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LŠES 2014
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On 25 – 29 August 2014, the Diplomatic Academy held the 13th Summer School of European Studies. Junior diplomats and civil servants from 13 countries, including the Czech Republic, met at the University Centre in Telč. This year, “Populism, nationalism, extremism and the future of Europe” was the main topic of lectures and afternoon roundtable sessions and also a starting point for lively informal debates among participants.

The Summer School welcomed many interesting guests speaking on the topic of populism, nationalism and extremism. Michal Kořan, Deputy Director of the Institute of International Relations and chairman of the Summer School sessions, opened the programme by discussing possible definitions of the three phenomena. What particularly interested the participants was his idea that populism, nationalism and extremism need not, in all cases, be viewed in a negative light. Jacques Rupnik, a professor at the Sciences Po university in Paris, discussed nationalism and populism as an inseparable part of modern European history. According to Rupnik, we have seen populism gaining ground already since the EU entry in 2004. No less interesting were the views of Karel Kovanda, a former Czech diplomat, who presented his idea that ethnic groups are of fractal nature, breaking up into smaller and smaller groups, each  different from the whole. Kai Olaf Lang from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin discussed European populism in the light of the recent European Parliament elections. According to Lang, the rising number of populist MEPs is to be seen as a threat, but also as a warning. 

Another major topic was populism in the media and the role of the media as a public information intermediary – or an outright tool - of populist politicians. The speakers on this topic were Vlastimil Nečas, a media studies expert from Charles University, and Jan Macháček, editor of the “Respekt” weekly. Professor Iain Begg from the London School of Economics spoke about the socio-economic dimension of Europe and about the rise of populism driven, above all, by lack of economic growth. At the participants´ request, Professor Begg prepared, in record time, a presentation on the Scottish referendum and the proposed “Brexit” referendum on the UK´s withdrawal from the EU.

The last part of the programme was devoted to topics closely related to populism, nationalism and extremism in the EU. Martin Hrabálek from Mendel University in Brno spoke about immigration and European immigration policies. Ambassador Petr Kypr shared his experience of nationalist and populist policies in the Balkans region. H.E. Souriya Otmani, Ambassador of Morocco to the Czech Republic, and H.E. George Monteiro Prata, Ambassador of Brazil to the Czech Republic, made interesting remarks on immigration and the future of Europe. The Summer School concluded with a lecture on the relationship between populism and democracy, given by Petr Kratochvíl, Director of the Institute of International Relations and chairman of the Academic Council of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The afternoon roundtable sessions gave the participants an opportunity for further discussion with lecturers who answered their questions and also asked questions themselves. Part of the programme was also a group work exercise during which the participants produced some very inventive presentations.

As in the previous years, the Summer School offered a cultural programme (a tour of Telč Chateau and a visit to Telč Municipal Hall), and sports programme (this time, the traditional football match had to be replaced by a bowling tournament due to bad weather).

 (Kristina Horňáčková and Tereza Vorlová – students of the junior diplomatic course and Summer School participants)