Austrian Ambassador Jan Kickert permanent representative of Austria to the United Nations, addressed students on campus about the importance of Austria and the U.N. on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

Kickert has held various positions within the Austrian government and was ambassador from Croatia to Austria until 2011. Prior to his position in the U.N., he served as Director General for Political Affairs of the Austrian Ministry

“The United Nations, in New York, is the only place where every nation of the world is represented; where every nation of the world can say what their big issue is,” Kickert said.

Kickert discussed Austria’s role during World War I,World War II and the Cold War to then its move onto foreign policy. He went on further to discuss the importance of Austria’s move to join the U.N.

A question asked during the Q&A was how the current U.S. president’s decisions impact Austria. Kickert explained how Austria’s new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, who is in fact Europe’s youngest head of government is to meet with President Trump Wednesday, Feb. 20th and be acknowledged at the White House. This Kickert stated is the first time Austria has been acknowledged in the White House in 14 years.

“What you find in natural politics is people [either] talk to each other or talk past each other. What you really want is somehow to create a venue where people talk with each other,” Kickert said.

Present affairs, such as Austria’s Peace Treaty that bans the use and possession of nuclear weapons for the safety of humans, were brought in. The International Community was also a subtopic to discuss such problems as treaties concerning weapons, air quality, immigration, border walls, etc.

Giving an example similar to America’s Kickert describes political issues Austrians debate. Austria is struggling with their border line laws as Kickert said, “Everything starts with your neighborhood. With foreign policy the biggest building block is with your neighborhood, if you can’t arrange yourself with your neighbors you will never live with peace and stability.”

“Having student access to ambassadors is really important,” said Samuel Elzinga, President of the Utah International Mountain Forum, when asked why ambassadors speaking to students was important. “One of the primary goals of the United Nations is engaging youth and one of the easiest ways is by bringing ambassadors to come talk about their countries.”

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