On September 29-31, internationally distinguished academics and practitioners in the sphere of politics and international relations gathered on the AUBG campus to take part in the “Russia, NATO, and the West: Disinformation and Contestation in Central and Eastern Europe” workshop.
Contextualizing the Issues
Organized by AUBG’s Department of Politics and European Studies, the three-day-long event aims to start an open discussion on the issue that has affected multiple parties around the globe. The event participants – AUBG students and faculty members as well as guest speakers from various countries – touched upon the topics of social resilience, disinformation, and media influence across Europe, the Balkans, and Russia specifically.
“It is fantastic to hear such a diverse ray of presentations involving different countries and different issues,” said Jiahao Guo, a first-year student at AUBG. “The general thing that has stuck in my mind is how many different approaches there are to not only EU and NATO operations but also in their dealing with the conflict in Ukraine.”
Before and After
As the goal of the discussion was to provide context to the current state of disinformation and its influence, the speakers gave examples of such instances in Portugal, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and the Western Balkans. Among the topics that were covered by the speakers were Russian influence, propaganda before and after Feb. 24, 2022, and the recent decision to illegally annex four regions of Ukraine.
During his presentation, the second keynote speaker of the event, Andrew T. Wolff, an Associate Professor of Political Science & International Studies at Dickinson College, USA, outlined not only the internal and external issues that NATO has encountered in the last year but also its potential future. “We live in a different world now because of February 24. The build-up has been coming for a long time, but we cannot go back to how things were before. It is going to be a much harsher and harder world for a number of years if not a decade,” he said.
Beyond the Conference
An organizer of the workshops and the Head of the Department of Politics and European Studies at AUBG, Professor Jean Crombois, shared his opinion on the importance of such workshops from the perspective of academic publications. “The idea is that, at the conference, you present the first draft [of your paper]. After the discussions with other academics and practitioners, you will improve your first draft and produce a finished product that can be published,” he said.
The contributions made by the participants of the workshop will be put together into a physical book and issued by an internationally renowned publisher in the near future.
A keynote speaker of the workshop, Irina Novakova (’05), Head of Media Operations at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, shared with the audience her knowledge about disinformation and political contestation. Learn more about Irina and how AUBG impacted her career in NATO from the interview with her.