EastMatters Conference begins November 2 in Warsaw


This year’s international conference „East Matters” will be opened with the discussion whether we should and could save the European model of liberal democracy, as well as its necessary reforms.

Peaceful exports and support for democracy – with their main instrument being a credible promise of full integration – throughout decades were a crucial element of united Europe’s soft power affecting its close neighborhood as well as the very foundation of EU’s identity. Although the idea that the democratic project would soon materialize all over the globe had been controversial even in 1989, its hegemony in our part of the world seemed unquestionable for a long time. A meaningful example of this was the transformation of the EU neighboring countries after the Berlin Wall came down. The biggest enthusiasts were counting on Russia and former USSR countries even beyond Baltic States, to join the democratic community. Today, numerous factors destroy this optimistic picture: the deep crisis of Western capitalism together with the communication revolution have undermined the legitimacy of liberal democracy in its western version; the change of administration and foreign policy in the US have shaken the relatively stable context of European foreign policy; in the immediate neighborhood of the European Union new assertive centers of power have emerged – countries aiming at revision of the existing power structure and destabilization of European periphery; also, rapid social and demographic changes in the region resulted in the “New Migration Period”.

Paraphrasing Peter Pomerantsev, in the European neighbourhood and in the EU itself, nothing is true or obvious, but everything seems possible – the pessimists claim that the tragedies and cataclysms of today’s Middle East or Eastern Ukraine may not be just a modern residuum of the old barbarism, but rather a picture of our own future. This year’s international conference „East Matters” will be opened with the discussion whether we should and could save the European model of liberal democracy, as well as its necessary reforms. On the second day of the conference, we will consider the role of changes within US foreign policy, related to Donald Trump’s presidency, for the EU, Russia and countries directly in their neighbourhood. We will also ask the questions about the possibility of supporting democracy outside the EU, since even inside it is in deep crisis. The final session will be a futuristic-speculative panel focused on future war – an imaginative exercise that allows us to realize the cost of abandoning the necessary reforms and overlooking the challenges that await us.


2nd November, Thursday
18:00 Opening Session: 

Can and Should Western Democracy Be Saved?
Jan-Werner Müller (Princeton University) vs Ulrike Guérot (Donau-Universität Krems)
Moderator: Sławomir Sierakowski (Krytyka Polityczna)

3rd November, Friday
10:00–11:30 Session 1:

Russia’s and its neighbours’ life with Donald Trump
Input speech: Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz
Andrei Kolesnikov (Carnegie Moscow Center)
Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz (Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego)
Ryszard Schnepf (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Moderator: Kaja Puto (Ha!art)

11:45–13:15 Session 2:

How to promote democracy in the East when it declines in the West?
Input speech: Goran Buldioski
Goran Buldioski (Open Society Initiative for Europe)
Jan-Werner Müller (Princeton University)
Ludwika Włodek (Uniwersytet Warszawski)
Moderator: Agata Szczęśniak (OKO.Press)

13:1514:15 lunch break

14:15–15:45 Session 3:

How will WWIII look?
Input speech: Ulrike Esther Franke
Ulrike Esther Franke (European Council for Foreign Relations)
Patrycja Sasnal (Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych)
Ziemowit Szczerek (writer)
Moderator: Michał Sutowski (Krytyka Polityczna)

The languages of the conference will be Polish and English (simultaneous translation will be provided).
The number of participants is limited. In case of reaching the limit – the registration will be closed.


Institute for Advanced Study
Foksal 16, Warsaw, Poland
Phone +48 22 5056690

Krytyka Polityczna

Mott Foundation
European Council on Foreign Relations
Open Society Foundations