• 13 February 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Strengthening cross-border governance: Peace border

    Bárbara Gómez, a democratic governance agent of the EUROsociAL+ programme gives us her vision on the border situation at the Uruguay river basin, shared by Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, and EUROsociAL+ efforts to promote good governance at the borders.

    We are in the southernmost triple border of Americabetween Barra de Quaraí (Brazil), Bella Unión (Uruguay) and Monte Caseros (Argentina). This border’s lands share, among many other things, the trinational basin of the Uruguay River, which, throughout its course, involves the territories of Uruguay (mainly coastal departments, but not only these); the coasts of the provinces of Entre Ríos, Corrientes and Misiones of Argentina, and half of the area of the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina of Brazil.

    In these moments of migratory upheaval, it is becoming increasingly necessary to encourage dialogue between those communities that share territory and many times the same needs, but are in different countries. To promote spaces of good cross-border governance and, therefore, “Peace Border” spaces.

    People who live in the tri-national basin of the Uruguay River have a shared identity that feeds on itself every day, generating a spirit of constant coexistence. The entire area is characterised by a relatively homogeneous population concentrated in a small number of urban centres. Quality of life indicators are relatively high compared to other areas of Latin America. Nevertheless, they also share problems that recur throughout the basin. On numerous occasions, people from the same family live in different municipalities belonging to different countries. Solutions to everyday problems are difficult when these people face bureaucratic hurdles where the laws between the three countries are not homogenised/mutually recognised Or, for example, living on one side of the border and working on another often causes situations of inequality due to incompatibility of the currency and its value, among other things. The same applies to language in the case of Brazil, which, from a positive perspective, also brings cultural enrichment.

    All this evolution of circumstances with which the citizens of the border live requires special attention from the governance of public policies charged with meeting the needs of a particularly idiosyncratic population. Helping to strengthen the interrelationship between public authorities at different levels, as well as with external relations between countries, is a major effort, but at the same time a fascinating challenge that brings us back to territorial cohesion framework.

    The workshop on Challenges for the sustainable development of the Trinational Basin of the Uruguay River was an opportunity to start a joint reflection on how to generate comprehensive policies for better integration and impact on the processes, generating better opportunities for the development and social cohesion of shared territories.  Stakeholders from nations, as well as sub-national and local authorities, civil society representatives and bi-national organisations, all participated in this activity at the end of September 2019, which allowed different representatives from the three countries involved to sit at the table with a multilevel perspective. All of this is based on the logic of establishing a roadmap for improving governance, understood as the effective implementation of social inclusion mechanisms and the improvement of the perception that citizens have of themselves (according to the ECLAC definition). To achieve this, the aim was to establish tasks and responsibilities to develop strategies and policies to build trust and strengthen social cohesion, facing the asymmetries generated by the peripheral and border condition of the territory. In this case, the roadmap opted to establish mechanisms for a more effective linkage of local entities with existing structures and strategies for the basin’s management[1].

    It is important to note that the Uruguay River is not only the territory’s main economic development vector, but also the backbone of the cultural, educational, environmental and social dimension of this stretch of the basin, in which there are prior links and ties that require greater planning and cooperation between stakeholders.

    From the + EUROsociAL programme we have been accompanying the Uruguay Mayors Congress, which is leading the initiative, in the development and strengthening of integration strategies in the territories of the cross-border basins of the Uruguay River and Merin Lagoon to channel the development possibilities of the cross-border areas with a watershed approach, strengthening governance and empowering local and subnational governments. Likewise, the Committee for the Development of the Uruguay River Basin (CCRU), has been established as a strategic coordination space for the subnational and local governments of this region shared by Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. This workshop is one of the activities that will contribute to the achievement of improved governance result in these border areas. The European experiences presented will also help to visualise successful processes of equal importance, and inspire dialogue between regions where geography does not distinguish between nationalities.  In the words of Trías (1985), “Reality becomes denser in limits.”

    Bárbara Gómez Valcárcel. Democratic Governance Technician. EUROsociAL +

     

    [1] Roadmap prepared by Jose María Cruz, AEBR (Association of European Border Regions) in collaboration with experts: Marcos Pedro Follonier and Hamilton Santos Rodríguez commissioned by the EUROsociAL + Programme

  • 23 January 2020

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    Posteado en : Entrevista

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    “Twinning programmes generate not only economic, but also human and social, wealth”

    Manuel Larrotcha, the Spanish ambassador to Romania and Moldova since the end of 2018, receives us at the Spanish embassy in Bucharest

    Could you give us a snapshot of Romania in 2020? 

    Romania is a little known country in Western Europe. Institutionally, its semi-presidential system resembles the French model. Its geographical location, bordering as it does the Black Sea, explains its geostrategic interest and importance. Things happen in this area, such as the Russian occupation of Crimea.  

    Moreover, Romania constitutes the current eastern frontier of the European Union. And it is important to see matters from the perspective of this end of the European territory. 

    Talk to us about the social context. 

    The social situation is stable. Romanian society is a traditional society: more traditional than the Spanish one, without a doubt. Things that we now consider part of our daily lives, such as gay marriage, have yet to be legislated for here. Socially speaking, apart from its traditional character, the welcoming and friendly manner in which Romanians receive foreigners is particularly noteworthy. They are a very hospitable people. 

    Romania’s Achilles heel is, I believe, its drop in population; five million Romanians have emigrated in the last ten years. Once the exodus began it has not let up. Unfortunately, the youngest and the most educated are the ones who most easily find well-paid jobs in Western Europe. Of those five million, one million settled in Spain. This situation has created a bottleneck, because the Romanian economy needs manpower. This ongoing drop in population is not helping at all. 

    And its economy? 

    Income levels still lag behind the European average. Consequently, they are still in the process of catching up with the rest of Europe. Nonetheless, the country scores well in terms of its natural resources; it has both gas and oil, not to mention a very powerful farming sector. And it has industry: Dacia cars, which are sold in Spain and, indeed, throughout Europe, are made here in Romania, along with a thriving auxiliary industry. 

    A very interesting market, the country offers many possibilities. Opportunities abound in the infrastructure sector: roads, motorways, railways, high-speed lines; practically everything needs doing. 

    Why do you think there is such a close relationship between Spain and Romania, regardless of the fact that we are EU and NATO partners? 

    This bond comes from way back: our common belonging to the Roman Empire, our shared Latinity and the linguistic proximity of Spanish and Romanian, etc.  

    There were no diplomatic relations with Romania when Franco was in power. But when they were eventually reopened in 1975, Spanish companies began to discover some very interesting markets here. Obviously, when Romania entered the European Union, there was a considerable population movement of Romanians to Spain. Accordingly, there are many ties between the countries, ranging from human, economic and social to historical and cultural. All of which serves to strengthen a not only very intense, but also a very complete, relationship. 

    What is Romania’s role in the European Union? 

    Romania was one of the last countries to enter the EU, along with Bulgaria. It is particularly concerned with avoiding any widening of the gap that exists between Eastern and Western Europe within the EU. This can be achieved by maintaining or increasing the financial resources allocated to social policies (which include the cohesion policy) and to the Common Agricultural Policy. There is no doubt that Romania needs support. lt needs solidarity and cohesion within the Union and the rest of the member countries are also under an obligation to provide this solidarity. We, the Spanish people, saw how, in the 1980s and 1990s, Spain underwent considerable changes owing to the generosity and solidarity received from our European partners. 

    What role did cooperation play in Romania’s accession to the EU? 

    Development cooperation, understood in the classical sense of the term, had nothing to do with it. However, if what we mean by this is cooperation as technical assistance and twinning-like programmes, Romania benefited from these long before 2007. After the dictatorship of Ceaușescu, this country was in an awful state from all points of view, including the administrative one. Its administrative capacity was practically non-existent. This meant that during the entire pre-accession period Brussels had to provide Romania with what is called capacity building. Technical assistance proved to be one of the best tools to achieve this. 

    Romania gradually created groups of public officials with management skills: first to develop programmes, then to properly manage them and, thirdly, to account for how the financial flows that had been allocated to those programmes had been managed. Accordingly, Brussels made a big effort in Romania with twinning programmes, in which FIIAPP was always very active. 

    Even so, I think that Romania still has some way to go in this area. There is a lot still to be done, for example, with respect to infrastructure: there are very few motorways in relation to the country’s size and population. 

    Nonetheless, do you think twinning has been beneficial? 

    I think it has. You only get out of it what you put in. And I believe that they generate, not only economic, but human and social, wealth as well. 

    I was very much involved in a twinning programme in Turkey and I can assure you that there are hundreds of gendarmes in Turkey today who are doing their job a lot better than they would have if it had not been for these kinds of EU programmes in which FIIAPP has been, and continues to be, the executive arm.  

    Moreover, I had worked with FIIAPP before. 

    I worked with FIIAPP for three years in the Rabat Process; a process in which Spain played a very prominent role. In fact, our country continues to be present in the steering committee for that process. In 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 we managed to get Brussels to allocate funds to this initiative and to involve the European Commission in the north-western Atlantic migratory routes. I found it a very positive experience. We organised loads of meetings, in Brussels, in Ouagadougou and in Madrid. I worked a lot with FIIAPP staff.  

    During those years, I noted the ease with which FIIAPP engaged with the Administration. And the guidelines to which FIIAPP worked were in keeping with the Spanish authorities’ migration policy at that time, which made engagement between FIIAPP and the Administration relatively easy and always very positive. 

  • 16 January 2020

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    Posteado en : Entrevista

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    FIIAPP Expatriates: Angel Vicente López Muriel

    Although before leaving for Turkey, they gave us many instructions when you arrive in Turkey, it is like discovering it for the first time

    Ángel Vicente López Muriel, coordinator of the Twinning project ‘Better Management of Terrorists and Dangerous Criminals in Prisons and Prevention of Radicalisation‘, which is being carried out in Turkey, tells us about his experience as a FIIAPP expatriate, his adaptation to Turkey and his daily routine in the country.

    What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest? 

    The hardest thing I have had to do has been to get my residence card. First they needed one document, then another, first I had to go to this office, then another. And finally you realise that this is a country where who you know is very important.  

    The easiest, walking the streets of Ankara. You have a true sense of security. You can leave your wallet or mobile on the table without worrying because when you return they will still be there and this is not possible in many Spanish cities. 

    Is this your first experience of living outside Spain? Is it proving to be very different from your previous ones? 

    I lived in France for many years. Turkey is more similar to Spain in the character of its people than France. However, Spanish cities are more like French cities. I think that Turkey is still a little behind the level of Europe, of course as far as the big cities are concerned. 

    What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain? 

    Office work is similar in terms of administrative work with the difference being that everything here focuses on the project and we always have time limits hanging over us. And another important difference is that we have to manage relations with the beneficiaries (with regard to customs and language) and also the relationships between the beneficiaries and the experts and the participants in the project. 

    How is your relationship with your colleagues and with FIIAPP? 

    Well, although before leaving for Turkey, they gave us many instructions and recommendations, when you arrive in Turkey and live there, it is like discovering it for the first time. Almost everything is different from what I was told, there is always a last minute change in a process that disrupts it, for example, with the phones, we have to pay fees, there were issues with the residence permit, etc.  

    Regarding project management, there are some issues that should be managed by FIIAPP directly with Brussels, as the CFCU responsible for the project’s administrative management puts many obstacles in our way and applies the twinning manual at its own discretion.  

    The relationship with the other RTAs is superb, we share problems and we all try to manage and solve them. 

    How would you rate your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?

    As I said before, FIIAPP provides us with very important logistical support so the project is able to progress. However, the problem we have raised, which could be solved by a call to EU officials, has not been managed. 

    Any experience or anecdote worth highlighting from your arrival/adaptation to the country? 

    One anecdote is when I went to get my hair cut for the first time. If you are very demanding about your haircut you will have to be very patient and choose your hairdresser carefully.  The first time I got my hair cut, when I left I had no choice but to put my hood up and cover my head. 

  • 12 December 2019

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    Posteado en : Reportage

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    Ghana and FIIAPP together against corruption

    9 December is International Anti-Corruption Day and ARAP Ghana, a project managed by FIIAPP, is accompanying Ghanaian institutions in their fight against this crime

    INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY

    The United Nations has established 9 December  as International Anti-Corruption Day. The purpose of this international day is for the media and the organisations involved to contribute to raising awareness of this problem among the public at large.

    By corruption we mean “the abuse of power, of functions or means to obtain an economic or other benefit.” If we refer to the etymological origin of the Latin “corruptio”, we find that the original meaning of the term is “action and effect of breaking into pieces.” Corruption is a scourge which, as stated in the United Nations Convention against Corruption, approved on 31 October 2003, threatens the stability and security of societies and undermines justice. As its Latin root indicates, it “breaks apart” both the institutions and the ethical and democratic values of the societies that suffer from it.

    In addition, it is a transnational phenomenon in which organised crime usually takes part, resulting in other types of crime such as trafficking in human beings and money laundering.

    To combat it, it is essential to promote international cooperation and technical assistance and, for this international cooperation agents such as FIIAPP play a key role.

    CORRUPTION IN GHANA

    Corruption continues to be a problem that has permeated all sectors of Ghana’s society and economy. With its devastating effects, it impedes sustainable development and is a threat to human rights. It could be said that corruption has been identified as one of the main causes of poverty, deprivation and underdevelopment. In the particular case of Ghana, the prevalence of corruption has resulted in poor provision of services and a lack of access to other basic services such as health and education. Corruption is also a threat to Ghana’s democratic ideals, in particular the rule of law, justice and equality before the law.

    According to the 2018 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Ghana ranks 78th out of 180 countries.

    THE ARAP-GHANA PROJECT

    The Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme (ARAP), funded by the European Union and implemented by FIIAPP, has been supporting the efforts of the Ghanaian government to reduce corruption for three years.

    The aim of the project is to promote good governance and support national reform, in order to improve accountability and strengthen anti-corruption initiatives throughout the country. To this end, it works together with the relevant government institutions and other national strategic partners while at the same time improving accountability and respect for existing legal structures.

    In addition, it acts as a support programme for the government in implementing the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP), Ghana’s national anti-corruption strategy ratified by Parliament in 2014, which aims to create a democratic and sustainable Ghanaian society based on good governance and endowed with a high degree of ethics and integrity.

    ANTI-CORRUPTION AND TRANSPARENCY WEEK

    In light of this problem, from 2 to 9 December Accra, the country’s capital, held the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Week (ACT) in which the Government, the public and private sectors, academia, the media, civil society and the general public all took part. The week was organised by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) supported by the ARAP programme.

    The purpose of ACT Week was to create a platform for assessing the impact of the NACAP in the first five years of its implementation and strengthening the commitment of the implementing partners in the remaining five years of the NACAP; to raise awareness among Ghanaians of the perverse effects of corrupt practices; to advocate for sustained collaboration and inter-institutional partnership in the fight against corruption as well as for the need to provide adequate resources to anti-corruption agencies; and to promote the use of international cooperation instruments in the fight against corruption.

    The week included a large number of activities, both nationally and regionally. These included the international forum on money laundering and asset recovery, international cooperation in legal and other areas; the forum on integrity for youth; the NACAP high-level conference; the presentation of integrity awards; and the observance of international anti-corruption and human rights days.

    The work of ARAP will continue not only during the week but every day until the end of the programme in December 2020, because the fight is not just for one week, but for every day of the year.

    Text created with the collaboration of Sandra Quiroz, communication specialist of ARAP Ghana

     

  • 19 September 2019

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    COPOLAD, EL PAcCTO, EUROsociAL+ and the value of joint work in Latin America and the Caribbean

    These projects, financed by the European Union and in whose management the FIIAPP participates, hold a high-level bi-regional conference today in Montevideo on alternative measures to the deprivation of liberty

    With the presence of numerous European and Latin American authorities, COPOLAD, EL PAcCTO and EUROsociAL+ combine efforts, work, discourse and media in this conference with the aim of achieving a greater impact of the issue on society.

    The conference was closed with a broad agreement formalised in a joint declaration ratified by all the representatives of the participating Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as by the European Union and by the three regional cooperation programmes organising the event: COPOLAD II, THE COURT and EUROsociAL+.

    Each from its perspective, in this post the three projects highlight the common dimension that they share around alternative measures to imprisonment.

     

    COPOLAD and the importance of coordination between institutions

    In recent years, several alternative measures to prison have shown encouraging results by reducing, in some prisons, the overpopulation and with it, the problems associated with this situation. The lecture will explain the main lines of action in this area, which have shown positive results, consistently and in different social contexts, in relation to overcrowding and in addressing other associated problems. In this context, and in order to explore the successful alternatives implemented in some countries and the evaluation of their benefits, an aspect that is common, basic and essential for ensuring success in the application of any alternative measure will be considered.

    This key factor is the need for inter-institutional coordination, a concept that is easy to formulate but more complex to apply. Inter-institutional coordination has proven to be at the centre of any action that promotes the development of public policies in the field of alternatives to prison if they are to be effective (evidence-based), efficient and aligned with development goals, especially the protection of human rights, the empowerment of women, the promotion of public health and good governance.

    With this in mind, the conference will provide an opportunity to look more in-depth at what inter-institutional coordination means in this area, the implications of facing the many challenges of developing and managing opportunities and the coordination mechanisms (multisectoral platforms and tools) that must exist to improve horizontal cooperation between the judicial system and the security forces, as well as between social and healthcare services.

    Teresa Salvador-Llivina is director of COPOLAD and Claudia Liebers is responsible for Institutional Relations and Project Strategy.

     

    EL PAcCTO: the relationship between alternative measures to prison and organised crime

     

    Worldwide, and Latin America is no exception, many states have a prison overpopulation that sometimes reaches alarming levels. Overcrowding is an evil in itself, since in addition to affecting the human dignity of persons deprived of liberty, it prevents or greatly complicates the correct implementation of social reintegration programmes, the physical separation between dangerous detainees and minor criminals or first-time offenders.  

    Numerous international studies underline that prison cannot be the only solution for dealing with crime and show that, frequently, it becomes a crime school, favouring the proliferation of criminal groups that act inside and outside the detention centres, putting the safety of convicts and society as a whole at risk.  There are several criminal organisations that have emerged and have been strengthened in the prison environment, taking advantage of the weaknesses of the systems due to high overpopulation.  

    Therefore, one of the main concerns of EL PAcCTO is the need to support the execution and use of alternative measures to deprivation of liberty, considering them as essential to easing congestion in prison systems and focusing attention on the most dangerous persons deprived of their liberty, who can recruit followers in prisons. For these reasons, we consider that the measures are also an essential tool for the fight against organised crime

    In addition, alternative measures are a transversal issue that need a holistic approach, strong coordination and lead to cultural change and a shared approach among all the actors involved also in terms of external communication.  

    Giovanni Tartaglia Polcini is the coordinator of the EL PAcCTO Prison systems component, Lorenzo Tordelli is the thematic co-coordinator-manager and Nathalie Boissou is the deputy coordinator.

     

    EUROsociAL + , favouring social insertion and the abandoning of crime

     

    In Montevideo, the EUROsociAL+ programmes, together with El PACcTO and COPOLAD, are currently organising a bi-regional conference on alternative measures to deprivation of liberty. All three, each from its own perspective, have addressed this issue, converging on common problems that make us work in the same direction.

     Imprisonment as a penalty, which should be a last resort, has been used indiscriminately in Latin America. There has been an exponential growth in the prison population in recent decades. This overpopulation, which has caused problems of overcrowding, health, and violence, has been questioned to the extent that it has shown not to be able to favour social insertion processes, nor has it had a deterrent effect reducing re-offending, or positive effects on social rehabilitation 

     The social cohesion approach, which the EUROsociAL+ programme promotes, is closely linked to the development and use of alternative measures to deprivation of liberty, not only because inequality contributes to violence, and this in a programme that aims to reduce all kinds of inequalities, but because in their eagerness to “leave no-one behind”, the question that should interest us above all is not why do criminals commit crimes? but why do they stop committing crimes? The search for actions that favour the decision to abandon crime is the key in the processes of social insertion of offenders and in alternative measures.

    A special focus will be given to women deprived of their liberty in this conference. Despite the fact that the percentage is much lower than that of men, the number of women imprisoned in the region has almost tripled in recent decades. This growth is very fast and proportionally much higher than that of men. These trends should be a concern for governments and the prison system, still lacking or indifferent in dealing with the specific needs of women. It is urgent, therefore, to incorporate the gender perspective.

    Of course, the application of alternative measures cannot be incorporated without the backing of reliable administrative action. Implementation requires a framework of action with rehabilitative measures that allow judges to give real consideration and offenders to take responsibility for their actions and change and abandon crime.

    Sonia González Fuentes is coordinator of the Democratic Governance policy area of EUROsociAL+ at FIIAPP.

    Imagen

     

  • 16 August 2019

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    Posteado en : Entrevista

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    FIIAPP Expatriates: Severino Falcón

    "Talks with other experts and learning about the point of view of the other side of the Mediterranean is a very enriching experience"

    Severino Falcón, coordinator of the “Improvement of the Tunisian research and innovation system” project and chief technical adviser of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities tells us about his experience during his initial months in Tunisia: his first mission and his first experience living abroad.

     

    How long have you been in Tunisia? 

    Six months.

     

    How have you adapted to this country?

    To answer this question, I must stress that it is my first mission. So, in the beginning, I went carefully, but as the days have gone by, adapting has been easy, smooth and comfortable. A critical point was having an apartment to live in. Once you have accommodation, if you are happy living there, it makes it easier to adapt. In the case of Tunisia, having a small Spanish community to rely on was very helpful. 

     

    What has been the most difficult aspect to adapt to, and the easiest?

    First of all, my family. But with new technologies and transport, the distance is not such an issue.

    Another difficult issue is speaking Tunisian and … running. Outside the capital, there are plenty of nice places to run. But the city of Tunis is not very attractive for running. 

    The people here are the easiest aspect. They are very friendly.

     

    Is this your first experience outside of Spain? 

    Yes. It is my first experience. 

     

    What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?

    We are doing a project with defined activities. This makes it easier to know what to do. It’s new to me, and during the last six months, my daily routine has been focused on helping to get the project up and running. For this, the experience and advice of Raphael, project manager, and each supervisor, team member and an expert who participated, have been very important. 

    In the past I was on the other side of the project, that is to say, convening and tracking projects of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and the State Agency for Investigation.

     

    What is your relationship like with the FIIAPP team in Madrid? 

    Basically, my relationship with the FIIAPP is through Yessica, the technician who manages the project, who I talk to and send emails to every day. I work with her to find ways to include the activities proposed into the project’s framework. It isn’t easy, since ideas often come up that are not feasible (such as changing the direction of a mission). Nancy joined us recently, and she is helping with mission logistics and travel for the experts. In short, the relationship, at least on my part, is very good… Now you will have to ask Yessica and Nancy.

     

    And with your colleagues in Tunisia?

    I have a great relationship with the work team. 

    I speak to my counterpart every day and we get on well. With the project leader of the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique (MESRS) too, though, although she is close by, since she has been appointed director general of research we have to organise meetings well in advance.

     

    How would you assess your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?

    In view of my previous answers, I only have one answer to that question. Very good.

     

    Do you have any experiences or anecdotes about your arrival in or adaptation to the country?

    Every week and even every day is different. From the time you spend alone to the times when you can’t keep up with your work and social engagements. 

    For the time being, having conversations with other experts and learning about the point of view of the other side of the Mediterranean is a very enriching experience.