Special Event in Kaunas: Lithuanian and Foreign Leaders and Intellectuals to Discuss the Future of Europe

  • 2022-11-10

On 25 November, Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) is organising an International Symposium "The Idea of Europe" – one of the closing events of the Kaunas 2022 programme, which will bring together intellectuals from all over Europe as well as the presidents of five countries – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and Romania.

The symposium will begin with welcome speeches by President Gitanas Nausėda and VMU Rector Prof. Juozas Augutis, after which the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will address the symposium participants remotely.

In a special Presidential Panel, the leaders of five European countries will discuss the future of Europe and what it means to be and remain a European. The panel will be attended by the President of the Republic of Estonia Alar Karis, the President of the Republic of Latvia Egils Levits, the President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda, the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda, and the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis.

The second part of the event will consist of three debates in which intellectuals from different European countries will discuss what Europe, European civilisation and European values mean today.

The debates will be attended by world-renowned figures from the media, law, human rights, politics and other fields: John Lloyd, the Director of Journalism at the Reuters Institute and Contributing Editor to the Financial Times; Sławomir Sierakowski, the Head of Krytyka Polityczna and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw; Dainius Žalimas, the Dean of the VMU Faculty of Law and former Head of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania; Andreas Bummel, the co-founder and Director of Democracy Without Borders; Francis Martin O’Donnell, a life member of the Institute of International and European Affairs; Piotr Świtalski, the former Ambassador of the European Union to Armenia; Mikhail Minakov, the editor-in-chief of Kenna Focus Ukraine, and Natalie Nougayrède, former editor-in-chief of Le Monde and editorial board member of The Guardian.

"The goal of the symposium is to rethink the idea of Europe. The geopolitical, cultural, and mental changes of the recent decades make it a pressing issue to ask again, what do we mean when we say ‘Europe’. In 1950 the Schumann Declaration announced: “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.” The European Union was born as a project to ensure peace by means of economic collaboration. During the subsequent 70 years this task was modified and challenged. The current war in Europe and about Europe adds new urgency to the question of Europe, its identity, its scope, and its role. The questions of resilience, robustness, and values demand an urgent answer," says the initiator of the symposium, philosopher Dr. Viktoras Bachmetjevas.

On Saturday, 26 November, in a satellite programme of the symposium, Volodymyr Sheiko, the General Director of the Ukrainian Institute, together with Pawel Potoroczyn, a diplomat and educational and cultural chief executive, will discuss how cultures are (in)equivalently accepted, valued and known. Before the discussion, participants will be invited to a guided tour of the Ukrainian Contemporary Art Triennial "UKRAINE! UNMUTED!"

Full programme and registration link for the symposium "The Idea of Europe" can be found at https://ideaofeurope.org/ 

The symposium is held under the patronage of H.E. President of the Republic of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda.

The symposium is organised by Vytautas Magnus University.

The symposium is part of “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” programme.