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A new perspective on East-West relations

International Online-Workshop „Redefining Europe“

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and fifteen years after the start of the European Union's eastern expansion, the gap between eastern and western Europe is still evident. The differences are the result of many factors. Social, religious or minority perceptions differ widely between Western, Central and Eastern Europe. On 9th and 10th July the Center for Advanced Studies at Eurac Research and the Institute for Political Science at the University of Leipzig have therefore taken on the task of reassessing the relations between the European countries and thus contributing to the definition of a truly united European Union.

Within the framework of the international online workshop "Redefining Europe? East-West relations revisited" experts from all over Europe discuss what the EU should be standing for. One thing is clear: in the face of the current economic crisis and political instability, there is an immediate need to build a stronger identity and community in order to present a united front to the international community, remain economically competitive and carry political weight at the global level. The Covid 19 pandemic has only increased this urgency.

The central questions of the two-day workshop: How can European countries achieve and develop an intercultural competence, in order to better understand and negotiate with partner states? How can stereotypes and reciprocal wrong perceptions be abated to foster cooperation and future developments?

Impulse lectures on various topics

In this context, Harald Pechlaner and Mirjam Gruber from the Center for Advanced Studies present an interim report from a current project that deals with cooperation efforts between Eastern and Western Europe. Dorota Szelewa from University College Dublin uses the example of Hungary and Poland to address another interdisciplinary topic, namely gender equality and the discourse on the family in the context of right-wing populism. Carlo Ruzza from the University of Trento places a similar focus in his remarks on populism, anti-populism and the EU, while Andrey Meleshevich from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy presents a case study on the Ukrainian party system, which deals with institutional construction in post-Soviet states.

European and Eurasian integration: Any opportunity for convergence in the post-Soviet space? This question is posed by Yulia Nikitina from the Center for the Post-Soviet Studies, Moscow State University of International Relations. Karol Chwedczuk-Szulc from the University of Wroclaw, on the other hand, draws comparisons with US history and asks whether European integration needs a Hamiltonian moment. Aleksandra Sojka, from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, discusses European identity in times of global crisis and Ireneusz Paweł Karolewski from the Institute of Political Science at the University of Leipzig will talk about the regression of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

Poland's hesitant attitude towards membership in the European Economic and Monetary Union and the role of Germany will be the subject of a discussion by Sebastian Plocienik from the University of Warsaw. Filip Keereman from the European Commission will speak about the "Vienna Initiative", a public-private partnership for financial cooperation between Eastern and Western Europe. Magdalena Gora from the Institute for European Studies at the Jagiellonian University will answer the question of whether the West-East divide plays a role in the relations between the USA and the EU member states. Why a "next-generation EU" is crucial after the pandemic shock and the convergence processes is explained by Marcello Messori from the Luiss School of European Political Economy.

Valuable inspiration for the future of European integration

The agenda also includes three discussion rounds. Under the direction of Harald Pechlaner, perspectives on East-West relations as well as economic and political developments will be discussed while Ireneusz Paweł Karolewski will lead the discussion on identity and integration.

The topic of intercultural communication between Eastern and Western Europe is discussed in an input speech by Denys Lifintsev from the National University of Economics in Kiev, named after Vadym Hetman. As a final input and outlook, Viachaslau Nikitsin from the Deggendorf Institute of Technology, European Campus Rottal-Inn will talk about current possibilities of European projects.

All these impulses should be used to launch further studies and efforts to achieve European integration with strong cohesion and a deeper understanding and mutual appreciation between the EU memberstates and their political and economic partners such as Russia.

Program: Program_Workshop_Redefining_Europe.pdf

Information: mirjam.gruber@eurac.edu 

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