SAVE THE DATE: 12th International Symposium "Czech Foreign Policy"

The 12th International Symposium on the Czech Foreign Policy: Building Sustainable Connections, organised by the Institute of International Relations Prague, aims to explore connectivity and building sustainable connections in various spheres to bring about more lasting solutions, especially through strengthening the collaboration of like-minded democratic nations seeking a rule-based world order. The panels are going to explore topics related to sustainable development goals, mainly support of human rights and stronger institutions (democracy, good governance, and rule of law), gender equality (and women’s empowerment), the environment, energy, the efficiency of foreign aid, cyber security, propaganda and coalition-building. It is also pertinent to discuss how to navigate within the complex post-COVID-19 environment and what roles there are for various stakeholders.


Datum: 08.10.2020
Čas: 09:00
Místo: Czernin Palace, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Loretánské nám. 5, Prague 1
Spolupráce: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Repulic
Organizuje: Alica Kizeková


Preliminary Programme

8 October

08:30 – 09:00      Registration

09:00 – 09:30      Opening Remarks

Great Hall            Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic (TBC)
                            Ondřej Ditrych, Director of IIR Prague, Czechia
                            Alica Kizeková, Program Coordinator, Senior Researcher, IIR Prague, Czechia,

09:30-10:15        Keynote Speech

Great Hall           Where Do We Go from Here When We Have to Stay Put? An Up-Close Look at 
                           Foreign Policy and Good Governance Practice in Pandemic Times

                           Nancy Snow, Emeritus Professor, California State University/Fullerton, USA

The aim of this keynote speech is to provide a balanced assessment of media freedom and journalism in the context of propaganda, an inescapable part of global society. It covers American and Czech society in regard to the impacts this has had both socially and on modern-day diplomacy. Additionally, the talk promotes democratic values and good governance. Professor Snow is the first woman keynote speaker in the history of this international symposium. This sends a positive message to audiences across generations and through various forms of media, supports a greater push for gender equality, and empowers women and men who are active in foreign policy or other related fields to engage proactively in dialogues and idea sharing.

10:15-10:30       Coffee Break

10-30-12:00       Germany and Europe: In Search of Leadership?

Great Hall       

In the summer of 2020, Germany will assume the rotating EU Council Presidency. Europe’s biggest economy and central power will be leading the Union not only through the aftermath of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also towards a series of truly strategic challenges. The unequal economic impact of the pandemic has reopened debates about the Eurozone’s architecture as well as broader questions regarding solidarity between more and less affluent member states. China’s growing assertiveness and its deteriorating relationship with the US are reshaping the global order, calling for a European geopolitical and geo-economic response. The need for a robust intervention to restart the economy has ignited debates about the relationship between growth, jobs and the EU’s commitment to a climate-neutral economy.

Assuming the presidency in the last year of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship, will Germany be able to rise to these challenges? Will it aspire to a leadership role, or rather act as Europe’s honest broker? Will it succeed in making the EU stronger and more coherent. Finally, what will be the legacy of Angela Merkel’s fifteen years in power for the European Union?


Mirror Hall          Connectivity in Eurasia: Strategies, Intra-connectivity and Challenges

                           Expert Roundtable

During this roundtable, Asia experts will discuss examples of connectivity and intra-connectivity in the immediate neighbourhood and  Central Asia, sustainability of projects and specific connections. The panellists will analyse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on  the existing or planned initiatives in this area, including the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (including 17+1 and engagements in Central Asia), and the EU Connectivity Strategy, and also on the Eurasian connectivity (EU-Asia rail and maritime connections) and issues related purely to the intra-CEE connectivity (V4 and Three Seas Initiative). The experts will tap into their expertise and the latest findings and will also attempt to answer the following questions:

- How compatible are the connectivity strategies of key players in selected regions, what are the areas of joint interests and, in contrast, in which areas might there be frictions?

- What recommendations are there for the countries of the Visegrad Group when they participate in specific frameworks or initiatives (e.g. 17+1 or the EU Connectivity Strategy) in order to benefit but also utilise their know-how and thus improve the collaboration internally within the chosen platform, as well as externally vis-à-vis countries in the neighbourhood or Central Asia?

- What COVID-19-related challenges do you anticipate in relation to your research agenda? Do you have any recommendations for how to overcome these issues?

12:00-13:00       Lunch

13:00-13:30      Special Talk and Q&A: The Czech Republic in the Era of COVID-19

Great Hall          

13:30-15:00      Coalition-Building: The Views from the Visegrad Four Countries

 Great Hall          

The post-Brexit EU provides an opportunity to invest in building a better capacity to participate in and shape the EU’s foreign policy (budgeting, expertise, personnel, readiness to lead in some initiatives). While it is pertinent to deepen ties with the traditional allies, there should also be an increased effort to secure partnerships with new potential allies or introduce new formats of cooperation to the already existing ones in regard to specific issues. In Europe, the V4 countries already have constructive engagements with Austria, the Baltic states, and the Nordic countries. More attention should be given to the two drivers of the European agenda: France and Germany. For the Czech Republic, an opportunity presents itself in the lead up to the 2022 Czech Presidency, namely an opportunity for closer coordination with France and Sweden within the ‘Troika’. 

- In your view, how important and viable is committing more political capital and resources to foster more linkages within the Troika, and the revival of cooperation in the Weimar format or other platforms, especially if there are outstanding differences in priorities and divisions in terms of approaches or solutions (e.g. to issues like migration, enlargement, etc.)?

- Which key issues should the V4 countries focus on in the upcoming 5 years, and how, in practice, can they contribute toward the all-encompassing EU solutions? Or should we strive for more flexibility in some agendas?

- Can you identify areas where the Visegrad countries could play a constructive role in relation to the EU’s global strategy and the relations with major powers, such as China and the US (individually and through the V4 platform)? How can the V4 strengthen the already existing formats of cooperation with countries such as Japan and South Korea, and further develop engagements with India?


Mirror Hall          The European Green Deal: Goals and Pitfalls

The Paris Agreement was criticized by many, but also praised for having achieved the necessary common goal of keeping the rising temperature well below 2°C above preindustrial levels. The European Green Deal is supposed to lead the way in this effort. Its complex architecture promises sustainability, but its acceptance of economic growth opens questions about what can be achieved. The position of Czechia and a few other countries toward it is ambivalent and rather pragmatic.

What should one expect in the current political and ecological situation from the European Green Deal? What are its pitfalls? What can the circular economy as its main component achieve? What is meant by the possible revision of the Emissions Trading System? Is Farm to Fork a viable strategy? And most importantly, can the European Green Deal contribute sufficiently to the common environmental effort? These and other questions concerning ecological sustainability and the European political economy should be addressed in this panel.


Music Hall           Building a Sustainable Future for Post-conflict Areas in the European Neighbourhood:
                           Transitional Justice and Reintegration in Syria and Iraq

This panel discusses options that the international community, and smaller states with human rights legal expertise, can offer to establish post-conflict justice mechanisms in Syria and Iraq. A long-term sustainable stabilization of the region and prevention of potential future threats to the EU from it require judicial and peacebuilding activities aimed at, inter alia, ISIS (and other terrorist groups’) fighters and their families held in prisons and refugee camps in the region. Discussions of post-conflict justice supported by the European partners contribute to outlining practical instruments that would ensure respect for human rights along this process.

Bringing together academics and policymakers, the panel seeks to address primarily the following questions: What role should the international community assume towards the post-conflict transition in former ISIS-held areas of Iraq and Syria and who should act in this regard? What forms of reintegration and post-conflict justice have so far proved to be the most efficient? What could be the role of smaller states, such as Czechia, in the international reaction?


15:00-15:15       Coffee Break

15:15-16:45       Towards Inclusive Democracies: Women’s Representation, Leadership, Security
                           and International Relations


Great Hall           

A distinguished roundtable of experts will share their thoughts on women’s participation and the improvements to their representation in leadership, diplomacy, international politics and security. Achieving greater equality is not just about the numbers but about exploring the needs, roles and priorities of men and women as they relate to their respective positions. In order to analyse this issue, find sustainable solutions to it or anticipate future threats in vulnerable areas, we must be able to tap into the whole of society to make sure that the concerns and voices of all parts of the population are included in the discussion. There is a need to improve communication and foster an enabling environment for change by challenging the stereotypes and providing opportunities for more and better participation of women. The panelists will tap into their experiences and expertise and also attempt to answer the following questions:

- Do women have specific contributions to make that are different from those of other genders in diplomacy, leadership, international relations, sustainability and security?

- How does engaging women in leadership and decision-making create a more inclusive democracy and contribute to better responses to threats?

- How does an adequate inclusion of women in debates contribute to changing the discourse and thus challenging the dominant foreign policy and security narratives?

- What is the most pressing issue beyond the COVID-19 pandemic that is revealed through the health crisis? / What has the COVID-19 pandemic shown us about gender inequality and its consequences for people around the world?

- Where to look for the most positive examples of women's equal participation in foreign policy?

 Mirror Hall       “Through Participation of All”. Does Democracy, Human Rights and Civil Society Promotion
                           Work for Sustainable Development?

Participation was the main priority of the past Czech presidency of the UN Economic and Social Council, in line with the government’s priority of focusing on the Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” in its external policies with the promise of “leaving no one behind”. While thriving democratic societies and healthy livelihoods are values in their own right, this panel seeks to explore their mutual links in a time of transformative challenges of the climate crisis, rising authoritarianism and the post-pandemic economic downturn. Consequently, it explores whether traditional foreign policy tools are still up to date for promoting global sustainable development in both the global North and South.

- What are the impacts of the current adverse context on the capacity of women, men and children to participate on determining the future they want for themselves, future generations and nature?

- Do political dialogue, democracy promotion and development policy at bilateral, EU and multilateral levels lead to more sustainable societies that carefully balance social, economic and environmental dimensions with political freedoms as people see them?

- How should we adapt and (re)invent our attitudes to international politics and foreign policy tools to tackle the link between rights, participation and sustainability?


Music Hall          Moving Towards a Climate-Neutral Economy: The EU/Czech Republic and the 2050
                           Climate and Energy Framework

Dealing with the warming atmosphere and changing climate has been recognized as this generation's defining task. As a response (in March 2019) the European Parliament has endorsed the objective of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. More recently, the newly elected European Commission reaffirmed this ambition by introducing a strategy (the European Green Deal) along with a roadmap of key policies and measures to follow (e.g., the Climate Law, the plan to increase the EU 2030 climate targets, revisions of the ETS Directive, the Effort Sharing Regulation, the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Taxation Directive and the evaluation and review of the TEN-E Regulation), and by doing so has put the European Union and its citizens on the path to climate neutrality by 2050. The energy system with expanding renewables and energy efficiency, is undoubtedly crucial for delivering on these goals and our panel's aim is to address some of the key puzzles relating to this unprecedented transformation.

We will attempt to address following questions:

- What are the future prospects of Member States, regions, territories and/or even EU citizens in terms of facing the biggest transition challenges?

- Is the EU able to build and maintain sustainable connections across the world and promote stronger energy policies beyond its borders as well?

- How does this climate transition reshape its relations with major energy suppliers and its security interests?

16:45-17:00       Break

17:00-17:30       Special Talk and Q&A: TBC

17:30-17:45       Closing Remarks

18:00                 Banquet (by invitation only)


Please, note that the programme is subject to change and it will be updated continuously until 8 October 2020.


Program Coordinator:  Dr Alica Kizekova

Logistics: Conference Service

Media Contact: Petra Schwarz Koutska

Project is supported by Ministry of Foreign Affaits, Czech Republic, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Prague and U.S. Embassy in Prague