The American Embassy came to LundNews
Facing a student audience, Mark Brzezinski, the American ambassador in Stockholm, attempted to promote higher education in the USA. But the students were more interested in political topics.
The event was organised by UPF Lund (Association of Foreign Affairs) and Lund University and was open to all the student community. With the presidential elections in the United States being held in less than one month, much of the discussion and questions from the audience were focused on that subject.
A Counsellor from the American embassy in Stockholm started the lecture by encouraging students from Lund University to consider pursuing studies at universities in the United States, whether as exchange or as degree-seeking students. Ambassador Brzezinski followed and did the same.
The topics of the discussion, however, quickly changed; and after a short, rather informal and even humorous speech from Mark Brzezinski, the questions from the students in the audience did not address applications to American universities or visas but rather political issues.
When asked by Joakim Henriksson, a former intern at the Swedish Embassy in Washington, about possible misconceptions in Sweden regarding American politics, the Ambassador advised the students not to give “too much importance to the tone of the debates”, but to their content instead.
Some of the questions were answered in a typical diplomatic manner, even if Mark Brzezinski always tried to include a personal feeling in his statements. An Italian-Libyan student raised a question about the Libyan rebels who recently killed the American Ambassador in Tripoli, Christopher Stevens, and who apparently had been supported by the United States against Muammar Gaddafi before.
Ambassador Brzezinski said that “we are still figuring out what happened, but the most important was the message that Ambassador Stevens let us: that going out and talk to the people matters, and not just seating behind the embassy walls”.
Having been involved in the previous presidential campaign for Barack Obama, one of the differences between the candidates was their different approaches to the Iranian nuclear programme, stated Brzezinski. Always referring to the democratic candidate as “President Obama” and to the republican as “Governor Romney”, he pointed out that “President Obama has a special sensitivity towards poverty” and that elections “do matter”.
“There are real differences between the candidates, although there is a great sense of unity in the United States”, concluded the Ambassador.