Chances and Challenges of Interethnic Dialogues in Kosovo

Topic

The nationalist narratives dominate the news about and from Kosovo, on the one hand obscuring other, national indifferent issues, and on the other hand, concealing the possibilities and realities of interethnic dialogues.

The Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM), celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, organised a panel discussion in collaboration with CASA and Integra at the Barabar Centre in Prishtina about the chances and challenges of interethnic dialogues.

The discussion focused on how inter-ethnic dialogues and collaborations can function and be possible beyond nationalizing tendencies. The role of civil society and culture was particularly addressed, as well as the conditions for interethnic coexistence (multilingualism, minority rights, etc.).

Special Round Table: Ukraine and Croatia: Navigating (Post) – War Hopes and Challenges

While current news about Ukraine is dominated by the war, it is essential to think about how Ukraine can shape its own future after the conflict and how it can address the political, economic, and societal aspects of dealing with the war experiences and traumas.
What similarities and common challenges existed in Croatia and Ukraine before the war, such as a transition to a different type of economy, national independence, minority issues, and different approaches to national history? How can a post-war situation be addressed from legal, political and social perspectives? How can divisive issues like minority rights and debates on memory politics be effectively resolved?
This online panel discussion we explored how Croatian politics, society, and economy had changed during and after the war, as well as how Croatia and other neighbouring countries had addressed the challenges of the post-war period, including addressing war crimes, dealing with EU integration, memory politics, and historical debates.
This event was organised in collaboration with the Center for Advanced Studies/Rijeka, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

The Russian war against Ukraine and the (un)changed Central Europe. Challenges and opportunities of regional cooperation

During the past almost two years, the war in Ukraine and its consequences unprecedentedly challenged Central Europe. Military aid, supplies of weapons and equipment, humanitarian support, integration of fleeing Ukrainians, and a fundamentally changed security and geopolitical climate. As other world events such as the terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas unfold, and the war in Ukraine continues, however, the attention on Europe and the willingness to support the attacked Ukraine is starting to wane in some countries, facing rising apathy or denial among societies.

What challenges does Central Europe currently face in connection with the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the resulting security, military and energy transformation in the region? How can existing cross-border and regional cooperation formats support these transformations? What are the possibilities and limits of common, joint action of Central European states amid the ongoing war? Finally, is the perception of the European Union and its aid to Ukraine changing among the Central European populations? Experts on and from Central Europe examined the current political constellation and cooperation of states in the heart of Europe.

Albania’s strategic added value to the European Union: shaping the future together

On 6th December, the conference “Albania’s strategic added value to the European Union: shaping the future together” organized by the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) and co-organized by IDM is took place in Tirana. Research Associate Melanie Jaindl moderated the panel “Regional Cooperation, Stability and Local Ownership” with following speakers: 

Raquel Garcia Llorente, Analyst Real Instituto Elcano 

Foteini Asderaki, Professor, University of Piraeus, Greece, Chair of the ESDC Doctoral School on the Common Security and Defence Policy

Geron Kamberi, Senior Researcher-Center for the Study of Democracy
and Governance 

The conference was visited by important stakeholders such as EU delegates and ambassadors, scholars and policy advisors, and received significant media attention in Albania. 

Further co-organizers: 

  • EU Delegation to Tirana 
  • Embassy of Spain 
  • Embassy of Italy 
  • Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany 
  • Austrian Embassy 
  • Embassy of Greece 
  • Albanian Media Institute 

Decolonizing (the knowledge about) Eastern Europe?

Joint event together with the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM Vienna) 

Organizer: Péter Techet (IDM Vienna) 

Is post-Soviet Eastern Europe a former colony? Can postcolonial approaches be applied to this region? Why is Russia still perceived in parts of the “Global South” as an anti-colonial alternative to the USA? The discussion, organized by the IDM at the European Humanities University (EHU) in Vilnius, focused on questions about how the postcolonial character of post-Soviet Eastern Europe can be understood. 

After Iryna Ramanava (EHU) and Péter Techet (IDM) presented the topic, Tatiana Shchyttsova, a philosopher at EHU, spoke about the differences and similarities between the “Global South” and post-Soviet Europe. She emphasized that postcolonial approaches can provide a better understanding of the ongoing political developments in the region. While the Baltic States consider the Russian and Soviet periods as “occupation” to emphasize the foreignness of the Russian element, the Russian presence in Belarus and Ukraine led to a cultural hybridization. In this context, decolonization means the political, cultural, and linguistic detachment from Russia, which necessarily involves a certain nationalism in countries like Ukraine or Belarus. Nationalism is intended to achieve decolonization, not cultural and ethnic isolation. In this regard, Shchyttsova warned against “methodological nationalism.” The nationalizing aspects of decolonization are dialectical antitheses to colonial history that need to be overcome in a global context. 

Almira Ousmanova, a social scientist at EHU, also addressed theoretical questions of decolonization in Eastern Europe, drawing on postcolonial and feminist approaches. She emphasized the necessity of the use of the Belarusian language in the cultural and academic fields. EHU is currently considering a change from Russian as the dominant language of instruction to English and Belarusian. 

Both Shchyttsova and Ousmanova criticized that Western European scholarship still treats post-Soviet Eastern Europe in the context of Russia: Especially the “Global South” or certain parts of the Western European left fail to recognize the postcolonial character of Eastern Europe and the colonizing nature of Russia by understanding the colonization as an only Western phenomenon. Thus, Russia, including its Soviet past, can appear as an “anti-colonial power.” However, a deeper interest in post-Soviet Eastern Europe would reveal that colonization is multipolar, and it should not be reduced to the dichotomy of “West” vs. “Global South.” 

Ukrainian historian Yurii Latysh, currently researching in Vilnius, presented the different political and legal attempts at decolonization in Ukraine. He critically views the removal of statues and street names of Russian authors. For a modern Ukraine seeking European integration, upholding minority rights, including those of Hungarian, Polish, or Romanian minorities, is strategically important to maintain good relations with EU countries. Latysh also explored whether decolonization and nationalization promote an ethnic or civic understanding of the nation. 

Andrei Vazyanau, a sociologist at EHU and urban activist from Belarus, explored different possibilities of identification, noting that ethnicity, language, and nation are not synonymous in post-Soviet Eastern Europe. Therefore, nation-building does not require homogenization of language and an ethnic understanding of the nation. 

In the debate, it was emphasized that post-Soviet Eastern Europe must be recognized by the Western academic community as a postcolonial space and by the politics of the “Global South” as a valid example of (de)colonization. However, the reason why post-Soviet Eastern Europe is not accepted as a history of colonization, as some participants argued, is related to the “racial” aspect: Colonization in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe did not rely on racial suppression and hierarchy. 

“I, Robot”: Science and Learning in the Digital Era. Presentation of the DRC Strategic Foresight Project

IDM in cooperation with the School of Economics and Business, University of Sarajevo

The Covid-19 crisis proved to be a significant impetus in the long-term trend of digitalisation in higher education and learning. Distance education and remote learning has become a daily experience and a new normal, even for digitally less-prepared universities in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Innovative digital education emerging from the all-encompassing digital transition of our age can, on one hand, support open, transparent and flexible research and schooling. On the other hand, however, it also brings with it many drawbacks, such as challenging the interdependency of both student and student-teacher relationships, as has been seen in the months during the pandemic.

In this regard, the discussion presented five possible scenarios and relevant policy recommendations in the area of digitalization of science and learning. These were developed within the framework of the strategic foresight project funded by the Danube Rectors’ Conference and implemented by the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe in 2022. Consequently, the experts on digitalization, e-learning and innovation in education discussed the various scenarios and their visions of science and learning in the digital era.

You can watch the discussion on our IDM YouTube channel.

Moldova’s candidate status and how think tanks can contribute to EU integration – the example of the IDM

Date:
October 12, 2023
13:00 – 15:00 CEST

‘Ion Creangă’ Pedagogical State University of Chișinău, str. Ion Creangă No. 1, main building, 2nd floor, Mediatica 

With the unprovoked and unjustified full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, not only has the European security  architecture been destroyed, but also the Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy has ultimately become obsolete. Moldova, together with Georgia and Ukraine, had already been pushing within the so-called Associated Trio for a closer cooperation as well as approximation to the EU. Contrary to the other three target countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) – with the suspension of Belarus’ participation in the EaP, the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with Armenia and a similar agreement being negotiated with Azerbaijan – Chisinau wants to become an EU member. Following the application for membership in March 2022 as well as the candidate status received in June 2022, expectations are high that by the end of 2023, negotiations with Brussels could be opened. Regardless of when this happens, integration will take significant time and effort. Civil society organizations and think tanks play an important role in supporting these efforts. We discussed how the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) had been fostering European integration through regional cooperation over the past 70 years and proposed the concept of a Greater European Council, a policy that could contribute to a better transition in becoming an EU member both in general and in the specific case of Moldova. 

European integration of the Western Balkans: Montenegro on the way to the European Union

Datum/Zeit
Oktober 10, 2023
10:00 – 11:30 MESZ/MEZ

Venue: University of Donja Gorica, Oktoih 1, Podgorica 81000, Montenegro

Even after months of coalition negotiations in the wake of parliamentary elections in June 2023, a new government has not been formed in Montenegro so far. As a member of NATO and a front-runner in the accession process to the European Union, the country’s pro-European, pro-Atlantic orientation is expected to continue under the new cabinet in Podgorica. However, the question remains what kind of stability the new government brings, can a multi-party coalition withstand domestic political turbulences and face regional turmoil and tensions? 

Considering the newly established political constellation in this Adriatic country and recent events in the region, the panel discussion focused on the long-awaited European integration of the Western Balkan countries. Experts evaluated the role of Montenegro and current cross-border cooperation formats fostering the accession of the politically and geographically strategic region of South-Eastern Europe to the European Union.