Podcasts / Vienna Coffee House Conversations with Ivan Vejvoda

Vienna Coffee House Conversations with Ivan Vejvoda

“Europe is made up of coffee houses or cafes… Draw the coffee-house map and you have one of the essential markers of the ‘idea of Europe’.”

George Steiner

Vienna Coffee House Conversations podcast series are brought about by Ivan Vejvoda, IWM’s Permanent Fellow and director of Europe’s Futures – Ideas for Action project.

As Europe finds itself confronted with challenges of a magnitude it has not experienced since the crises of the 1930s, it is of the essence to create a space to understand the current dynamics and to bring people from the different corners of Europe to speak and listen to each other on many challenges: rule of law, democratic deterioration, depopulation and migration, unity and solidarity, the wake of Brexit, the enlargement prospects in the Western Balkans.

Expanding that space, Europe’s Futures Fellows and other prominent European experts join Ivan Vejvoda in 30-min episodes with succinct discussion on issues with lines sometimes blurred but importance always clear for the success of the European project.

Deliberative Democracy, its Dangers and the Future of Europe with Wojciech Przybylski

The Conference on the Future of Europe - a multi-year consultation that aims to set an agenda for the reform of EU policies and institutions in the medium to long term by inviting participation from EU citizens and civil society - is ongoing following the launch of its digital platform in April 2021. Does the conference represent a new frontier in deliberative democracy or does it give undue prominence to the preoccupations and divisive rhetoric of outlier political movements that do not represent majority EU opinion?

In this episode, Wojciech Przybylski - Editor-In-Chief of Visegrad Insight and a Europe's Futures Fellow at the IWM - discusses these concerns with Ivan Vejvoda and expands upon his own research on the future of the continent: will Europe remain the peace project it was conceived as, or will strategic autonomy confer upon it the status of superpower?

This Podcast was recorded prior to the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In addition to his work at Visegrad, Wojciech Przybylski is chairman of the Res Publica Foundation in Warsaw. Read more of his work at Visegrad Insight here.


CO₂, China and Economic Competition with Janka Oertel

This week Ivan Vejvoda is in conversation with the director of the Asia programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations Janka Oertel. Against a backdrop of rising global temperatures and the pledges made at the COP 26 summit in Glasgow last year, Oertel and Vejvoda consider the pivotal role that China will play in determining whether humanity can achieve its stated aim and keep warming below 1.5 degrees. Conventional wisdom sees the rise in emissions that has accompanied China's emergence as an economic superpower as a forbidding hurdle, but emissions have fallen recently and the country's commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 took many by surprise.  What does the arrival of the Chinese epoch mean for Europe and the planet?

In addition to her role at the ECFR, Janka Oertel is a Europe's Futures fellow at the IWM this year, has been a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Berlin office and was a program director at the Körber Foundation. She has published widely on topics related to EU-China relations, US-China relations, security in the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese foreign policy, 5G and emerging technologies as well as climate cooperation. 

Read more about the Europe's Futures Program

Information about Janka Oertel's fellowship is available on our website

Download and subscribe to the podcast series 

Abortion Rights and Ultra Conservatism with Amanda Coakley

In this episode Ivan Vejvoda speaks with award-winning international correspondent and Europe's Futures fellow Amanda Coakley about the rollback of women's reproductive rights in Central Europe. The discussion charts the effective outlawing of abortion in Poland, when a judgement of the country's constitutional tribunal came in to force in January 2021 limiting abortion to cases where the pregnancy was the result of a criminal act or where the life of the mother was at risk.

In this podcast they ask why some countries have moved toward restrictions of this kind while others, like Coakley's native Ireland, have seemed to progress in the opposite direction. What are the social forces underpinning this shift in attitudes and what role have ultra-conservative organizations played?

You can read more on Amanda's Europe's Futures fellowship project here on the IWM website.

European Autonomy with Zoran Nechev

Zoran Nechev heads the Center for EU integration at the Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” Skopje, a Macedonian think tank organisation devoted to research and capacity-building in matters related to EU in general, and the enlargement process more specifically. He is an IWM Europe's Futures fellow, a member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group, a PhD candidate at Vrije Universiteit's Institute for European Studies and an associate fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Boiling down the definition of strategic autonomy to the EU's 'freedom to act, and the freedom from overdependence' - Nechev and Vejvoda use this podcast to explore the necessity for, logistics of and limits on European autonomy. As various crises have rocked the foundations of the EU, shifts in the geopolitical status quo have raised questions about the potency of NATO and the process of EU enlargement has proceeded in fits and starts; they look to the future and ask what EU security policy might look like a decade from now.

Democratic Resilience with Oana Popescu-Zamfir

A renowned public figure and director of the Global Focus Center in Romania, Ivan Vejvoda's guest this week is Oana Popescu-Zamfir. Bringing a wealth of academic and government experience to the Europe's Future's programme, Oana is also the director of the Democratic Resilience Index: the first quantitative instrument specifically designed to measure the robustness of democratic institutions around the world with pilot results in Romania, Hungary and the Republic of Moldova.

Here, she and Ivan turn their attention to the challenges facing Europe's institutions today. From the ongoing fundamental clash of political systems developing in the twenty-first century as China's economic power grows and Russia tests its borders to the threats of cyber warfare and disruptive technologies - and to the disillusionment of ordinary people who feel they have lost their grip on their daily lives - Ivan and Oana seek an understanding of the state of play in a democratic order that feels increasingly fragile.

China, Europe and the Belt and Road Initiative with Valbona Zeneli

In this episode Ivan Vejvoda talks with Valbona Zeneli, professor of national security studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch, Germany. Born in Albania, Dr. Zeneli is an economist with an interest in international economics, good governance and international security politics. In a complex discussion, Zeneli and Vejvoda trace the web of Chinese economic influence and address the geopolitical impact of China's global infrastructure development strategy - often called the 'Belt and Road Initiative' - on the countries of Southeastern Europe. Is the allure of Chinese investment disrupting the economic relevance of the EU in the Western Balkans and beyond?