Conference on the Geopolitics in Central and Eastern Europe
On the first day of the international conference "Geopolitics in Central and Eastern Europe" (Budapest, 2-3 May, 2022), the geopolitical situation of Central and Eastern European countries was analyzed by a handful of specialists in various fields. Having in mind that these political entities are placed at the center of overlapping spheres of interest and are influenced by external forces, the presenters assessed possible future actions in terms of foreign and security policy and the role of the region during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
The conference gathered professors, activists, and analysts from Austria, China, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey, and the USA. In his opening speech, Hardy Ostry, Director of the European Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, put forward the challenging context of the Russian invasion in Ukraine and the necessity to offer a clear account of the socio-political realities. Christoph Heusgen, Board of the Trustees of the MSC Foundation, University of St. Gallen, underlined that the basis for the sanctions directed at Russia is the violation of the international legal order, not only of the European values. Without this detail, the actions taken against the aggressor could be taken as hypocritical, because members of NATO have intervened in different countries throughout the world. Sorin Ionita, from Expert Forum (EFOR), Bucharest, talked about the weaknesses of Central and Eastern European countries and their internal problems. Faced with so many shortcomings and imperfect leaders, he says, we should still speak the truth and oppose the narrative propagated by Kremlin.
The concluding panel focused on two main issues: the account of the recent history of the EU and the unity of the West. The first problem is very important due to the desire of Ukraine, Serbia, and Moldova to accede to the EU. These countries would significantly benefit from assessing the manner in which the EU accession process has impacted the democratization and economic growth in their neighboring states that already joined the EU club. Because Europe has a duty to Ukraine, it has to explain the difficulty of this long and complicated process. To avoid the frustration of Ukraine, Moldova, and Serbia, the EU has to be clear about its requirements and benefits of membership. The second problem concerns not only the humanitarian support given to Ukraine, but the European countries’ coordinated effort in upholding democracy.
Lee Feinstein, President of McLarty Associates, Washington, D.C., said during the same panel that we have to take stock of the remarkable manner in which EU unity was manifested following invasion. Although peace is being threatened in Europe and the future is uncertain, the unity manifested by the European community is a real accomplishment and should serve as a model for future decisions.