When: 18 January, 2012, 19:00
Where: Andrey Delchev Auditorium
Dimitar Bechev, head of the European Council on Foreign Relations’ office in Sofia and a Professor at Oxford University, opened new lecture series at AUBG. On January 18, 2012, the first lecture, titled “The End of Europe?” was held in the Andrey Delchev Auditorium of the Balkanski Academic Center. The series has been organized by AUBG in cooperation with the Balkanski-Panitza Institute for Advanced Studies. The Institute is the brainchild of the close friends Professor Minko Balkanski and the late Dimi Panitza. The Balkanski-Panitza Institute for Advanced Studies is an international non-profit body dedicated to the promotion of excellence in sciences, humanities and social studies. BPIAS scholarly activities have a special geographical focus on the Black Sea and the Silk Road regions. Established by prominent European and American academics gathered in Fourges, France, on June 20, 2011, the Institute is an autonomous association bringing together institutional and individual members.
Professor Bechev’s talk emphasized the recent outbreak of so-called Euro-skepticism. He pointed out that Europeans have put up with the asymmetries in European institutions for a long time. Not only were there unresolved economic issues, there was also a lack of a strong political center and cultural ties.
“When calamity strikes, however, everything changes,” Professor Bechev stated. In peaceful times, he said, the political elite takes credit for the success, achieved by European organizations. During problematic periods, people turn to their national institutions to save the day. In such tough times, they prefer sticking to their own nationality and country instead of counting on the EU.
Coupled with the debt crisis of today, these issues have driven Europe into a tight corner, Bechev said. The two possible outcomes, according to Professor Bechev, are the Doomsday scenario and the “Teutonization” of Europe. The former involves the dissolution of the European unity as we know it. The latter means European countries adopting the German state model, enforcing fiscal discipline. Still, Dimitar Bechev argued whether conformation is equal to integration.
“Most importantly, there have to be links of solidarity,” Professor Bechev stressed. He asserted that the cutting-measures policy of today may not be the universal cure for a better tomorrow. On a more positive note, he said, the current crisis will make Europe reinvent its models in order to adjust itself to the ever-changing economic and political world. “Stronger and reinforced, we will survive,” Bechev said.
Story by Yoana Savova
Photos by Vesselina Apostolova