Austria’s Distant Neighbours

Kursnummer: 251664

Background information sessions on political and social developments in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia

Five workshops: 4 October – 29 November 2016, 9:00-12:00

Cooperation project between FJUM and European Commission, Representation in Austria.


Dates & Location (workshop time: 9:00-12:00)

Tuesday, 4 October, Haus der Europäischen Union, Wipplingerstrasse 35, 1010 Vienna

Friday, 21 October, FJUM Seminarraum, Karl-Farkas-Gasse 18, 1030 Vienna

Friday, 4 November, FJUM Seminarraum, Karl-Farkas-Gasse 18, 1030 Vienna

Czech Republic:
Friday, 18 November, FJUM Seminarraum, Karl-Farkas-Gasse 18, 1030 Vienna

Tuesday, 29 November, Haus der Europäischen Union, Wipplingerstrasse 35, 1010 Vienna

Since 1989 Austrian banks and businesses have extended their presence internationally by expanding into Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).  Some Austrian companies advertise themselves as major CEE players. In spite of the country’s now significant economic stakes, the Austrian media have lagged in covering political and social developments in the immediate region. Vienna has not developed into a media hub for news about the Visegrad Group* and Slovenia: media are often caught off-guard when covering events in these countries. While news coverage does exist, an in-depth understanding of the developments in CEE societies seems to be missing.

Why has Hungary embraced illiberal democracy? Why did Slovak voters opt for a political party with fascist symbols? Why is Poland transforming its institutions against the EU standards? Why are the Czechs Eurosceptic? Why are all CEE countries anti-immigrant? Why is the anti-Brussels feeling increasing? Five information sessions, one per country, will address these and many other questions.

The Brexit vote and the unprecedented refugee flow to Europe have polarized public opinion in the Visegrad Group, who have taken on a new importance in the EU. The Hungarian referendum on the refugee quota, scheduled for 2 October, could further complicate the already fragmented views on immigration and security within the EU. Thus, it is essential to fully understand political developments in the region.


Five Information Sessions

The background information sessions are specially designed to improve journalists’ understanding and analytical skills when covering political and economic developments in the region. All speakers are top CEE journalists and academics.

Each session is dedicated to one country. However, in order to broaden the understanding of the regional political and economic context, complementary topics will be addressed – Is capitalist development in Eastern Europe comparable to the Western European model? Are Western and Eastern political concepts compatible? What is the role of the media? What can the EU do when its standards are violated? What is the contribution of the EU structural funds to the regional economies?

>>> AGENDA Austria’s Distant Neighbours (PDF download)


Trainers/Speakers: Speakers CVs (PDF download)

Hungary – Dr. András Schweitzer, journalist, author, researcher in contemporary political history, and  lecturer at the ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary.

Slovakia – Milan Nič, Head of European Programme, Globsec Policy Institute, Bratislava, Slovakia.

Slovenia – Dr. Aleksander Ali Žerdin, journalist and book author; editor of the Saturday Supplement, Delo, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Czech Republic – Jeremy Druker, co-founder and executive director of Transitions (TOL), editor in chief of TOL’s flagship publication, Transitions Online, Prague. Czech Republic.

Poland – Dr. Jacek Kucharczyk, President of the Executive Board, Institute of Public Affairs, Warsaw, Poland.

Economy in Eastern Europe – Dr. Dorothee Bohle, professor, European University Institute, Florence, Italy. Specialist in the political economy of Eastern Europe. Co-author of Capitalist Diversity on Europe’s Periphery.

Politcal values in Eastern Europe – Dr. Christian Härpfer, professor, University of Vienna, Austria. Specialist in the political transformation of post-communist countries.

EU structural funds – Christian Weinberger, Senior Advisor at DG GROW of the EU-Commission, Economic Coordinator of the Danube Region – EU macro regional strategies

EU standards – Wolfgang Bogensberger, Advisor, Representation of the European Commission in Austria.


Target groups

Journalists interested in regional political and economic developments; Austrian economy and financial sector; EU affairs; cross-border projects.  Developments in CEE are closely related to the economic and political developments in Austria. This workshop is of interest to both journalists covering Austria as well as those writing on international affairs. (Minimum 2 years of working experience is required. Working in the foreign news department is not a prerequisite.)


Format and duration

Each session lasts 3 hours, from 9:00 to 12:00. All sessions are interactive and dialogue is encouraged from the beginning.

Prior to each session, participants will be provided with selected texts about specific countries, so that they can prepare their questions in advance. Each trainer will provide information sources.


Practical information

Information sessions are conducted in English and German. No translation is provided.

Maximum number of participants: 12.


Costs and Grants

Thanks to cooperation with the European Commission, Representation in Austria, the information sessions are free of charge. The number of participants is limited to 12 and the selected participants are expected to attend all sessions. In order to ensure workshop attendance, FJUM requires a deposit of 100 Euros. The entire amount will be refunded upon the completion of the five workshops.

The applicants for workshop attendance should apply by sending their CVs and motivation letters to The deadline is Tuesday, 27 September 2016. The selection process ends on the same day and the participants’ list will be announced.

Only journalists based in Austria are eligible to apply.

For more information, please contact:

Mirjana Tomic**, conference manager,, Mobile: 0676 3652 693

Daniela Kraus, fjum director,

*Visegrad Group: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia

**Mirjana Tomic conceived and developed the information series on Central and Eastern Europe for FJUM. She will be moderating the sessions.

04.10.2016 - 29.11.201609:00 - 12:00
100 € Deposit bei Anmeldung. Der volle Betrag wird nach Ende des Workshops auf Ihr Konto zurück überwiesen.
Mirjana Tomić
Karl-Farkas-Gasse 18, 1030 Wien Anfahrtsplan

Haus der EU
Wipplingerstraße 35, 1010 Wien