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.

The event is going to be online. 


Datum: 08.10.2020
Čas: 09:00
Spolupráce: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Repulic
Organizuje: Alica Kizeková

The programme is available in PDF here.

The report from the conference in PDF is available here.


Preliminary Programme

8th October, 2020.

Please register for the online event here.

09:00 – 09:25      Opening Remarks

Stage I

Tomáš Petříček, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
Ondřej Ditrych, Director of IIR Prague, Czechia.
Alica Kizeková, Program Coordinator, Senior Researcher, IIR Prague, Czechia.

09:35-10:20        Keynote Speeches and Debate

Stage I

Nancy Snow, Pax Mundi Professor Public Diplomacy, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Japan. Emeritus Professor, California State University/Fullerton, USA.

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

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.

Françoise Nicolas, Director of Ifri's Center for Asian Studies, France.

Towards economic deglobalization after the pandemics?

The Covid-19-led economic crisis has amplified and accelerated pre-existing trends (in particular rising tensions between China and the US, as well as rising doubts about the risks of globalization). The pandemic has highlighted the fragility/vulnerability of global value chains (GVCs) and the risk associated with an excessive fragmentation of production. To a large extent, this hyper-specialization was the result of pure economic calculations (prioritizing cost-efficiency) at the expense of (national) security considerations. A major change brought about by the Covid-19 crisis is to highlight the importance of such security considerations.

While some people call for deglobalization, it will be argued here that rather than dismantling existing GVCs, the best way to reconcile efficiency and security is to resort to new forms of globalization based in particular on the use of industry 4.0 (automation, 3D printing, AI, etc) but also to develop new forms of connectivity. However, there are limits to what can be achieved through these measures and some form of globalization is here to stay.

10:20-10:30       Break

10-30-11:30       Germany and Europe: In Search of Leadership?

Stage I

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?

Chair: Jakub Eberle, Head, Centre for European Integration, IIR Prague, Czechia.


Hans Kundnani, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House, UK.
Jana Puglierin, Head ECFR Berlin, Germany. 
Vladimír Handl, Associate Research Fellow, IIR and Charles University, Czechia. 
Pavlína Janebová, Deputy Research Director, Association for International Affairs, Czechia. 

10:30-12:00      Connectivity in Eurasia: Strategies, Intra-connectivity and Challenges

Stage II

During this panel, 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?

Chair: Alica Kizeková, Senior Researcher, IIR Prague, Czechia


Andreas Marazis, Head of Research for Eastern & Central Asia, ENC, Belgium
Sinikukka Saari, Senior Associate Analyst, EUISS, France
Jakub Jakóbowski, Senior Fellow, OSW, Poland
Janka Oertel, Director of the Asia Programme, ECFR Berlin, Germany
Rudolf Fürst, Head, Centre for EU-Asia Relations, IIR Prague, Czechia
Bruce Pannier, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Czechia

12:00-13:00      Break

13:00-14:00     Coalition-Building: The Views from the Visegrad Four Countries     

Stage I 

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? 

Chair: Vladimír Bartovic, Director, EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, Czechia


Radovan Geist, Editor-in-Chief, EURACTIV.sk, Slovakia
Mats Braun, Metropolitan University Prague, Czechia
Márton Ugrósdy, Director of IFAT, Hungary 
Konrad Poplawski, Head of Central European Department, OSW Poland

13:00-14:00       The European Green Deal: Goals and Pitfalls

Stage II

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.

Chair: Tomas Profant, Researcher, IIR Prague, Czechia


Nina Treu, Co-founder, Laboratory for New Economic Ideas, Leipzig, Germany.
Per Espen Stoknes, Director, Centre For Sustainability and Energy, Norwegian Business School, Norway.

14:00-14:10 Break

14:10- 15:10 Building sustainable future in European neighborhood after ISIS: Post-conflict justice, reintegration and development in Syria and Iraq

Stage I

The panel discusses options that the international community, and smaller states with human rights, humanitarian, and development expertise, can offer to establish post-conflict stabilization mechanisms in Syria and Iraq. Long-term sustainable stabilization of the region and prevention of potential future threats to the EU requires judicial, peacebuilding, and development activities aimed at, inter alia, areas, and communities impacted by the conflict with ISIS (and of other terrorist groups), as well as former fighters and their families. Discussion of post-conflict justice and reconstruction supported by the European partners contribute to outlining practical instruments ensuring respect of human rights along this process.

Bringing together academics and policy-makers, 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? What forms of post-conflict justice and post-conflict reconstruction have so far proved to be the most efficient? What could be the role of smaller states, such as Czechia, in the international reaction?

Chair: Jan Daniel, Researcher, IIR Prague, Czechia


Jan Ilhan Kizilhan, Psychologist and Trauma Expert, University of Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
Ulrich Garms, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Austria.
Petra Ditrichová, Ministry of Defence, Czechia.
Tomáš Kocian, People in Need, Czechia.
Lukáš Gjurič, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

14:10-15:10       Towards Inclusive Democracies: Women’s Representation, Leadership, Security
                           and International Relations

Stage II    

A distinguished panel 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?

Chair: Alica Kizeková, Senior Researcher, IIR Prague, Czechia.


Ayesha Patricia Rekhi, Ambassador of Canada to the Czech Republic.
Nancy Snow, Pax Mundi Professor Public Diplomacy, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Japan. Emeritus Professor, California State University/Fullerton, USA. n, USA. 
Pavlína Janebová, Deputy Research Director, Association for International Affairs, Czechia
Velina Tchakarova, Head AIES, Austria. 
Birgit Van Hout, Regional Representative for Europe at UN Human Rights, Belgium. 

15:20-16:20       “Through Participation of All”. Does Democracy, Human Rights and Civil Society Promotion
                           Work for Sustainable Development?

Stage I

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?

Chair: Ondřej Horký-Hlucháň, Senior Researcher, IIR Prague, Czechia.


Kees Biekart, Associate Professor, Civic Innovation Research Initiative (CIRI), Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands.
Martin Skalský, Chairman of the Association, Arnika, Czechia.

15:20-16:20       Moving Towards a Climate-Neutral Economy: The EU/Czech Republic and the 2050
                           Climate and Energy Framework

Stage II

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?

Chair: Jan Mazač, Junior Associate, IIR Prague, Czechia.


Jitka Holubcová, Senior Analyst, NET4GAS, Czechia.
Zbyněk Dubský, Assistant Professor, University of Economics, Prague, Czechia.
Philipp Wendel, Head of Unit “Energy Transition” at the Federal Foreign Office.
Jan Mazač Junior Associate, IIR Prague, Czechia.

16:20-16:30       Break 

16:30-16:40       Closing Remarks

Stage I

Please register by clicking on the following to watch the event and participate via comments. After the registration, you will receive two links for the live stream (one link for each stage). 


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


Program Coordinator:  Dr Alica Kizekova  kizekova@iir.cz

Logistics: Conference Service Conference_service@iir.cz

Media Contact: Petra Schwarz Koutska koutska@iir.cz

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