Plenary Panel 1: Overcoming Great Power Competition: The East, The West and The Rest (In partnership with the Balkan Trust for Democracy)
- If we presume that great power competition exists, what are they competing for in the world of today? How different is this renewed rivalry (some would argue: confrontation) from the one 50, or 100 years ago?
- Does Russia, China or someone else of the “emerging competitors” offer a distinct governance model? If yes, what would be its key features?
- Can you imagine such a scenario that would lead us to an armed confrontation?
- Populism, nationalism, geopolitics… can you imagine different forces prevailing? A “grand return” of liberal democracy this time around?
- Have “we” (WB countries) opened the door for this renewed competition? If yes, how? Or would it have happened anyway?
- What are the short- and long-term consequences for the (Western) Balkans (and South East Europe)?
- Can one be resilient to foreign influence today? Which foreign influence would you judge as “hostile”? How do you understand this much-touted concept of resilience?
The myth of the Western Balkans as a region in the focus of outside powers’ attention persists; maybe because it is not only a myth. This time around, relations of actors who are interested more resemble competition than conflict. Each side strives to present itself as successful, promising a better quality of life. In doing so, it invokes arguments that are both irrational and rational. Luckily, Balkans has not become a hotbed for proxy conflict – yet. The region suffers, like other places around the world, the consequences of a paradigm shift: one in which multilateralism, liberalism, and openness has been in retreat for several years now. A lot has been taken for granted; like that elites are committed to the idea of integration, that there is “no other game in town”, that it is not leaders themselves who are opening the space for so-called third actors, as a way to raise their strategic value and negotiating power. In comes the concept of “resilience”, which in the Western Balkans still has to become something more than a catchphrase. What this might mean for the citizens, and their political representatives, is another question for our panel.
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