The UAB honours Cristina Gallach's "clear commitment to serving society"
Diplomat and journalist Cristina Gallach received an honorary doctorate from the UAB in a ceremony in which Rector Javier Lafuente praised personal and professional values, such as her "commitment to society", "vital enthusiam for her profession", and a "clear commitment of being of service to society" and her "active and generous involvement" in iniatives to overcome today's great social challenges.
In her speech, Professor Carmina Crusafon, sponsor of the UAB's newest honorary doctor, described Gallach as a student of one of the first classes to have graduated from the Faculty of Communication Studies who went on to bcome "the only woman in Spain to have reached such prestigious positions within the European Union, the United Nations and the NATO". Perhaps that is why the new honorary doctor decided to focus her master lecture on "a journey through the geography and geopolitics of Europe", in which she outlined her professional career and the privilege of being a direct witness to some of the greatest historical events in recent histroy, first as a journalist and then as a close collaborator of figures such as Ban Ki-moon and Javier Solana.
According to Gallach, "one of the largest geopolitical errors of Europe is to have thought that once the Soviet Empire had fallen, democracy would follow". The current situation demonstrates that "democracy has spread, but populism and the far-right are slowly gaining power". And she later went on to say: "Successive crises were what created the European Union; Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine is a clear example of that".
After a review of Western history, from the fall of the Berlin wall up to modern days, the UAB's newest honorary doctor reflected on the fact that, at present, "multilateralisms, with the United Nations in the centre, have been weakened". She also affirmed that "everything points towards a new division of blocks", which she characterised as "the Western world on one side, and on the other a group of autocrats, illiberals, populists... with the support of some African leaders seeking to get even with historically colonial powers".
Gallach made the following reflection: "A pandemic was improbable, but it occurred; a war in Europe was unthinkable, but it has become a reality". She affirmed that human rights and democracy "are experiencing a regression" and she ended her lecture with a quote by Belarusian journalist and Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievitx: "Freedom is not an instantaneous holiday, as we once dreamed. It is a road. A long road."
"The Duty of Showing Solidarity"
In his closing speech, Rector Lafuente also highlighted that "the fight for equality and inclusion are elements that have been highly present in Dr Gallach's activities", and he recalled the fact that her professional trajectory ran parallel to the creation of the European Higher Education Area. According to Rector Lafuente, "we as universities have the moral and ethical duty to foster agreement and concor, demand justice and show solidarity". In this sense, he reminded participants that the UAB created "a refugee camp volunteering programme" during the Balkan Wars and "the current response" to the conflict in Ukraine, which has led the university to double the budget of its UAB Refugee programme.
Rector Lafuente also highlighted the fact that the new honorary doctor was also a UAB graduate: "the importance and professional projection of our alumni is of vital importance, given that they are role models for our students and make up a fundamental part of the bridge uniting University with society".
The ceremony also included a performance by the UAB Choir Chamber which included El musclo, a fragment of Bestiari by Pere Quart with music by Manuel Oltra, a traditional Ukranian song Tsvite teren and the university hymn Gaudeamus igitur, which ended the ceremony.
The UAB, with Sustainable Development Goals
- Peace, justice and strong institutions