ICEUR-Vienna is an independent and non-partisan think tank which elaborates policy-relevant analytical materials and provides strategic intelligence for business, politics and science. Founded as a brain trust for strategic research in 2008 by prominent Austrian and Russian personalities from the academia, the foreign politics and business communities, it was mandated to improve the relations between the EU and the New Independent States. ICEUR – Vienna has pursued its mission by building its reputation as a forum for the business-like exchange of ideas and the elaboration of policy recommendations as well as providing a meeting place for business people, experts and policy makers bent on achieving concrete outcomes.
It is committed to the paramount goal of promoting mutual understanding and rapprochement of people on both sides of fences and dividing lines in Europe and beyond.
ICEUR´s network includes personalities and institutions across a wide range of countries, entities and organizations and is not associated with any political faction. This attitude has greatly contributed to the fact that ICEUR-Vienna has become a brand name which stands for a dynamically developing venture with a track record and with great potential for future ambitious ventures. ICEUR publications and memorandums generated at its expert meetings are closely followed by political and economic decision makers. Our organization is considered a channel of interaction that complements existing official diplomatic and economic institutions as well as other settings. For ICEUR, trust building and a responsible treatment of sensitive information is a key priority. Due to its rapid reaction capacities and its privileged access to expert resources, ICEUR-Vienna can offer real-time and in-depth analysis and intelligence as well as efficient fast-track solutions to complex problems.
ICEUR disposes of a network of experts and contacts which has grown and expanded over the years of its operation. Our core geographic area is the Ex-USSR, but we are also well connected in the CEE area and the Western Balkan. The excellence of our local expertise may be gathered from the list of personalities who have delivered master classes or have participated in other ICEUR events. Not all experts wish to be listed explicitly, since they prefer to be independent of any institutional affiliation.
ICEUR is a non-profit organization, but receives no government subsidies and is not dependent on permanent sponsors. The costs for the maintenance of its infrastructure and its activities are covered by
- The sale of customized analytical material on request as well as regular reports via subscription
- Consulting and trouble- shooting for corporate members and other individual business clients
- Membership fees
- Targeted sponsorship for events
Catering to business needs-the ICEUR Business Community
Our core capacity, the retrieval, processing and structuring of strategic intelligence, translates into customized service offerings for business, which are not easily available in the respective markets. Such special offers include
- Market analysis and monitoring
- Trouble shooting and facilitation services concerning concrete business projects
- Customized status and credit inquiries concerning potential and actual partner companies
- Medium- and long-time expert forecasts and trend analysis
- Organized exchange of business-relevant information
To facilitate relevant communication, we have established the ICEUR Business Community (IBC). This is a loosely institutionalized business meeting taking place at regular intervals, where members and prospective clients get together to discuss new ideas and opportunities, are provided with updates on important developments and enjoy our hospitality in an enabling environment.
The IBC is membership-based. Our policy on membership is to invite interested corporations and other companies to join ICEUR-Vienna on the terms specified in individualized corporate membership contracts. The contract ensures immediate direct access to expert resources and the services listed above at significantly reduced fees.
Be the first to know what is relevant. You can select from our info menu or order specific in-depth analyses:
- Background reports on the domestic political situation in the post-Soviet area and Eastern Europe
- Changes in the composition of political and business elites
- Military and security country reports
- Financial and commodity market dynamics
- Successful business is knowing the right people: In case you are interested in expanding your business abroad, we can provide the necessary local contacts and know-how. We can assign one of our local managers to your project, who “knows the ropes“ and can chaperon you through the business meetings, administrative procedures, and contacts with decision-makers. He/she will also assist you to find suitable and trustworthy local partner companies.
- In case you feel you need a European partner company to manage a joint project, we are ready to make relevant proposals. At this point, we are responding to requests and demand arising in the food and construction branches.
- Problem shooting: Misfortune happens, projects may go wrong. For such cases, our local partners can try to find smart solutions for your problem. Since business operates in a political environment, our political contacts have often proved helpful and decisive. For our problem-shooting clients we offer a step-by-step approach in lieu of a package deal in order to minimize their financial risk.
- Seminars and training events covering various topics can be organized on request
- Crowd intelligence: Nobody has all the answers at all time. Join our business community, where ideas are hatched, discussed and planned.
Continuing our series of consultations on the Donbass problem, we held a closed Round Table on 16 November, 2021 as announced earlier on. In addition to high-ranking Ukrainian politicians and experts, the meeting was attended by representatives of the Austrian DoD, which was also a co-organizer, as well as the Austrian MFA.
The agenda was dominated by security issues as well as the quest for new formats for conflict regulation. Among the relevant questions, the probability of a Russian invasion as well as the possibility of NATO accession by Ukraine was discussed There was agreement to the effect that while the Normandy format was the only existing dialogue platform, it had to be replaced by a different setup. The Minsk agreements, it was argued, would be blocked in parliament.
Among the proposals that were advanced by our Ukrainian interlocutors was the idea of an international fund for the reconstruction of the Donbas.
We Pursue Our Own Belarus Agenda
Numerous comments and questions relating to the International Conference on Belarus on 22 November, 2021 in Vienna, prompt us to state the following:
- The above-mentioned event was initiated, organized and will be hosted by and under the auspices of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs. We support the idea of a dialogue leading to negotiations as a final objective in any conflict as a matter of principle.
- Our major mission is to provide relevant information on developments in its core area, the Former Soviet Union. Given the volatility of the situation in and around Belarus (demands to expand and intensify sanctions on Belarus, minimal possible concessions of the regime in Minsk; Russian focus on transition in Russia itself), Track One Diplomacy faces an extremely daunting task.
- Against this backdrop, we will follow a structured agenda consisting of a series of meetings that cater to the more modest objective of increasing and upgrading our inventory of relevant information and views of all important groups concerned.
ICEUR reaches next level in its Karabakh/Artsakh project
On the 4th of October, 2021 we organized a meeting that convened delegations from both sides of the Karabakh conflict as well as participants from various Austrian institutions for a confidential and personal exchange of views and positions. In a business-like and pragmatic mode, steps leading toward possible de-escalation, legal issues and priorities for problem solving were discussed. An entire section was devoted to the role of the international community and specifically, the EU and OSCE.
ICEUR reaches next level in its Karabakh/Artsakh project
Pursuant to the kick-off event in Vienna in May, 2021, the meeting on 4 October, 2021 convened delegations from both sides as well as participants from various Austrian institutions for a confidential and personal exchange of views and positions. In a business-like and pragmatic mode, steps leading toward possible de-escalation, legal issues and priorities for problem solving were discussed. An entire section was devoted to the role of the international community and specifically, the EU and OSCE. Participants unanimously came out for a continuation of this interesting civic initiative.
Masterclass with Gleb Pavlovsky
The Vagaries of Russian Transition
Talking before a select audience of experts, our guest departed from briefly characterizing the Duma elections as grossly falsified, a job which was facilitated by the use of e-voting. The Kremlin, he reasoned, was guided by the fear of the Communists, who were harnessed by Navalny sympathizers in their „smart voting“ campaign. The crackdown on the opposition, however, created a new systemic problem; namely the lack of legitimacy.
Pavlovskiy sees the main problem of the transition and the Putin system as such in the fact that institutions and rules have gradually ceased to function and are replaced by ad-hoc improvised schemes. There are no workable control mechanisms, checks or balances, which creates a pervasive climate of insecurity.
Among other things, this state of affairs could have grave consequences, in that war is a realistic possibility, as the recent dislocation of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border has illustrated. It is not the aggressiveness or the militancy of Russian leaders, but the logic of the system, which makes it stumble into disaster.
Interview - Anton Tabakh on the 2021 Russian Federal Elections
We asked Anton Tabakh, who is an associate professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow for his take on the Russian federal elections of 2021 and their economic aspects.
Interview - Sofia Adamova on the 2021 Russian Federal Elections
To all appearance, the Russian State Duma 2021 elections will produce a malleable parliament. Nevertheless, the efforts to bar the entry of opposition and independent candidates into the Duma as well as the crackdown on independent media and NGOs were extraordinary. This raises a number of questions, which we have submitted to a select panel of experts.
In our first interview on this topic Sofia Adamova, deputy editor-in-chief at the The Insider Russia, provided first hand insight into the Russian media landscape before and during the federal elections of 2021.
Interview - Konstantin von Eggert on the 2021 Russian Federal Elections
The renowned journalist and political commentator Konstantin von Eggert talked about the Russian federal elections of 2021 and the influence they had on the Russian media landscape as well as possible voting strategies.
Karabakh calls for more attention from the international community
With the round table "The Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh: Opportunities for a Dialogue", held on 10 May, 2021, ICEUR launched a process expected to lead towards a dialogue between the Armenian and Azerbaijan sides. The round table in Vienna convened an Armenian delegation consisting of representatives of political parties and experts as well as virtual participants from Azerbaijan NGOs and international experts and observers. Its major objective was to sound out the opportunities for a political dialogue and to give both sides the opportunity to present their views.
This event is planned as a first step to be followed by a similar round table with a mirror-inverted cast, namely a physically present Azerbaijan delegation with Armenian virtual participants. Drawing on the results of the first event, ICEUR feels encouraged to make additional mileage.
ICEUR launches second round of consultative meetings with the Belarusian opposition
On the behest of the Belarusian National Anti-Crisis Management ICEUR will hold a confidential meeting in Vienna on 19-01-2021. The objective of this event is the elaboration of a road map for the political set-up in Belarus as well as recommendations for a possible response by the EU.
Consultations with other representatives of the Belarusian civil society will be continued in the near future.
In line with expectable global developments and trends ICEUR plans to focus on the following activities:
Right-wing parties in the wider post-Soviet region: Parties and “movements” of nationalist ilk with clear authoritarian tendencies rejecting liberal values will, despite temporary setbacks, continue to be major political players. Vienna is believed to be a key venue for endeavours to promote such organizations and communities which as a rule march in lockstep with their international sponsors. Fellow travellers can also be found in other parts of the political spectrum. Type of activity: analytics
Conflict dynamics: as a result of geopolitical and regional power shifts, such protracted /”frozen”/ conflicts as Nagorno Karabakh, Moldova and Donbas are transforming. Type of activity: analytics, consultancy
Continued resistance in Belarus: Despite harsh measures employed by the Lukashenko regime, the political upheaval in Belarus is far from over. The eventual outcome of the processes triggered may go far beyond constitutional reforms. Type of activity: mediation, consultancy, beefing up outreach to parties, Trade Unions, civil society, liaison with Brussels, analytics
The politics of Islam: As the pandemic threat weakens, the theme of radical Islam is regaining traction. At issue is the evolution of specific forms of Russian Islam (Tatarstan, Bashkortostan) and its ramifications abroad such as the Chechen diasporas in Europe
Prediction and Error - The community of Russian political analysts: This program aims at providing a factual basis to evaluate the predictive power and the analytical capacity of Russianthink tanks, advisory bodies and individual analysts. Types of activity: categorization of internet resources, expert interviews.
Communique on the ICEUR meeting with the Belarusian delegation
The confidential meeting with representatives of the Belarusian civil society organized by ICEUR and held under its auspices has been concluded on Friday, November 6th 2020. The main objective of the round table was to explore the views and strategies of personalities which to all appearance will play an important role in Belarusian public life. The open and business-like discussion fleshed out the overall picture of the will for a new departure in Belarusian politics but also a broad spectrum of different views. There was consensus on a peaceful transition and on the fact that Austria could act as a mediator and facilitator of a dialogue both with the European Union and Russia. There was also the sense that media presence of Belarusian issues should be strengthened. ICEUR proposed an initiative to establish a permanent dialogue with the Belarusian civil society which would be operated and managed by this organization.
Geopolitics and the Nagorno Karabkh/Artsakh Conflict
The military conflict which began on 27 September, 2020, along the border of the unrecognized entity Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh is called “war” by both sides after the international community had dubbed it “protracted conflict” in recognition of its longevity and the practical absence of viable solutions. Indeed, we could not observe military activities of similar impact and size in 16 years following the declaration of military mobilization by both sides.
With ongoing fighting in the Karabakh region, With ongoing fighting in the Karabakh region, we have interviewed Leonid Nersisyan on the conflict. As a military analyst, he provided valuable insight into the current situation and possible developments.
2020 Belarusian presidential election
The preliminary results of yesterday's presidential elections in Belarus give current president Lukachenko 80% of the votes.
With the growing protests and international pressure on Lukachenko to resign his post as president of Belarus,
we have asked:
ICEUR President Ambassador Martin Sajdik (video) for his take on the results and the reaction of the "West", i.e. the EU and the USA.
Professor Vladislav Inozemtsev (video)
for his take on the results and the reaction/course of action Russia might assume. ICEUR President and former Austrian Vice Chancellor Dr. Erhard Busek (video) for his take on the results and the reaction/course of action the EU might assume. Andrei Sannikov, former presidential candidate and political prisoner of Lukachenko's regime(video)
for his take on the crisis in Belarus.
Franak Viacorka, Belarusian journalist (video)
for his take on the crisis in Belarus. Jaroslav Romanchuk, Belarusian economist and politician(video)
for his take on the crisis in Belarus. Valery Tsepkalo, Belarusian diplomant, entrepeneur and politician (video)
for his take on the crisis and a prognosis on possible developments.
Martin Sajdik joins ICEUR team
We are extremely happy and proud to announce that Martin Sajdik will be our new Co-President. For a quick reminder, Martin Sajdik studied Law at the University of Vienna, International Law at the Lomonosov University in Moscow and International Relations at the John Hopkins University in Bologna. In 1978 Martin Sajdik began his diplomatic career as secretary at the Austrian embassy in Geneva. Afterwards he relocated to Moscow, where he worked as the embassy counsellor and from 1991 as envoy to the Austrian Embassy. In 1997 he was appointed head of the Department for EU Enlargement, External Economic Relations and Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. In 2003 he became head of the economic and integration policy section in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In 2007 he was appointed Austrian Ambassador to China, North Korea and Mongolia, and in 2011 Austrian Ambassador to the United Nations. From 2015 to 2020 Martin Sajdik served as the OSCE Ukraine Special Envoy to the Trilateral Contact Group on the implementation of the peace plan in the East of Ukraine.
ICEUR will profit from his unique diplomatic experience, his analytical skills and his prowess as a negotiator and initiator of advanced projects, especially in the framework of our coverage of the Donbass conflict. Welcome to the team!
Religious ceremonies - a short cut to paradise?
Together with retirement homes, apres ski delights and hospitals, religious gatherings have turned out to be hotspots of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Large sports events, demonstrations and religious ceremonies bring together most people at a time, so the rapidly ballooning numbers of
virus-infectedworshippers should not come as a surprise. In contrast to the established religious communities some extremist sects have
refused to comply with the social distancing rules issued by governments and churches alike, exposing their members to deadly hazards.
Even so, some Catholic and Orthodoxpriests as well as Moslem clerics have defied their superiors and insisted on prioritizing prayer over
prevention. Due to the lack of a centralized hierarchy, Orthodoxy and Islam are more inclined towards such disobedient behavior.
As a consequence, governments in Islamic states such as Pakistan find it hard to resist the demands of clerics to allow ceremonies
during Ramadan despite desperate pleas of senior doctors to the contrary.
In orthodox areas, liturgy often blends with popular customs and financial interests. Orthodox holidays such as Easter have traditionally
gone with voluminous donations from the believers and thepsychological effect of praying in community or kissing icons should not be
neglected. On top of that, most religious communities lack transparency and prefer internal settlement to public scrutiny. When it comes
to the Orthodox Churches in the post-Soviet Union, insiders report a rapid progress ofinfections among clerics and believers
ICEUR has asked such insiders to monitor the situation in the respective countries and provide periodic reporting.
Monitoring Russian regions: The coming storm?
While most observers of Russian politics focus their attention on the federal center and the bickering among the top brass, the rising tensions
in the regions go largely unnoticed, although they could unleash sudden waves of destabilizing events, from social protest to political unrest.
For one thing, the Russian economy is ill prepared to cope with the social havoc that the epidemic has wrought, let alone to provide medical
support for the present and future infected (and non-infected) population. The National Welfare Fund is harnessed as an emergency tool, but
historically low oil prices spell disaster in the mid-term perspective. The trust of Russian citizens in the ability of the leaders to manage
the crisis is correspondingly low.
ICEUR has launched a monitoring program using its network of correspondents in the regions, who will report periodically on relevant changes.
The Politics of the COVID-19 Epidemic
Mathematical modelling and international comparisons of the spread of the virus have identified government interventions as the key variable.
All mathematical models use the basic reproduction number R0 which is defined as the ratio of the infection and the death/recovery rates.
This in turn reflects the measures taken by the respective governments as well as the conduct of the population as a response to the former.
It is easy to see that the way governments try to handle the crisis, to sell hard decisions and ensure their acceptance, is dependent on
basic patterns and preferences of the established system. In contracts to purely mathematical models, where the number of assumptions is
higher than that of known facts (unreported cases are hard to estimate or measure, Corona deaths rely on vague definitions, both variables
influence the infection rate etc.) analytical knowledge of the political systems and their basic rules and procedures can reduce uncertainties
about the spread of the epidemic considerably.
This suggests the launching of a new ICEUR program dubbed “Monitoring COVID-19 in the post-Soviet Union”, in which various local authors will
trace the evolution of the epidemic from a political vantage point.
Leaving the survival mode
During these trying and challenging times it might seem inappropriate to address the economic and political consequences caused by the Corona disease, but this is not the time to be paralyzed by real and imagined threats. As interpersonal contacts are curtailed and economic interactions dialed down to the most elementary necessities, ICEUR opts for an increase in its activities and outreach. ICEUR partners all over the post-Soviet space and Eastern Europe stand ready to deliver relevant information, share advice and propose smart solutions for the flood of new problems caused, in the final analysis, by the virus. Since consulting is a part of our mission, we would like to specifically address the business communities by offering
- Evaluations and short-term forecasts concerning markets, finance and regulations
- Support and trouble shooting concerning ongoing and initiated projects
- Monitoring of the political environment as well as
- Customized services for individual clients
We understand this activity as a step to prevent possible loss of skills, knowledge and funds which will facilitate a new take-off after the crisis and invite all our members, friends and supporters to join the fray. Needless to say, we wish to see you unbroken and in good health.
Should you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Master Class with Mikhail Krutikhin Bleak outlook for Russian carbon resources
Speaking to a surprisingly large audience
of Corona-defying experts, Mr. Krutikhin pointed out that the Russian oil and gas giants were cash-cows, but mainly for the managers and the cronies of the Russian president. Firms like Gasprom are a tool to realize political and strategic goals, regardless of the cost. A large part of the revenues goes to subsidiaries located in tax havens. Instead of opting for cheap and simple solutions such as linking up to existing pipelines, managers opt for large-scale projects to the detriment of their companies. Projects like North Stream2 to or the Power of Siberia pipeline are paradigmatic examples which boil down to huge losses for the oil and gas companies and equally huge profits for the contractors. To make matters worse, our speaker maintained, Russian reserves which can be exploited at low costs, are all but depleted. The answer of the oil and gas managers is to intensify the exploitation of existing fields. At the end of the day, namely by 2040, all carbon resources will be needed for domestic consumption.
Masterclass with Gleb Pavlovsky
Russia Re-Invents Itself
Gleb Pavlovski, the man who devised the Putin system started his insightful analysis by stating that change in Russia would be limited to the superficial “camouflage” coating, in other words to the legal and institutional landscape. On the more profound and hidden level, nothing would change: The system would still be anchored in the myth of the leader, who is untouchable because, in the speaker´s words, he “governs the world”, solemnly presiding over the petty bickering of the lobbyists in his environment.
At the same time, we observe the senescence of the top echelons: According to Mr. Pavlovski´s count, 40% of the top leaders have been socialized in the Soviet Union, while only 0.8% belong to the young generation. He predicts that the category of “supernumeraries”, individuals whose only function is to fill the stage, will expand. Despite his assertion that aggressiveness toward external enemies is hard-wired into the system, he sees a speck of light in the fact that the new government includes some capable professionals. On top of that, he maintains, Putin has always regarded U.S. presidents as his model, making America an object of simultaneous love and hate. In contrast to the Russian Tsars, the Russian leader does not regard Europe a serious partner.
ICEUR-Vienna & Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution
Round table Strange bedfellows in brittle alliances: Russia´s Near East policy
The focus of the ICEUR event
on the Russian positions in the Near East was on Iranian-Russian relations. Iranian policies are mainly determined by the enduring infight between competing elites. The JCPoA was part of this political game. Allegedly, President Rohani was aware of the fact that the chances for economic recovery through an agreement with the West would be minimal. Also, Iran´s options for retaliation for the assassination of General Soleimani are limited and, to all appearance, will boil down to cyber activities. Despite official hostility, US and Iranian representatives negotiate on a possible new deal.
When it comes to the Russian position, our expert panelist from St Petersburg University, Mr. Isaev, described it as pragmatic and neutral on almost any issue. Despite formal partnership with Iran, the last years have been marked with growing disagreement and made the country an “inconvenient partner”. Russia increasingly upgrades co-operation with Turkey to the detriment of its Syrian and Iranian allies. The downing of the Ukrainian airliner illustrates this point: While Russia was quick to blame its favourite enemy, the US, the admission of guilt by Iranian officials came as an unpleasant surprise for the Russians. Anti-US rhetorics was substituted by attacks against Iran. Still and overall, Russia maintains “normal” relations with all partners in the region and offers its services as a go-between.
ICEUR-closed seminar under Chatham House rules
Pursuant to the Paris Summit of the Normandy format top advisors from both Russian and Ukrainian sides met in a closed ICEUR event to discuss the outcomes of the summit and the outlooks for a possible conflict regulation.
All participants welcomed the format of the Vienna meeting and highlighted the fact that this neutral platform was an unparalleled opportunity to openly exchange arguments and views.
When it comes down to substance, the sides were moderately pessimistic in their evaluation of the summit and the future developments. The structural lack of a clear strategy on the Ukrainian side was identified as a key obstacle for progress in the negotiations as evidenced by Zelenskiy ́s refusal to sign an agreement that had been drafted for the Paris summit.
The partly harsh and emotional wording culminated in the unabashed statement of the Russian side that the Minsk agreement, which Poroshenko was forced to sign, was a Russian victory and a Ukrainian capitulation. The Russian side was adamant in insisting on the existing Minsk agreements as the only basis for further negotiations and categorically rejected the idea of a “Minsk-3” voiced by the Ukrainian side.
Nevertheless, all participants strongly supported a continuation of the ICEUR-Vienna format, possibly following the upcoming Berlin Summit.
To understand the fine-tuned signals sent by the Kazakh duumvirate an intimate knowledge of the complex rules, habits and standards observed by political leaders and citizens is imperative. Mr. Andrey Shukhov, who spoke our round table last night, demonstrated both his familiarity with the vagaries of Kazakh public discourse as well as his sociological skills.
Nazarbaiev, he reasoned, had been the uncontested leader of the Kazakh nation for thirty years and the whole system had actually been tailored to him. Nepotism, rampant corruption among the elite, strict controls and police brutality had been accepted as a fact of life. The system is built for one-man rule and not for power-sharing or cohabitation as in the French case. Unsurprisingly, veiled criticism by the acting president Zhomart Tokaiev is answered by equally tongue-in cheek remarks by First President Nazarbaiev to the effect that even very old leaders come back at times.
While influential oligarchs are carefully
observing this underground power struggle, members of the Nazarbaiev family are waiting in the wings to succeed the towering father figure. His older daughter Dariga is already trying to acquire foreign policy credentials. Kazakhstan, then, faces rough times ahead.
ICEUR – Insights Arseni Sivitski Belarus reaches out to China and Europe, Russia poised to play hardball
Judging by the size of the audience, the ICEUR Master Class with Arseni Sivitski, deliberately timed to coincide with Lukashenka´s visit to Vienna, responded to the informational needs of the expert and international communities in Austria.
According to the speaker, the original deal with Russia (cheap energy in exchange for “geopolitical loyalty”) had worked until 2015 and is now replaced by unabashed economic pressure in tandem with ominous troop concentrations along the Russian-Belarusian border with the objective of setting up the Union state under Russian conditions.
Russia has already put boots on the ground by establishing an air base on Belarusian territory and plans are in place either to unite both armies or to bring about regime change by military intervention. This scenario could occur in case of continued Belarusian recalcitrance or foot-dragging, if other means (particularly economic pressure) do not work.
For the present Belarusian leadership, access to alternative finance is imperative. Much to Russia´s chagrin, China has stepped in to bail out the country and to reduce its financial dependence on Russian subsidies. China plans to make Belarus one of the important junctions in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. This, however, goes with the proviso that Belarus join the WTO and gain access to EU markets by negotiating a basic agreement with Brussels.
Trapped between a rock and a hard stone,the Belarusian leadership will have to display ingenuity and creativity in order to maintain the country's sovereignty.
ICEUR – Insights Grigory Yudin Behind The Street Protests In Moscow
Grigoriy Yudin, one of the most interesting political analysts and social researchers in Russia, impressed the audience by a concise and compelling analysis of the protests, which roiled Russia during and after recent regional and local elections. Drawing on his inside knowledge as political adviser he identified the reasons behind the failure of the siloviki /law enforcement personnel/ who had put all their eggs into the police brutality basket. On the other hand, he holdsthat Putin ́s reputation is still strong, because for average Russians, he personifies the country. A possible innovation of the rigid system will, to all appearance, come from the under 55 generations, who are no longer willing to accept social injustice, falling living standards and the lack of possibilities for genuine political articulation.
ICEUR - Round Table We are launching a new program for Donbas crisis Regulation
As the first step in this project, we invited Mr. V. Chesnakov to present an authentic and authoritative view of the Russian side. According to him, recent events have not principally changed the situation since all sides insist on their previous positions and the more positive rhetoric of the new Ukrainian leadership is offset by negative signals, among which he mentioned the so-called “Sajdik-Plan” and the breakdown of the dialogue with the U.S.A. A meaningful dialogue with Ukraine is also made difficult by the lack of clear competences. On the other hand, parliamentary elections in Ukraine could be a game changer, if the parliament implemented the Minsk agreement.
In the meantime, he held, only small steps can be taken, such as the pullout of heavy weapons from the line of conflict, an exchange of prisoners or a joint investigation of the MH-17 downing; Moscow´s red line in Ukrainian NATO membership. In contrast to opinions shared by Western experts, Moscow is aware of the fact that EU membership for Ukraine will come some day and will not trigger Russian interventions.
The Ukrainian view will be the next point in the agenda of our project.
ICEUR Master Class Natalia Zubarevich
Gloomy Outlooks for Russian Regions
At last week's Master Class Ms. Zubarevich delivered an in-depth analysis based on official Russian Sources, before a select audience of economists, diplomats and experts. Her main point was that the deep rift between the few resource-rich regions and the many territories depending on subsidies from the federal budget had deepened in recent years. The timeline of financial transfers to the poorer regions reveals the underlying logic of Russian politics, which consists of buying popular loyalty and cushioning discontent by monetary gifts. As long as oil prices are reasonably high, the system can maintain a precarious balance.
ICEUR's Press Conference: The remotely controlled Right-Wing and Euro-sceptical Parties in the run-up to EU Parliamentary Elections: Myths and Reality
Yesterday, 22 May, we held a press conference for the release of our latest analytical paper: "The Remotely Controlled Right-Wing and Euroskeptical Parties in the Run-Up to the European Parliamentary Elections: Myth and Reality". It will soon be available for download here on our website.
Dr. Erhard Busek gave an introductory speech and three of the authors presented their contributions.
The paper is a compilation of articles that features the contributions of participants of a policy consulting seminar on 3 April, 2019 in Vienna.
Our international experts conducted research on factors of external influence(s) on politics in the following countries/regions: France, Italy, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, Romania and Balkan countries. This paper compiles the outcomes of their research.
ICEUR analytics by experts and insiders
"The Remotely Controlled Right-Wing and Euroskeptical Parties in the Run-Up to the European Parliamentary Elections: Myth and Reality"
This compilation of articles features the contributions of participants of a policy consulting seminar on 3 April, 2019 in Vienna. All materials presented are of an analytical nature and deliberately refrain from bashing any of the external actors under scrutiny or their partners within the EU. Most of the articles deal with entities sponsored by the RF, which in comparison to the U.S. has a much deeper political and economic involvement in EU affairs.
The responsibility for possible faults, omissions and mis-attributions lies with the authors of the individual contributions!
Ukrainian presidential elections brought an unexpected result: the actor, who had not previously participated in the political life of the country, had no governmental experience and was not considered as a favourite at the very beginning of the campaign, won the election.
The Ukrainian Politics Foundation wrote a paper in cooperation with ICEUR on these historical elections, describing the circumstances under which they were held, different strategies used by the candidates and lessons to be learned from the results.
ICEUR has hosted a team of Ukrainian experts to give a first assessment of the post-election situation.
Ilya Kusa, who advises the president elect in foreign policy matters, highlighted the fact that the previous administration had left the old system intact, while Zelensky´s victory symbolizes the entry of a new political generation into the arena of Ukrainian politics.
Volodymir Fesenko gave a realistic account of the wiggle room of the incoming government, stating that a cessation of military operations in the Donbas is possible. For Russia, he holds, mothballing the status quo is the best solution, since this will be a formidable obstacle to EU and NATO membership. As in the past, Moscow can be expected to stonewall in the Crimea issue. All experts agreed that in view of the internal and external constraints transforming Ukraine is a daunting task and will take time. Kosta Bondarenko expects some degree of disappointment with the new incumbent, since he will not be able to deliver on all important tasks.
Influencing European Parliamentary Elections
Elections to the EU Parliament have traditionally elicited moderate interest at best. This year, however, they are in the crosshairs of major global players. China is interested in a strong EU as a counterweight to the US, while the present US administration wants to protect domestic industries with their Trump core voters from German competition. This dovetails with Russia´s goal of a weakened EU, which could mitigate or lift the sanctions. In this tangle of interests and strategies, the right populist parties emerge as a major target and a channel to change EU policies from outside.
The policy consulting seminar operating under Chatham House rules pursues the following objectives:
- To collect background materials and to analyze channels and mechanisms to influence the EU elections in May, 2019
- To identify existing institutions and techniques used by influence groups
- To produce a country by country analysis of influence channels in order to identify general patterns
- To discuss strategies to provide fair election campaigns
- To elaborate a comprehensive report containing relevant policy recommendations
Anton Shekhovtsov (Resarch Associate, Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, Ukraine; Member, Editorial Board of the Open Access e-journal Fascism: Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies): Right-Wing and populist parties in the European parliamentary elections 2019
Boris Reitschuster (Journalist, Washington Post, Guardian, Frankfurter Allgemeine): Germany
Peter Krekó (Executive Director, Political Capital – Policy Research & Consulting Institute): Hungary
Alexander Morozov (Boris Nemtsov Academic Center for the Study of Russia at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague): Dialogue of Civilizations as example and model to wield influence
Hedvig Morvai (Executive Director, European Funds for the Balkans)
Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu (Former Prime Minister of Romania, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania, Former Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Romania)
Vedran Dzihic (Scientific Researcher, Austrian Institute for International Affairs)
Ivan Preobrazhensky (European Observer, independent news agency "Rosbalt, Columnist, Deutsche Welle): Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland
Organization and Moderation: ICEUR-Vienna
Time: 3 April, 2019
Venue: Europasaal, Industriellenvereinigung, Schwarzenbergplatz 4, 1030 Wien
Presidential elections in Ukraine
Presidential elections in Ukraine are a major event and critical juncture for Europe. The first round on 31 March, 2019 predictably has produced two candidates competing in the second round. ICEUR will monitor the elections closely and conduct a press conference immediately before the 2nd round scheduled for 21 April, 2019.
Responding to requests for inside analytical information, ICEUR will assemble a select group of panelists including running candidates, former members of the Central Electoral Commission as well as spin doctors from various parties and blocs.
We can promise an in-depth analysis and an upper-end discussion which can shape expectations concerning the future course of Ukraine.
Round Table on the Transnistrian Conflict
The success of our events, our growing network and the support from our friends and benefactors encourages us to become active in the field of resolving ongoing conflicts in post-Soviet regions. We plan on providing a neutral platform under the Chatham House Rules to enable a pragmatic and neutral exchange of opinions.
March 27 we began with the Moldovian-Transnistrian conflict by meeting with the Institutul pentru Inițiative Strategice IPIS. The OSCE-sponsored seminars in Tbilsi provided a running start for dealing with the conflict around Karabakh/Arzach. We will utilize our contacts in Ossetia for this matter. Background information on the Donbass-Conflict, which we gathered through our analytic work, should enable us to provide expertise on this topic as well.
Furthermore, we plan on raising funds for humanitarian and infrastructural projects in regions of conflict.
The Vienna Process stands out as ICEUR-Vienna´s showpiece and trade mark. This year, it took place under specific circumstances,
which made it a special event. For one thing, we decided to blend ICEUR´s 10th anniversary with the VP in order to im prove communication
with our members and affiliated institutions as well as increasing our outreach. The agenda was designed to bring topics into the spot
light which deserve greater attention and to recruit experts beyond the usual suspects. A balance had to be found between managing controversial
attitudes, assuring requisite variety and maintaining a meaningful dialogue against the backdrop of the unfavorable political background noise.
Judging from the reaction of participants, the result was an unusually colorful andbrisk eventthat catered to intellectual pursuit as well as to emotions.
For ICEUR, the mileage achieved shows the way forward and encourages us to stay our course.
When it comes to substance, the first day was dedicated to the reminiscences, reflections and projections of ICEUR´s founding generation, that laced political
declarations by Russian and Hungarian diplomats.
The second day started with a panel on economic relations composed of top-level Russian experts and representatives of Austrian banking and industry.
Unsurprisingly, given the strong Austrian presence in Russian markets, the latter came out against the sanctions. The discussion of the state of the Russian
economy departed from the recently published growth figures (2.3%), which, however, were drawn into doubt by some panelists. Criticism was also voiced concerning
the futility of the energy dialogue and the construction of new pipelines. Nevertheless, opinions converged on the observation that the Russian economy suffers
from a severe shortfall of investments, which is due to the crowding out of SMEs by state corporations as well as the volatility of tax legislation.
The following panel on civil society was no less controversial. The panel was dominated by Ms. Federmesser, a civil activist for terminal care who threw the full
weight of her impressive and fearless personality into the debate, arguing that her hospice project was a paramount example of a successful civil project and for the
existence of a vibrant civil society in Russia. On a different note, human rights activist Ms. Romanova highlighted the impact of the Russian prison world on society
at large. Other panelists pointed to prohibitive legislation and the absence of political opposition, although they conceded that the effects of heroic foreign policy
and the return of Crimea (“Make Russia Great Again”) had petered out.
The last panel assembled investigative and other independent journalists, most of whom had left Russia but continued to work in their profession from abroad under difficult
circumstances. The panel ended with a spontaneous debate about whether Russia would see a color revolution any time soon.
During the past decade, ICEUR had to adapt to a rapidly changing and oscillating political, financial and social environment, albeit the original
mission, hard-wired in its tribal memory, namely dialogue, the business-like discussion of controversial issues and mutual information remained intact
and stable. We have no final plan to celebrate this memorable date, but as a first blueprint we think to put our larger events for the year of 2019 in
context. The climax of this timeline would be reached in early February on the occasion of the Vienna Process. Going public would be an important element,
as well as reporting on our achievements. With our financial basis and our socio-political capital significantly strengthened we are looking forward
to the next decade.
Master Class Svetlana Gannushkina and Alexey Malashenko
Zooming in on Chechnya
Against the backdrop of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan, where a human rights report on Chechnya will be presented,
ICEUR experts Svetlana Gannushkina and Alexey Malashenko focused on the exceptional position of Chechnya and human rights
violations, respectively. While Mr. Malashenko listed and explained the privileges the tiny Caucasus republic and its leader
enjoy, Ms. Gannushkina presented several human rights cases ranging from harrowing accounts of torture and murder to absurd
blunders committed in the course of criminal investigations. The two panelists disagreed, however, on the role of the Chechen
strongman Ramzan Kadyrov: According to Mr. Malashenko , he is a local dictator with enough leeway to engage in his own political
schemes including foreign politics. Ms. Gannushkina described him as a willing executioner of the Kremlin's objectives.
She added, however, that the Putin system is deeply entrenched and much more than just the lead figure.
Ending on an optimistic note, she claimed that she could spot increasing signs of tacit resistance against the
oppressive regime in Chechnya.
Ukraine braces for Presidential Elections
Former foreign minister comes out for Ukrainian standpoint
The ICEUR master class with Mr. Gryshchenko, former foreign minister and Ukrainian deputy premier during the Maidan events in 2014,
had been scheduled before the escalation of tensions around the Azov sea. Unsurprisingly, the current events in the region became the
focus of Mr. Gryshchenko ́s speech. He defended the Ukrainian stance by referring to the Ukrainian reading of international law,
which treats the Crimea as illegally annexed territory. This standpoint is also shared by the international community and international
organizations. Asked what went wrong in 2014, he held that President Yanukovichcommitted a mistake by succumbing to Russian pressure and
withdrawing his promise to sign the Association Agreement with the EU. When it comes to the near future, he was somewhat tight-lipped,
stating that it was impossible to predict the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections. Although he acknowledged that the Ukrainian
leadership had an intrinsic interest in maintaining tensions, he stated very clearly, that they know that Ukraine cannot engage in an all-out
war with Russia. The bad news, however, are that the chicken games in the Azov Sea and probably also in the Donbas will go on.
Master Class Andrey Zubov
The Politics of Schism: Wither the Orthodox Churches?
ICEUR had invited Professor Andrey Zubov to comment on the opening rift between the Moscow and the Constantinople patriarchies for his credentials as aneminent historian and his inside knowledge of both Church and political affairs. Inhis account, the conflict was shaped, apart from the obvious factors of the military and political conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the upcoming Ukrainian presidential elections by the personalities involved as well as their career interests.
Professor Andrey Zubov also drew the attention to the economic side of the conflict, since the inclusion of parishes and monasteries under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchy into the new Ukrainian Orthodox Church means a loss of revenues for the former. Nevertheless, he ended on a cautiously optimistic note stating that the bureaucratic process for issuing the tomos (a document that grants independence to local orthodox churches) will not be finalized any time soon. This will give some hotheads the chance to rethink their position.
Speaking to an audience studded with eminent experts and representatives of the Vienna-based diplomatic community, Ms. Tatyana Valovaya put across a
clearmessage how to maintain and boost a dialogue with the EU. Our speaker, who had drafted and negotiated basic documents about EU-Russian relations in
the 90s, pointed out that the mileage which had been achieved in the Eurasian Economic Union was due to the consensus among the participating states to
sideline politics completely and to concentrate on technical problems. Against thebackdrop of a snowballing sanction regime, she maintains, the only option
for a meaningful relationship is an economic dialogue for which the Eurasian structuresare in place. The speaker also emphasized the fact that the member
states of theEurasian Union are represented on an equal footing so that small states are not crowded out by the superpowers Russian and Kazakhstan.
This is a major difference from the policy-driven setup of the EU, which otherwise serves as a model for Eurasia.
ICEUR Master Class with Denis Bukonkin
Belarus-all fine and dandy?
Speaking to a select group of experts, the Belarusian political analyst Mr. Bukonkin attempted at dispersing apprehensions about a collapse of the system and a takeover by Russia. While he conceded the impact of well-known problems (such as the ban of meat and dairy products for the Russian market) that would necessitate real reforms in the medium-term perspective, he had no doubt about the capacity of Belarus to overcome the present difficulties and to unfold her potential in a future integrated Eurasian market. The most effective strategy, he maintained, was to reduce Belarusian exports to Russia to 1/3 and to increase exports to the EU and third countries accordingly. Belarus, he said, is not between Brussels and Moscow: It is between all large global capitals.
ICEUR Master Class with Anatoliy Grytsenko
Presidential candidate envisages „Ukraine without Oligarchs“
Despite a plethora of events on Ukraine during recent months, our invited speaker drew the attention of a large audience
consisting of representatives of the Vienna-based international and expert community. Indeed, several features make Anatoliy
Grytsenko an alternative candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. He can draw on his credentials of a military
professional and as an independent personality who has never been implicated in corruption scandals. While other candidates
promise to eradicate corruption, he goes one step further and promises a Ukraine without oligarchs, surprising the audience
by his reported discussions with Ukrainian business moguls, who would be willing to trade their status as oligarchs for that
of “strong business people”. He also thinks that Russia would eventually be willing to return Donbas on the conditions stipulated
by Ukraine: “Putin does not need the Donbas”. In this context, his statement that Ukraine does not feel to be obliged by the Minsk
agreements and will never fulfill it was an eyebrow-raiser. Asked how he imagined to talk the Russians into accepting the
Ukrainian standpoint, he referred to his experience of his high-level contacts with Russian top brass, where trustworthiness
(“handshake quality”) and addressing problems in an open, business-like manner mattered more than ideological commitment.
Anyway, the Ukrainian presidential campaign promises to be interesting.
2nd ICEUR-Vienna organizes an OSCE-sponsored round table in Tbilisi
ICEUR Seminar in Tbilisi: Coming to Grips with Fake News and Conspiracy Theories
The OSCE-sponsored seminar was the second round of a long-term ICEUR program which has the objective of establishing personal links across
existing political, ethnic and military frontlines in the Caucasus. The seminar convened participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The thematic focus on fake news and conspiracy theories was selected with a view on extant conflicts in the region, which invariably give
rise to such phenomena or revive similar long-standing myths. The topicality of this event was boosted by the recent developments in Armenia;
a topic that was discussed in-depth in formal and informal meetings. In terms of content, the seminar familiarized participants with new
approaches to the treatment and the assessment of suspicious information including the formula developed by Robert Grimes and own methodology.
As during the first round, participants had no problems whatsoever to communicate even on controversial topics such as the Karabakh conflict,
new participants were immediately integrated; discussion was business-like and characterized by mutual respect. The wish for a continuation
and possible enlargement was unanimous; participants also agreed on finding some form of institutionalizing Tbilisi (or Vienna) as a location.
As a first step, comments on developments in Armenia, will be written and published.
ICEUR Master Class with Hayk Khalatyan
Background information on Armenia
Uncertain future for new government
In his snap master class, Hayk Khatlayan, political analyst from Yerevan, conveyed the inside view
of the recent events in Armenia and fleshed out several scenarios and options for the next future. According to his account of the exciting and
possibly decisive last few days, the strongman of the ancient regime, Serzh Sarksyan, had to give in to popular pressure eventually despite his
rich experience in political survival and intrigue. His opponent, the new premier Niko Pashinian, proved to be unassailable to attempts at
corrupting or compromising him. Sarkysyan had underestimated his adversary and the indulgence of large parts of the population. Facebook, telegram,
twitter and other internet resources played an important role in organizing protest meetings. While Pashinian´s popularity is uncontested, the
expectations tied to this rising star in Armenian politics may prove premature. The economy of the country is heavily monopolized and divided up
between powerful oligarchs. Pashinian has no team which would permit him to set up a government of his own choice: So he can either form a cabinet
consisting of experts without much political backing or go for a compromise with the former ruling party, which, incidentally, consists of several
groups representing different interests. At this point, it is unclear, whether he has a positive political agenda apart from destroying the old system.
What is beyond dispute, however, is that Armenia´s foreign policy course will not be changed.
Wag the Dog: Superpowers Without Clear Strategy in Near East Theater
Against the backdrop of recent events in Syria, the ICEUR panel on Russian positions in the Near East drew enhanced interest and attention
by an unusually large audience who followed and participated in discussions until the last minute. The panelists agreed on the diagnosis,
that the superpowers Russian and the U.S. had no long-term and consistent strategies and that their foreign policy agenda was dictated by
domestic concerns and considerations. Trump poses as the strongman, he would loath to appear as a whimp in the eyes of his electorate.
In a similar vein, Putin and the ruling elites serve their voters “success” and glory in foreign politics, since they are unable to
deliver on the economic side. Their main goal is to deal with the U.S. on a level playing field. Anyway, Russia is back and there is
no way around talks with Russia and its Near East clients, when it comes to attempts at conflict resolution. Conversely, U.S. influence
and its prestige in the area is clearly on the wane. The big question is, to what extent people in the Middle East can take care of
themselves, once global and regional players are bitterly divided and unable to find common ground.
ICEUR Master Class with Iakov Mirkin
The Russian economy: growth under sanctions, top long-term trends, scenarios for the future.
Russian top economist sketches gloomy scenario.
Iakov Mirkin, who specializes in finance and advises, among other things, Boris Titov´s Party of Growth, started his ICEUR Master
Class by outlining the state of the Russian economy under the sanctions. Short of neglecting their impact on certain branches and
business areas, he nevertheless thinks that their main effect is psychological: the Russian elite, he holds, shall be scared and
taught a lesson. In his view, the main problem is the widening gap between Western markets and the Russian economy. Integration of
those two economic spaces was well under way until 2014. As the foreign trade figures demonstrate, Russia is re-orientating herself
toward China, Japan and South Korea. At the same time, the concept of the “energy super power” has been abandoned against the backdrop
of plummeting oil prices. The speaker presented several scenarios, among which he unsurprisingly preferred the option of liberalizing
the economy and starting a new growth spiral through focused investment. Unfortunately, he admitted, the most probable scenario is a
stalling economy with no reforms and no likelihood of picking up.
ICEUR Master Class with Arman Kirakossian
Armenian Foreign Policy. Combining interests and opportunities.
Armenia and the Armenians are usually associated with the mass killings committed by Turkish troops during WWI and the Karabakh/Arzach
conflict with Azerbaijan. To be sure, those two events still loom large over the country and determine its relationship to its Turkish
neighbor, from which it is separated by an impenetrable wall which has replaced the former border between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
While the Armenian ambassador to Austria, Mr. Arman Kirakossian, gave due consideration to the significance of these facts, he
nevertheless painted a fuller picture of today´s Armenia in his instructive master class. The country´s leadership has succeeded in
maneuvering between the EU and the Eurasian Union as well as between NATO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and,
unlike Ukraine, avoided a military conflict with Russia. The speaker did not fail to mention social and other problems that riddle his
home country, but highlighted some remarkable economic achievements which have led to fast growth despite Turkish sanctions, unfavorable
geographic conditions and the necessity to invest in defense. Mr. Kirakossian ended on an optimistic note, stressing that Armenia is ready
to conduct an open-ended dialogue with Azerbaijan and its supporters.
ICEUR Master Class with Gleb Pavlovsky
Current balance of power within the Russian elites and Russia after March 18
Putinism is not here to stay: Mr. Pavlovski is a co-mastermind of the Putin system who became one of its most outspoken critics after 2011.
In his compelling and riveting analysis, he made clear that the drive behind the Putin period is petering out. The transition to a post-Putin
system is in full swing. The re-morphing of the Putin system has been a creeping process, where the national leader and top decider lost his
role and his capacity to mediate and resolve conflicts. In the present status of the system, Putin is surrounded by liquid ad-hoc interest
coalitions, who try to manipulate the president for their own ends. The most popular game in town is to identify and neutralize potential
successors to the leader. Ending on an optimistic note, Mr. Pavlovski observed, that a new generation of leaders is entering the political
arena, who are willing to work for the country and not for personal gain.
ICEUR Master Class with Kosta Bondarenko
Calm on the ground, no solution in sight: the Ukrainian conundrum.
ICEUR pursues no political agenda, but would like to promote the understanding of conflicts and other controversial issues through a debate on expert level. Thus the events starring Alexey Chesnakov and Konstantin Bondarenko were parts of an effort to analyze the situation of the conflict in and around Donbas in a comprehensive manner. Both experts agree on the fact that the process of negotiations is stalled and that the only surviving outcome of the Minsk Process is the fact that both sides respect the line of contact. Commenting on the domestic political situation in Ukraine, Mr. Bondarenko drew the attention to the presence of a hawkish parliament which is out for military victory, while the population wants peace no matter at what cost. One major stumbling stone in the way of peace is the refusal of the Ukrainian political elite to agree to a federal setup. Incidentally, Mr. Bondarenko´s view was corroborated by the adoption of a law on the reintegration of the Donbas.
The Vienna Process (VP) was established
as a forum for a meaningful dialogue between the EU and Russia in 2009. Continued until 2013 on an annual basis, it proved to be a venue for the resolution of practical and concrete problems, a business incubator and an institutional arrangement for the informal exchange of ideas. As relations between the West and the Russian Federation soured, voices from both sides accumulated that suggested a resumption of the VP in a new format.
After a break of five years, we were encouraged by our Russian and EU interlocutors to resume the process. This year, EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn has confirmed his participation. The Austrian OSCE Chair has supported our initiative and will be represented at the event, which will also generate inputs into the relevant programming of the Austrian EU Chair in the coming year.
As in the past, the point of departure is the necessity to maintain and, if possible, to boost a meaningful dialogue, having in mind, but factoring out the controversies and differing political standpoints of the sides. The underlying philosophy, then, is to widen the areas of mutual understanding and cooperation over time. This presupposes the search for common grounds, namely a discussion about in which areas a rapprochement is possible. The most likely candidate is business relations which have been left uncontaminated by high politics. The focus of this year´s Vienna Process, which is scheduled for December 2017, will therefore be on economic and business relations. Unlike previous events, the time frame will be shortened to 1 ½ days, in order to stimulate a more intensive discussion on predominantly technical issues. Within this broader thematic framework, agriculture and food processing seems to have the highest potential for cooperative ventures, since the sanctions have revealed the necessity for import substitution. The business focus is particularly important in view of possible liberal reforms which are being elaborated by eminent Russian experts.
(President of ICEUR-Vienna, Former chairman, parliamentary fraction of the European Socialist Party)
(Envoy, MFA, Austria)
(Ambassador of the RF to Austria)
(Head, Task Force, OSCE Chair)
(Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna)
(Head of international relations, Federation of Austrian Industries)
(President of ICEUR-Vienna, Former Vice-Premier of Austria)
(School of Public Policy, Russian Academy of national Economy and Public Affairs under the President)
(Executive Vice President, Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs)
(Head, Center for Foreign Trade Policy and European Integration, Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth)
(Head of the Economic Expert Group, Deputy Head of the Public Council at the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation)
(President, Partnership “New Economic Growth”)
(Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Political Science HSE)
(Research Economist, Austrian National Bank).
(EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations)
(Member of the Board - Minister in charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian economic commission)
(Deputy Director of the Dep. of European Cooperation, MFA, RF)
(Professor of Social and Economic Geography, Moscow State University)
(Senior economist, Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis)
(Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Political Science HSE)
(Chief Researcher, Dialogue of Civilizations Institute)
ICEUR Master Class with Alexey Chesnakov
A. Chesnakov projects bleak future for Donbas
The top Russian political analyst,
who has been involved in the Donbas issue since a long time, did not mince his pessimistic words when he assessed the strategic choices and scenarios for the Donbas before representatives of the Vienna-based international and expert communities. According to him, a fast-track solution of the conflict was contingent upon the implementation of the Minsk agreements by Ukraine (in the first line, special autonomous status for the region, and legislation specifying the status of anti-Ukrainian combatants). Since in the Russian perception Ukraine is not prepared to take these steps, the conflict will be mothballed and linger on for the next decade. The worst-case scenario, a resumption of hostilities is, according to the expert, not likely to occur, but cannot be excluded as long as mutual distrust prevents a pullout of heavy arms from both sides of the line of conflict.
One controversial point during the ensuing discussion was the possible deployment of UN peacekeepers acting as protection force for OSCE personnel in the region. This was vindicated by some discussants on the grounds that such protection would be superfluous after the conclusion of an armistice. In any case, this specific issue highlights the long-standing Russian preference for UN as opposed to other international organizations.
ICEUR-Vienna organizes an OSCE-sponsored round table in Tbilisi
On 27/28 October, ICEUR will convene young experts and political analysts from the South Caucasian countries in the Georgian capital.
The objective of this event is to take stock of the situation in the region. Participants will discuss whether and to what extent internal
and external parameters (e.g. the cash-strapped budgets, the so-called “crisis of Western democracy”, Russian foreign policy) influence
public opinion, the stances of the elites or concrete political decisions in the region. ICEUR has also been invited by the OSCE to participate
in a fact-finding mission to Sukhumi/Sukhum immediately following the Tbilisi round table and pursuant to meetings with several Georgian ministers.
During this trip, opportunities for a deepening of the dialogue with the Abkhaz and possible joint projects will be explored.
Venue: Betsy's Hotel Tbilisi
32-34 Makashvili St., 0108, Tbilisi, Georgia
ICEUR Master Class with Sergey Chapnin
The agenda of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russian politics
Religious revival in Russia and other post-Soviet states is a remarkable phenomenon if one considers
decades of atheist education and the absence of religious practices in daily life during this period. Since the perestroika,
the visibility of the Russian Orthodox Church has continuously grown. Drawing on his inside knowledge our expert guest speaker,
Sergei Chapnin, provided an in-depth analysis of this phenomenon. His major explanation was that the search for identity has taken
an inside and backward turn: Russian identity is found in a ready-made form in national history, which is viewed as self-contained
and purified from pernicious outside influences. Both Church leaders and ruling political elites imagine to be encircled by external
enemies. All this boils down to an improbable blend of Soviet and orthodox traditions, as demonstrated by imagery showing Stalin
as Russia´s savior – a man who aided and abetted the murder of the Tsar and his family. Despite this coincidence of political and
ecclesiastical interests, which might suggest a bid for power of the orthodox leadership, the priority of politics over religion is
undisputed. Among other things, this was demonstrated by the Pussy Riot case, which was not about offending the feelings of believers,
but constituted an open challenge to the political leadership, since the female protesters had demanded Putin´s resignation.
At the same time, orthodoxy appears to be less firmly rooted in Russian society than is commonly assumed: Six per cent of Russians
polled by PEW attend service once a week (as opposed to over 50% in Georgia) and 57% claim that “being orthodox is very or somewhat
important for being a true national” (as opposed to 87% in Armenia). Chapnin also pointed out, that the structure of society
is reproduced by the internal setup of the orthodox church. In the first place this relates to the opening divide between the
super-rich and the impoverished and vulnerable strata.
ICEUR Master Class with Andrei Popov
The neutral status of Moldova should become a platform for the consolidation of society.
The former Moldovan ambassador to Vienna,
who is at this point enjoying a time-out from politics, emphasized the unswerving commitment of the Moldovan population and the nation´s elites to neutral status. Nevertheless, officials from the highest echelons of power have been increasingly questioning the neutrality of the country in recent years, and have sometimes even openly called for the liquidation of this status, enshrined in the Constitution. Our guest advanced the argument that neutrality could be a pivotal institution around which Moldovan society, both on the left and the right banks of the Dnyestr River, can rally. Such a pro-active policy would not exclude mutually beneficial co-operation with NATO, as the examples Austria, Sweden, and Finland show. Andrei Popov stressed that corruption and politicians are the greatest threat for Moldova, as opposed to fueling hysteria around NATO and Russia. When it comes to the relationship with the “big brother”, our guest maintained that it was important to convey the message that Moldovan neutrality is not political make-believe, but a sustainable and solid commitment.
ICEUR Master Class with Mikheil Saakashvili:
Post-Maidan Ukraine: Reforms or Corruption?
Saakashvili spells hope for Ukraine
ICEUR special guest Mikheil Saakashvili addressed a packed audience
of members of the Austrian international community, journalists and experts,
offering his view of the current situation in Ukraine and ways to emerge from
the present impasse. In his usual eloquent and blunt style he preempted possible
criticism relating to his change of citizenship by highlighting his long-standing
familiarity with Ukraine, where he spent his student years. The core topic of his
analytical thought is leadership and action, and his diagnosis for the Ukrainian disease
spots the lack of respected leaders in the political class as the main deficiency. Harking
back to his bid to eliminate the ancient regime in Georgia, he described Ukraine as a country
moored in rampant corruption ruled by profiteering bureaucrats whose only interest is to line
their pockets by conducting fake projects financed from the budget. A forward-looking, energetic
and experienced leader like him, he holds, can not only break with the traditional ways and means,
but build a new system from scratch. He conveyed his sincere wish to build a new Ukraine that would
realize society´s potential without avoiding the hard questions such as the ongoing war in the Donbas.
The Russian intervention in Ukraine, he maintains, was an attack against Europe, which against the odds
was blocked by the Ukrainian forces, just as the Georgian army had halted the Russian onslaught in 2008.
In his mind, the Minsk agreements reflect a period during which Ukraine was on the defensive and should
therefore considered to be no longer viable. The former Georgian president´s sweeping and electrifying
optimism demonstrated to the audience why he managed to reach and to maintain his high popularity ratings.
Introduction: Dr. Hannes Swoboda, former Member of the European Parliament, President of ICEUR
ICEUR Round Table with Serhiy Taruta and Andriy Nikolaienko
Background information on Donetsk
The two ex-Governors,
who because of their official involvement in the conflict dispose of in-depth inside knowledge,
analyzed the origins of the conflict and identified its defining moments. Mr. Taruta held that the weakness of the
Ukrainian Army and its other military forces made hybrid intervention from Russia and the armed conflict possible.
Both speakers blamed corruption and profiteering from the Ukrainian side for the continuation of the military stand-off.
On top of that, Mr. Nikolaevskiy stated, the present Ukrainian government uses the war as a pretext not to initiate reforms.
ICEUR Master Class with Vladislav Maslennikov:
As a consequence of the political controversies between the EU and Russia, relations have been scaled down to minimal interaction. But Russian FM sees a silver lining.
In his talk before a select audience of foreign policy experts, Mr. Vladislav Maslennikov, the Deputy Director of the Russian MFA´s Department
of European Cooperation (DEC) highlighted the readiness of the Russian side to normalize economic and political relations between Russia and
the EU. Unsurprisingly, he blamed the EU for the souring relationship and called for a lifting of sanctions. In his view which is shared by
some Russian economists, the sanctions had a beneficial effect in that they promoted economic reform, especially in agriculture. If this is true,
EU policy makers would have to reconsider their stance. Among the paramount areas of possible co-cooperation our speaker identified the fight
against terrorism and the conflict in Syria.
ICEUR Round Table with Alexander Sinkievich and Arseni Sivitski:
West wind prevails over East wind? New business opportunities in Belarus The major message that our guests put across was that the traditional stereotypes about Belarus do not hold any longer. Belarus today has come a long way from the “last dictatorship in Europe”, it has taken such important steps in the field of human rights as releasing political prisoners and freezing the death penalty. Authorities no longer crack down on dissent and they withdraw unpopular measures. The unfavorable economic situation, however, may force them to introduce reform measures that go with social hardships, which in turn could necessitate some political repression. This puts the current regime between a rock and a hard place, as the gloomy economic outlook will enforce reforms sooner or later.
ICEUR Master Class with Valeriy Solovey
Prediction in politics: a high-risk business "Putin gets a kick out of being presented as a mega-villain”: Before a packed audience of members of the Austrian international
and expert community, Valeriy Solovey pinpointed neglected aspects of Russian domestic and foreign policy making as evidenced by
verbatim quotes from internal conversations among top leaders. According to him, the drivers of Russian policy are inferiority
complexes, suspicion, resentment and the desire for revenge. Putin is described as a “happy man” who basks in the sun of his
achievements and victories. Professor Solovey, who has a track record of correct forecasts, sees far-reaching changes
already in the near future, the major risk factors for the system being the destruction of the social contract, the fluidity
of mass sentiments, and, last not least, Putin´s health. The West, he holds, should stop its navel-gazing and be prepared
for the event instead.
Russians laid back, pragmatic outlook for 2017
Unsurprisingly, U.S. – Russian relations dominated the ICEUR Dialogue event with the Russian ambassador to Austria. While the bilateral relationship with Austria is traditionally unclouded, and the Baltics as well as Poland were singled out as trouble spots within the EU, the ambassador saw an all-time low when it comes to the U.S. In the Russian view, the outgoing administration has done everything to prevent a successful takeoff for the incoming president. The new administration is seen as a chance for improvement, but not necessarily a breakthrough.
See russian report (russian)
ICEUR Master Class with Mikhail Dmitriev
Russian Reforms: New Deal or More of the Same
In contrast to the mainstream economists Mr. Dmitriev presented data that show that Russian elites are ready to learn and to find a rational response to the crisis. The prevailing political insecurity, he argued, has triggered a strong interest among the power elite to build stable institutions, particularly in the field of law enforcement. Nevertheless, regime change is not in the cards, on the contrary, the stability of the top leadership has been buttressed as a result of the crisis and the sanctions.
ICEUR Master Class with Yulia Latynina
Ms. Latynina´s visit coincided with what might be the beginning of a reset in U.S.-Russian relations. In her analysis, however, she took a different approach, departing from the observation that none of the two players had changed significantly. The U.S. institutions are still functional, no matter what the new president´s plans are and the Putin regime has not lost its penchant for dangerous adventures as evidenced by Russian interventions in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria. Since according to her Putin intends to stay in power for the coming decade, we are going to see more of the same.
ICEUR Master Class with Olga Romanova
Civil society in the Russian Federation? Co-hosted by International Institute for Peace, Vienna
Mrs. Romanova took the Russian prison world as a point of departure to present an in-depth analysis of trends in contemporary Russia at large. She pointed out that the country is still affected by a prison culture as evidenced by the ubiquity of the jail slang. Every year about 200,000 real or imagined offenders are jailed, of which, according to her estimate 30% for political reasons. The growing number of prison inmates, however, also increases the number of families who care for their fate and undertake concrete steps to make inquiries about their cases. The growing societal response has contributed to the high respect held for Ms. Romanova´s NGO Russia Behind Bars.
As the stalemate in official relations
Ambassador Entin´s presentation was a skillfully designed attempt at couching cautious overtures into official boilerplate language.
While putting the blame for the present standstill in EU-Russian relations on the Western side, he nevertheless indicated that there was
wriggle space, especially when it comes to business projects.
ICEUR Master Class with Tinatin Khidasheli: Contemporary Security Challenges in the Caucasus
Georgia´s former Minister
of Defense and one of the prominent representatives of the Republican Party of Georgia, Tinatin
Khidasheli, impressed an audience of diplomats and experts by her sweeping optimism and her clear-cut authentic stances.
She considers NATO membership for Georgia the only viable security option and is adamant in her belief that Russia would
not risk a war in the event. When it comes to the separatists regions she feels that as Georgia will become more attractive
the Abkhazians and South Ossetians will return to the fold. Future will show whether this Georgian dream is a pipe dream
or preempted reality.
Mr. Popov´s master class
turned out to be a full-blown analysis of and a farewell to what he called the “Plakhotniuk system” – in his description, a system of elaborate controls over key government agencies facilitated by rampant corruption. His bold step to renounce his diplomatic career, he announced,signifies the departure for his political struggle to build a better Moldova.
ICEUR convenes experts from oil-producing countries
Responding to suggestions and requests
from various Austrian and international communities, ICEUR invited top-level economists
from Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to discuss the impact of low energy prices on the
post-Soviet economies. The two Russian panelists, Mr. Inozemtsev and Mr. Tabakh, agreed
that the outlook was gloomy, but that coping strategies are in place and major social
upheavals are unlikely. Mr. Inozemtsev predicted a period of 2 years until reserves would
Ms. Mamutova drew the attention to the fact that the situation in Kazakhstan is somewhat volatile,
but the Kazakh economy is heavily dependent on the Russian market and to a certain extent follows its
trajectory. Ms. Rzanova painted a more optimistic picture of the Azerbaijan economy. According to her
analysis, the country´s leadership is well aware of the situation and is working toward diversification
and other counter-strategies to cope with the crisis
Round Table: Crisis in Moldova – Searching for Ways Out
On 25-02-2016 ICEUR and its cooperation partner, the Renner Institut, hosted two high-level insiders of Moldavian politics
(Mr. Vladimir Batrincea, Executive Secretary of the Moldavian Socialist Party and Mr. Valeriu Chiveri, until recently Deputy
Minister of Foreign Affairs), who shared their views of the situation. The parties which they represent or they refer to are
opposed to the present government, but they were split concerning the strategy toward the EU and Russia. The Socialists would
prefer a full integration into the Moscow-backed Eurasian Union and a return to the status prior to the association agreement
with the EU, while the pro-Europeans would like to see fuller EU integration culminating in membership. This illustrates the
ephemeral character of the present tactical cooperation between various opposition groups. Mr. Wojahn, the representative of
the EU Commission in Austria, highlighted the critical stance of the EU toward the government in office and expressed the
readiness of the Union to work with all legitimate political forces.
The most recent event in the dialogue program, which featured the newly appointed ambassador of the RF,
Mr. Dmitriy Lyubinskiy ,and the former Austrian ambassador to the RF, Franz Cede, was testament to the
importance of providing a neutral and informal platform for the exchange of opinions. The Russian ambassador
highlighted the traditional good relations with Austria and the need for deeper international co-operation,
particularly in Syria, where according to him, chances to achieve a solution had been missed in the past.
He also argued, that the incomplete fulfillment of the Minsk agreements by the authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk
was a result of a failure of the Ukrainian side to meet its obligations to change the constitution and electoral legislation.
Master Class with Ekaterina Schulmann
Russian Elites: The Impact of the Ukrainian and Syrian Crises
ICEUR – Vienna hosted Ms. Ekaterina Schulmann, the rising star of the Russian community of political scientists and analysts for a Master class organized jointly with the Renner Institut. Ms. Shulmann pointed out that she is studying systemic processes, an approach that makes reference to inside information (“gossip”) superfluous. In her view, Russia´ s “hybrid” system is geared toward survival. Although Russian elites subscribe to wild conspiracy theories about sinister outside forces uniting to destroy Russia, she thinks that the country is entangled with Western society and world markets to a degree which makes complete isolation and a relapse to totalitarianism impossible.
Will economic decline in Russia affect the sustainability of the political system?
Mr. Inozemtsev delivered a pungent analysis of the resilience of the Russian economy and its capacity to stabilize the political system. His conclusion was that despite unfavorable conditions the present regime will be sustained for years to come.
The Institute for World Politics (Kiev) is touring Europe
to meet with decision makers and experts and discuss with them issues of the relations between Ukraine and the EU.
Vienna was one important station on their circular trip which was to ensure that Ukraine would not be forgotten as a
result of such events as the Russian intervention in Syria or the refugee crisis. While the Ukrainian panelists
demonstrated that the country is aware of the need for political and economic reform, the Austrian experts produced
massive evidence that Ukraine was still high on Brussel´s and Austria´s agenda.
Mr. Tabakh diagnosed a slowly progressing crisis of the Russian economy, which set in already before the sanctions came into force. Investments are down and consumer demand is weak. The reserve funds are depleted and social security appropriations are being slashed. Nevertheless, he expects stabilization already by the 3rd quarter of 2015. A return to robust growth is contingent on high energy prices.
ICEUR Master Class with Arseni Sivitskiy Belarus: a new foreign policy deal?
ICEUR-Vienna has hosted Mr. Arseni Sivitsky, the director of the Minsk-based brain trust Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies for a master class. Mr. Sivitsky´s major message was that under the impact of the Ukrainian crisis, Belarus is currently repositioning itself toward the Western World and toward Russia. His analysis impressed the audience through the business-like and relaxed style and the openness in which he dealt with such delicate subjects as political prisoners in Belarus.
ICEUR panel discussion
In cooperation with Renner Institute, Vienna
The Conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Regional Perspectives, Consequences for Transnistria?
The panel was formed of political analysts and peace building experts who looked into the wider implications of the current standoff in Ukraine. The speakers drew the attention to the fact that Russia tries to press its strategic priorities in both Ukraine and Transnistria and that similar tendencies can be observed in those two regions as well as in Russia itself. Nevertheless, the scenario of a further Russian – sponsored military advance toward Mariupol´ and Odessa was considered hardly likely, since Russia´s main strategic objectives have already been reached.
ICEUR Master Class with Danylo Lubkivsky
Ukrainian government optimistic despite unfavorable situation In his talk to a select audience, Mr. Lubkivsky gave an overview about the mileage covered by the new government in terms of shoring up business regulations and anti-corruption measures. He pointed out that Ukrainians are confident to reach the targets earmarked for the coming years despite what he termed Russian aggression and the heavy economic losses ensuing from it.
ICEUR Master Class with Aleksey Malashenko In cooperation with Renner Institute, Vienna
The Challenge of Radical Islam: Echoes of Paris
Radical Islam has been identified as a major threat for Western lifestyles. The media focus on terrorism in Europe and the
Near East obfuscates the fact that Russia has been confronted with a similar threat for a long time. Despite the ongoing crisis
in Ukraine, there are common security concerns which call for concerted joint efforts by Russia and the EU
Aleksey Malashenko chairs the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Religion, Society, and Security Program and Russia´s most well known expert on Muslim affairs.
ICEUR continues dialogue program 29.01.2015
The second ICEUR Dialogue was, for obvious reasons, dedicated to the Ukrainian tragedy. The recently appointed Ukrainian ambassador, Mr. Oleksander Scherba and the head of the Eastern Europe department of the Austrian Foreign Office, Ms. Heidmaria Gürer, gave insightful talks on the origins of the crisis and the current situation. The ensuing discussion addressed such controversial points as Ukraine´s bid for NATO membership, draft evasion in Western Ukraine and EU policies toward Russia. The ICEUR team feels, that its objective to provide a neutral discussion platform has been fully met.
ICEUR Master Class with Olga Romanova
Russia: Civil Society Behind Bars?
Olga Romanova, the president of „Russia Behind Bars“, an NGO which monitors the conditions in Russian prisons and
extends concrete support to prison inmates and their families, put the current situation into a broader historical
perspective. She described Tsarist Russia, the Soviet Union and the new Russia as prison-happy systems, which regularly
engulf a sizeable proportion of the population, either as inmates or guards. In contrast to other societies, the Russian
prison world has become part and parcel of society at large. This is evidenced by the ubiquity of prison slang in everyday
Despite her critical attitude, Ms. Romanova does not consider herself, her organization and the thousands of volunteers to be in political
opposition. Rather, the movement is a response of civil society to an issue which is not taken up by official politics.
ICEUR initiates dialogue program
In response to suggestions of our presidency and to the foot-dragging in conflict resolution, ICEUR has started a new
format of public discussions. The first event in this framework consisted in a live discussion between Mr. Nechaev,
ambassador of Russia in Austria and our co-president, Mr. Swoboda, who has been involved in high-profile conflict
management missions. The two speakers presented their views on the origins, the status quo and the future of the
Ukrainian crisis in a controversial, but professional and pragmatic manner. Ambassador Nechaev pointed out that
Russia is used as a convenient scapegoat and denied any breaches of international law by the Russian side. Mr.
Swoboda conceded inconsistencies and shortfalls in Brussel´s policies toward Ukraine, but maintained that Russia
had also contributed to the escalation. Both protagonists agreed that there is no alternative to continuing the
dialogue using such existing mechanisms as OSCE monitoring or reviving successful past ventures such as the
For our part, ICEUR feels that new dialogue channels should be opened to complement high-level negotiations from a bottom-up vantage point.
ICEUR Business Seminar 11.11.2014
In his analysis of the origins of the Ukrainian conflict, ICEUR co-president Hannes Swoboda identified
the deficiencies of the EU approach, while underlining at the same time that Russia´s conduct in the Crimean
issue as well as in Eastern Ukraine had changed the standard rules of international interaction. Nevertheless,
he came out strongly for a continued dialogue as the only alternative for a settlement of the conflict.
ICEUR Master Class with Alexander Morozov The Ukrainian crisis and Russian domestic politics Mr. Morozov
had been asked to analyze the impact of the Ukrainian crisis on domestic politics in Russia itself. Quoting inside information,
he identified a clear realignment among Russian elites in that the military as well as personalities who had won merits in
connection with the Crimean issue and operations in Donbass had gained considerable political weight. He also observed a
strong solidarity with Putin´s political course. From the Russian perspective, the sanctions become increasingly unpopular
among Europeans and there is growing understanding for the Russian position.
ICEUR – Vienna provides support for security-related event The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Austria organizes a talk given by Nikolay Burdyuzha, the General Secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization on 21 October, 2014. This theme ties in with our intention to look closer into security affairs and to start a series of relevant seminars and master classes. We would therefore like to welcome and support the embassy´s initiative and invite you to this interesting event.
See Program Please register: email@example.com
ICEUR Master Class with Valeriy Kalnysh Ukraine in turmoil – news & analysis from the ground Our speaker analyzed the situation in the runup to parliamentary elections and specifically, the partisan realignments. He expects a strong Rada under presidential leadership, which, as he pointed out, would be a legitimate representation of the Ukrainian voters despite the fact that the regions held by the separatist forces (around 1/3 of the territory of Lugansk and Donetsk regions) will not vote.
ICEUR stars top Ukrainian pundit Kostiantyn Bondarenko,
the director of the renowned Institute for Ukrainian politics in Kiev, described the major challenges for the newly elected president in terms of a catch-22 situation: In order to pass a new constitution and reform laws, the Rada has to be re-elected before Mr. Poroshenko´s ratings start their expected decline. Meaningful elections, however, are contingent on resolving the enduring conflict in the Southeast, where about 20% of the electorate live. Talks must be held with the rebels, although it is impossible to identify generally accepted leaders. The question of the Crimean deputies poses an additional problem. Regarding the Crimean issue, Mr. Bondarenko thinks, that a condominium with Russia would be an acceptable compromise. When it comes to the Rada elections, he recommends to hold elections in the fall of 2014, even at the risk of producing a parliament with an oppositional defiant majority.
Our speaker holds that Putin is ready to trade economic concessions for political influence, a strategy that according to him has worked in the case of Kazakhstan. To what extent the EU and the World Bank will be ready to support Ukraine is an open question.
ICEUR Master Class with Sergei Medvedev
objective is to provide a neutral platform for the exchange of ideas. Professor Sergei Medvedev
had been invited to assess the impact of the Crimean and Ukrainian crises on Russia itself.
Our guest, who has felt the Kremlin´s heat after his dissenting comments on the Arctic, presented
an in-depth analysis of the present Russian power system. Paying homage to the genius loci,
he employed Freudian terminology to capture the three-tiered architecture of the present political setup.
In the unconscious layers of the Russian mind, he identifies a deep-seated wrath, which spills over into
resentment (e.g. against “democracy”), proto-fascist sentiments, a conservative drift coupled with a revival
of traditional “Russian values”, (which, among other things explains the somewhat exotic merger between
the intelligence services and the Orthodox Church) as well as contempt for the law, which makes breaking
the law a national pastime. According to Professor Medvedev, Putin, who is acting on the “ego” level,
embodies and reflects popular sentiments perfectly. Russia´s rich resources permit him to pursue his
goal to be respected by the West (the “Superego”). The Crimean issue has exposed all these features in miniature: In Prof. Medvedev´s analysis, the peninsula
stands for traditional Russian values, the annexation was booked as a victory after a long series of strategic
retreats and it forced the West to recognize Russia´s might. In this sense, the Crimea, in Sergei Medvedev´s words,
is certainly no butterfly, it is a veritable “dinosaur”.
"Ukraine-A new departure?"
A Touch of High Politics: The ICEUR Round Table on Ukraine
ICEUR-Vienna´s statutory mission is to support and promote the dialogue between the post-Soviet area and the other European states. The rapidly escalating Ukrainian crisis has clearly evidenced the need for an institution that provides a meeting place for the business-like discussion of relevant issues. For the Ukrainian Round Table, we had deliberately invited panelists with different backgrounds and political convictions. Events in the Crimea loomed large over the agenda, which made diversity management difficult, but feasible. Despite the sharp conflict lines and the emotions generated by the recent tragic events (one speaker was a participant at the Maidan demonstrations, another had, among other things, consulted past presidents), the outlines of a common ground became visible. All panelists agreed on the goal of a future civilized Ukraine, preferably in a federal format. When it comes to issues of state and nation building, opinions diverged: Mr. Pogrebinskyyi came out strongly against presidential elections in May. He argued that such a move would polarize the nation and went with the hazard of re- introducing presidential authoritarianism through the back door. According to him, parliamentary elections should take precedence, and the new constitution should drastically curb the powers of the president. Mr. Vysotskiy supported the views of groups represented by the Maidan. They pursue a different strategy and believe that a strong elected president would guarantee stability. Mr. Fesenko, who is an advisor of the government in power, pleaded for fair elections that would reproduce a representation of the major political forces and reduce the political weight of marginal groups Unsurprisingly, the panelists as well as the discussants (among them members of the Russian Embassy) had widely divergent views about who was to blame for the violence in Kiev and elsewhere. Yet, they agreed that the truth could not be established at this point. It was also pleasant to hear that the discussants felt a follow-up to be held in Vienna would yield even more concrete and tangible results. ICEUR stands ready to act as a focal point for such initiatives.
Panelists from Ukraine: Mikhail B. Pogrebinskiy, Director, Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Research. Analyst, advisor of all Ukrainian presidents since 1991
Sergey Vysotskiy, journalist, LIGABusinessinform, participant in the Maidan demonstrations
Vladimir Fesenko, analyst, director, Center for Applied Political Research “Penta”, advisor of the present Ukrainian government
Business Seminar in Vienna "The Russian Economy After Sochi"
Summary of findings of the ICEUR Business Seminar, 3 March 2014-03-10
The two speakers, Mikhail Dmitriev and Segey Afontsev, dealt with the dynamic of the Russian economy from
different perspectives, but arrived at more or less the same conclusions. They both presented a gloomy
outlook for the near future. The period of high growth rates is over and recession may be around the corner.
The impact of the Ukrainian crisis can be felt already, particularly in the ballooning exchange rate and the
rapid decay of the securities market. Yet, they maintain that the downslide of the Russian economy has structural
causes which are merely reinforced by the Ukrainian conflict. Mr. Dmitriev predicts the stalling of growth figures
because of the fact that a relatively high level of consumer saturation has been reached and income growth has
ground to a halt. In fact, consumption growth has outdistanced income growth during the boom years. The shrinking
of the working age populations worldwide is bound to hobble productivity and economic growth. Mr. Afontsev drew
the attention to the fact that since 2009, outward FDI has surpassed inward FDI. Almost 40% of the capital leaving
Russia is invested in EU countries (as opposed to 9% in Ukraine). Conversely, most investment capital coming to
Russia originates in Cyprus and the Netherlands (together, 36% of total FDI). This ties in with the observation
that the share of energy carriers in total exports has been growing in recent years (from a low of 37% in 1994 to
almost 68% in 2013). The speaker was also skeptical about the economic benefits of megaprojects: As a rule,
they drain important reserve funds, stimulate corruption and are not sustainable. Both speakers agreed that in
order to preserve and improve the achievements of the boom years and to avoid wide-spread dissatisfaction and protests,
the Russian economy must be radically modernized. There is no other option than the dehabituation from the addiction to oil and gas.
M. Dmitriev. The new Russian consumer:
Preferences, socio-economic situation, consumption patterns
S. Afontsev. The Russian Economy:
Situation and Outlook (Power Point)
Upcoming ICEUR publications: articles by Mikhail KRASNOV and Michael GEISTLINGER.
ICEUR publishes 2 articles
which have been written for us in the framework of requests for political
analysis by several institutions interested in the development of Russian constitutional law.
The authors are internationally renowned constitutionalists: Prof. Mikhail Krasnov, dubbed “the
father of the Russian constitution” holds a chair at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and
is the lead figure of a group of Russian lawyers who advocate an in-depth reform of the constitutional
system. Prof. Michael Geistlinger is an Austrian constitutionalist with a track record of research on
the Soviet Union and Russia. ICEUR is aware of the high political salience of this debate and is confident
that this is one of the topics of future cooperation and dialogue between the EU Russia. Read Mikhail KRASNOV Read Michael GEISTLINGER
ICEUR Master Class with Simon Kordonsky
On 10 December 2013,
ICEUR hosted Russia’s leading sociologist and former
consultant of the Russian government Simon Kordonsky, for a lecture in the
Departing from a comparison of Soviet and contemporary Russian
administrative structures, Mr. Kordonsky made the point that group
interests are not advocated and harmonized by institutions, but through
exaggerated or bogus threats which put pressure on decision makers to
allot additional funds. This mechanism has become hard-wired in the minds
of political players, it works and leaves most participants of the
political process satisfied. As a result, the present Russian system of
distribution and re- distribution can be classified as ultra-stable. See Der Standard
"Modern Kazakhstan - Image and Realities".
Book presentation at the
Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth on 28 November 2013.
On the occasion of the 5th session of the Austrian-Kazakh Joint Commission
for Economic, Agricultural, Ecological, Industrial and Technological
Relations ICEUR – Vienna has been invited by the Kazakh and Austrian sides
to present its recent publication on Kazakh economy, society and politics,
for which both Kazakh and Austrian authors wrote contributions.
The Joint Commission is co-chaired by Director General for Foreign
Economic Relations Mr. Franz Wessig and Mr. Alexei Yurevich Volkov,
Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs. During the plenary session the
following topics will be addressed: Energy and Mining, Environmental
Protection and Environmental Technology, Transport and Infrastructure,
Tourism, Agriculture, Finance and Banking, Healthcare and Medical
Technology, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, E-Government and
Standardization. Read preface...See cover...
Oleg Lebedev* outlines future development of the Eurasian Union
Before a select audience of diplomats, journalists and experts, the speaker concentrated on the
economic aspects of the process designed to intensify and broaden the cooperation between present and future
members of the Eurasian/Customs/ Union. He denied any Russian intentions to re-establish the Soviet Union and
pointed out that a large part of the envisaged road map would follow the model of the European Union. A common
legal framework, unified customs tariffs and procedures as well as institutions and regulations to safeguard a
free and stable market system are in the pipeline Questions from the audience queried the feasibility of this strategy and particularly addressed the Ukrainian bid
for European integration. Mr. Lebedev argued that potential candidates were free to decide but that countries which
depended on cheap Russian energy and on exports to Russia would lose enormous growth and development potential should
they chose to stay outside.
*O. Lebedev is 1st deputy chairman of the Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations to Russians Abroad. He replaced Vasiliy Likhachev, who could not come due to illness
ICEUR-Vienna represented at Baku Forum The Baku Forum is organized on an annual basis by the government of Azerbaijan and convenes prominent personalities from science, politics, economic and arts to discuss major global issues. This year, over 700 participants from 70 nations were present including 15 Nobel Prize winners, former presidents, representatives of former royal families as well as of the major world religions. ICEUR-Vienna used this important event to make new contacts and to conclude cooperation agreements with like-minded organizations and personalities around the world.
ICEUR supports Moscow investment seminar
On the request of the LPGroup (FACT Family Office), a Swiss-based global investment company,
ICEUR extended organizational support and provided local know-how to organize a business workshop in Moscow.
This seminar on "Global Economic turmoil and capital preservation: protect and invest with confidence in Europe"
assembles participants from the local business community, the academia as well as experts in finance and investment.
The discussion is moderated by ICEUR Vice President H.G. Heinrich.
Responding to numerous suggestions and questions Responding to numerous suggestions and questions posed by our members and clients,
ICEUR-Vienna launches a new series of its Working Papers. The new series is event- and problem-driven and provides analytical background information on
important and topical news items which permit a glance on long-term developments. Michael Dmitriev´s article is the first issue of this series.
See Russia’s social and political dynamic: a shaky new equilibrium.
Visit of a Polish delegation
On the occasion of a visit of a Polish delegation of specialists in
vocational training in Vienna on 18 September 2013, ICEUR Vice President
H.G. Heinrich delivered a lecture on vocational training in Austria and
the Russian Federation.
Russia’s regional and local Elections, September 2013
In an ICEUR master class on 13 September 2013, Gleb Pavlovsky, the former political adviser to
the Presidential Administration of Russia until April 2011 and president of the Foundation for Effective Politics (FEP) analyzed the
results of Russia’s regional and local elections. Basing his conclusions on inside knowledge, as well as facts and figures, our expert
exposed the factors for the somewhat surprising election results. His bottomline was that the ostensible stability of the Putin system
is in jeopardy ad may turn out to be elusive.
Russia's Near East Policy
On 11 June 2013, Russia’s top expert and government advisor for Near
Eastern Affairs Evgeny Y. Satanovskiy, was our guest in a master class on
the policy of the Russian Federation in the Near East. He painted a gloomy
picture of growing Islamization which according to him will receive a new
momentum as a consequence of the pullout of ISAF Forces in the coming
year. In his view, the Arab spring and the ongoing Turkish summer will
eventually lead to the strengthening of Islamist tendencies.
ICEUR Master Class on Belarus
Belarus: Back from Gone?
In default of recent spectacular occurrences, Belarus has almost vanished from the media radar.
Voices that predicted the collapse of the regime have been disproved by its capacity to slow its inexorable gravitation toward Moscow and making
occasional gestures toward Brussels, between reformism and conservatism and carrots and sticks in domestic policies. Belarus soldiers on as an
outlier in the European landscape. See interview
ICEUR Master class presents surprising results on Russian socio-economic
On 3 December 2012, Russia´s top analyst Mikhail DMITRIEV gave his master
class on the relationship between socio-economic development and political
trends in Russia. His compelling and penetrating analysis showed that the
middle class has become the dominant layer of Russian society and that it
has begun to demand a higher and different quality of public services and
democratic institutions. Russia is no longer a poverty-stricken country,
he maintained, but its citizens are in a process of emancipating
themselves from the role of passive bystanders. This contrasts sharply
with a pervasive lack of economic and political modernization. Mr.
Dmitriev, whose forecasts proved to be accurate in most cases, predicted a
turbulent political year of 2013.
See REPORT Of the Experts of the Center for Strategic Research to the Committee of Civic Initiatives.
See Presentation as Microsoft Office Power Point Presentation (PPSX) or as PDF File.
New publications. ICEUR Insight Studies Vol.1. Modern Kazakhstan. Image and Realities Against the backdrop of its mineral wealth, Kazakhstan has been touted a
Central Asian tiger state. In contrast to most other Central Asian countries,
it was able to evade civil war and large-scale bloodshed and to assume a
leadership position which won international recognition and respect. At the
same time, the country could not evade the global financial crisis and its
human rights record is far from being immaculate. This volume analyses the
economic, political and social dynamic of modern Kazakhstan as seen by
insiders and Western experts. Their opinions converge on the assumption
that there are hard times ahead but that Kazakhstan has the potential to
weather the storm
New publications. ICEUR Insight Studies Vol.2. Post-Soviet Conflicts Revisited Despite the efforts of the international community, most of the armed conflicts
triggered by the breakup of the Soviet Union have not been resolved.
This volume strives to cast a fresh look at the protracted conflicts and to
identify factors promoting or preventing their settlement or transformation.
The authors analyze the conflicts from the vantage point of critical citizens
of their home countries and draw on their experience as participants in the
peace process. The lessons learned from successes and failures of the international
community are galvanized into a package of policy recommendations
that heed the specific character of each conflict.
On 5-7 November 2012 ICEUR organized a meeting between our permanent Russian partners and Italian
companies interested in expanding their business activities and entering the Russian market. Our Russian partners presented a package of
projects across the board including building and transfer of technical know-how. The discussion of these projects resulted in defining the
second step in terms of a follow-up meeting in Moscow at the end of November where the signing of concrete project agreements is expected.
Since the Vienna meeting was confidential, no details can be divulged at this point
05.06.2012. Business Ventures: Azerbaijan - Austria
This unique business-to-business conference provided a platform for
leading Azerbaijani and Austrian business representatives as well as high-ranking Azerbaijani government officials to
facilitate the cooperation between Azerbaijani and Austrian business.
5th Vienna Process Investment and capital movement after Russian elections This special seminar for industrial and financial investors in cooperation with the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IERAS),
the Builders Association of Russia (ASR), Renner Institute (RI) and the Federation of Austrian Industries (IV)...
4th Vienna Process, Vienna Forum on EU-Russia Relations The fourth meeting of Russian-EU experts in the
framework of the Vienna Process took place between 2 and 4 November 2011. The agenda was dominated by questions of
Russia’s WTO policy, EU and Russian Norms & Standards and economic cooperation...
ICEUR strengthens regional ties
In response to invitations and initiatives launched by Russian regions, ICEUR has started to enter cooperative relationships with Stavropol´ Krai and the Dagestan Republic.
VIENNA PROCESS: Major results of the 4th expert meetingRead more
The Vienna Process is an NGO-based venture which draws on the professional knowledge of a pool of Russian and European experts with
different backgrounds and institutional affiliations, who share the objective of improving the relations between Russia and the EU.
Its format and working mode profits from the flexibility and independence of international civic initiatives which are not tied down
by high-level politics and institutional constraints, but can also rely on their collective knowledge of relevant institutional practices.
The Vienna Process will generate a series of policy recommendations focusing on feasibility and viable solutions.
EU-Russian relations are currently in a business-as-usual mode: A new Cold War which is sometimes conjured up is a distant bugbear and
the post-1991 heyday a distant memory. The virtual standstill of the various dialogues, especially in the field of energy and security, is
due to different priorities of both partners and to the habit of setting advance conditions in tit-for-tat deals: the energy dialogue is
stalled because of the conditionality that Russia join the WTO first. The security dialogue is hobbled by the Russian priority to nest NATO
into a new system of European security. In both cases, the preconditions are ultra vires for the other partner, at least for the time being.
The dialogues should be maintained, even if they do not yield immediate and tangible results. They imply permanent contacts and the opportunity to improve mutual understanding.
However, it is equally important to support processes and initiatives which are under way in the wake of or independent of the official dialogue channels. They concern “hard” and “soft” areas such as
• Security: Trust-building measures in terms of further joint peace-keeping missions or political
support for civic initiatives in conflict areas (Caucasus, Moldova) are possible and important • Economy, business: More first-hand practical knowledge and know-how should be fed into the high-level dialogue • Education and human contacts: There is a multitude of grass root civic initiatives to make people from EU member
states and Russia meet in the framework of joint educational or internship programs. These initiatives should be strengthened, particularly through facilitating visa procedures for students.
Legal Culture in the EPR Area: Realizing a priority of the Austrian Foreign Trade Concept •
Adoption and Implementation of the European
Charter of Basic Rights (ECBR) in Kazakhstan •
Muslim identity in an open society: the case of Chechen refugees in Austria •
Problems and practices in EU-Russian business •
Russian concepts of state and law: As a first issue of the ICEUR Insight Studies
Kazakhstan in Flux: Chances for Europe •
The Elites in Belarus and their Attitudes Towards Democratization, Economic Liberalization and Closer Relations With the EU •
Totalitarianism, Populism and Democracy •
The ICEUR Dialogue: Studies in Euro-Russian Conceptual History
ICEUR is committed to the organization of educational programs as a means to advance cross-cultural learning and understanding, mutual knowledge transfer and mobility.
ICEUR seminars and training sessions address primarily students and academic staff and are held in both Austrian and Russian locations. They are organized jointly with
such prestigious academic institutions as Moscow State University, the Higher School of Economics (Moscow) and the Russian State University of Humanities (RGGU). As a
collateral effect of this co-operation, the exchange of research and teaching staff is promoted and joint research projects initiated.
ICEUR training seminars address a wide range of interested groups and have a flexible and customized format. Specialized fact-finding seminars and on-site internships
are offered to business people, journalists or administrators. Capacity building programs for professionals from NIS countries cover such issues as European legal and
political standards or the European experience in building civil society. ICEUR has started its educational programs with two summer schools in Moscow held in July and
September, 2009, in Moscow. Read more
As a first contribution to ICEUR’s media work stream, a joint ICEUR-FEP
team has authored a research
paper on “Contradictory Coverage of the August War”
Apart from its publications, ICEUR´s information activities include spot analyses on current problems and hot
issues in EU-NIS relations. Top experts from EU and NIS countries as well as ICEUR staff writers are among
the contributors. The focus of these analyses is on structures and structural change as opposed to comments
on current events.
Sergey Kulik. Institute of Modern Development (INSOR). Cooperation between Russia and the EU in the CIS economic space.
The groundbreaking INSOR initiative: authorized abridged version.
Read more as PDF
Andrey RYABOV. Russian Modernization Strategy: Political Goals, Realities and Constraints.
Alexey MALASHENKO. Islam in Russia: Religion and Politics.
Bernhard FELDERER. The Crisis of Financial Markets and the Real Economy.
Sergej KARAGANOV. Russland im euro-atlantischen Raum (deu).