The international scientific conference “European identity and political challenges: Old concept, new vision” that took place on 4-7 July 2016 at Voronezh State University, provided the forum for discussing the phenomenon of European identity for the recognized experts from the leading universities and research institutions of the European Union. The event was organized in the framework of the EU-funded projects, namely “EUinDepth: European Identity, Cultural Diversity and Political Change” (FP7 Marie Curie Actions) and “ProEU: To be European in Russia: pro and contra” (Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Actions).
The conference attracted the scientists specializing in European studies, International Relations, Politology, International Law, Sociology and History from renowned universities and research centres: Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), University of Birmingham (UK), University of Seville (Spain), Institute of Political Studies of Bordeaux (France), Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary), National University “Odessa Law Academy” (Ukraine), National Institute for Economic Research, Academy of Sciences of Moldova (Moldova), Transnistrian Shevchenko State University (Moldova).
The event was also attended by the researches from a number of Russian regions – from Tomsk to Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg to Simferopol (including such cities as Moscow, Perm, Rostov-upon-Don, Ivanovo, Krasnodar, Izhevsk, Saransk and Nizhnevartovsk).
The programme was comprised of the following panel sessions:
The meeting started with the welcome addresses by Oleg Belenov, the Vice-Rector for international cooperation and economic development of Voronezh State University, Vladimir Popov, Vice-governor of the Voronezh region, and Alexey Gromyko, Director of Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Science, President of Association of European Studies.
In his speech, the Vice-governor emphasized the relevance of the agenda of the conference for Russia and Europe in light of the complicated political situation.
“We do not take advantage of the opportunities for cooperation between Russia and European countries fulyl. In this regard, the government of the Voronezh region is willing to support initiatives aimed at encouraging collaboration in economic, cultural and educational spheres”.
Alexey Gromyko, President of Association of European Studies, stressed the importance of organizing such largescale international events.
“Voronezh State University is one of the leaders in promoting European studies. Scientists have advanced considerably in this field over the last 25 years. I guess Association of European Studies is a good indicator showing how things are changing nowadays. It is comprised of twenty five regional branches and there are plans to extend. We are grateful to our partners in many countries for their active participation.”
The welcome address was also delivered on behalf of the European Commission that expressed their hopes for further successful and fruitful collaboration.
On the second day the conference was opened by Dmitry Yendovitsky, Rector of Voronezh State University, who emphasized the significance of research in the field of European studies for the modern society and said that European identity should be analysed in accordance with the rapidly changing world.
In the run up to the conference, the Rector held a number of meetings with the participants whose universities are VSU partners in international projects. Among others, Dmitry Yendovitsky met with Caroline Dufy, Professor of the Department of Political Science and Sociology, (Institute of Political Studies of Bordeaux, France), Professor Katlijn Malfliet, Vice-rector of Culture, Diversity and Sustainability Policy (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium), Mr Rafael Wagner, Head of the Unit for Incoming students and Translation Service (University of Seville, Spain). Oleg Belenov, Vice-Rector for international cooperation and economic development, Natalia Zhurbina, Head of the Department of International Cooperation, and Alla Akulshina, Director of the Centre for International Projects and Programmes, also participated in the meetings.
The colleagues discussed the ways of further cooperation and carrying out projects in the framework of the European programmes. Prof. Katlijn Malfliet pointed out that the participation of Catholic University of Leuven in the project EUinDepth that aims at studying European identity and in which VSU acts as the coordinator of Russia, enabled KUL to exploit the scientific potential and establish effective partnership with Voronezh State University.
It is worth mentioning that VSU is one of the leading universities in Russia as regards the number international projects funded by such EU programmes as Tempus, FP 7 and FP 6 on support of EU-Russia S&T cooperation, Erasmus. In 2015 ten projects in which the university participates were supported by the Erasmus+ programme. All in all, 19 projects are being carried out at the moment: 10 Erasmus+, 5 Tempus, 1 Erasmus Mundus (2009-2013) and 3 FP7 projects (2007-2014).