IDM Short Insights 20: Road blocks and gunshots at the Kosovo-Serbia border

Escalations in northern Kosovo have again made international news. Besides blocking roads to border crossings, Kosovo Serbs exchanged gunfire with police and even threw a stun grenade at the EU’s law enforcers (EULEX). While developments must certainly be observed, it can’t be in the interest of both countries to escalate the conflict further than this. But why is this happening now? And what consequences are to expect? 

 

Insignien der (Ohn)Macht

Viktor Orbán spielt erneut mit seinem Veto auf EU-Ebene gegen die Zeit. Daniela Apaydin hält die EU-Taktik aus Zuckerbrot und Peitsche allerdings für kein nachhaltiges Mittel, um die verfahrene Situation mit Ungarns Ministerpräsidenten zu lösen. Das Problem dahinter ist wie immer viel komplizierter. Was das mit uns selbst und dem Nikolaus zu tun hat, erklärt sie in ihrem Kommentar.

Hin und wieder passiert es dann doch. Die große Politik und das Leben der kleinen Leute prallen so stark aufeinander, dass sie miteinander verschmelzen. Und das mitten im Wohnzimmer. Dann gelingt es, dass die großen Themen auf den gedeckten Festtagstischen landen und dort hin und her gewälzt werden, trotz all der Frustrationen mit der Politik oder auch gerade weil unverschämte und korrupte Politiker*innen an diesem kalten Dezembernachmittag das Blut schnell aufkochen lassen. Gestern war so ein Moment.

Zwischen zerquetschten Mandarinen, halbnackten Schokonikoläusen und verschmierten Kinderfingern saß der ungarische Ministerpräsident und wurde von den umhersitzenden Familienmitgliedern herumgereicht, analysiert und kommentiert. Ich saß unter ihnen und hatte noch das Ö1-Interview meiner ehemaligen Professorin Ellen Bos (Andrássy Universität) im Ohr. Sie wurde bei der Anrufsendung von einem Zuhörer gefragt, ob die EU noch Handschlagqualität habe, wenn laufend neue Kritikpunkte an Orbáns Politik dazukommen würden und dadurch Ungarns Bemühungen, diese zu erfüllen, nicht anerkannt werden.

Hintergrund der Debatte war das gestrige Treffen der EU-Finanzminister*innen, bei dem sie darüber entscheiden sollten, der Empfehlung der Kommission zu folgen und Fördermittel für Ungarn in Höhe von 7,5 Milliarden Euro einzufrieren. Diese hatte zuvor festgestellt, dass die Regierung in Budapest die bisher identifizierten Schwachpunkte im Rechtstaat nur unzureichend durch notwendige Reformen ausgebessert habe. Dabei ging es unter anderem um die Forderung nach der Schaffung einer Kontrollbehörde, der Ungarn zwar nachkam, die aber derzeit nach Ansicht vieler Expert*innen politisch abhängig sei. Zu den 17 Punkten zur Verbesserung der Rechtsstaatlichkeit kommen noch Maßnahmen, die garantieren sollen, dass die umfassenden EU-Förderungen aus dem Wiederaufbaufonds unter kontrollierten und fairen Bedingungen verteilt werden und nicht in den Taschen korrupter Politiker*innen und regierungsnaher Unternehmer*innen landen.

„Mit Zuckerbrot und Peitsche gegen Ungarn“, titelte daraufhin das Ö1-Magazin – eine Formulierung, die uns von der EU-Politik dort in Brüssel schnell zurück ins Wohnzimmer transportiert. Hier wird nun bei Kaffee und frisch gebackenen Keksen diskutiert, warum einer von 27 Regierungschef*innen die ganze Union in Geiselhaft halten könne. Ob und welche Bestrafung angemessen sei. Denn Viktor Orbán blockiert mit seinem Veto dringende Entscheidungen, u.a. jene über weitere Hilfen für die Ukraine im Umfang von 13,3 Milliarden Euro. Andere argumentieren, dass es doch Orbáns Recht sei, eine Entscheidung nicht mitzutragen und die Vorwürfe der mangelnden Rechtsstaatlichkeit übertrieben seien. So hätten doch auch viele andere EU-Mitgliedsstaaten Probleme mit der Unabhängigkeit der Justiz.

Es dauert auch nicht lange, bis die jüngsten Korruptionsvorwürfe in Österreich genannt werden und ein allgemeines Kopfschütteln einsetzt. Es ginge hierzulande mittlerweile so weit, dass Werbeagenturen ihre Inspirationen aus der österreichischen Innenpolitik schöpfen könnten.

Nachdem alle den Werbespot des Möbelhauses gesichtet hatten, kommt das Gespräch doch wieder auf Ungarn und die Rolle der EU zurück. Zwischen den verschwindenden Vanillekipferln taucht ein Widerspruch nach dem anderen auf. Warum ist die EU nur so unfähig und greift nicht ein, wenn ein Regierungschef im Nachbarland versucht, Putins Politik nachzuahmen? Kann die EU nicht eingreifen, wenn kritische Lehrer*innen gekündigt und Geschichtsbücher umgeschrieben werden? Zugleich wird festgestellt, dass die EU doch ohnehin nicht dazu da sei, über die Köpfe nationaler Parlamente und Regierungen hinweg Regeln aufzustellen.

War es nicht blauäugig zu denken, die unterschiedlichen Länder dieses Kontinents könnten sich nach 1989 so weit angleichen, dass gleiche Chancen in Europa vorherrschen? Dass sie alle demokratisch werden und die Korruption verschwindet? Sind nicht sowieso alle Politiker*innen korrupt, wenn sie die Gelegenheit dazu bekommen? Und wurden die Grenzen nicht viel zu früh geöffnet?  Wie immer bei solchen Diskussionen an Küchen- oder Wohnzimmertischen, wo unterschiedliche Meinungen, Wissensstände und Erfahrungen aufeinanderprallen, gerät das eigentliche Thema schnell aus den Augen. Zu komplex erscheinen die Probleme, zu verfahren „das System“, zu hilflos und unbedeutend fühlen sich die Diskutant*innen, die versuchen, die Sache irgendwie zu ordnen.

Gut, dass es Rituale und Traditionen gibt, die seit jeher unseren Alltag ordnen und unser Zeitempfinden prägen. Auch an diesem Nachmittag betritt wieder der weißbärtige Mann und seine grimmigen Begleiter das Wohnzimmer, begleitet vom obligatorischen Schauer über die Rücken der Kinder. Für viele ist es auch heute noch ein wichtiges Ritual, das die Generationen miteinander verbindet: Ein beeindruckend großer, scheinbar allwissender Mann liest aus seinem roten Buch die guten und schlechten Taten vor. Schuldbewusste, doch auch neugierige Augen blitzen zwischen den Armen und Beinen der Erwachsenen hervor. Was, wenn die schlechten Taten letztlich überwiegen? Was, wenn in dem großen Korb dieses Jahr kein Geschenk wartet?

Als Kind hinterfragen wir nicht, woher dieser Mann seine Macht nimmt, warum er über Gutes und Schlechtes, Belohnung und Bestrafung entscheiden kann. Er macht es einfach und alle Erwachsenen rundherum scheinen damit einverstanden zu sein. Im Gegenteil, die eigenen Eltern nutzen die Macht des Nikolaus oft schon Tage davor, um Streitigkeiten zwischen den Geschwistern rascher zu beenden und aufgeräumte Kinderzimmer einzufordern.

Es ist eine dieser prägenden Erfahrungen, wonach es in dieser Welt Kräfte gibt, die einen für gute Taten belohnen und schlechte bestrafen. Am Ende wird aber doch immer ein Auge zugedrückt. Im Scherz nennen wir das dann eine typisch österreichische Tradition. Die Gestalt einer gnädigen Autorität prägt unser Weltbild in vielen Bereichen und wird durch die religiöse Erziehung oft noch verstärkt. Dieses Weltbild beeinflusst unser Denken, selbst wenn wir längst keinen Kirchenbeitrag mehr bezahlen.

Betrachten wir den aktuellen Konflikt zwischen der EU und Viktor Orbán aus einem traditionellen Gesichtspunkt, dann wäre die Lösung vielleicht ganz einfach: Wir übergeben die Macht der Entscheidung über Belohnung und Bestrafung eines europäischen enfant terrible der Autorität der Europäischen Kommission. Wir erwarten, dass sie alles überblickt, fair entscheidet, letztlich aber auch ein Auge zudrückt, bevor es wirklich hart auf hart kommt.

Doch in der Realität ist weder der Nikolaus noch die EU allmächtig, allwissend und unfehlbar. Sie ist voller Schwächen und Widersprüche, die sich nicht einfach von selbst auflösen werden. Viktor Orbán nimmt mit seinem Spiel auf Zeit hohe Kosten auf sich. Nicht getroffene Entscheidungen kosten in der Ukraine Menschenleben. Doch auch in Ungarn werden die Fördergelder dringend gebraucht. Orbáns vermeintlicher Gegenspieler ist sein eigenes Spiegelbild, denn Ungarn sitzt bei diesen Entscheidungen mit am Tisch.

Die Macht wird in Europa geteilt, weshalb sich auch kein Regierungschef für immer der Verantwortung entziehen kann. Es geht bei dieser Frage nicht um Belohnung oder Bestrafung. Wir hier am Wohnzimmertisch müssen uns von der Vorstellung trennen, dass Europas Zukunft von einer Politik aus Zuckerbrot und Peitschen gestaltet wird. Wir gemeinsam, nicht die Kommission oder die Verträge, bestimmen letztlich die Grenze zwischen Gut und Böse. Wir müssen die Regeln im großen roten Buch selbst schreiben und ein System gestalten, dass die Pflichten und Verantwortung fair verteilt. Dafür müssen wir uns von einem Politik-Verständnis lösen, das alte Bilder fortschreibt.

Ich war stolz als meine Nichte den Nikolaus-Stab tapfer in die Hand nahm und sich von den düsteren Gestalten neben ihr nicht einschüchtern ließ. Hin und wieder sollten wir uns auch als Erwachsene ein Beispiel nehmen und die „große Politik“ selbst in die Hand nehmen – etwa indem wir uns mehr für Europa und seine Menschen (und Politiker*innen) interessieren und uns trotz der Komplexität darüber informieren. Denn auch wenn wir uns für aufgeklärt halten mögen, unsere Demokratie hat noch viele Schritte der Entzauberung vor sich. Die Entzauberung des Krampus in Budapest ist einer davon.

 

Sie haben eine andere Meinung? Schreiben Sie uns! E-Mail: d.apaydin(at)idm.at

Delegation visit from the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina to IDM

On 30 November 2022 a delegation from Vojvodina (Serbia) met with Teresa Stummer (Department for International and European Affairs, Federal State of Lower Austria, Working Community of the Danube Regions/ARGE Donauländer) and Sebastian Schäffer at our offices in Hahngasse 6. The delegation also attended the Danube Conference organised, amongst others, by IDM and ARGE Donauländer in the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs the day before.

With the presidency of the ARGE Donauländer coming to an end, which has been held by the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina since 2020, the projects implemented were revised and evaluated. During the meeting also future activities were discussed – amongst others the official transfer of the presidency during an event planned for April. 

A video currently in production will highlight the importance of the sub-national level and cross-border cooperation as well as their synergies in the Danube Region. Cooperations between regional media outlets were also taken into consideration. 

A future collaboration between the delegation and the IDM itself was discussed as well. The Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2023, during that year different events will be organised in each country of their collaboration partners, including Serbia. The 10th Danube Cultural Conference – returning to Novi Sad in April 2023 – could be the perfect setting for a cooperation between the two partners, where the IDM could organise a side-event. Further details on the organisation will be planned during the upcoming months. 

The meeting closed with the remarks on the importance of working together and on the inclusion in the different activities carried out along the Danube. 

 

Author:
Elisa Magris 

Meet our Chairman!

Friedrich Faulhammer will chair the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) for the next three years, which was confirmed in the ordinary session of the General Assembly on 4 October 2022 at the Landhaus St. Pölten.   

Friedrich Faulhammer has been rector of the University for Continuing Education Krems (Danube University Krems) since 2013. He studied law in Vienna and then worked from 1985 to 1990 at the Institute for Legal History at the University of Vienna and in the legal department of the university management. He then moved to the Federal Ministry of Science and Research in 1990, where he played a key role in shaping Austrian and European university policy, including the 2002 University Act, and especially after he became head of the university section in the ministry in 2005 and later its secretary general. 

At the most recent General Assembly, Faulhammer was re-elected chairman of the Danube Rectors’ Conference for the two-year term of office starting in 2023, having already held this position for the 2017-2018 period. In 2018 he was elected to the board of directors of the Ludwig Boltzmann Society (LBG), and since 2021 he has been a member of the university council of Vienna University of Education. In 2019 he was appointed to the board of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM), where he served as deputy chairman from 2020 to September 2022, before being elected chairman. 

Three questions for the new chairman: 

  1. What is it like to succeed Erhard Busek as chairman of the IDM? In which direction should the IDM develop with you as chairman? How can/will you promote this direction?

In his many years as chairman, Erhard Busek has had a strong influence on the IDM. He was filled with the idea of a united Europe in which the countries of the Danube Region play an important role and in which the potential of Central and South-Eastern Europe is used for the development of the entire continent. Aware of this work, I strive to continue to pursue this vision of the IDM, to promote the democratic, peaceful and sustainable development of societies in Central and South-Eastern Europe through dialogue. The task assigned to the IDM and which I would like to push forward is to strengthen its cross-border expertise through scientific research and to promote mutual understanding by concentrating on cooperation in the region. The war in Ukraine presents us with a special challenge and requires us to strengthen connections with this country, which is also a Danube riparian state, and to keep channels of exchange open. Another focus is certainly the Western Balkans’ rapprochement with the European Union, which has only recently gained new impetus. Here it is important to proactively bring the IDM’s expertise and connections in this part of the Danube Region into this approach. 

    

  1. You have worked with the IDM for many years and have also been vice president of the board, so you know the IDM inside and out. In your opinion, what are the strengths of the IDM? Where do you see opportunities for improvement?  

The IDM has a great team and an excellent network in the countries of the Danube Region at different levels, be it science, civil society, business, culture or politics. Therein lies the strength of the IDM: in linking these different perspectives and points of view and as a hub in the exchange between Europe’s centre, Brussels, and the Danube Region. It is important to keep the vision of the IDM in mind and to make relevant contributions to the development discourse of the Danube Region through profound, scientifically developed expertise. This will require focusing and concentrating on those issues that are important for the immediate development of the countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe, and that help to reduce existing disparities and counteract growing imbalances. These include, among other things, the topics of science, education and research. 

  

  1. Professionally, you combine the role of rector of the University for Continuing Education Krems with that of chairman of the IDM. But what about Friedrich Faulhammer as a private individual? What do you like to do in your free time, what are your hobbies?

I dedicate the little free time I have to my family, my wife and my now grown-up sons. In addition, I like to do voluntary work, for example my work with the volunteer fire brigade in the municipality where I live. And apart from my direct professional topics, I am particularly interested in questions of institutional governance, which also accompany and occupy me in my free time. 

International Students’ Day

International Students’ Day is celebrated on 17 November as a symbol of the struggle for democratic education and society, as well as the memory of when the Nazis executed 20 Czechoslovak students who protested against the occupation in 1939.

More than 1,200 students were then taken to concentration camps, while the dormitories and the Universities were turned into barracks. The International Council of Students later proclaimed November 17 as International Students’ Day in London, and fifty years later, in 1989, students in what was then Czechoslovakia rose again against another non-democratic regime, which started the revolution that ended the communist regime.

Every year, this date allows us to show the public what students and young people have done for our society. The generations before us fought in times of great crises and wars to provide us with the state we have now in the education system, and we must be committed to continuing diligently to achieve changes. Remembering and celebrating this day when young people lost their lives fighting for justice and democracy is important so that we don’t forget the sacrifices made for our future.

Ninety years later, we managed to face and fight against the pandemic, and now another obstacle that stands in the way of students and can jeopardize their education and future is the war in Ukraine. It is difficult to imagine the actual situation in the country, where the losses are great, but the citizens still show ambition and hope toward themselves and their environment. The Russian invasion of Ukraine had devastating consequences for higher education, and The IDM together with the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC) decided to grant two Ukrainian students or early-career researchers a fellowship. We are extremely proud of the activities of our two trainees Olga Kyrychenko and Anastasiya Lendel who haven’t just shown strength but also consistency in going forward while completing research on their MA or PhD thesis.

We have the pleasure of hosting different students not only from the Danube region but also internationally that continuously share their knowledge from diverse study areas. They bring cultural, political, and historical perspectives that help build a vibrant environment. The IDM provides a workplace and invites the student to participate in the activities of the Institute as well as to contribute to the work of IDM team members yearly. To learn more about our former trainees and also about the opportunity of joining us for a possible traineeship, click here.

Author:
Darija Benić

A Study Tour to Austria

Danubius Awards 2022

Danubius Award 2022 to the Bulgarian scientist Prof. Dr. Diana Mishkova, Danubius Mid-Career Award to Ukrainian scientist Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tamara Martsenyuk and Danubius Young Scientist Awards to 13 promising researchers from the Danube region. 

The “Danubius Award” 2022 goes to Bulgarian Prof. Dr. Diana Mishkova, History Professor and Director of the Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) in Sofia, Bulgaria. With her work focusing on modern and contemporary history of Eastern Europe, the modernization of South-Eastern Europe, European societies, and European peripheries as well as national identities, she has contributed profoundly to research on the Balkans. She is o the funding director of CAS Sofia, that is supported by numerous international sponsors, such as the Wissenschaftkolleg Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study Berlin). Prof. Dr. Mishkova has already received several awards for her scientific work and is involved in different international projects – currently in the Horizon 2020 project “PREVEX – Preventing Violent Extremism in the Balkans”.

Ukrainian scientist Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tamara Martsenyuk has been awarded the “Danubius Mid-Career Award” 2022. She is an Associate Professor at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. In her studies, she focuses on gender research, social inequality issues, gender policies, social movements, and empowerment. In addition to numerous stays abroad and the participation in international research projects, she also brings her expertise to national policy forums and NGOs. Her research is currently focusing on the topic “Women’s involvement in Russia’s War against Ukraine”. 

 
In addition, 13 young scientists from the Danube Region will be awarded with the Danubius Young Scientist Award 2022 for their scientific work.

By presenting these Awards, the Austrian Ministry for Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) is contributing to the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) adopted by the European Council in 2011. Through the awarding of outstanding scientific achievements, the Danube region is made visible as a research area and the perception of its multidisciplinary challenges and potentials is strengthened.

“The Danube Region provides many opportunities for cross-border and regional cooperation among universities as well as research organizations. And there are, indeed, plenty of common challenges along the Danube and beyond which we need to jointly address and develop solutions for Federal Minister for Education, Science and Research Prof. Martin Polaschek pointed out on the occasion of the award ceremony on 10 November 2022 at the University of Maribor.

“The role of scientists and researchers has changed profoundly in the last decade. On the one hand, scientists and researchers are in a high demand to deliver fast results and provide evidence for critical policy decisions, and they have become indispensable in explaining and communicating the current knowledge available. On the other hand, we see a worrying rise in skepticism towards science and research as well as towards democracy in general, which creates a wide range of problems for and in our societies. We need to work together to counter this skepticism, and I am confident that all of you present and especially the awardees of today can and will contribute with their work towards demonstrating and communicating the relevance of science and research“, Polaschek continued.

The award ceremony in Maribor took place in the presence of Barbara Weitgruber, Head of the Department from the BMBWF, and Friedrich Faulhammer, Chairman of the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM).

In her introduction, Barbara Weitgruber highlighted the solidarity with Ukraine as partner country of the EUSDR: “We will continue our support to the Ukrainian researchers, who have come or aim of coming in the EU, as well as to those remained in Ukraine. In addition to that, we hope for an early beginning of the reconstructions, and we are getting ready for appropriate support measures”. 

Friedrich Faulhammer added: “I am really pleased that once again we are working together with the Ministry for Education, Science and Research to honor scientists, who are significantly contributing to the development of knowledge and understanding within the Danube region in their various fields of research. This year, I am particularly pleased that we can also highlight the scientific work of Ukrainian female researchers, as they are currently forced to work under the conditions caused by the unjustified Russian attack on their country”.

The “Danubius Award” was established in 2011 to honor researchers who have outstandingly dealt with the Danube Region in their academic or artistic work. The prize is granted every year on a rotating basis for achievements in the humanities, cultural and social sciences (2022) or in life sciences and is endowed with € 5,000.

The “Danubius Mid-Career Award” is endowed with € 2,200 and has been awarded since 2017 to researchers who are from 5 to a maximum of 15 years after their last formal scientific degree or have equivalent scientific experience. The prize winners were selected by an independent jury of experts chaired by Univ. Prof. Dr. Stefan M. Newerkla (University of Vienna).

Since 2014, special young talent awards, the “Danubius Young Scientist Awards” have also been awarded. The prize, which is open to all disciplines, highlights the scientific work and talent of young researchers and increases the visibility of the excellence of the research community in the Danube Region. In this way, the prizes also contribute to the fact that young scientists deal with the river and the region in a variety of ways. The young talent prizes are endowed with € 1.350, per award winner. The selection was made by an international jury of experts, whereby the candidates for the award were nominated by their respective scientific institutions. 

Austria  Daniela Apaydin  
Bosnia and Herzegovina  Marko Djukanović  
Croatia  Jelena Kranjec Orlović  
Czech Republic  Adela Grimes  
Germany  Jan Schmitt  
Hungary  Blanka Bartos  
Moldova  Nicolae Arnaut  
Montenegro  Miloš Brajović  
Romania  Mihaela Cudalbeanu 
Serbia  Zorana Miletić  
Slovakia  Tibor Zsigmond  
Slovenia  Žane Temova Rakuša  
Ukraine  Illia Diahovchenko  

Watch the Award ceremony below

Revolutionale Talks (Leipzig): Malwina Talik at the panel discussion about democracy, the rule of law and culture of memory in Poland

Free elections, freedom of the press and the rule of law were hard-won in Poland in the 1980s. In recent years, the country has repeatedly come under international criticism for dismantling the rule of law. How are the hard-won democratic freedoms of that time remembered today and are they currently in danger? What about the democratic and political awareness of Polish civil society and the culture of remembrance in Poland? 

Those were the core issues discussed during the third Revolutionale Talk (Leipzig): “Democracy in danger?! Developments in Rule of Law and Civil Society” on 3 November 2022 with Katarzyna Batko-Tołuć (Member of the Board at Watchdog Poland), Dr. Jacek Kołtan (Director’s Representative for Research at the European Solidarity Centre), Filip Pazderski (Senior Policy Analyst and Director of the Democracy and Civil Society Program of the Institute of Public Affairs ) and our colleague Malwina Talik (Research Associate at the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe). 

You will find more information about the event here. 

You can watch the discussion on the YouTube channel of the Revolutionale:

 

This could be of interest to you:  

Revolutionale 

Revolutionale Talk 1: Conflicted Memory in Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Revolutionale Talk 2: Burdened Memory: The State of Culture of Remembrance in Hungary