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Finnish envoy to speak at Illinois as part of European Union Day events

Melissa Mitchell, News Editor
217-333-5491; melissa@uiuc.edu

10/5/2006

Editor’s note: Pekka Lintu, the ambassasor of Finland to the United States, will be available to meet with members of the news media at 9:30 a.m., Oct. 17, third floor, Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Pekka Lintu, the ambassador of Finland to the United States, will share his views of the current state of the European Union during EU Day activities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Oct. 17.

Lintu, who holds the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, will speak at 11 a.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center. His talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the seventh annual EU Day, sponsored by the U. of I.’s European Union Center.

“EU Day is an important tradition on the Urbana-Champaign campus,” said Robert Pahre, the center’s recently appointed director. “Ambassador Lintu represents the European Union, America’s most important global partner in both economic and political affairs.

“Its 25 member states make up the world’s largest economy,” Pahre said, and “these questions of global wealth and security affect all of our lives.” In addition, “relations between the U.S. and EU affect the outcome of important conflicts in North Korea, Iran and the Middle East.”

The U. of I. center’s goal in organizing the annual event is “to inform the public of what the EU is, what it does, and how it matters for Americans,” Pahre said. To that end, the center sponsors a high school essay contest in conjunction with EU Day. Contest winners are invited to attend the address, participate in other planned activities and meet with the visiting ambassador and other dignitaries over lunch.

Since his appointment to the ambassadorship in January 2006, Lintu has worked toward strengthening the relationship between the United States and Finland. He also acts as a mediator between Finnish diplomats and American decision-makers to help strengthen economic ties between Finnish and American companies. In addition, Lintu works closely with the Finnish-American community to preserve their cultural heritage.

Before his appointment to the post, the ambassador served as under secretary of state for external economic relations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland.

The EU Center, a unit of the U. of I.’s International Programs and Studies, was founded through a grant from the European Commission in 1998. Since 2003, the center has been designated as a Title VI National Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Education. The center brings together faculty from various departments and disciplines across campus to promote the study of the European Union, its institutions and policies, and EU-U.S. relations. The center also coordinates programs that serve Illinois businesses, policymakers, educators and the general public.

More information is available online at www.ips.uiuc.edu/eu or by calling the center’s outreach coordinator, Kerri Taylor, 217-244-0570.