From Thursday the 10th through Friday the 11th of March, Krytyka Polityczna hosted a conference on the different pieces of the puzzle making up the patchwork of foreign policy issues most affecting Europe.
The socio-political crises which have come about in Southern and Central Europe as a consequence of the political indecision and discord resulting from the flow of refugees from the Middle East have made the countries from which these refugees are fleeing key foci of European foreign affairs. In particular, the Syrian and Iraqi territories occupied by the the so-called Islamic State have come under increasing scrutiny and are currently the target of many international efforts. This focus on the Middle East also diminishes the level of attention dedicated to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Similarly, Russia’s military involvement in Syria and its support for President Assad make the country a key player in Middle East negotiations, requiring the West to re-engage with the country’s leadership and to take their actions into account, when considering strategic solutions to the problems posed by ISIS and the mass migration of peoples caused by the conflict.
All these processes create an extremely complicated strategic puzzle, consisting of different regions (Donbass, the Crimea, the Middle East, Central Europe and the Balkans) and often contradictory political, social and economic interests. However, for all their diversity, these events have one thing in common: together they determine the fate of refugees, the cohesion and solidarity of Europe and the geopolitical influence of diverse powers. Subsequently, events in Syria have come to be more and more closely observed, especially in Central Europe and in the Balkans, where different dimensions of this puzzle interact and intertwine. Russian interests and involvement, both closer to home and within the Middle East, have had an impact upon the expansion of ISIS and the flow of refugees towards EU nations and it is this interconnectedness which has opened up new diplomatic possibilities for Russia. With the increasing shift of priorities, Russia finds itself back in the midst of diplomatic negotiations, with suggestions of a possible trade-off between the West and Russia, in which Western acceptance for the status quo in Ukraine could be exchanged for Russia’s cooperation in the Middle East. In Warsaw, where both the question of refugees and Russian activities in Ukraine are matters of huge controversy, Krytyka Polityczna therefore gathered together experts, commentators and civic activists involved in Middle-Eastern, Ukrainian and Balkan affairs to discuss the big picture, analysing the situation over the course of a two-day conference, in order to coherently chart an extremely vague territory.
Click on the titles below to watch selected debate videos from the conference
- Has Europe forgotten about Ukraine? By Andrew Wilson
- What can we expect from Russia in Syria? By Kadri Liik
- View from Warsaw: concerns about a Ukraine-Syria trade-off By Piotr Buras
- Questions linger over Russia’s endgame in Syria, Ukraine and Europe By Neil MacFarquhar
- Russia in Ukraine and Syria: strengths and weaknesses By Alexander Tabchnik
- The meaning of Russia’s campaign in Syria By Stephen R. Covington
- Another day, another conflict: Russia, Ukraine and the Syrian Civil War By Greg Forbes
- Russia – EU relations in 2015: from Ukraine to Syria By Andrew Rettman
- Putin wants to turn page from Ukraine to Syria By Jan Cienski
- Brave new war By Peter Pomerantsev
- Why Russia needs Syria By Amy Knight
- Can Putin bomb his way out of sanctions? By Moisés Naím
- Putin versus ISIS: Russia’s great game in Syria By Mark Leonard
- Can Russia afford to fight two wars in Syria and Ukraine? By Lydia Tomkiw