By SUSAN MANUS
Erhard Busek, former vice chancellor of Austria and now Phillips Visiting Professor at Duke University, delivered the Vienna Lecture on Nov. 3 at the Library on "Austria's Role in the Development of Eastern and Southeastern Europe."
Mr. Busek was chosen by his European colleagues last December as the coordinator of the Southeastern European Cooperative Initiative (SECI), initiated by the U.S. National Security Council. The SECI participating states are: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey. Mr. Busek met with Dr. Billington before delivering his lecture, which had been arranged by Margrit B. Krewson, the Library's German/Dutch area specialist.
Mr. Busek believes it is necessary to look back to understand the current woes of Austria. He noted that for more than 40 years, until 1989, Austria was at the edge of the West and now finds itself back in the center of Europe. This "Alp-Adriatic-Danube region," as he called it, with its amalgamation of peoples and languages, can serve as an example of cooperation and coexistence. But the current southeastern Europe borders -- the results of "wars, treaties and even dynastic marriages -- are everything but natural" and must not stand in the way of cooperation on common problems.
The geopolitical composition of the Danube region is varied: some states are members of the European Union (EU), some have association agreements with the EU and others are without any formal association. What he hopes does not happen is the hanging of "a new kind of curtain," not from the East, but from the West over concerns about trade, immigration, finance, crime or other issues. He believes that the SECI can play a significant role by encouraging cooperation among member states.
The SECI will emphasize increased involvement by the private sector in regional economic and environmental efforts through joint projects, meetings, conferences and project groups. Mr. Busek's role as SECI coordinator is to facilitate the creation of project groups that will make specific recommendations for action in the areas of trade, transportation, business development, energy conservation, natural resources and environmental protection of the Danube River.