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.

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?

America's Pivot to Asia with Soli Özel

In this first podcast of our second season, Soli Özel and Ivan Vejvoda discuss the ongoing refocusing of the US's attention on the Indo-Pacific region and the attendant disengagement of the Superpower from the theaters that defined its international relationships during the cold war. Tracing the line of recent history from the so-called 'Obama doctrine' through the Trump presidency and up to the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan, the furore in Europe surrounding the AUKUS pact and the role that the shifting balance of power has played in Turkey, Syria, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Wider Europe and beyond - Özel and Vejvoda wrestle with the implications of a truly epochal shift in the geopolitical status quo.

Episode 7: Precarity, Risk and Safe Speech with Albena Azmanova

Focusing on the arguments in her latest book “Capitalism On Edge: How Fighting Precarity Can Achieve Radical Change Without Crisis or Utopia?“ Ivan Vejvoda and Albena Azmanova discuss the future of Guy Standing’s “precariat”, that class of people whom late capitalism has condemned to live without predictability or security and who are asked to take ever greater risks with ever diminishing prospects of reward. They look at the possibilities for change, the insufficiency of “inequality” as an explanatory narrative and the challenges around the conflict between the desire for safety in academia and the imperatives of free speech and inquiry.


Episode 6: The Regression of Democracy with Judy Dempsey

Judy Dempsey and Ivan Vejvoda consider the world-wide sense that democracy has been in regression these last years in a wide-ranging conversation that takes in media oligarchy, the roles of threat perception and values in forming a common European purpose, the legacy of the enlightenment and much more.

Judy is currently a Europe's Futures fellowa at the IWM and is a Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe and editor-in-chief of its Strategic Europe blog. Formerly a columnist for the International New York Times, Germany Correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and Eastern Europe correspondent for the Financial Times - she has borne witness to the tribulations of European democracy over many years covering the NATO and European enlargements and reporting from the ground during the world-shaking transformations of 1989 and 1990