Visit of British Ambassador

H.E. Andrew Dalgleish, Her Majesty’s Ambassador from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Republic of Croatia, spent some time at the University of Rijeka as a part of his visit to Rijeka. An Inaugural Reception was held at the University of Rijeka Rectorate and later on H.E. held a lecture for the students at the University of Rijeka Campus about the British-Croatian relations and visited the supercomputer ‘’Bura’’. The lecture was an introduction to marking the World Science Day for Peace and Development, which was organized later that day by the Student Union of the University of Rijeka.

The Ambassador Dalgleish presented his credentials as Britain’s new Ambassador to Croatia to the President of Croatia, Mrs. Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, on July 12, 2016. Today’s meeting at the Rectorate represented the inaugural visit to the University of Rijeka. H.E. signed an entry in the University of Rijeka guestbook.

In addition to the University of Rijeka Rector, Snježana Prijić-Samaržija, Ph.D., Vice-Rector Prof. Sanja Barić, Ph.D., and Vice-Rector Prof. Goran Turkalj, Ph.D., were also present at the reception.

The Ambassador was accompanied by other members of the delegation: Mr. Gary Walker, Head of the Research and Project sector Future City Glasgow, Mr. Tomislav Kaznačić, Deputy Head of the Political Department and Mrs. Renata Škalabrin from the British Embassy in Zagreb. 

The Ambassador expressed British Government's readiness to continue the cooperation with higher education institutions within and outside the European Union, regardless of Brexit. The University expressed readiness for cooperation, especially when it comes to cultural events and manifestations, and there was also some discussion about the initiative for the British Days in Rijeka revival. It was also agreed that the Ambassador will join the representatives of the British Council during one of their future visits to the University when the details of future cooperation will be determined.

Mr. Dalgleish touched upon the current situation when the United Kingdom is exiting the European Union: ''When I was first assigned the position of the Ambassador to Croatia, we conducted a small-scale research regarding the Croats' impressions of Great Britain and the Brits. One of the questions was ''What do you think about Brexit?''. The answers varied from 'It's a shame and a treason', 'I don't care' to 'Good for them'.

The Ambassador asked the students for a selfie, and after that, he explained the importance of political and diplomatic institutions' presence on social media. ''I hardly ever speak to the British Prime Minister, rather more with the people. The whole point in my opinion is to reach out to the people and show the Croats all the good things Great Britain does, and then to accept feedback. Generally, the authorities should listen to those who had elected them for a certain term-in-office, so any collaboration between two countries should be based on that.''

He then mentioned one of the crucial links between our two countries – tourism and emphasized the fact that around 700,000 Brits visited Croatia this year and even though they might not be the most common visitors, they still spend the most money.  

He pointed out how the British government reacted to a lot of their scientists’ concerns with the fact that by leaving the EU, they will be losing many common fundamentals of funding for scientific projects and research. In fact, the British government raised the science budget for as much as £4.7 billion. ‘’Our people have decided to leave the European Union. The same as we decided to join it, now we decided to leave it. Although a lot of people are against our country leaving the EU, we have made a decision and we need to stick to it. We wish to leave such integration without causing any damage to the European Union or our country. That’s the point of democracy’’, Mr. Dalgleish concluded.

When asked about the three primary problems seen from the perspective of someone from outside of Croatia, the Ambassador listed the following:
1. To resolve the situation with elderly population, i.e. demographic renewal,
2. To significantly improve business environment and to overcome bureaucratic barriers to investment,
3. Diversify the economy – try not to rely on tourism only since it's subject to ''trends''.

The British Embassy Delegation ended their visit to the University touring the supercomputer ''Bura'' with their guide, Full Prof. Zlatan Car, Ph.D., Head of the Center for Advanced Computing and Modeling.