The web portal Study in Greece is campaigning for the promotion and international visibility of Greek Universities and the comparative educational advantages of our country. In particular, the campaign focuses on the foreign language study programs that Greek Universities offer to Greek and international students. The initiative is supported by the General Secretariat of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In this context, a number of educational programs and actions are presented in detail on a regular basis, such as undergraduate and postgraduate programs, summer schools etc, to inform international students about the many foreign language options offered by Greek Universities.

Study in Greece interviewed Professor Spyros Blavoukos, Director of the MSc in International Negotiations offered at the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) on the program, its features and what it has to offer to international students.

Spyros Blavoukos is Professor at the Department of International and European Economic Studies at the Athens University of Economics and Business, focusing on the Analysis of International and European Institutions. He is also the Director of the MSc in International Negotiations offered by the AEUB.

In addition to co-authoring and co-editing books and papers in worldwide, peer-reviewed academic journals, he has taken part in numerous international research projects. His primary areas of interest in research include international multilateral negotiations and their analysis.

Mr Blavoukos, please describe to us briefly the MSc in International Negotiations that is offered by the Athens University of Economics and Business.

The MSc in International Negotiations is an interdisciplinary program that cultivates the negotiation skills of its students. It builds on the scientific and academic excellence of the Department of International and European Economic Studies, complementing its profile. Negotiation skills are horizontal in nature, meaning that the basic principles and analytical insights are applicable to all kind of negotiations, be they in economics, business, politics or our daily social interactions. Hence, it is a Program of both theoretical and practical value with tangible effects on the professional and personal development of the students.

Please explain why an international student should select this MSc given that the program can also be taught in English.

The Program is taught in English, given its international focus. It is one of the very few Programs offered in the field of negotiations in Europe and has been granted full accreditation marks by the Hellenic Authority for Higher Education in its 2023 accreditation process. It combines traditional courses on economics, law, politics, and international relations together with very innovative ones on Intelligence Analysis and Negotiation Psychology. The students have also the opportunity to practice their negotiation skills through negotiation exercises and simulations, both in the context of the courses as well as in broader international frameworks, like The Negotiation Challenge (TNC), a leading international competition, which was organized in 2022 by the Program, in Athens. If once adds to academic and scientific excellence the quality of student life in Athens, the answer to the question is “why did it take you so long to join us?”

A crucial method for the peaceful settlement of disputes and the upkeep of stability in international relations is negotiation. What abilities are necessary for negotiation success?

A good negotiator may have some inherent skills, but that does not mean that one is born as an excellent negotiator and there is no other way to the top. The three key words to negotiations are ‘preparation, preparation, preparation’! A good negotiator knows one’s own position very well and has invested considerable effort and energy to learn also the other side’s preferences, background logic, as well as details about the negotiating team. It is very important for a negotiator to understand well the nature of the game. i.e. whether it is a zero- or appositive-sum game and consider alternative ways to turn the former to the latter. Such a delicate task requires knowledge, information, empathy, and interpersonal skills.

What phases comprise a global negotiation? How can you create an agreement that promotes the common good?

The phases of the negotiation are the same at all levels and context: first, pre-negotiations or agenda-setting stage in which the parties delimit the negotiation agenda and agree on what it is to be discussed; second, the actual negotiations that occur in one or many rounds and may differ substantially on their format, participation, duration and overall structure; third, the post-negotiation stage or the implementation phase, which is also important because the devil is in the details and it is not enough to agree on something without ensuring the appropriate framework to monitor and impose the implementation of an agreement. The best way to achieve a sustainable agreement is to build a ‘package deal’ that will include something for everybody. The underlying logic is that unless all parties are satisfied, revisionism looms and an agreement may be vulnerable to undermining efforts by the discontented side.

What part does Greece play in international negotiations with other nations, such as those with Turkey? Can our country negotiate effectively?

Culture plays a role in the shaping of the national ‘negotiation style’, which is an issue analyzed and discussed in depth in one of the courses of the Program. Each country builds on its own structural features, which reflect the country’s relative power, influence

and impact in international negotiations. No two countries are the same although they may share a few common elements. The point is for each country, Greece included, to identify its strengths and weaknesses and capitalize on the former insulating the negative aspects of the latter. As we use to say in negotiations, ‘it takes two to tango’, therefore, negotiating outcomes do not depend solely on what one party is doing or pursuing but is a poly-parametric issue. Hence, effective negotiations entail appropriate reading of the negotiating environment, excellent understanding of the opportunities and constraints, teaming up to create negotiating ‘economic of scale’ and project better one country’s bargaining power and leverage.

How has one of Greece’s largest and oldest universities, the Athens University of Economics and Business, responded to the world of contemporary innovation and cutting-edge research?

Our University has over the more than one hundred years of its life operated along two fundamental principles: excellence and extrovertedness. This is what we are doing in this Program as well. We are based on excellent academics with a long record of academic publishing and we are building networks with other countries and institutions. We host policy-makers from Greece and abroad, who are sharing their insights from negotiations they have participated, and try to connect our students with the job market domestically as well as internationally. In that respect, we strongly believe that we offer an innovative Program with very interesting courses that appeal to our current and perspective students.