ESEE FANEL NETWORK INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCEThe Other Europe? Resilience and Assertiveness in Our Region

Watch the full recording of the Opening sesssion here

Watch the full recording of the Roundtable “How can women experts from Eastern, South-Eastern and Central Europe counter illiberal trends?” here

The goal of the conference is to offer a framework for women experts in IR and related fields to express their views on vital aspects of societal and political issues regarding the Eastern, South-Eastern Europe, Black Sea Region, and Central Europe subregions. Given the history of these subregions, it is meaningful to have an inclusive debate to discuss different issues of common interest. As the wars in Georgia in Ukraine were signalling, the international system has changed, bringing back the military as the centre of power relations between countries. However, in order to truly understand the regional dynamics, besides the military factor, it is also important to consider traditional vulnerabilities and threats, such as the rule of law, corruption, weak institutions, the role of minorities, unstable political landscapes and new threats.

The continued rise of outspoken supporters of the demise of the West, the use of subversive methods to spread an illiberal agenda, the promotion of alternate multilateral frameworks of cooperation and the infusion of an apparently no strings attached funding schemes have flourished during the past decade. The Covid-19 pandemic, climate change issues, illiberal tendencies, digital transformation represent contemporary challenges for activists fighting for democracy and respect for human rights. All these dynamics highly impact the Eastern and South-Eastern European countries, as a macro region comprising the Central and Eastern European member states of the European Union, the Western Balkans candidate and potential candidate countries, as well as the wider Black Sea Region.

Although the complex landscape of vulnerabilities and threats demands an integrated answer from policymakers and thinkers, an important point of view is usually disregarded, as the expertise of the women working in International Relations, Economy or Social Sciences is generally overlooked in debates. Many analyses and debates are dominated by males’ perspectives on the world, even when discussing concrete solutions. Oftentimes, women are invited to enforce mandatory gender guidelines.

Our Network seeks to remedy as much as possible this situation by encouraging and endorsing the voices of women within the region. As an initiative of the Eastern and South-Eastern European Fanel Network, the conference The Other Europe? Resilience and Assertiveness in Our Region aims to showcase the expertise of female professionals in the broader field of International Relations, in a world where women’s voices are highly under-represented. The intensive debates regarding the role of power in International Relations, national security policies or grand strategies tend to be dominated by male experts. Our aim is to bring together women experts in order to discuss and disseminate their work on the hot topics of International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis.

The conference is an opportunity for women experts to explore common regional issues, as well as state issues, to exchange knowledge and to find collective solutions. The discussions will delve into the adaptability mechanisms and innovative solutions at regional, subregional and national levels and into the relations with the European Union in this context. Since the use of force is not the only attribute of state power, the debate will examine the new perceptions, understandings and expressions of power and their relation with the societies’ resilience, as well as assertiveness and innovation in the region.

The conference comprises three FANELS: (I) Regional inequalities and their socio-economic consequences, (II) Established and new regional cooperation formats and initiatives inside and outside the EU, (III) International games in the region. Competing interests in ESEE and their consequences. Participants are invited to submit their own research regarding the topics presented below, in order to contribute to one or more FANELS.

FANEL 1: ‘Rich and poor’. Regional inequalities and their socio-economic consequences

The growing inequalities at the global level have impacted Eastern and South-Eastern Europe as well, resulting in expanding socio-economic gaps at national and regional levels, an increase in Euroscepticism, raising illiberal trends and an assault on human rights. With a continuing trend of brain drain, corruption and weak institutions, the countries in this macro-region need to address the current shift towards a new model of development, towards a more sustainable, green and digital economy. The current disruptions of value chains coupled with the technological evolution have a greater impact on less developed economies, thus raising questions about the broader regional effects, and the social contract between the individuals and states.

In this fanel we would like to explore the following issues:

  • Socio-economic inequalities within states, within sub-regions and within the region.
  • The Westward brain-drain phenomenon and the immigration in Western Europe from our region. Intraregional walls, intraregional openings.
  • Cultural and identity clashes at the regional and sub-regional levels: between the East and West, Europe and Asia, European core and periphery.
  • Paradigm shifts in economic development and their impact at regional level: beyond capitalism towards what else?
  • The interplay of market economy and democracy: addressing inequality, corruption and implications of FDI, debt-trap diplomacy
  • Systemic background for societal resilience: addressing the multi-sectorial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the region
  • Socio-economic impact of the green and digital transitions: are we all equally prepared?
FANEL 2: Established and new regional cooperation formats and initiatives inside and outside the European Union

The end of the Cold War resulted in the proliferation of regional cooperation, addressing common issues. In Europe, where the states were facing transitions from centralized systems to democracy and market economies, these regional cooperation frameworks were established by former candidate countries (e.g. the Central European Initiative or the Visegrád Group), with the goal of preparing the EU accession and were persevered as platforms for political dialogue and partnerships. The international community supported a variety of sub-regional cooperation formats in the Balkans, as a way to pacify and support reconstruction efforts as a result of the war in the 1990s. Furthermore, since the launch of the European Neighbourhood Policy, numerous regional and sub-regional initiatives of multilateral cooperation have flourished. Some of these aim at further linking the regions with the European Union, such as the case of the EU Eastern Partnership, the Open Balkan Initiative or even the rebranded Community of Democratic Choice. On the other hand, Russia and China promoted their own regional cooperation initiatives, such as the Eurasian Economic Union or the 16+1 (previously, for a brief period, 17+1) framework with Central and Eastern Europe and the Belt and Road Initiative.

Papers in this fanel may refer to specific frameworks of regional cooperation with regards to:

  • How are the regional cooperation frameworks interacting with each other and with more powerful actors?
  • Addressing the elephant in the room: EU enlargement vs. Russia’s and China’s offensive(s).
  • From democracy promotion to resilience and connectivity. What are the real drivers of regional cooperation?
  • Common challenges, innovative solutions: green transition and digital transformation;
  • Peace and security in the European Union and beyond: challenges and opportunities;
  • The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on regional multilateralism: transparency, assistance and solidarity.
FANEL 3: International games in the region. Competing interests in ESEE and their consequences

Last year’s unprecedented events, especially the pandemic and the natural disasters in Europe, Australia, Eurasia etc., have underlined the urgent need for more cooperation, democracy, inclusiveness and transparency and less competition between the major powers.  Although there is noticeable progress in cooperation, competition is currently still dominant. As a result of globalization, the fast-paced world is experiencing not only a pandemic, but an infodemia also. As information travels very rapidly, the illiberal trends and fake news took over the region, where the competition for power prevails. In order to better cope with present and future crises, resilient societies and strong institutions are needed.

Topics in this fanel may include but are not limited to:

  • Hard, soft and smart power games in Eastern and South Eastern Europe: threats and vulnerabilities in economic, technologic and energy spheres;
  • Crossroads between important players – European Union, Russia and China: navigating between values, interests and money;
  • The future of democracy within the EU and beyond: multilateralism as a way to enforce national sovereignty;
  • Illiberalism, disinformation, infodemia, and fake news: the transformation of power instruments – from mask diplomacy to vaccine diplomacy. Who are the winners?
Submission of abstracts

Please submit your abstracts (300 words max. + paper title + 5 keywords) electronically to Please mention in the subject of your email: CONFERENCE ABSTRACT & [YOUR NAME].

Important deadlines

Abstract submission: December 1st, 2021

Acceptance notice: December 10th, 2021

Full paper submission: January 10th, 2022


Certificates of attendance will be issued to participants presenting their research.

Conference fees

This conference is free of charge.

Publishing opportunities

A selection of the best papers will be published in the Romanian Journal of European Affairs (based on the editors’ decision) and in a special issue of the Romanian Journal of Society and Politics. The deadline for the submission of the final version of the papers for each journal will be announced during the conference.





Become a network member

If you are an woman expert in international relations, security studies, global political economy, political science, working in Eastern or South-Eastern Europe, you may wish to join our network

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