At the Europe's Futures Annual Symposium 2023, the fifth cohort of Europe’s Futures Fellows presented the conclusions of their research in the academic year 2022/23. The findings were discussed with the Europe’s Futures Alumni Network and researchers from the University of Rijeka Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe.
10:00-11:00 Ukraine on the European Path and Its Adversaries
Keynote: Oksana Forostyna
While the pro-Russian sentiments in Ukraine are decreasing, and while the parties with pro-Russian agenda are formally banned, it would be delusional to write them off. This research questions several assumptions regarding “pro-Russian” political movements, such as the assumption that they only existed because of ideological and financial lifelines from Russia, now unavailable, and the deceptive dichotomy of “pro-Russian” and “pro-Ukrainian” politicians as the main actors. This dichotomy excludes the vague, wobbling body of ideas that has a history of being instrumentalized, but never had a chance to resist the appropriation by the stronger ideologies. However, the attempts to constitute these ideas as something coherent began even before the invasion, and they may serve anti-EU actors well after the war.
11:30-12:30 End of the Near Abroad
Keynote: Thomas de Waal
Decline in Russian influence
Decline in Russian-led regional institutions and soft power. Strategic incoherence/confusion in Russia on the neighbourhood. Russian society more post-imperial than the state. Russia more “exceptionalist” than “imperialist”—there is no regional vision. This makes Russian actions less attractive, but more unpredictable and dangerous.
Several different post-Soviet regions. Most post-Soviet states are “in between states” moving away from Russia but not yet belonging somewhere else. They are “bastions of state sovereignty” more inclined to rivalry than cross-border cooperation. Many keep strong informal economic links and labour migration with Russia.
Challenge to encourage regional cooperation between the in-between states. (Baltic States are a model) Engage more deeply in conflict resolution and outreach to minorities. Poverty is the big Achilles heel. These are low-income countries in need of a development model.
17:00-18:00 Implications of the Russo-Ukrainian War for European Integration
Keynote: Nathalie Tocci
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is transforming Europe profoundly. Europe has reacted politically, energetically and in terms of enlargement and defence. Unprecedented sanctions, the first ever activation of the temporary protection mechanism for refugees, energy diversification, efficiency and accelerated transition, as well as the revival of enlargement policy, greater defence spending and the development and use of the European Peace Facility, are all ground-breaking developments. Some, like the steps forward made on energy, will make the EU stronger and more resilient than what it was before the war. On other issues, like enlargement, it remains to be seen whether the EU will truly revive its accession policy. On European defence, the challenge is even greater, given that, notwithstanding the significance of the EU’s moves, these are insufficient to reverse the trend of greater dependence on the US, reducing European foreign policy autonomy, first and foremost vis-à-vis China.
18:30-19:30 The Return of History and Climate Disruptive Futures
Keynote: Olivia Lazard
A playlist with all recorded discussion panels is available here.