Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, President of the Republic of Croatia (2015-2020) and member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), comments on Europe's global role, current political developments and future challenges in the world in the MCI Livetalk.
"I firmly believe that European democracy is a role model for many countries around the world," says former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in the MCI Livetalk with Rector Andreas Altmann.
Especially when one travels a lot internationally, one senses in many people a great longing for a life based on the principles of democracy, freedom of expression, autonomous private and professional decisions and similar values as well as the rule of law - which are taken completely for granted in the European Union.
European values not self-evident
But European democracy must face global political challenges and confidently defend its values, says the former president of the Republic of Croatia. Global changes, such as the human rights situation in China or the foreign policy of the United States, are constantly presenting the EU with new challenges.
Global conflict hotspots, international migration and now the global pandemic with its impossibility of personal encounters are fundamentally changing the way of political discourse and show that the EU must find its own way and represent together.
EU should form issue-specific alliances
If one disregards temporary movements, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović believes in a close partnership between the EU and the US based on very similar values. Overall, however, she advocates the principle of multilateralism and is convinced that in the future it will make sense for the EU to seek issue-specific allies and forge alliances.
In political conflict situations in Asia such as Afghanistan or the human rights situation in China, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović sees much potential for Europe to position itself as a responsible partner for these countries.
Dangers for the European Union
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović sees the greatest danger for the EU within its own borders. Nationalist movements that threaten the existence of the EU's underlying rule-of-law principles with populist actionism and prioritize short-term egoism over long-term common interests are eroding the system from within and must be avoided at all costs. "We need to strengthen internal resilience and clearly oppose movements that have moved away from democratic paths," said Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
The former president also stresses how important it is to pay social media and its influence more attention in this context. The EU faces the challenge of establishing workable regulation of social media and artificial intelligence. In the case of traditional media, the editorial principle exists, and codified journalistic standards ensure that researched facts provide a basis for reporting.
Olympic Games as an instrument for the rule of law, sustainability and unity
Where she sees enormous potential is in the Olympic Games. "The Olympic Games are one of the most important events to bring the world together and unite it," said Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. "Most importantly, the principles of rule of law and sustainability can be used as the basis for a successful host country bid, which is already standard for future host countries. To overcome the problems in the world, we need events like the Olympic Games," she continues.
As a member of the International Olympic Committee, she explains the revised selection process for host countries. There is now a detailed points system in which a certain number of points must be achieved in terms of human rights, sustainability and other criteria in order to be considered as a host country. The Olympic Games want to be a partner for the host countries and support them in the implementation.
To young people, she advises, "You have nothing to lose. Try to live your dreams, if you fail, just draw a line and move on. Take advantage of every opportunity - every fall is also an opportunity for a step up."
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is the fourth and first female President of the Republic of Croatia (2015-2020). She has broken many glass ceilings, including being the first female Deputy Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) and Croatia's first Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States of America.
Parallel to her diplomatic and political career, she has pursued an academic career in governance, international relations and security studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, George Washington University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Zagreb.
She is the recipient of the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Award and a number of national and international awards, decorations, honorary doctorates and honorary citizenships. She has initiated, organized, and participated as a keynote speaker and/or panelist in numerous security, academic, professional, and other public events around the world, and has authored several articles and other contributions on national and international issues.
She is a seasoned policymaker and national and international diplomat with experience and expertise in geopolitical studies, transatlantic relations, Western Balkans and Southeastern Europe, European and Eurasian studies, relations with Russia, interfaith and intercultural relations, post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation, gender issues, global security issues, and many other aspects of international relations and security policy.
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is the 4th and 1st female President of the Republic of Croatia (2015-2020). She had pushed many a glass ceiling, having served, among other, as the first female Assistant Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as Croatia’s first female Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to the United States of America.
Parallel to her diplomatic and political careers, she has vigorously pursued an academic career in government, international relations and security studies at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy, George Washington University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Zagreb.
She is a recipient of the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Award and a number of national and international awards, decorations, honorary doctorates and honorary citizenships. She has initiated and organized, as well as participated in, as key note speaker and/or panelist, in countless security, academic, specialized and other public events around the world and has written several articles and other pieces on national and international issues.
She is an experienced politician and national and international diplomat, with experience and expertise in geopolitical studies, the Trans-Atlantic relationship, the Western Balkans and Southeast Europe, European and Eurasian studies, relations with Russia, inter-faith and inter-cultural relations, post-conflict building and reconciliation, gender issues, global security issues and many other aspects of international relations and security policies.