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11th International Symposium „Czech Foreign Policy“

23 září, 2019 - 24 září, 2019

The Institute of International Relations is looking forward to hosting its already 11th International Symposium on „Czech Foreign Policy“ with the topic „Fostering Multilateralism“. You can look forward to many interesting speakers and intriguing debates. This year’s conference will be held on 23rd and 24th of September 2019.

Preliminary Program


09:15 – 09:45 Opening Remarks

09:45 – 10:30 Keynote Speech: How Much Multilateralism Is Right, and How Do We Know? Lessons from Visegrad’s Many Experiences

Rick Fawn, University of St Andrews

Keynote Speaker of 11th International Symposium

10:45 – 12:30 Session 1: The V4 in the EU: A Successful Interest Group, or an Odd Bunch of Trouble-makers?

Since 2015, the Visegrad Group has been in an awkward position within, and vis-a-vis the European Union. On one hand, political coordination within the group has increased. Likewise, its visibility with regard to other partners, as well as the general public within and beyond Central Europe has also risen. On the other hand, however, this is to a large extent due to its record of criticising or even blocking the mainstream positions on a range of agendas: migration and asylum, rule of law and climate change. The panel will discuss the role of the „new“ V4 within the EU, with particular focus on how coherent and successful the group has been.

  • What are the key achievements and failures of the V4 within the EU since 2015?
  • On what topics do V4 countries agree and where do they differ?
  • What are the most important opportunities and risks connected to V4 cooperation, as seen from each of the member states

10:45 – 12:30 Session 2: Multilateralism and Asia: Measuring Rewards and Risks in the Era of the Belt and Road Initiative (Roundtable)

A distinguished roundtable of Asia experts will meet to share their thoughts on multilateral cooperation through various frameworks and in relation to China’s activities under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Their reflections  will focus on local interactions in the Czech Republic and within the regional collaboration of 16 + 1 (17 + 1); there will also be an examination of  EU-China relations, and the specific cases of Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The discussion will uncover ongoing changes and prospects for global governance in certain areas, such as energy or Arctic policies.The panelists will tap into their expertise and the latest findings and will also attempt to answer the following questions:

  • What are the rewards and risks of participating in the China-led multilateral cooperation and are there consequences for not embracing the vision of certain countries or organizations?
  • Do regional collaborative frameworks require reforms and if so, how likely are the participatory states to find an agreeable consensus?
  • What is the role for the selected country / multilateral framework in fostering multilateral cooperation, considering the broader context, in the area of ​​joint interests?

10:45 am – 12:30 pm Session 3: EU Policies of Central and Eastern European

As new EU initiatives are introduced in areas of spanning from defense to development, member states‘ approaches to them and their preferences are as variable as ever.
Where do the Central and Eastern European (CEE) states see themselves in the future of the EU, what kind of EU do they want, and how do they want to achieve it? The panel seeks to explore how the European policies of the CEE states are formed on the national level as well as in interaction with their sub-regional and regional partners.

12:30 – 13:30               Buffet Lunch

1:30 pm – 2:00 pm  Special Talk: The Value of Economic Diplomacy

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm Session 1: Re-Making the World Trade Order

The world trade order is undergoing a rapid transformation. This transformation challenges those European (small and large) open economies that have been its long-term promoters as members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and/or the European Union (EU). However, the WTO-based order found itself in an institutional inertia by the mid-2000s. The multilateral free trade agreements such as the CETA and TTIP are aimed at resolving this inertia. Negotiating them made the EU trade policy one of the main frontrunners in this asymmetric deepening of trade and investment relations. Since the mid-2010s, the liberal trade order has, however, been openly questioned by a range of protectionist challenges. Besides the unilateral threats of import tariffs, real bilateral trade wars, and Brexit contradictions, a long-awaited reform of the WTO is under discussion.

This historical background invites several questions:

  • What is the likely course of the world trade reordering? Can the negative trends be remedied or are they likely to be reinforced?
  • What role is Europe (with or without the UK) likely to play in this broader remaking of the WTO-based order?
  • Can the principle of multilateralism be saved? If so, can it coexist with alternative visions of regulated global trade?

14:00 – 15:30 Session 2: Opportunities for Change in EU-Western Balkans Relations

The matrix of relations between the EU and the Western Balkans is getting more and more complex and complicated. Some even argue that a full-fledged accession of all the Western Balkan countries to the EU is the only fantasy that will remain unfulfilled. This panel aims to take stock of the situation and focus on the current opportunities to move EU enlargement and integration forward.

The questions addressed in the panel are:

  • Should we pursue the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue as a comprehensive settlement to be achieved to be achieved as soon as possible or as a long-term process of normalisation?
  • What instruments does the international community possess to stabilize the political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
  • What are the implications of the Prespa Agreement between Greece and North Macedonia for the process of EU enlargement?

14:00 – 15:30 Session 3: Africa and Europe in Global Architecture: Emerging Partnerships, or Post-Colonial Business as Usual?

New markets and increased migration have raised the interest in Czechia’s relations with Africa, yet it remains focused on bilateral trade and development cooperation. While the Czech financial contribution to the EU’s aid for Africa exceeds its whole bilateral cooperation, and the political and economic framework is decided in Brussels, there is a lack of public and expert debate around the Czech positions on, and contributions to, policy-making in the EU and other international organisations. At a time of increasing geopolitical competition, population growth and the climate crisis in Africa, this panel aims at depicting the state of EU-Africa relations, assessing Africa’s global standing and drawing new ideas for the future of Czech foreign policy towards Africa.

  • How does Africa’s position in global architecture change in the last decade?
  • Where are the ongoing negotiations on the budget for the EU’s future external policy instrument (NDICI) and the future framework for EU-Africa relations (post-Cotonou) heading?
  • Is the African Union closing the gap between the countries north and south of the Sahara?

15:30 – 15:45 Coffee Break

3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Global Perspectives on Multilateralism

Fostering and maintaining a world order based on multilateral decision-making and diplomacy is not only in the interests of small states, which thereby receive a voice in global affairs, but should also be a crucial interest of powerful states, which gain legitimacy for their actions and the compliance of smaller states through it if they respect and follow rules set up by multilateral institutions. Multilateralism also decreases the costs of actions for all actors by pooling resources – a crucial aspect especially as the world faces environmental and security challenges that require large-scale investments and inter-state coordination.

Nonetheless, the current state of international organizations and multilateral norms has its critics among powerful states, ranging from China and Russia to India and the United States. However, discussions on the reform of existing frameworks also include smaller players, such as the Czech Republic, Singapore or Australia, while the European Union is considered to be a status quo power with respect to the current design of multilateralism.

  • Is the current period a crossroads that will determine the future format of multilateralism by the implementation of necessary reforms?
  • Or will reform efforts fail, resulting in the emergence of increased regionalism and multipolarity, with each region and field following different environmental, trade, security and judicial norms?
  • Who will have the upper hand in reforming multilateral organizations?

15:45 – 17:15  Book Launch: The Politics of Recognition and Engagement; EU Member State Relations with Kosovo

This edited volume explores different ways in which members of the European Union have interacted with Kosovo since it declared independence in 2008. While there is a tendency to think of EU states in terms of two distinct groups – those that have recognised Kosovo and those that have not – the picture is more complex. Taking into account also the quality and scope of their engagement with Kosovo, there are four broad categories of member states that can be distinguished: the strong and weak recognisers and the soft and hard non-recognisers.

Ioannis Armakolas, James Ker-Lindsay and Tomas Dopita will introduce the origins and development of the project, the conceptual ideas in the book, broad insights from the chapters, and briefly also the chapters about the Czech Republic, Greece and the UK. Ideally, this should all take no more than half an hour. This will give us another half an hour for questions and answers.

From 18:30 Dinner Talk: The V4 and the UK: Potential for Stronger Co-operation in the Western Balkans

By Invitation Only


9:15 – 10:45 Security and Multilateralism: How to Meet New Challenges Effectively

Recent years have witnessed several individualistic, self-interested actions in international politics that have shaped the current security environment to a large extent. Yet they were more than once met with a multilateral response. The annexation of Crimea led to Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) and the refocusing NATO on deterrence again. Brexit similarly contributed to a more profound security and defense integration within the EU as illustrated, for example, by PESCO. Can we expect a corresponding response in the case of the INF treaty or the Chinese engagement all over the world? Even more importantly, we might need to pay more attention to redefining multilateralism itself. Smaller states often have very few options besides multilateral cooperation, but the new challenges and threats, especially affecting the security of all major players might require a different approach altogether. New challenges could thus lead to new forms of multilateralism and new exclusive bargains that would only be between the great powers exclusively.

  • Are we going back in time to a period when self-interested power politics prevailed over multilateral cooperation?
  • Do great powers respect each other and to what extent is great power leadership still a necessary condition of multilateralism?
  • Is multilateralism just the wishful thinking of less powerful states, or an indispensable approach to many new security challenges?

10:45 – 11:00 Coffee Break

11:00 am – 12:30 pm Session 1: Multilateralism as Viewed by Politicians (Debate)

11:00 am – 12:30 pm Session 2: New Technology as an Enabler of Global Governance in Space

Technological advances are allowing humanity to launch new mega-constellations of thousands of satellites, send rockets to Earth’s orbit and beyond, explore valuable resources in space, and probe the deepest parts of the universe. Yet, these technologies are not exclusively owned by the growing list of space-faring nations, they also belong to non-state actors. Secondly, they bring about new challenges, from increasingly crowded and messy orbit paths around the Earth, to unclarity about the legality of space resource utilization to ethical questions about human expansion and exploration.

  • What type of governance will such technological advances, the increasing power of non-state actors, and a growing number of space-faring countries bring?
  • Will advanced space technology provide a new means for great power competition or unlock new forms of global governance in the spatially unconstrained domain?

11:00 am – 12:30 pm Session 3: Rebuilding Syria: Actors, Politics, Approaches

The debates on possible strategies for rebuilding Syria have been going on for some time, yet several recent events on both domestic and international levels have given a renewed urgency to the agenda. As the Syrian regime forcibly reinstated its control over major parts of the country, the political transition, and the condition required by the EU for its engagement in reconstruction financing there, seems unlikely in the short term. The Russian efforts to the broader range of actors mostly fell on deaf ears and other actors signaled their readiness to financially support the reconstruction, the actual investments have been in most cases rather limited. At the same time, the humanitarian and economic situation in the country, as well as some neighbouring countries that host Syrian refugees, remains dire and in need of external support.

The panel will primarily focus on the following questions:

  • What are the most pressing needs inside the country? What form of assistance would be needed now?
  • What is the state of the discussion on the rebuilding of Syria on the international stage? Could we observe any changes in the position of key players?
  • What would be the most productive form of engagement for smaller European states, such as the Czech Republic?

11:00 am – 12:30 pm Session 4: Open Digital Science in the Study of International Politics?

Every year, the various fields engaged in the study of international politics produce an immense number of books, articles, studies, and reports. Search engines or academic databases can recommend the publications that seem to be the most relevant for our area of interest. However, most of the underlying data are not published and therefore cannot be re-used, built on, or corrected. Hence, it is nearly impossible to even think about the reproduction or falsification of this otherwise valuable research. The study of international politics thus possesses an inherently undermined scientific status that lowers its real-world, not to mention its academic, prestige. It is rather obvious that secret services as well as corporations do engage in extensive data gathering, storage, and analysis to serve their goals and needs. Perhaps, the time is ripe for the study of international politics to do likewise.
This workshop will reflect on the possibilities of advanced digital data management in the study of international politics.

We will discuss especially the following questions:

  • Where does the study of international politics stand in comparison with other scientific fields and the study of the humanities?
  • How to make the research data in our field more accessible, and interoperable for ourselves, as well as for the audiences we hope to inform, i.e. policy and decision makers, students, or the media?
  • Are there any methods, utilities, or applications that seem to be useful for the purposes of the digital study of international politics?
  • What are the funding opportunities?

To attend, please register at by September 16, 2019

12:30 – 12:45             Closing Remarks

12:45 – 14:00              Buffet Lunch

From 15:30  Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe: Searching for Effective Mechanisms in Resolving Long-term Conflicts

Debate – The Slovak Institute in Prague, Nám. Republiky 1037/3

To attend, please register at

Please, note that the programme is subject to change, and will be updated continuously up to the symposium.

Questions related to the program should be directed to the Program Cordinator:  Dr. Alice Kizekova  ( ); and questions related to logistics should be directed to the Conference Services of the Institute of International Relations Prague:

You can check out the 10th International Symposium panels and recordings here.


23 září, 2019
24 září, 2019
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Ústav mezinárodních vztahů
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Místo konání

Ministerstvo zahraničních věcí České republiky, Loretánské náměstí 5, 118 00 Praha 1 – Hradčany