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March 2 , 2006
Contact: Jennifer Colaner, School of Law, (785) 864-4531.

Austrian consul general to discuss Turkey’s admission to EU for first Diplomat’s Forum

LAWRENCE — A leading Austrian diplomat, whose country has strongly opposed the admission of Turkey into the European Union, will give his country’s perspective this month as the inaugural Displomat’s Forum speaker at the University of Kansas School of Law.

Robert Zischg, the Chicago Consul General for Austria, will give a lecture on “Friends or Barbarians at the Gate? Austria’s Perspectives on Turkey’s Bid for EU Membership” at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 9, in 104 Green Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Zischg’s speech is slated just as new negotiations have been authorized to possibly admit Turkey as the first Muslim-majority nation in the 25-member European Union. Turkey formally started its EU membership process last year but has faced mounting public opposition in EU countries, which has been exacerbated recently by the violent reaction in Muslim countries to published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Danish newspapers.

Austria also holds the revolving presidency of the EU for the first six months of this year.

The KU law school — the only American law school with formal cooperation and exchange programs with schools in Vienna, Austria, and Istanbul, Turkey — established the Diplomat’s Forum to give students more global perspectives, said Raj Bhala, Raymond F. Rice Distinguished Professsor of Law.

“Inviting diplomats who are posted in the U.S. will give us a view of ourselves through foreign eyes. It will help students understand how we are perceived overseas,” Bhala said. “It also give us the opportunity to share our views with the diplomats to relay back to their country.”

Bhala also hopes that the forum will focus on provocative topics and that its location far from international diplomatic circles in New York and Washington, D.C., will encourage diplomats to skip jargon and offer more candid and “authentic” speeches.

Zischg, 42, was named to head Austria’s Chicago Consulate General last April and has worked in his country’s foreign affairs ministry since 1990. He earned his doctoral degree in political and communication sciences at the University of Salzburg after attending the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s Bologna Center in Italy.

The EU, established in 1992, is an intergovernmental union of 25 democratic countries. While the organization addresses various public policy issues from health to defense, its key role is the administration of a common, single economic market and currency in Europe. Members of the EU are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Recent speakers at the law school have included Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland and the former United Nations high commissioner for human rights; Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and former Attorney General Janet Reno.

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