In Conversation with Europe event

ICWE 14

In Conversation with Europe panel discussion with facilitator Professor Jacqueline Lo, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), and panellists (L-R) His Excellency Mr Jurij Rifelj, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia; Her Excellency Ms Francesca Tardioli, Ambassador of Italy; His Excellency Dr Thomas Fitschen, Ambassador of Germany; and Her Excellency Mrs Marion Derckx, Ambassador of the Netherlands.

On the evening of Thursday 22 October, the University of Adelaide hosted In Conversation with Europe, a panel discussion held in the historic Elder Hall.

The event was part of a South Australia state visit from the largest group of Ambassadors to ever visit any Australian state.

The night began with a welcome by the Hon Catherine Branson AC QC, Chancellor of the University of Adelaide. The Chancellor reflected on the University's connections with Europe and acknowledged the challenges that Europe is currently facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Chancellor's welcome was followed by an opening address from His Excellency Dr Michael Pulch, European Ambassador to Australia. His Excellency spoke fondly of Europe's partnerships with South Australia, noting the welcoming atmosphere of the state. While visiting SA, the Ambassadors have discussed with Premier Steven Marshall how to further expand European connections with South Australia. His Excellency also spoke fondly of Professor Jacqueline Lo, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), citing her as a pillar for European relations during her time in Canberra, finishing his address with "our loss [in Canberra] is Adelaide's gain." 

In Conversation with Europe's panel discussion was facilitated by Professor Jacqueline Lo, with panellists His Excellency Mr Jurij Rifelj, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia; Her Excellency Ms Francesca Tardioli, Ambassador of Italy; His Excellency Dr Thomas Fitschen, Ambassador of Germany; and Her Excellency Mrs Marion Derckx, Ambassador of the Netherlands. The panel discussion was centred around the question what is the role of middle powers such as Australia and the EU, and can multilateralism survive emerging regional tensions?

All panellists agreed that multilateralism embraces and negotiates different views, acknowledging that challenges to multilateralism were present before the COVID-19 pandemic.

His Excellency Mr Jurij Rifelj, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia, stated that multilateralism "is the only way forward, but it needs reform." This was met with agreement from the other panellists, who acknowledged that Australia and Europe need to continue to work together due to our shared values.

Her Excellency Mrs Marion Derckx, Ambassador of the Netherlands, said that COVID-19 made the Netherlands realise how reliant their country is on an international solution. Only when the Netherlands works as part of Europe can they find solutions to matters such as medical shortages. 

His Excellency Dr Thomas Fitschen, Ambassador of Germany, drew attention to the Alliance of Multilateralism, comprised of more than 70 countries committed to renewing the global commitment to stabilise the rules-based international order. The alliance addresses a number of areas of concern including human rights, cyberspace, and strengthening international institutions. 

Her Excellency Ms Francesca Tardioli, Ambassador of Italy, explained Europe's pandemic response as being one of the first to provide support for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. She acknowledged "the machine of the EU, with all of its strength, was put in motion to protect EU member states from the pandemic." 

Following the public panel discussion, the Ambassadors attended a dinner at the National Wine Centre. The Hon Vickie Chapman MP, Deputy Premier of South Australia and Attorney-General, and The Hon Stephen Patterson MP, Minister for Trade and Investment of South Australia, alongside University leadership led by the Hon Catherine Branson AC QC, Chancellor, were in attendance. Vickie Chapman gave a welcome address to attendees of the dinner, which featured wines made by the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine, as well as alumni of the University of Adelaide.

Please see below for a gallery of photos from the evening. A recording of the panel discussion can be found here.

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