NATO and UN gig for Greek Australian

first_imgDiplomacy is Sophocles Kitharidis’ middle name. At just 23, the young political science and law student is taking on international relations head on. Sophocles is off to Brussels next week to participate in a mock NATO Youth Summit. Representing Armenia in a mock delegation filled with high achieving youngsters from all around the world, Mr Kitharidis is the only Australian to make it to the 2013 summit. “For the last two weeks I’ve been preparing a brief on the issues that we’re discussing,” he tells Neos Kosmos. “I’ve been looking at Armenia in a foreign policy aspect, so from my understanding, Armenia is hammering down on human rights and it’s increasing its presence in regards to its fight against terrorism.” Taking his role very seriously, Sophocles has even been in contact with the Armenian mission in NATO to get a further edge in the prestigious mock trial. “I think in order to succeed in foreign policy you have to make networks in international fields and gather the evidence,” he says. Going the extra mile is second nature for the determined student who hopes to one day become a senior diplomat for Australia. Despite being selected to represent Armenia in the Summit, Sophocles has made it his prerogative to discuss Australian relations and its future in NATO. He’s even organised a meeting with Australia’s ambassador to NATO and the European Union, Mr Duncan Lewis after the summit. On the discussion list for the two week trip: international military affairs, foreign policy and peacekeeping. Talking to the young Sophocles, you get the feeling you’re talking to a polished politician, choosing his words carefully. His knowledge base and firm stance on diplomacy will make him a hard delegate to beat. Asking him what makes a good diplomat and a strong foreign affairs policy for a country, he is quick to mention how important anticipating future interests or threats are for good diplomacy. “From what I’ve seen in politics and foreign affairs, it’s all about how proactive someone can be, not reactive.” He says Australia needs to equally focus its time in Asia and in Europe, and not neglect important players in the future. On his return, Sophocles won’t be taking off the diplomatic hat. After a very competitive selection process that included a written exam and an interview, Sophocles will be interning with the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN). Jetting off to New York in September, Sophocles will be immersing himself in diplomatic briefs and research to help Australia in its international relations. After winning a seat on the UN Security Council for two years, Australia will serve alongside the permanent five members (the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China and France) and the other nine non-permanent members. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for Sophocles, who will be witnessing first hand the influence Australia can have in international foreign affairs. “I’ll be based in the UN, so I’ll be primarily working with the third committee of the General Assembly, which involves international human rights and humanitarian affairs and to a degree peacekeeping as well,” he says. “I’ll also be working with the other committees. The first committee, which is non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament and the sixth committee which is legal affairs.” Sophocles’ international obsession is also thanks to his heritage. His Greek roots first introduced him to how important diplomacy can be with nations that have strong ties. When he gets spare time, you can find Sophocles working on the executive committee for the Pan-Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria and Australian Hellenic Council. He is heavily involved in Australian Hellenic community affairs and one day hopes to work closely with Greece for Australia in diplomatic purposes. His obsession with all things diplomatic doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. By the end of this year, he’ll have completed his law degree at Deakin University and his postgraduate studies at the Australian National University. As to his namesake, Sophocles has one philosophy. “I think change comes from diplomacy”. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

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