Old Rules and New Traditions: Generational Divides in Central and Eastern Europe

13th International Postgraduate Conference on Central and Eastern Europe

19-21 February 2014

University College London – School of Slavonic and East European Studies

Inter Alia was present at the 13th International Postgraduate Conference on Central and Eastern Europe organized by the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of the University College London. Two of its founding members Nikos Papakostas and Boyka Boneva traveled to London to take part in the 3-day conference together with over 140 postgraduate research students and post-doctoral researchers from almost 100 universities, national science academies and think-tanks.

Nikos presented his research “Legacies, Particularism and the Irrelevance of EU Policy for Addressing Corruption: A Case Study of Bulgaria’s and Serbia’s Path towards EU Integration” in the panel EU, NGOs and Corruption in the Balkans. See abstract HERE

In a really lively and timely debate he argued that corruption is not a challenge in itself but rather the outcome of particularism – the habit of political elites that are in power to abuse public resources for maintaining their advantageous position. Despite usually being presented as a strictly domestic issue, the EU has increased potentials for addressing societal origins of endemic corruption. Taking into consideration low levels of trust in national institutions and the respective high levels of trust in EU ones, the Union can play a positive role in increasing social trust that is essential for generating collective action. Collective action would, thereof, increase normative constraints against corruption that are essential for addressing the challenges deriving from particularism.

In the panel about Youth and Civil Society, Boyka presented her ideas about the effects of the political crisis in Bulgaria and the positive effect of the prolonged protests with a paper titled The Birth of Civil Society in Contemporary Bulgaria providing a rather practical observation. ABSTRACT

Offering a detailed image of the discontent among the public with regards to the widening gap between them and the political elites, and a series of irregularities as: political corruption, power concentration and media control, Boyka envisages a long way ahead for both citizens and politicians. However, ending in a positive note, she believes that if both sides extract conclusions from the process, learning from both their successes and mistakes, Bulgaria will become a country where “member of the ordinary public” will mean much more than today.

Along with the presentation of their work, Inter Alia members made the most of their stay in London using the opportunities given to exchange their ideas and to build contacts with international colleagues from a wide variety of disciplines.

Putting the conference in the context of a global multicultural phenomenon as London, it’s impressive how easy it is to find familiar things to like and unique ones to explore.