EU Ambassador Visits Missouri School of Journalism

By Priyanka Khanna, E23

The European Union Ambassador, Joāo Vale de Almeida, and former journalist of seven years took the time to come speak at the Missouri School of Journalism this past Wednesday. After three attempts deterred by weather and other conflicts, the Ambassador was finally able to make an appearance…and at quite a fitting time!

The news is swamped with constant updates of the crisis in Europe right now, specifically Ukraine. So we got the chance to get firsthand insight as to what is going on in the minds of the European Union members.

But first off, what exactly is causing this crisis?

In the most general, epigrammatic manner…here it is:

Viktor F. Yanukovych, the President of Ukraine, turned down a trade deal with the European Union. This decision angered Ukrainian citizens, which led to violent protests as well as political stagnation later on.
For a financially struggling country like Ukraine, the free trade agreement would have been thoroughly substantial economically. So the fact that the trade was not signed was a pretty big deal. So as well as a financial crisis, a blame game is now being played on whom the culprit is for the violence, the anti-nationalists or the opposition?

The opposition has called for new elections, which will take place next month, on May 25. Majority of the world believes Ukraine should align with the EU, and not Russia.

Power hungry Russia, discernibly disgruntled with this, is fighting against this joining and also recently went ahead with the Annexation of the Crimean Peninsula between Ukraine and Russia.

Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that the Ukrainian President, Yanukovych, went M.I.A during all of this.

So there you have it, the short version of the crisis.

It’s time. It is time for the European Union to do what they do best, and that is to maintain peace and diplomatic missions around the world, economically and politically.

“Thank you. Thank you for taking interest in Europe, because it is not known for Americans to take that much interest in other countries around the world.” Ambassador Almeida said laughingly along with complete seriousness. “Especially to you young ones out there, my biggest piece of advice I’m going to give you, is to not take anything for granted.”

We need to constantly invest to maximize our chances of prosperity, while not forgetting about the other people and places around us. And this is exactly what the European Union is trying to do in order to solve the crisis right now.

Ukraine has an aspiration. That aspiration is to be financially more stable and politically more in tact. “We, the European Union, support that ambition. Which is why we are now heavily involving ourselves in the aid of Ukraine.”

There has been a plethora of recollections to the Cold War, and how this ongoing crisis might be very similar, or perhaps produce something worse. Almeida addressed this notion by stating, “In the Cold War, we knew who the enemy was, now it is harder to tell who it is.”

During this extremely complex period of time in Europe right now, Ambassador Almeida reassured that energy security, an important strategic policy, is indeed being set into place.

The forum was concluded on a final note, “again, do not ever take anything for granted, because things can change in an instant, as it has in Europe. And to my journalists out there, you are there to bring people together and ignite interest.”