German diplomat’s visit kicks off new outreach to Atlanta-based foreign consulates German…
Georgia (Sep 19, 2014) —
German diplomat’s visit kicks off new outreach to Atlanta-based foreign consulates
German Consul General Christoph Sander spoke to a group of Kennesaw State Ph.D. students Sept. 17 about his country’s role in Europe’s economic and political future. The event was the first of several planned visits to the campus by members of the Atlanta consular corps under the University’s new “Consular Connect” program.
Sander, the official representative of the German government to the southeastern United States, used the upcoming 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall as the backdrop for his lecture, titled “Germany Today: Responsibility & Challenges in the Heart of Europe.”
Speaking to a group of Ph.D. students in the International Conflict Management program — many of whom were not yet born or were too young to remember the fall — Sander described the excitement of living in Germany at the time.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said, referring to famous images of Berliners celebrating over the rubble of the demolished wall. “There had been barbed wire, dogs and East German soldiers. It’s only now that you can understand the joy of those people partying on the wall.”
Sander explained that Germany’s central location requires it to play an active role in maintaining Europe’s stability. Recent German successes he highlighted include expanding the European Union into Eastern Europe, working with Germany’s allies to support sanctions and diplomacy over military action in Ukraine, and supplying more than $250 billion towards stabilizing the European economy.
There is still work to be done on the economic front, Sander added, but it will require Germany’s European neighbors to make difficult reforms, such as increasing their retirement ages or lowering pensions.
“[German Chancellor Angela Merkel] cannot give a blank check,” he said. “Just spending more money without our partners making reforms is not possible.”
Sander, who previously served in diplomatic posts in India, Pakistan, Hungary and Venezuela, was the first in a series of speakers in the new “Consular Connect” program. Two additional consuls general have confirmed participation in the program: British Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford will be on campus Oct. 16, and French Consul General Denis Barbet will visit on Nov. 19.
Organized by Kennesaw State’s Division of Global Affairs, “Consular Connect” gives students, faculty, staff and the community the opportunity to interact with representatives of governments from around the world. Atlanta’s consular corps consists of diplomatic officers of more than 70 foreign governments. Each month, the program will host a different representative of an Atlanta-based consulate, who will:
· Meet with university leaders;
· Give a classroom lecture on a topic of his/her choice;
· Make a public address; and
· Attend a reception open to the campus community and invited guests.
The first “Consular Connect,” which included meetings with top university officials, a lecture and reception with public remarks, drew students interested in international issues and faculty from multiple disciplines.
“It was really important for me that we tied this program to the educational enterprise of KSU,” said Lance Askildson, vice provost for global affairs and the chief architect of “Consular Connect.” “The program is an excellent opportunity to give our students and faculty the opportunity to engage directly with international diplomats in our own backyard.
“I am so pleased to see that the consuls general have jumped at the opportunity to attend and lecture in our classes and meet with deans and university leaders to develop other teaching and research opportunities for our campus community.”
Visit the Division of Global Affairs’ International Visitors Bureau Page for more information on Consular Connect.
Photo by Robert Stalcup