If you are in Boston are, let us know! Olena will be at the European conference at Harvard Kennedy School of Government John F.Kennedy Jr.Forum.
This year’s theme is “Europe 2014: Re-Generation” with which we aim to bring forward discussions from politics, business, and diplomacy that are imminent to our generation, such as youth unemployment, online economy, and protest movements.
Olena’s panel is “Demanding Democracy: The Role of Protests and Media”
The past few years have seen a sharp increase in the number of popular protests in Europe. In Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Turkey or Ukraine, youth-led movements have challenged governments in the streets, whether against deeply unpopular austerity measures, rampant corruption and inefficient governance, or increasingly authoritarian behavior by their leaders.
Despite methods and strategies that differ from country to country, with much innovation and creativity, protestors all face the same challenges: how to make their voices heard. Access to the media, in particular, is seen by both protestors and governments as key to advance their interests. Has the increasing importance of social media and the ease to produce persuasive content, empowered populations or conversely increased governments’ ability to control dissent?
To learn more about the European conference at Harvard visit the official website.
When: June 20, 2013, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Where: The University Club of Washington DC/1135 16th Street [Embassy Row]
See the program of the Summit below:
US-UA Working Group Yearly Summit I: Providing Ukraine with an Annual Report Card
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM Registration
9:00 AM – 10:10 AM Plenary Session I
Theme: Robust Democratic Politics – Assessing Ukraine’s Progress/Regress
10:10 AM – 11:20 AM Plenary Session II
Theme: Developed Market Economics – Assessing Ukraine’s Progress/Regress
11:20 AM – 12:30 PM Roundtable Plenary Session III
Theme: Ever Greater General Security – Assessing Ukraine’s Progress/Regress
12:30 PM – 1:10 PM Working Lunch
Theme: Why a Free, Stable and Prosperous Ukraine Still Matters—US Government Perspective
1:10 PM – 2:20 PM Roundtable Plenary Session IV
Theme: Ever Greater Energy Security – Assessing Ukraine’s Progress/Regress
2:20 PM – 3:30 PM Roundtable Plenary Session V
Theme: Viable Social Cohesion – Assessing Ukraine’s Progress/Regress
3:30 PM – 4:40 PM Roundtable Plenary Session VI
Theme: Established National Identity – Assessing Ukraine’s Progress/Regress
4:40 PM – 5:00 PM Closing Remarks Ceremony
Theme: Why a Free, Stable and Prosperous Ukraine Still Matters—US NGO Perspective
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Patrons’ Reception
[Venue: American Foreign Policy Council/Center for US Ukrainian Relations DC Bureau]
For more information visit organizers’ website – Center for US-Ukrainian Relations.
The competition for U.S. Fulbright Scholar awards to Central Europe, the Baltics, Southeastern Europe, the Balkans, and Eurasia is now open. Applications for the 2014-15 academic year are currently being accepted from all levels of faculty and professionals, including early career.
We are soliciting applications for a broad range of awards; the list below is only a sample of the approx. 125 different types of awards offered in 24 countries in the region.
EUROPEAN UNION: Fulbright-Schuman European Union Affairs Program
ALBANIA: Social Sciences/Social Work/Law
BULGARIA: Public Policy, Public Administration
ESTONIA: Arts, Film and Crafts
LATVIA: Music, Dance
ROMANIA: Social Sciences
UKRAINE: Journalism, Communications
Applicants must be U.S. citizens and hold a Ph.D. or appropriate professional/terminal degree at the time of application. The application deadline is August 1, 2013.
In addition, All Disciplines awards are available in all countries in Europe and Eurasia and can be a good option if no discipline-focused award matches your expertise. Please visit the 2014-15 Catalog of Awards athttp://catalog.cies.org/ to learn more about the opportunities available in this year’s competition. For most awards, English is sufficient for teaching and foreign language proficiency is only needed to the extent required by a proposed research project.
For eligibility factors, detailed application guidelines and review criteria, please follow the linkhttp://www.cies.org/us_scholars/us_awards/. You may also wish to register for one of our webinars athttp://www.cies.org/Webinar/ or to join our online community, My Fulbright, a resource center for applicants interested in the program. Please also note that for the current competition significant enhancements will be implemented to programs in the Baltics, the Balkans and Eurasia. You may take a glance at the improvements at: http://www.cies.org/news/award-highlights.htm.
The European Commission’s ‘eTwinning‘ network, which has encouraged 100 000 schools in 33 European countries to talk to each other via the internet, will be extended from today to schools in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The launch of ‘eTwinning Plus’ will enable these countries to join a massive virtual classroom in which pupils and teachers can learn more about their counterparts and take part in interactive projects focused on language learning or maths, for instance. It is also an opportunity for youngsters to discover different cultures and traditions– as well as to find out what they have in common.
“eTwinning is a brilliant educational project with enormous potential to break down barriers. The contacts we have facilitated between schools are incredibly beneficial to everyone involved; eTwinning gives them the freedom to develop creative and inter-cultural educational projects, while also encouraging children to develop their ICT skills.With eTwinning Plus, we are taking this network to a new level,” said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
eTwinning Plus is a pilot project initiated as part as the EU’s Neighbourhood policy, under the ‘Contacts between people’ Eastern Partnership platform which aims to enhance dialogue with Eastern partners. The Commission plans to gradually roll out the scheme to Southern neighbourhood countries, starting with Tunisia. To start with, the eTwinning Plus platform will use English and Russian as its main languages, with French and Arabic to follow at a later stage. As well as serving as a meeting point for pupils and teachers to share ideas, it will also enable schools to find partners for joint projects.
Commissioner Štefan Füle, responsible for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, stated: “Increased EU involvement in education, higher education and vocational training will help partner countries and especially the younger generations to be better equipped to respond to economic and social challenges in our neighbourhood.”
To help establish the network, a partner support agency has been set up in each of the neighbouring countries involved. These organisations will promote eTwinning Plus at the national level, ensure it meets the needs of schools and organise training sessions for teachers. They will select participating schools on the basis of their computer equipment and knowledge of languages. They will ensure that rural and urban schools, as well as children from different socio-economic backgrounds, are involved.
The budget for eTwinning Plus is € 834 000: around half of this sum will be invested in developing the new online platform and coordination work, with the remainder allocated to co-funding the partner support agencies. The allocation by country is as follows: Armenia € 64 000, Azerbaijan € 80 000, Georgia € 64 000, Moldova € 80 000 and Ukraine € 96 000.
Created in 2005, eTwinning is a growing community of schools in Europe. Almost 200 000 teachers and more than 100 000 schools from 33 European countries (the 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, Croatia, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) have signed up to use its free and safe online environment for teacher training and joint educational projects. The eTwinning portal is available in 25 languages.
eTwinning is part of the EU’s Comenius programme and receives around €10 million in funding each year. It does not finance individual projects but offers tools and support to teachers and pupils such as the eTwinning portal and seminars for teachers.
A recent study found eTwinning to be an easy and cost-effective way for schools to engage in international cooperation. It also found that teachers involved in eTwinning improved their skills, their relations with pupils and developed their professional networks. Pupils felt more motivated and were better at working in a team.
As part of the new Erasmus for All programme which will start in 2014, the Commission has proposed to develop eTwinning as a platform for all schools that wish to co-operate across borders with EU support.
The eTwinning scheme contributes to the EU’s objectives of improving digital competence and collaborative peer learning. Later this year the Commission will publish a strategy on Opening-up Education in order to enhance education and skills development through new technologies and open educational resources.
For more information
European Commission: Comenius programme
Indian-American Fareed Zakaria has gained a reputation as one of the most astute authors and commentators on contemporay geopolitical issues.
NEW YORK – Indian-American media star Fareed Zakaria is a self-styled mix of celebrity, opinion-maker and intellectual powerhouse.
Although he has worked with CNN, Time magazine, Newsweek International and Foreign Affairs magazine, he has never considered himself a journalist. Instead he calls himself a “public intellectual” who analyzes the world.
“I like to make people think, otherwise they become too lazy,” says Zakaria, a Harvard University Ph.D. whose writing combines scholarly endeavor with popular media in an appealing way.
Having grown up in a Muslim family, Zakaria became prominent in America after the 9/11 attacks for his skill in explaining the Islamic world to Americans. He was a supporter of George W. Bush and the Iraqi war. Later on, in 2008, he endorsed Barack Obama for president.
Today, his reach is much broader than the Middle East. His political talk show on CNN, Global Public Square, covers world developments and foreign policy, featuring in-depth interviews with top thinkers such as George Soros, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Henry Kissinger, Larry Summers, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Tony Blair, Jeffrey Sachs and many others.
Zakaria’s views sometimes run against conventional wisdom. For example, in his book “The Post-American World” (2008), he predicted the “rise of the rest” – economic and geopolitical competitors to America in the age of globalization, such as China or India. In his other book, “The Future of Freedom” (2007), he argued that free elections bring nothing good to countries with no history of liberalism. Instead, they help empower corrupt and flawed democracies, such as Russia or Ukraine after collapse of the Soviet Union.
Kyiv Post contributor Olena Tregub met Zakaria in his CNN office in New York recently to see whether Ukraine or the rest of the former Soviet Union is on his radar these days.
Kyiv Post: In your book “Future of Freedom,” you argued that democracy in countries with no history of liberalism, such as Ukraine, is dangerous and that the best way to democratize is gradually through enlightened authoritarianism as a transition phase. But in those authoritarian countries, like Tunisia or Egypt, where the Arab Spring took place, the change that people were waiting for was not coming from the leadership and they decided to take power into their hands. Have you reconsidered ideas of your book after that?
Fareed Zakaria: The Arab Spring has actually confirmed the thesis of the book. Let’s take Iraq and Egypt. They are examples of two countries that decided to go for democracy first and worry about liberalism later. The results have been what I have predicted – illiberal democracy. There is no question that there were free and fair elections in Iraq and Egypt. But there is also no question that majorities did things that are not protective of the rights of minorities – freedom of individuals, freedom of association. On the other hand, look at the countries in the Arab world that have gone through more of a liberalization route: Jordan, Morocco. In places like that there has been a lot of emphasis on constitution, a lot of emphasis on gradually expanding rights.
KP: You sounded excited about Russian protests that started after the last parliamentary election. Do you see those protests as something that can bring Russia into a different reality?
FZ: Russia was my original example of an illiberal democracy. Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin used elections to get legitimacy. I certainly don’t view the Russian elite as liberalizing in any sense. But I think it›s fair to say this: if you take a five-year perspective on Russia, things are going badly. If you take a 25-year perspective, things are actually not as bad … The current path has not been a positive one. A new kind of leadership is needed in Russia to truly modernize this country … The big problem for Russia is oil prices. Oil prices mean that this grueling elite can continue to stay in power and buy off the population without having to do very much in the way of genuine modernization and liberalization.
KP: Did the U.S. give up on trying to democratize Russia and its neighborhood, including Ukraine?
FZ: In the last 10 years there is a decline in American desire to try to help strengthen democracy in Russia. This is because of what happened in Russia. The collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the haste towards democratization created chaos, which also combined with low oil prices, created the feeling of disaster in Russia. So, most Russians believe that democratization and introduction of free market capitalism was a disaster. Putin came in and was able to convince the Russian people that he produced order, the rising incomes, stability.
KP: But according to your theory, it is a positive development that someone like Putin came to power?
FZ: I don’t think that Putin is being a liberalizer by any stretch. People often make a mistake about my book. They think I am the guy who likes dictators. I don’t like dictators. I only like liberalizing dictators.
KP: Like whom?
FZ: The Singaporeans, the South Koreans, Taiwanese, now – the Chinese. In the Arab World – Morocco, Jordan, to a certain extent Tunisia. If you look at the path Chile went on. Peru or Mexico … In all those cases, the sequence was one I described. First, you put in place liberalization that institutionalizes the rule of law, opens up the economic sphere to private enterprise and therefore produces a merchant class, a middle class. Then you empower those people. In the absence of those things, when you quickly move towards democracy, you open yourselves up to demagogues. This is what Putin has done and Yeltsin did in his later years. It was a very quick way of getting legitimacy for people who were essentially elected dictators.
KP: Regarding the elite’s liberalization, you did not mention how corrupt Chinese officials are, just like they are in Russia.
FZ: Just like they are in India, in Brazil. I have not found a case of a developing country that does not have corruption. They are corrupt when they are dictatorships. They are corrupt when they are democracies. It proves to me that developing countries have a lot of corruption. It does not prove to me that any particular system has more or less than the other.
KP: Moving closer to Ukraine, what do you think is the way for Ukraine to go? There has been much debate for the past 20 years whether to go East or West.
FZ: Ukraine has a very difficult balancing act to play. In my view, what Ukraine should be trying to do more than anything else: try to develop itself economically and politically. Become economically prosperous and politically stable. I think countries make a big mistake worrying too much about the geopolitics and neglecting the domestic institution-building that needs to take place in society.
I grew up in India. The country used to make great speeches about non-alignment and how it was going to position itself as an ally of Russia and a foe of America. All this made no difference at the end of the day. India was failing in its most important task, which was to solve the problems of poverty. More than anything else the way you develop geopolitical freedom of maneuver is to have stable democratic institutions and to have an open economy that is prosperous. Once you have that, you can have an interesting debate about what to do.
In that context, I think what Ukraine should seek is as close a relationship to Europe as possible. Not so much for geopolitical reasons, but for geo-economic reasons. To tie in the reformist elements in Ukraine and strengthen that process with Europe’s help…you can’t avoid Russia at the end of the day. But do this irrespective of the great shadow of the Russian bear. Because developing and building that internal strength is the most effective way to maintain autonomy and independence from Russia. Your army or some foreign policy will not help much. After all, Russia is a big country. However, if you are viable economically and politically, everyone would want to be your friend, including Russia.
KP: But Ukraine is not viable economically and politically. It is more an energy colony of Russia today.
FZ: But Ukraine has lots of talented people. If you take Russian energy away, you would be forced to modernize. Look at a country like Taiwan. It has nothing. They were forced to modernize, forced to be smart and create industries. What Ukraine needs to do is to get into that mindset instead of thinking of itself as an energy colony of Russia. I firmly believe that human capital around the world is equally talented. The idea that Ukrainians are somehow less capitalist and less bright is nonsense…Ukraine’s problem is in many ways the same as Russia’s problem: there is easy money that comes from energy.
KP: Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych is claiming that his aim is to deliver political stability and economic development.
FZ: Look, people say good things in speeches. My sense is that Ukrainian politicians, without getting too partisan, have said the right things but none of them so far have done the right things. Doing the right things is hard. Politically hard. It requires taking power away from very powerful elements of Ukrainian society.
KP: The oligarchs?
FZ: Yes. Nobody wants to do that. There is an alliance between the state and the big oligarchs, none of whom want a genuine private sector, genuine rule of law, genuine entrepreneurial activity. They talk about capitalism and markets, but they do not actually want that. They want a closed market in which they dominate and they have an unfair advantage in their relationship to the state. That’s the problem. I don’t see any politician being better than the other in Ukraine.
KP: So politicians are like brokers to oligarchs?
FZ: Yes, and as time passes these deep forces of the oligarchy in Ukraine seem very difficult to break. That’s why I recommend more dealings with the European Union, more treaties and connections with the outside world. This can open some of the closed aspects of the Ukrainian system.
KP: Don’t you have a feeling that Ukraine is on the opposite track right now? It is becoming increasingly isolated in the West, particularly within Europe, because of the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko. The EU might block the free-trade and association agreements because of that.
FZ: This is a great dilemma of what to do when the society and the government closes in. My own view is that what the Asians have shown with Myanmar that the best thing to do in those cases is not to completely isolate the country, but to maintain some contact, try to trade. This gradually opens up a society. I will be surprised if the EU takes such a tough line. Europeans are acting more like Americans in that case. I think that while it is important to show disapproval and displeasure about some of Ukraine’s actions, tt is also important to remember that ultimately the things that changes society much more than sanctions are openness and trade. We should have faith in capitalism. The capitalism, contact, commerce – these are assets of modernity that break down the old structures in society. Look at Cuba, the US does not trade with it, has isolated it. Has it changed anything? No, the old oligarchy and the old Communist Party are basically ruling. Look at places where we allowed more contact, more travel, like Eastern Europe. They opened up and flourished. It does not always work everywhere, but it is very important to remember: there are very few examples in human history where isolation and sanctions have produced a transformation of the society.
KP: It may happen that Ukraine will have the same ruling elite – Yanukovych and his circle – until 2020. You met Yanukovych in Davos. What do you think of him as a leader?
FZ: Meeting people in that context you can’t tell much about them. My fear is that the system is very kleptocratic. The whole system is kleptocratic, like it happened in Russia.
KP: You mean if the top guy is kleptocratic he needs to let others steal as well?
FZ: Yes, absolutely. The whole system sustains itself. That money is then used for political purposes to maintain the political elite in power. Unfortunately, for all the desire to be independent from Russia, Ukraine has turned into a copy of the Russian political and economic system with the state elite and the oligarchy that are closely tied into each other.
KP: Yes, the systems are similar, but Ukraine is still a more open system.
FZ: Yes, because the state in Ukraine is not as powerful. In Russia, the state is more powerful than the oligarchs. In Ukraine, I can never tell who has the power: state or the oligarchs.
KP: So do you deal with Ukraine at all, do you ever analyze it, cover it in your geopolitical show?
FZ: Ukraine has disappeared off the map. The only reason Ukraine may rear itself again is when the Russians might want to demonstrate some imperial desire to take over Ukraine.
KP: Like invasion?
FZ: No, soft imperialism. My own sense of Russia is that Putin is more interested in kleptocracy than imperialism … I have a feeling that the Russians are not that interested in re-imperializing Ukraine.
KP: Can re-imperializing Ukraine be one of the ways to maintain power and keep stealing for the Russian leadership?
FZ: That’s one of the things to watch. When dictatorships start losing authority and legitimacy that’s when they often start to look for external reasons, enemies and projects. So far they have not needed that. However, if you look at the history of dictatorships, that’s certainly something to worry about.
Olena Tregub runs an educational consulting company in Washington, D.C. (www.GELead.org) and is a contributor for the Kyiv Post.