Vienna, 23 May: Is there a chance to restart relations between Russia and the West? In order to address this question, the roundtable, ‘The Deterioration of East-West Relations’, was organised by the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC), the International Institute for Peace (IIP,) and the Research Center for Eurasian Studies at the University of Vienna (EURAS). The discussion brought about rather dim conclusions. The US and its allies on the one side, and Russia on the other, are in a rivalry for influence on the Western half of Eurasia. The Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts are but stones in a larger puzzle, proxy battlefields in Russia’s conflict with the US. And as for now, the proponents of confrontation are stronger than the proponents of peace.
In spite of the sobering realities, DOC Co-Founder Walter Schwimmer stressed the unrelenting need for dialogue, diplomacy, and détente. Other participants at the round table included Vladislav Belov of the Russian Academy of Science, Fred Dallmayr of Notre Dame University, Alexander Dubowy of the University of Vienna, Otmar Höll of the Austrian Institute of International Politics, and Peter W. Schulze of Göttingen University, Germany. The event was moderated by Stephanie Fenkart from IIP.
On the following day, DOC’s 11th Annual Festival, ‘Cultures Invite to the Table’, underlined the firm roots of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute in the Austrian capital. The event coincides with the UNESCO World Day for Intercultural Dialogue and brought together culinary and government representatives from 21 nations. As in the past years, the 2018 ‘Cultures Invite to the Table’, with its international food stalls as well as music and dance presentations from the participating nations, attracted around 5,000 visitors. The co-organisers were the Austro-Foreign Friendship Societies, the City of Vienna, and the Cultural Department and Dialogue Task Force for the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since 2017, the event has been organised under the auspices of the President of the Federal Republic of Austria.