On 28 April, our IEE Alumni hosted a debate on current events with Ambassadors Iulia Matei, Romania’s EU Permanent Representative, and Petar Markovic, Head of Mission of Montenegro to the EU, both graduates from the Institute.

Marking the start of the second alumni co-presidency, the event was the occasion to welcome back at the IEE campus former students and listen to the views of distinguished alumni speakers on current events, in particular the Ukraine crisis and its consequences from the European and global point of view.

Ukraine at the centre of the discussion

During the debate-interview, moderated by IEE alumni co-presidents Giorgia Bozzini and Matteo Guidi, both ambassadors condemned the aggressive use of force by Russia in the former Soviet republic, stressing that Russia’s invasion clearly violates the rule-based international order and must be condemned as such.

The invasion of Ukraine saw the European Union take swift and concrete measures: on the one hand providing support to the invaded country, on the other, implementing strong sanctions against the Russian regime and its oligarchs. The EU reacted promptly and showed an unprecedented display of unity in its response, ambassador Matei positively underlined. The fact that the sanctions were adopted unanimously by EU Member States sent a strong message to Russia and to Vladimir Putin, she added.

The ambassadors agreed that the current crisis could provide an opportunity of further integration among EU Member States, as it has been the case for previous crises, not least with the Covid-19 pandemic and the following economic recovery measures. At the same time, noted Ambassador Matei, we should distinguish the different crises we are faced with and be able to reply effectively as a Union to the challenges ahead.

The ongoing conflict in the Eastern neighbourhood also had an impact on the EU enlargement, by bringing a renewed sense of urgency to complete the integration of the Western Balkans. In this light, Montenegro is doing its best to complete its path towards EU membership as soon as possible, said Ambassador Markovic, stressing the progress made by his country over the past few years. On the same evening, Montenegro’s parliament approved a new government committed to continue the work to join the EU.

The event also offered to the speakers the chance to share some good memories of their time at the Institute and a reflection on how their experience at the IEE was valuable for their career as well as their personal development. At the Institute we learn how to serve the European Union, said Ambassador Matei. A feeling that is probably well-shared by former and current students.

A heart-warming reunion

Before the start of the debate, the speakers were introduced by the IEE President, Professor Ramona Coman, who thanked the previous IEE alumni co-presidency, represented by Maria Schinina, for their work. The second and current co-presidency was briefly presented by Matteo Candelari, who invited the audience to help relaunch the alumni network by contributing to the next co-presidencies. The debate, which saw a good participation of alumni, was followed by a networking cocktail in the beautiful IEE gardens.

The event was organised by the second IEE alumni rotating co-presidency (March-August 2022) which is composed of Milena Albu, Ricardo Almeida, Giorgia Bozzini, Matteo Candelari, Matteo Guidi and Jessica Simoes, with the kind support of the IEE. Learn more about the AlumnIEE rotating co-presidencies here.