As of 1 July, the Czech Republic is setting the agenda for all 27 EU member states as it took up the Council of the EU presidency for the second time. Europe is facing key issues of both national and international importance. Charles University aims to contribute to the public discussion in the form of six public debates at Kampus Hybernská, entitled Task Europe. The first debaters will be Milena Vicenová, the former Czech Ambassador to the European Union, and Mikuláš Bek, Minister for European Affairs. Their debate kicks off today - on Monday evening at 18:00.
Many are looking at how well the Czech Republic will handle the EU Council presidency in what are understandably difficult times. How to deal with energy, aid to Ukraine or the euro? Such questions will be voiced every month starting on Monday at Kampus Hybernská, host to a series of debates bringing together key participants. “I expect there may be a more professional, deeper debate.... The topic will certainly be the direction of Czech and European politics and the future of the European Union, and we will also touch on Czech interests in Europe,” European Affairs Minister Bek told Forum magazine.
Bek is a rector emeritus of Masaryk University in Brno, which he led for two terms, but it is less well known that he is also an alumnus of Charles University, where he completed his doctorate. “I remember it with gratitude. It was a valuable and enriching experience for me to have been able to get to know both universities, which have different expertise and points of view in different fields,” Bek says. The minister belongs to the government of another rector emeritus of MU, Petr Fiala, the prime minister and head of the centre-right Civic Democrats.
Parallels between two Czech presidencies
And what is the experienced diplomat Milena Vicenová expecting from the debate series? “An interesting, strong debate, which our presidency deserves. A debate on whether we will be in favour of the euro or the Czech crown, whether we will [continue to be] an ‘assembly plant’ or a leader, whether we will choose the East or the West. We will certainly also look at the parallels between our past and current presidencies,” the expert guarantor of the events. The Czech Republic first held the council presidency back in 2009 which is now a little unfairly remembered for two key moments: the unveiling of Czech artist David Černý’s Entropa (a mystification of sorts and satirical artwork lampooning national stereotypes) and, more seriously, the midstream collapse of Mirek Topolánek’s government. The debates will be moderated by Martina Mašková, a journalist at public broadcaster Czech Radio.
Other debates will also focus on the introduction of the euro (including with Professor Oldřich Dědek from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University and also a member of the Czech National Bank's Bank Board), the geopolitical position of the Czech Republic, energy security issues and the Green Deal, or topics related to the country's innovation capacity and more.
“I am glad that members of Charles University's academic community contribute their expertise to debates on important issues that affect the whole of Europe. And that students are also involved in the debates, because it is their future that is at stake,” says Markéta Křížová, CU’s Vice-Rector for International Affairs.
A forum for academics, students and the public
“The Task Europe series is aimed at both academics, including students, and the general public, says Marcel Kraus, manager of Kampus Hybernská. “We want to bring experts and professionals from the fields of economics, sociology, science and innovation, law, international relations or political science to one place, because complex challenges require complex answers from many perspectives,” he explains, adding that the series would be of particular interest to those who see academic knowledge and innovation as an integral part of deciding the country’s future.
The series of debates, prepared within the framework of the activities of CU’s Centre for Knowledge and Technology Transfer (CPPT), will take place at kampus Hybernská, i.e. at Hybernská 4, Building A, 3rd floor - Theatre Club, once a month from July to December 2022, always on Mondays at 18:00.
You can register for the first debates HERE. The first debate kicks off at 18:00 TODAY: Monday, 25 July, 2022.