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Slovenian ambassador to give keynote during European Union event


Melissa Mitchell, News Editor

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — This year’s European Union Day activities at the University of Illinois will span two days, April 14-15.

The schedule of events – free and open to the public, and sponsored by the U. of I. European Union Center – begins with a panel discussion titled “Slovenia and the Global Economy: Doing Business With the EU’s Eastern Members,” at 4:30 p.m. on April 14 in 210 Illini Union. Panelists will be Charles Bukowski, professor of international relations at Bradley University; Irena Lukac, economic counselor at the Embassy of Slovenia; and Wilmer Otto, president of Equipment Direct-USA.

At 10 a.m. on April 15, the annual State of the European Union Keynote Address will be presented by Samuel Zbogar, ambassador of Slovenia to the United States, in the Beckman Institute auditorium, 405 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana.

Zbogar, who has served in that post since 2004, began his diplomatic career in the late 1980s, and over the years has held various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including state undersecretary; director of the Department for Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific; and counselor to the minister and secretary in the Office of the Security General. He also has represented Croatia around the world in various capacities, and has served in China as the charge d’affaires and first secretary of the Slovenian Embassy.

From 1997-2001, Zbogar was minister plenipotentiary and deputy representative of the Slovenian Mission to the United Nations as well as deputy to the U.N. Security Council. From 2001-2004, he served as state secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2005, Zbogar headed a task force for internal restructuring and recommendations when Slovenia was chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Zbogar’s visit to the U. of I. campus is a continuation of a U. of I. EU Center tradition. Each year, the invited keynote speaker is a representative of the nation that currently holds E.U.’s rotating presidency.

“Slovenia has played an important role in helping create a new Europe,” said Robert Pahre, the director of the U. of I. center and a professor of political science. “Slovenia is the first ex-Communist country to hold the rotating EU presidency, and it’s also the first ex-Communist country to adopt the euro as its currency.”

More information about the events and the EU Center is available online.