Crisis Zones series

In the recent past many ongoing international conflicts have reached their turning point or have escalated to a level where it simply cannot be left unnoticed on a global basis. In spite of their significance, these happenings are often under-represented in the mainstream media. Our lectures on Crisis Zones aimed to further investigate and present these timely, but neglected conflicts, which put mark the post-bipolar history of our world.

The first presentation entitled “Kosovo: On Track of the Waves of Refugees” was held by Lt. Gábor Szabó, teacher at the National University of Public Service. We gained insight to the everyday struggles of one of the youngest states in the world, the hardships of their founding, their effect on Hungary and the EU. Like most of the speakers in these series, Lt. Szabó personally served in the Kosovar peacekeeping mission and shared his first-hand experience on these issues.

At our next event we welcomed Zsolt Rostoványi, Rector of Corvinus University of Budapest as our guest speaker to present his knowledge about Yemen, “the fallen state” as the title of his lecture suggests. Considered the least wealthy Arab country, Yemen was not always a part of bloody occurrences; its history draws a bridge between its blooming historical civilization and its devastating current existence. The presentation did not fail to emphasize the sad truth: the civil war in Yemen used to be severely neglected by the international community even though, especially after Charlie Hebdo, it is evident that growing terrorist groups profit highly from the destabilization of the region and have gained control of the network of international terrorism.

In relation to terrorism, events in Nigeria cannot be omitted, despite the fact that the media often underestimates the significance of the thousands of lives lost due to the activity of Boko Haram. Our third guest speaker Viktor Marsai PHD, expert on Africa and teacher at the National University of Public Service highlighted the highly corrupt Nigerian public life, and described the crippling social contrasts that are strongly connected to the ideology and massacres of Boko Haram. This terrorist group may have limited its activity inside Nigeria’s borders in the beginning, but lately, especially after its oath of loyalty to Daesh, it might find its way to the networks of international terrorism.

Luckily, a crisis zone often carries its solution within. Security Policy Expert Béla Háda brought us the history of Myanmar, one of the most isolated countries in terms of international relations. The title says it all: “Myanmar Today: Political Opening in the Shadow of Strategic Pressure.” The country that continuously struggled with civil war and the oppression of the military regime since the 60’s has finally reached the point where it has no other choice than to begin the process of consolidation.

The fact that crises give birth to their own solution does not guarantee that this transition will have a peaceful and positive outcome. The example of Yemen showed us what happens when a state drifts to the edge of its demise: Somalia represents the effects of falling over that ledge. Gábor Búr PHD, Head of Department to Modern and Contemporary History at ELTE held his lecture on this issue titled “Somalia: A Fallen State in the Shadow of Terrorism.”

Our series of lectures ended with a rather positive example, bringing closer an iconic conflict that has almost been squeezed out of common talk by the ongoing struggles of counter-terrorism. Lilla Hajdú, independent expert on South-America and co-author of Kitekintő shared us some good news in her lecture “Columbia: Half a Decade of Guerilla War.” The war that erupted due to a failed land reform has so far lasted almost fifty years; intertwined with militias of local drug lords resulted in the state’s loss of control over significant areas, plunging them into anarchy. After some fruitless efforts, a peace treaty is about to unfold, which does not only aim to end the guerilla wars, but also tries to solve the constitutional issues that led to the conflict in the first place.

We were delighted to notice the overwhelming interest shown to our series of lectures. It has been an honor to have numerous prominent experts as guest speakers on these different fields. They not only shared their knowledge, but allowed us to gain insight to their personal experiences. Their lectures also helped to put these often neglected conflicts back in the spotlight. We hope to organize such theme-based series of high quality lectures in the future to ease our audience’s thirst for knowledge.