general of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to NATO. He joined the foreign ministry in 1972, serving as political adviser and defense adviser at Greece’s Permanent Delegation to NATO in Brussels, and as director of the ministry’s departments of Turkey and Cyprus.

Kieran Donaghy, director of the EU Center at Illinois, said Savvaides’ perspectives on current affairs of the EU should be particularly insightful since Greece holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union during the first half of 2003. Among other functions, the council serves as the community’s legislative body and coordinates economic policies of member states.

A treaty-based institutional framework for the construction of a unified Europe, the EU to date comprises 15 nations: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

In December 2002, the EU embarked on an expansion campaign that would increase its membership to 25 by 2004. Among the 10 nations poised to complete accession negotiations by the end of this year are eight former socialist countries of Eastern Europe: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. The other two are Malta and Cyprus.

That expansion will be the subject of discussion at "EUtopia: Enlargement and the Politics of European Identity," a public forum and conference on April 11-12, also at the Levis Faculty Center. The event, organized by the university’s Russian and East European Center, begins at 10 a.m. on April 11 with a keynote address by Elisabeth Kehrer, Consul General of Austria, Chicago. Kehrer’s talk is titled "How Big Is Beautiful? The European Union’s Ongoing Enlargement – Advantages and Challenges." Following her talk will be presentations by Margit Williams, professor of international relations, University of South Florida; Carol Leff, professor of political science, Illinois; and Larry Neal, professor of economics, Illinois.

The event, sponsored by the EU Center and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, continues with panel discussions on both days by Illinois faculty members and guest speakers from throughout the United States and Europe.

More information about the forum and conference is available on the Web,