Nurturing good relations with French HEIs

12.02.2024. / news / Int. Cooperation

H.E. Mr. Fabien Fieschi, Ambassador of the French Republic to the Republic of Croatia, visited the UNIRI Rectorate on Monday, February 12, 2024, where he was greeted by the Rector, Prof. Snježana Prijić Samaržija, Ph.D., and Vice-rector for Studies, Students and QA, Prof. Marta Žuvić, Ph.D.

Ambassador Fieschi heard only the best about the University of Rijeka from his predecessors, and he was especially interested in the role of our university in YUFE and the relationship with other universities in the Alliance. Explaining how YUFE arose from Macron’s idea of European universities, Rector Prijić Samaržija explained the strategic importance of universities joining in alliances and the added value of exchanging ideas and knowledge. Since last year, YUFE has one new member, Sorbonne Nouvelle University, which provides students with new opportunities to learn French language and culture (through courses offered in the virtual campus). It also represents a stellar opportunity for further deepening of cooperation between Croatian and French researchers. One of new possible avenues of collaboration may be the establishment of a French language lectorate in Rijeka.

Madam Rector expressed her regret that the planned cooperation with French colleagues from Science Po Bordeaux (Institut d’études politiques) in the field of political science was not realized due to the pandemic, but the Ambassador offered help in reconnecting and reviving those ideas conceived in 2019.

Mr. Fieschi is also very well informed about the University’s activities in the field of interreligious dialogue and diplomacy. He reminded us of the online lecture held in April 2021 by Mr. Jean-Christophe Peaucelle, Advisor for Religious Affairs at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as part of the second session of the Inter-religious Dialogue and Diplomacy Commitee of the University of Rijeka.

In a relaxed conversation, the participants referred to contemporary demographic challenges that, among other things, have a negative impact on higher education (decline in the number of students, brain drain, study programs that are no longer attractive). As the Ambassador claims, in a world that is advancing more and more technologically every day, humanities and social sciences will always be needed to serve as a kind of “compass”.

Ambassador Fieschi graduated from the Institute for Political Studies in 1993, and later spent time as an exchange student in Japan (Keio University). Shortly after completing his studies in Japan, he began to build a diplomatic career: he was an attache at the Consulate General of the French Republic in Tokyo, a diplomat on exchange at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, first secretary at the French Embassy in Japan, and head of the political department of the Delegation of the EU in Tokyo. He later spent several years in Boston, where he developed a keen interest in digitization and information systems.

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