Mats Persson

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Director
Open Europe

Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past jobs.
If any, I hope that I have been a contributing factor in the efforts to find a more transparent, accountable, and economically and politically vibrant model for European cooperation.

What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?
A foreign policy based on the preferences of citizens rather than elitist ambition.

What is the greatest foreign policy issue facing our generation?
The potential transformation of autocratic or totalitarian states, in the Middle East and beyond, into vibrant democracies and economies. In the west, the sovereign debt crisis is a big threat to our position in the world.

Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you look up to the most?
Mikhail Gorbachev. While in a sense an accidental historical figure, his actions and decisions directly led to the largely peaceful break-up of the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc, in turn facilitating democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you think has missed the mark and why?
Woodrow Wilson. While his intentions were laudable, his international idealism was not rooted in political reality and proved largely counter-productive. Decades later, the EU leaders who forged the Single European Currency committed a similar mistake (albeit in a different era and context) by assuming that their ambition alone could stamp out economic and democratic realities. We now see the consequences.

If you could change a critical decision in history to affect foreign policy, what would it be?
Change the terms of the Treaty of Versaille. That could have prevented World War II.