19 Oct 2014

Study Trip to the Baltic States for the students of the Natolin campus

From 19/10 till 26/10

From 19 until 26 October 2014, the Department of European Interdisciplinary Studies of the Natolin (Warsaw) campus of the College of Europe organized a study trip to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The students of the Falcone - Borsellino Promotion visited the cities of Kaunas and Vilnius in Lithuania, Riga in Latvia, and Tartu and Tallinn in Estonia. 


Days 1 & 2 - Kaunas, Lithuania

Kaunas and its old city center with historical and modernist architecture gave students a good impression of Lithuanian national culture and history. At the University of Kaunas, Professor Rūstis KAMUNTAVICIUS, one of the foremost experts of Lithuanian history and culture, challenged the students intellectually during his lecture on the subject of national historical atlases and how they shape the interpretations of Lithuanian history.


Days 2 & 3 - Vilnius, Lithuania

In Vilnius, after a guided walk through the city center, the students were welcomed by the University of Vilnius. The former Minister of Energy of Lithuania, Mr Jaroslav NEVEROVIC and H.E. Ambassador Antanas VALIONIS delivered speeches in a panel titled "Concerns and Perspectives for the EU Energy Policy in the Baltic Region". After the speeches, the floor was opened to a question and answer session.


The next day at the University of Vilnius, Professor Richard BUTTERWICK-PAWLIKOWSKI, Chairholder of the EP Geremek European Civilization Chair at the Natolin (Warsaw) campus, organized a history panel dedicated to the multicultural heritage of Vilnius and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the panel, Dr Mindaugas SAPOKA addressed the issue of citizenship in the Grand Duchy, while Professor Jurgita VERBICKIENE spoke about several historical minority groups and their rights granted by the Lithuanian Dukes. Subsequently, Professor Darius STALIUNAS introduced the impact of Russian imperial rule on Lithuania. Finally, Dr Mindaugas KVIETKAUSKAS gave a thoughtful contribution about the multilingual literary heritage of Vilnius, from a contemporary perspective.



Days 3 & 4 - Riga, Latvia

In Riga, the group visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. Mr Edgars RINKEVICS, Minister of Foreign Affairs, gave a speech outlining the priorities of the upcoming Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The speech was followed by a question and answer session, during which Minister RINKEVICS responded very openly to the students’ many questions on Latvian foreign policy priorities and challenges.


In the afternoon, the students participated in a "Round Tables lunch". Mr Grzegorz SZOPINSKI, First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, welcomed the students and opened the event. The students sat at different tables with prominent local experts and discussed several topics: Riga European Capital of Culture 2014; Social Integration Policies in Latvia from the 1990s until today; Memory Conflicts in Latvia; Observing the Foreign Policies of the Baltic States: a Perspective from the Press; Consequences of the Euro Adoption in Latvia; and Foreign Policy of the Republic of Latvia: Perspectives and Challenges. The day ended with a guided visit of the historical center of Riga.


Days 5 & 6 - Tartu and Tallinn, Estonia 

In Tartu, the group visited the University of Tartu and participated in a lecture entitled "Crisis in Ukraine: Implications for the Baltic States" given by Dr Piret EHIN, Director of the Centre for EU-Russia Studies. Questions pertaining to the identity-formation and ethnicity of minorities in Estonia, were raised during a history panel which followed later in the day. Natolin’s Professor Georges MINK chaired the panel, which included Professor Triin VIHALEMM, a well-known sociologist, who explained to students the various integration patterns of the Russian-speaking population in Estonia. Ms Maie SOLL contributed to this discussion by focusing on the role of the school in the integration process of minorities. The final speaker, Ms Kristina NORMAN, addressed the issue of memory using a mix-media presentation that included a video documentary about the Bronze Soldier in Tallinn.


The last academic event of the study trip was a conference in Tallinn entitled "Regional Security Challenges in the Real and Virtual Worlds", focusing on hard, soft and cyber security in the Baltic region. The conference was co-organized with the International Centre for Defence Studies in Tallinn. To start the conference, Dr Pauli JARVENPAA gave a lecture on hard security in the Baltic Region, followed by a panel discussion with Mr Kaarel KAAS, Dr Anna BULAKH and Dr Emmet TUOHY on soft security and energy security. Dr Liisa TALLINN of the Estonian Information System’s Authority explained the concept of e-Estonia and introduced the students to cyber security issues.


After a coffee break, students discussed Estonian activities in international forums with Mr Patrik MALDRE, Specialist in Cyber Security Policy at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Afterwards, Dr Piret PERNIK highlighted Estonia’s cyber security strategies and Mr Andrus PADAR explained his work as Chief of the Estonian Defence League’s Cyber Unit. The conference ended with a concluding discussion among all the aforementioned speakers including Dr Maksym BUGRIY of the International Centre for Defence Studies, who joined the experts for the final round of questions and answers.

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