Cox Center Director Becker Joins Journalists Discussing European Union Enlargement Plans

Alumni and current participants in eight U.S.-German exchange programs for journalists got an update on European Expansion plans and related topics from key German, Polish and U.S. officials in a week-long seminar held in January in the German and Polish capitals.

Enlargement of the European Union serves the interests of all three countries, the officials said, and the inclusion of Poland as one of the first countries to join the EU in the next few years is great value to countries already a part of the EU, to Poland itself and to the United States.

"No enlargement would mean we would have two Europes," German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer said. "We would have a Europe of integration and a Europe of individual nation states."

"I do not think there is any alternative to European integration for Poland," Polish Prime Minister Liszek Miller told the group. "Either we join the family of nations with the best economies, with long-standing democracies, with a history of a high standard of civilization, or we find ourselves on the periphery of such civilizations."

"We are old friends albeit new allies," Christopher Hill, U.S. ambassador to Poland said of U.S.-Polish relationships. "We do not see a conflict between Poland's entry into the EU and maintaining a strong relationship with the United States."

The approximately 60 participating journalists were either alumni of, or current participants in, journalism exchange programs sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Atlantik-Bruecke, the German-American Fulbright Commission, International Journalists' Programmes, the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, the Koerber Foundation, RIAS Berlin Kommission, and the Robert Bosch Foundation.

The journalists represented organizations such as CNN, The New York Times, Barrons, Reuters, Der Tagesspiegel, National Public Radio and Cox Newspapers. Most of the journalists were Americans.

Cox Center Director Dr. Lee B. Becker was one of two U.S. journalism professors in the workshop, both invited to participate by RIAS Berlin Kommission. The Cox Center has hosted three groups of German journalists visiting the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, in which the Cox Center is housed, as part of an exchange organized by RIAS.

Doctoral students from the Grady College also have traveled to Germany under the auspices of RIAS in the summer of 2000 and the summer of 2001.

Prof. Marguerite Moritz, associate dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Colorado, also participated in the EU workshop in Berlin and Warsaw. The University of Colorado also has hosted visiting journalists as part of the RIAS exchange.

In addition to Minister Fischer, the journalists met with and conducted interviews in Berlin with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Daniel Coates, Angela Markel, chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union party in Germany, and Johannes Rau, German federal president. In addition to the meetings in Warsaw with Prime Minister Miller and Ambassador Hill, the group met with German Ambassador to Poland Frank Elbe, Jerzy Jaskiernia, chairman of the Polish parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, and Jan Skorzynski, chief editor of the Polish daily newspaper, Rzeczpospolita.

The conference began in Berlin on January 12 with a sight-seeing tour of Berlin, which has changed dramatically in recent years as it has assumed the role of capital of the united Germany. Participants also toured the remodeled Reichstag, where the German parliament meets, and the newly opened Jewish Museum as part of the Berlin segment of the conference.

In Warsaw the group toured the old town center, painstakingly rebuilt after it had been destroyed by Germany in World War II, and the Sejm, the meeting place of the Polish Parliament. The conference ended with a farewell dinner in a restaurant in the old town on January 18.

Fifteen states now make up the European Union. All but three also began using a single currency, the Euro, on January 1, 2002. The successful introduction of the currency was a topic of conversation in the workshop, as was the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Poland became a member of NATO in 1999, along with the Czech Republic and Hungary, and is on a list of 13 countries that have applied for and are considered possible candidates for EU admission in the next several years.

A frequent, though unscheduled, topic of the Berlin-Warsaw conference was the terrorist attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

German Chancellor Schroeder reported how a staff member came into his office on that date to tell him about the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Schroeder said he and his staff then turned to CNN to watch events unfold.

"I was speechless," he said simply.

Dr. Becker joined a group of American journalists participating in a RIAS program in Berlin in October of 2001, as did Dr. C. Ann Hollifield, a faculty member in the Department of Telecommunications in the Grady College at the University of Georgia. Dr. Hollifield has worked closely with the RIAS German journalists when they have come to the University of Georgia.

Dr. Becker also was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany in 1981 and 1991-1992, and Dr. Hollifield was a Bosch Fellow in 1991-1992.