First Secretary of the Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the UN visits IFIMES

Gaia Puleston (left) and Zijad Bećirović




First Secretary of the Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the UN visits IFIMES


LJUBLJANA, 11 May 2015 – Director of the International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) Zijad Bećirović received First Secretary of the Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the United Nations Mrs. Gaia Puleston.


IFIMES director Bećirović presented the activities of the Institute in the Balkan and Middle-East regions, with a special emphasis on the activities related to the Western Balkans region. First Secretary Puleston expressed interest in the view IFIMES has regarding the situation in the region.


The topics of discussion ranged from the problem of EU enlargement into the region of Western Balkans, to the security issues regarding recent events in Macedonia, and to the problem of foreign terrorist fighters in hotspots in the Middle-East. During the conversation the representatives exchanged views on current events in both regions.


First Secretary Puleston presented some new and strengthened approaches of Australia regarding the problem of foreign terrorist fighters. Both parties agreed that the road to de-radicalization of various religious and ethnic communities is a long one, but also agreed that the Australian approach with monetary support for community outreach and involvement bears great promise. Director Bećirović emphasized that the current situation in the Western Balkans is a result of various causes, with the main problems being that:


● The EU tuned down it’s enlargement agenda,


● Political elites in the region with their strong ties to the criminal world do not see the entry of their countries into the EU as something that would serve their interests,


● Political elites in the region do not allow entry of new participants into the political arena through their control of media, finance, and repressive state organs,


● Religious elites manipulate the inhabitants of the region into conflict with each other.


At the end of the discussion both parties agreed that there is a lot of opportunities for enhancing mutual cooperation and decided to keep in touch regarding future developments in the regions.


Ljubljana, 11 May 2015      



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