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International Conference

The European Union and Russia in the Post-Soviet Area: Shared Neighbourhood or Battlefield of Influence?

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On Friday and Saturday, October 22nd and 23rd, 2010 the International conference The European Union and Russia in the Post-Soviet Area: Shared Neighbourhood or Battlefield of Influence?was held in Forlì, in the traditional location in Garzanti Hall at Hotel della Città. Every year since 2005, within the framework of the Italian-Russian Forlì Days initiative, the Istituto per l’Europa Centro-Orientale e Balcanica has organised an international meeting as a regular appointment for prominent scholars and experts to gather in Forlì and discuss topics of relevance for the relationship between the European Union and Russia. This year’s meeting was devoted to analysing the relationship between these two actors in the post-Soviet space, with a focus on overlapping and conflicting interests, security issues, and key challenges related to politics, economics and ideology.

The conference opened with a welcome address by Patrick Leech, Forlì City Councillor for Culture and International Relations, followed by Prof. Marcello Garzaniti, president of the Italian Association of Slavistics Scholars.

On Friday afternoon the first session of the conference was devoted to examining the international context in which the EU and Russia currently act, with particular attention to the geopolitical framework of their relationship in terms of security issues and overlapping interests. Prof. Paolo Calzini (Johns Hopkins University, Bologna Center) opened the session by contextualising the geopolitical interests at stake in the post-Soviet space, with a special focus on opportunities for cooperation as well as grounds for conflict. Then Prof. Oxana Gaman-Golutvina (MGIMO-University, Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Vice-President of the Russian Political Science Association) took the floor to outline Russia's neighbourhood policies and issues, with a particular attention paid to Ukraine. The notion of neighbourhood was then taken up by Albert Bininashvili (Columbia University, New York), who dealt with this subject in relation to European Union policies, highlighting how enlargement and neighbourhood policies are not currently at the top of the EU agenda, in light of the economic and employment crisis and enlargement fatigue. Unfortunately, the speech by Robert Craig Nation (Professor of Strategy and Director of European Studies at U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania) on “The New U.S. Administration and its Perspectives” could not be delivered due to the speaker's health problems. Thus, the panel proceeded to the discussion and question and answer session with the audience, led by Chair Ilya Roytman (President of Interregional Non-Governmental Organisation for the Promotion of Cultural Cooperation with EU Countries) and discussants Sergey Markov (Vice-Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee for Non-Governmental and Religious Organisations) and Mark Urnov (Academic Supervisor of Faculty of Politics of Moscow's Higher School of Economics).

Saturday morning's session, chaired by Stefano Garzonio (University of Pisa, focused on key political and economic challenges, with special attention on economic and social models as well as bringing Ukraine and China into the picture. In the first speech (read by a representative), Konstantin Beschetnov (Russian State Duma Deputee) addressed the notions of liberal and authoritarian capitalism as well as political and economic competition between different systems. Then D. Mario Nuti (Faculty of Economics, University of Rome "La Sapienza") posited the issue of alternative economic systems and discussed the feasibility and sustainability of the European social model. Oleg Matveichev (Professor of the Higher School of Economics) went on to focus on political and economic ties between Russia and Ukraine, while Gian Paolo Caselli(University of Modena) reconsidered Russia's economic development in the light of the current economic crisis. The panel discussion initiated by Milica Uvalić (University of Perugia) dealt with the current state of dominant economic models –, especially the neoliberal one that was so widely adopted by transitional Central European countries, - and the notion of a “third way”.

The conference's closing session on Saturday afternoon consisted of a round-table on ideological issues, focusing on new forms of ideological competition, namely “The Role of Values: the EU and Russian Visions of Democracy, Freedom, State Identities and Human Rights, specifically in the Western CIS and the Caucasus”. The round-table was chaired by Milica Uvalić (University of Perugia) and opened by Ilya Roytman (President of Interregional Non-Governmental Organisation for the Promotion of Cultural Cooperation with EU Countries), who introduced the main concepts. The debate livened up considerably when Mykola Ryabchuk (Centrum for Rysslandsstudier, Uppsala University) declared his complete disagreement with everything that had been said in the previous sessions with regard to the position of Ukraine. Furthermore, prof. Ryabchuk pointed out that the previous panels had taken into consideration the interests of Russia on the one hand and of the European Union on the other, while suggesting that the interests of the “in-between” countries should be considered and investigated as well. The following addresses by Mikhail Odessky (Russian State Humanitarian University), Nicolai N. Petro (University of Rhode Island, Kingston), and Anatoli Mikhailov (Rector of the European Humanities University, Vilnius) brought further new elements to the discussion, including a reflection on the concept of modernisation and the reconsideration of the historical heritage of currently “peripheral” regions. Finally, prof. Stefano Bianchini (University of Bologna, Forlì campus) took stock of the issues raised and started the debate, involving panelists and the audience until the conclusion of the event.

The pool of Italian and international experts participating in and contributing to the conference included:

  • Sara Barbieri (University of San Marino)
  • Francesco Benvenuti (University of Bologna)
  • Alberto Chilosi (University of Pisa)
  • Guido Franzinetti (University of Piemonte)
  • Francesca Gori (UniCredit Group, Milano)
  • Carolyn Kadas (University of Bologna)
  • Olga Kalinkina (Interregional Non-Governmental Organisation for the Promotion of Cultural Cooperation with EU Countries)
  • Dick Krickus (University of Mary Washington / Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas)
  • Simona Mameli (University of Bern/ IECOB)
  • Mara Morini (University of Parma)
  • Giuseppe Motta (University of Roma "La Sapienza")
  • Yulia Musyka (Interregional Non-Governmental Organisation for the Promotion of Cultural Cooperation with EU Countries)
  • Justas Vincas Paleckis (European Parliament, Brussels)
  • Volodymyr Paniotto (Kiev International Institute of Sociology)
  • Tomislava Penkova (Catholic University of Milan)
  • Monica Perotto (University of Bologna)
  • Ugo Persi (University of Bergamo)
  • Natalia Pinchuk (University of Milan)
  • and Francesco Privitera (University of Bologna, Forlì Campus)


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Last Updated on Friday, 26 November 2023 12:23  


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