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The Boundaries of Europe

Where does ‘Europe’ end? What are the boundaries of the European Union? What is going on in Central and Eastern European countries now that they, or their neighbours, have entered the EU? What does the entry into the EU mean for these new member states and for the EU itself? How has it changed their society? Which groups benefit from membership and which groups don’t? And what happens to countries that – as far as we can see – will not enter the EU in the near future?

The reflection in The Netherlands – maybe in all Western European countries - on the changes the EU will bring about in Central and Eastern Europe is inadequate and incomplete. We seem to discuss the enlargement of the EU with opinion leaders from the old member states only and the main argument is about Western European interests. Of course, it is wise to think about our own advantages and possible gains when discussing the EU enlargement. But we miss the full significance of the EU and the effects it can bring, when we do not take the viewpoints of new member states into account. And the dreams and hopes of countries that would like to become an EU-member are worth listening to.

In this series of lectures, entitled ‘The Boundaries of Europe’, five countries are on the agenda: Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine. These five countries are all close to the eastern border of the European Union and they represent four phases of joining the EU: ‘member for some time now’ (Czech Republic/Hungary), ‘very recent member’ (Romania), ‘on the negotiating table’ (Turkey) and ‘provisionally rejected’ (Ukraine). We have contracted  speakers – scientists and artists – from these five countries and we have invited some Dutch specialists. There are also two general lectures (in Dutch): one on the former communist Central Europe in general, and a double lecture on the philosophical and cultural meaning of ‘Europe’. Movies by Eastern European cinematographers will complement the lecture series.

The programme will end with a public debate during which two questions will be addressed: How should we proceed in the EU since the French and the Dutch have rejected the European constitution? And, which countries do we accept as new members, and which countries should be denied membership?


Introduction
From Communism to Democracy. Eastern Europe, Then and Now
Hans Renner
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Date: Tuesday 23 January 2007
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Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Central and Eastern Europe have been engaged in a tumultuous transition process. Communism is passé and countries like the Czech Republic and Hungary have been integrated in Western political, economic and military structures and have become member of the European Union and NATO. But, the communist heritage is still very much alive. What are the main differences between former communist and Western European countries? How is the communist past linked to the democratic present?

Prof.dr. Hans Renner was born in Prague and teaches Central European History at the University of Groningen. He is specialised in the transition of former communist countries to new European democracies.
Language: Dutch


Lecture
Hungary
Was De Gaulle Right?
Prof. G.M. Tamás
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Date: Thursday 25 January 2007
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In 1942, the French leader Charles de Gaulle invited Europeans to "join together in a practical and lasting fashion". He envisaged a united Europe “from the Atlantic to the Urals". How alive is this idea of Europe? And can it be stretched as far to the East as De Gaulle proposed? Professor Tamás will answer these questions and reflect upon the Russian position. How do Russia and the other former Soviet republics see themselves vis-à-vis contemporary Europe? How to evaluate Russian pride, humiliation and suffering? What is our responsibility in this respect? And what is the matter with us: Central and Western Europeans?

Professor Gáspár Miklós Tamás studied philosophy and classics in Transylvania, emigrated to Hungary and became a dissident intellectual again. Tamás was MP in the early 1990s. He currently teaches Sociology at the Central European University Budapest.
Language: English


Lecture
Hungary and Europe
‘1956’
Péter Esterházy
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Date: Thursday 25 January 2007
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Péter Esterházy will look back on the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and ask himself how to evaluate the revolution and the Soviet invasion. Is ‘1956’ a mere Hungarian event? Or should we look back on it as a European event? A common European defeat maybe? He will also reflect on the linguistic changes that ‘1956’, the Communist regime and ‘1989’ brought about. Finally, he will contemplate on Central Europe as a continuously changing object, on the differences between East and West, on old reflexes in new situations and enlightened absolutism as a temptation.

Peter Esterházy is one of the most widely known contemporary Hungarian writers. Esterházy, the descendant of an aristocratic family, is perhaps best known for Celestial Harmonies which chronicles his forefathers' epic rise during the Austro-Hungarian Empire to their dispossession under communism. He published a Revised Edition after the revelation that his father was a spy under the communist regime.
Language: German


Film
Hukkle – György Pálfi (Hungary, 2002)
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Date: Wednesday 31 January 2007
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Using almost no dialogue, the film follows a number of residents (both human and animal) of a small rural community in Hungary. While most of the film is a series of images, there is a sinister and often barely perceptible subplot involving murder.
Language: almost silent – some Hungarian, subtitles Dutch.

Introduction: Anna Keller, free lance art historian. She studied History of Art in Hungary and Groningen.


Lecture
Ukraine
Phases in Ukrainian Foreign Policy
Nienke de Deugd
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Date: Tuesday 8 February 2007
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When Ukraine gained independence in 1991, it tried to get a neutral position on the Euro-Atlantic stage. Ukraine sees itself as a possible bridge between the extending EU and NATO on the one hand, and Russia on the other. Later in the 1990s, Ukraine dropped this strategy and it now strives openly for EU- and NATO-membership.

Dr. Nienke de Deugd teaches at the University of Groningen. She was trained as a historian and wrote a thesis on Ukraine and the issue of participation with the Euro-Atlantic security community.
Language: English


Lecture
Ukraine
Ukrainian Ambivalence versus European Ambiguity: Is There a Way Out?
Mykola Ryabchuk 
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Date: Tuesday 8 February 2007
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EU-Ukraine relations are polite but ambivalent. The Ukrainian government sticks to an authoritarian, non-reformist policy, in spite of quasi-reformist and pro-European rhetoric. The EU follows a strategy of non-engagement in Ukrainian affairs and pursues the conventional ‘Russia first’ policy, while avoiding any unequivocal obligations to Ukraine. Why is this? Ukraine's pro-Western elite tend to exaggerate Ukraine's ‘Europeanness’ and underestimate the level of its Russification/Sovietization. Western Europeans tend to view Ukraine largely through Russian imperial eyes, which does not favour the Ukrainians.

Mykola Ryabchuk is one of the Ukraine’s most important intellectuals. He has written poems and short stories. Since 2000 he has been publishing books on political analysis, which have immediately been translated into several European languages.
Language: English


Film
Shik (The Suit) - Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov (Russia/Ukraine, 2003)
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Date: Wednesday 14 February 2007
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They say clothes make the man, but in this bittersweet comedy, three young men discover that that isn't as true as they might hope. The guys are able to pool enough money to collectively buy a brand new Gucci suit. This gives them a boost of confidence, but they also find that confidence isn’t enough to make things go your way.
Language: Russian – subtitles: Dutch
Introduction: Lada Roslycky, researcher for the Centre for European Safety Studies in Groningen. She is currently investigating organised crime and democracy in the Black Sea region.


Lecture
Czech Republic
Czech transition to capitalism
Misja den Haan
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Date: 22 February 2007
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The Czech Republic has transformed itself into an open, free-market economy. Its PM – Vaclav Klaus – even became the guru of transitions to capitalism without foreign investors. Czechs are pro-Europe, but many of them are anti-EU, inspired by the – now – president, Klaus. He sees the EU as the continuation of the old communist COMECON. The Czechs are EU-members. They profit from the large free-trade zone, but not wholeheartedly. They consider themselves second rate civilians, because the EU has not enabled the free movement of Czech workers yet. And that the EU interfered with the price of its national pride (beer), did of course not help to improve Czech-EU relations.
 
M.G.J. den Haan studied History in Amsterdam and Utrecht, and has won the Werner Kaegi-prize for most talented young historian. He is director of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Prague and of several hotels in the Czech Republic.
Language: Dutch


Film
Something Like Happiness - Bohdan Sláma (Czech Republic, 2005)
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Date: Wednesday 28 February 2007
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Set in a rundown industrial area of Northern Bohemia, where nature is tainted by the effects of acid rain, Something Like Happiness examines the intertwining stories of three families. The movie describes a society where economic hardship necessitates a communal closeness that reflects the lingering legacy of Communism.
Language: Czech – subtitles: English or German

Introduction by prof.dr. Hans Renner


Film
Cesky sen (Czech Dream) - Vit Klusák and Filip Remunda (Czech Republic, 2004)
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Date: Wednesday 28 February 2007
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Czech Dream documents the largest consumer hoax the Czech Republic has ever seen. The result is a funny and provocative look at the effects of rampant consumerism in a post-communist society. The movie has also caused some controversy, provoking extreme reactions in the Czech people and media and even a debate in the Czech Parliament.
Language: Czech – subtitles: English

Introduction by prof.dr. Hans Renner


Lecture
The Idea of Europe
Does a European Mind exists? Philosophers about Europe
Prof.dr. Hans Mooij
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Date: Monday 5 March 2007
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Over the last 200 years, many philosophers have been thinking about ‘Europe’ and the European Mind. They have thought and written about Europe’s place in world history, its unity and discord and above all, about the true character of European civilization. What are its sources? Philosophers have answered these questions, often pointing at Christianity or humanism, at the Enlightenment, Science or Rationality. All ‘Europe-philosophers' however, have two qualities in common: analytical ingenuity and self-glorification. The combination of these two qualities might be truly European.

Prof.dr. J.J.A. Mooij is a retired professor in Analytical Philosophy and in Literature at the University of Groningen.
Language: Dutch


Lecture
The Idea of Europe
What are Europe’s external borders?
Thomas von der Dunk
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Date: Monday 5 March 2007 
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How far should the EU be allowed to extend to the East? Thomas von der Dunk suggests using a simple criterion to answer this question. If you enter a region where the collective is more important than the individual, you have left Europe.

Thomas von der Dunk is a cultural historian and a publicist.
Language: Dutch


Lecture
Turkey
The Genesis of Turkey
Erik-Jan Zürcher
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Date: 12 March 2007
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One cannot understand modern Turkey without looking back to its genesis. The Turkish Republic was founded in the 1920s on the ashes of the 600-year old Ottoman Empire. Its founders, led by Mustafa Kemal Pasha – later: Atatürk - built a completely new nation with a nationalist and strictly secular identity. Up to the present day, recent history influences Turkish society and its position in the world. The US and the EU have a totally different view on the importance of Turkey. Since the end of the Cold War, Europe seems to neglect the growing importance of Turkey, whereas the US see Turkey as a more important and faithful ally. This difference of opinion can only be temporary.

Prof.dr. Erik-Jan Zürcher is professor of Turkish language and culture at Leyden University. He studied Turkish, New Persian and Arabic. Zürcher specialised in the political and social history of the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the early years of the Turkish Republic.
Language: English


Lecture
Turkey
Turkey Now: Islam and EU
Faruk Birtek
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Date: 12 March 2007
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The growing influence of Islam has put pressure on Turkish secular and kemalistic identity. According to Birtek, there is no reason not to mitigate the Turkish version of the principle of laïcité. Kemalism was an instrument to break with Ottoman society once and for all. Since this break was succesful, Turkey should not hold on to its secular principle’s too rigidly.
The possible EU-membership is another question Birtek will deal with. How do different groups in Turkish society see themselves vis-à-vis the EU? Which groups hope to enter the EU, which groups don’t, or don’t care? What will happen to Turkey if the EU keeps putting Turkish entry off? And what will happen to the EU if Turkey’s entry will be rejected?

Prof. Faruk Birtek Ph.D. is the head of the Sociology Department of Bogazici University Istanbul. He studied Sociology in Berkeley and Cambridge.
Language: English


Film
Uzak (Distant) -  Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey, 2002)
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Date: Wednesday 14 March 2007
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After losing a factory job in his home village, Yusuf moves in with his older cousin Mahmut, a commercial photographer living in Istanbul, where he looks for work as a seaman. There is hardly any communication between the two cousins. In parallel scenes, both men follow women at a distance without daring to address them. Melancholy atmospheric sketch about alienation and longing in Istanbul.
Language: Turkish – subtitles: Dutch

Introduction: Ronald Ohlsen, Dutch writer and poet. Istanbul is his favourite metropolis.


Lecture
Romania
A turning point for Romania
Dorel Sandor
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Date: Thursday 22 March 2007
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Beyond the technical level of the discussion about Romania's EU accession, there is the ‘human’ level: the impact on ordinary Romanians in terms of expectations, fears, opportunities and traps, reactions and behaviour. Their reactions are crucial to the success of Romania’s entry into the EU. Strong tendencies in Romanian society e.g. populism, traditionalism and post-communist egalitarianism will threaten the integration in the EU with its stress on competition and modernization.
An interesting aspect will certainly be the re-discovery of Europe by Romanians, through direct contact. And hopefully, the Europeans will discover a different Romania, that is more than a picturesque, ‘exotic’ and paradoxical country.

Dorel N. Sandor is a political analyst and director and founder of the Center for Political Studies and Comparative Analysis, a Romanian public policy think tank. He is currently advising international investors active in Romania and prominent political leaders.
Language: English


Film
The Death of Mister Lazarescu (Moartea Domnului Lazarescu) - Cristi Puiu (Romania, 2005)
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Date: Wednesday 28 March 2007
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The film follows Lazarescu’s journey through the night, as he is carried from one hospital to the next. Although finding that he is gravely ill and needs emergency surgery, the doctors of three hospitals send him away. His only support is the nurse, who stubbornly stands by him and tries to get him hospitalized and treated.
Language: Romanian – subtitles: Dutch
Introduction: Dr. Dorin Perie. Perie visited secondary school in his native Romania and studied History at the University of Groningen. He obtained his doctorate in Amsterdam where he currently works at the Romanian Language Department.


Debate
The European Union
The Future of the EU
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Date: Friday 30 March 2007
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Two questions will be addressed: How should we proceed in the EU since the French and the Dutch have rejected the European constitution? And, which countries do we accept as new members, and which countries should be denied membership? See further announcements on http://www.dwarsdiep.nl/.


Lecture
Turkey
Cosmopolitism, Multiculturalism and Literature
Elif Shafak
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Date: Tuesday 19 April 2007
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Turkey is a country of opposites which often, defying the laws of physics, repel one another. Eastern and Western, Islamic and secular at the same time, the country is torn between democracy and dictatorship, memory and amnesia. These dualities, bordering on schizophrenia, are unsettling for the young Turkish writer Elif Shafak.
“I think there are two undercurrents in Turkey, both very old. One is nationalist, exclusivist, xenophobic and reactionary. The other is cosmopolitan, Sufi, humanist, embracing. It is the second tide that I feel connected to.”

Elif Shafak is a writer and social scientist. She has published several novels and one of her novels have been translated into Dutch (Het Luizenpaleis). As an outspoken intellectual and activist, she has been recently charged in Turkey with "insulting Turkishness", because the characters in her latest novel (The Bastard of Istanbul) talked about the Armenian genocide. September 2006, the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.
Language: English


Exhibition
The End of Europe.
Meetings at the Eastern Border
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Date: March and April 2007
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In 2004, the Dutch journalist Irene van der Linden and photographer Nicole Segers made a 3000 miles journey along the eastern border of Europe. March and April 2007, the Public Library will exhibit forty of the pictures they made during this journey.


N.B.
This project is organised with financial support of the “Europafonds” of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is the heart of the 2007 programme of Groninger Forum www.groningerforum.nl.

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