It was a great delight to welcome Her Excellency today at the University of New York Tirana premises. Students and lecturers had the chance to attend an open speech on ‘the European Union and security challenges’. The Ambassador’s talk was followed by student’s questions and a positive challenging exchange of opinions.

The Ambassador noted that the European Security architecture, namely NATO, EU and the OSCE, established in the post-cold era faces now new and multiple challenges. New developments in the periphery of the European Continent as well as its core require us to adapt to a new reality. This new reality includes the activation of non-state actors, such as terrorist groups and organized crime in all sorts of trafficking (arms, human beings, drugs etc).

The region of Southeast Europe, in which both Greece and Albania belong, is caught in a triangle of instability between three war zones: Ukraine, Libya and the Middle East – Syria and Iraq. Waves of instability are coming from the corners of this triangle. Through mutual cooperation in our region, we need to reverse such trends. Simultaneously, it is crucial to address the root causes of instability in these areas and support their progressive stabilization.

The economic crisis and the refugee flows, though they arrived in Europe from outside have affected internally the EU. Populism and nationalism are on the rise, while Brexit is causing serious concern, since it is the first time in the 60 years of European integration that a member State decides to leave the Union.

Our distinctive guest shared with the students the belief that at times Europe, as it is now, is taken for granted, and especially by the young generation which has no historic memory of how Europe was before the European integration process. Mrs. Sourani is convinced that the European Union is able to cope with all the challenges, that our fate is interconnected and returning to the pre-EU area is not an option and is not desirable by the Europeans. At the same time, it is important for Europe to do some soul searching in order to find the balance. Meanwhile, let’s not forget, all Europeans are taking advantage of the half a billion open united market and it is imperative that this remains so.

Mrs. Sourani surprised all attendees when asked whether she would go home for end of the Year feasts. The answer was ‘Home is here’. The Greek Ambassador in Albania is a career diplomat. Albania is her 7th foreign assignment.

UNYT students expressed interest to meet the Ambassador and benefit from Her public contribution on other occasions.