Recovering the Promise of 1989

23rd Forum 2000 Conference

Program and Documents


23rd Forum 2000 Conference
October 13 – 15, 2019

The 23rd annual Conference took place in Prague on October 13 – 15, 2019 under the title "Recovering the Promise of 1989". The event hosted a wide range of illustrious personalities from number of fields – politicians, philosophers, authors, activists and dissidents, policy analysts, entrepreneurs, or artists. Discussions examined today´s challenges and searched for ways to renew the spirit of responsibility and strengthen democracy. It also looked at how the internal uncertainties of the democratic “West” and the rise of China, India and other actors are reshaping the world and how these converging trends will affect our common global future in the next 30 years. The conference engaged the younger generation to share their views on these issues and discuss ways to renew trust in democracy and its values.


5 Big Ideas

Conference Brochure


Sunday, October 13

15:00 - 16:15

Panel (Goethe-Institut, Conference Room)
Asian Middle Powers and Democracy Promotion
In cooperation with East Asia Institute and Asia Democracy Research Network.


Speakers: Ketty W. Chen, Maiko Ichihara, Sook-Jong Lee, Ketut Putra Erawan, Niranjan Sahoo

Event description:

India, South Korea, and Japan are consolidated democracies in Asia. As the region’s middle powers that have resources and influences, they have an important role to play in defending democratic rules and values from growing threats to democracy such as populist nationalism, polarized politics, and authoritarian influence. Presenters will talk about what challenges their government and nongovernmental actors are currently facing, what efforts are being considered to defend democratic values and practices at the national and regional level, and how the Asian middle power countries can collaborate in addressing the threats as well as reinforcing and bolstering shared values.


17:15 - 18:15

Democracy Dialogues (Václav Havel Library)
Havel’s Legacy: A View from Afar

Speakers: Ramin Jahanbegloo, John Keane, Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, Tomáš Vrba

Event description:

Václav Havel was a thinker who believed in that truth, and moral conscience must prevail over lies and hatred. Havel's challenge was to become a canny politician while remaining a moral one, but he has always remained a figure of intellectual integrity with an acute sense of responsibility. He was a man of ideas; an accomplished playwright who was pushed into the political sphere by taking his own ideas seriously and attempting to live up to them. This is what Havel termed “living in truth”. Havel was convinced that maintaining moral integrity was not a choice but a necessity. What is the philosophical and political legacy of Václav Havel 30 years after 1989? What is his relevance in today's world?


19:00 - 21:00

Ceremony and Reception (Prague Crossroads)
Opening Ceremony
By special invitation only.

Monday, October 14

09:15 - 09:30

Special Address (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
1989 Remains an Inspiration


Speaker:
Maia Sandu

Event description:

Only last year, the Forum 2000 Conference participants issued a petition, concerned about accelerated backsliding of democracy in Moldova. The rule of law was declining, space for free media was narrowing, and pressure on civil society was growing. Moldova was a captured state, suffering endemic corruption and abuse of power. However, Moldova’s society and its democratic forces have proven more resilient than was perhaps anticipated. Today, Moldova has a new government and an opportunity for a fresh start in its efforts to join the European family of nations. What are the challenges and lessons in achieving change 30 years after 1989? How can Moldova be an inspiration to others?

09:30 - 10:30

Opening Panel (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Ambitions of 1989? Ambitions of Today?


Speakers:
Tawakkol Karman, Mikuláš Minář, Šimon Pánek, Rosa María Payá, Jacques Rupnik, Maia Sandu

Event description:

In 1989, people rallied against governments with dismal human rights records and a lack of respect for the rule of law. Protests in Beijing, Berlin, and Prague coincided with ongoing or looming democratic transitions in Chile, Nicaragua, South Africa and elsewhere. Citizens globally asked for more freedom and democracy and hoped for a just society. Since then, the spirit of liberty and civic responsibility in new democracies, as well as in the more established ones, have faced many difficult tests and today we are at perhaps one of liberal democracy's most challenging moments. Inability of political elites to face climate change, a growing gap between winners and losers of globalization, the impact of new technologies, and other major trends drive voters to elect untested or even populist leaders. Instead of following ambitious goals, we seem to struggle to at least keep the status quo. What are our ambitions today? What is our vision for the future of democracy? And what is our vision for the future of the world?

10:45 - 11:45

Anniversary Panel (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
30 Years of Czech Human Rights Policy Abroad: Achievements and New Challenges
In cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Speakers:
Arzu Gebullayeva, Carl Gershman, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Alexandr Vondra

Event description:

Since the 1989 Velvet Revolution, the foreign policy of Czechoslovakia, and later Czechia, has been largely guided by the values of freedom and human rights. For most of the three decades, the direction provided initially by Václav Havel and Jiří Dienstbier has offered support to people living under a dictatorship, to countries in transition, to civil society, independent media, and human rights defenders in Cuba, Ukraine, Belarus, Burma and elsewhere. What is the footprint left by the Czech human rights foreign policy? What should be its priorities in the future?

10:45 - 11:45

Panel (Žofín Palace, Conference Hall)
Can Democracy Deliver? How to Make Liberal Democracy Great Again
In cooperation with the Centre for Liberal Modernity and the IDC Herzlyia.


Speakers:
Ralf Fücks, Amichai Magen, Karolina Wigura, Richard Youngs

Event description:

While the crisis of liberal democracy is an international phenomenon, the debate over root causes and policy responses is still taking place mainly in national contexts. The more transnational discussion is needed, fostering the exchange on critical questions. What can be done to rebuild popular support for liberal democracy and to improve its abilities to act in a rapidly changing international, economic, and political environment? How can we reconcile liberal openness towards globalization, immigration, diversity and innovation with conservative demands for security, togetherness and stability – or at least avoid unchecked confrontation along with these conflicting values? To what extent are strong public institutions necessary to guarantee freedom and stability, and how they can do so without restricting the space for civil society and entrepreneurship?

10:45 - 11:45

Coffee Table Conversation (Žofín Palace, River Hall)
Virtual Insanity? How to guarantee transparency in digital political advertising
In cooperation with the European Partnership for Democracy.


Speakers:
Pavel Havlíček, Jan Lipavský, Vitalii Moroz, Miroslava Sawiris

Event description:

The phenomenon of digital political campaigning has caught global public attention with the twin shocks of Brexit and the 2016 US Presidential election (and the related Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal). Since then, the tension between the integrity of electoral systems and a vastly unregulated digital sphere have arguably become an inherent danger to democracies worldwide. Taking the European Parliament elections of May 2019 in the Czech Republic as a case study, what regulatory solutions exist for policy makers at national and at European Union level to guarantee the transparency of political advertising online?

10:45 - 11:45

Workshop (Goethe-Institut, Conference Room)
Shrinking Space for Independent Journalists: How to Survive and Thrive
In cooperation with European Endowment for Democracy.


Speakers:
Joanna Kurosz, Natalia Morari, Diana Moukalled, Karam Nachar

Event description:

The media landscape today is undergoing unprecedented change. In both authoritarian states and open societies, journalists are fighting to retain, and in extreme cases, forge a space for independent media to survive. Journalists from Syria and Moldova will share their experiences of working in politically charged environments and how they thrive in spite of the shrinking space for independent media. Should journalists assume a more ‘political’ or activist role? How can independent media thrive in environments where their freedom to report is consistently being challenged? What can governments and civil society do to help independent media and professional journalism survive in restrictive environments?

12:00 - 13:00

Panel (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Democracy in Times of Zuckerberg and Xi
Information Centre for Democracy and Human Rights in China.


Speakers:
Benedetta Berti, Gerd Leonhard, Peter Pomerantsev, Xiao Qiang

Event description:

Despite their many positive aspects, information technology and artificial intelligence have recently become widely used tools for distorting the truth, for political manipulation, and the restriction of personal freedoms. Recent events such as the Russian disinformation campaigns, the role of Cambridge Analytica in Brexit, or the creeping digital totalitarianism in China all show how technology can threaten freedom and undermine democratic principles. What are the main threats of current technologies to our freedoms and security? How can democratic societies prevent their misuse? What should be the absolute priority?

12:00 - 13:00

Panel Discussion (Žofín Palace, Conference Hall)
60 Years of Communism in Cuba
Democratic Solidarity.


Speakers:
Tania Bruguera, Wilhelm Hofmeister, Miriam Kornblith, Danae Vilchez

Event description:

Along with China, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam, Cuba is one of the five remaining modern-day communist countries in the world. Its communist regime, established in 1959, survived even the collapse of its one-time supporter, the Soviet Union. Despite the new constitution and the so-called 'transition of power' to the new President Miguel Díaz-Canel in 2018, Cuba remains a country ruled by a communist government. What lessons can Cuba learn from the countries that successfully overthrew their communist regimes in 1989? Is there a role for the international community and regional actors in supporting Cuba's eventual transition to democracy?

12:00 - 13:00

Coffee Table Conversation (Žofín Palace, River Hall)
Catalonia: What Lies Ahead?


Speakers:
Ignacio Martín Blanco, Martin Mejstřík, Per Nyholm, Jordi Solé

Event description:

The status of Catalonia has been a dominant topic in Spanish politics in recent years. It also has a spillover effect in the European Union, posing important questions on how the EU should approach attempts to independence of parts of member states' territories. Even though it has been overshadowed by Brexit, the Catalan question remains unresolved and will remain an important issue to deal with in the future. How has the situation developed since the so-called referendum in 2017? Should the EU change its stance and follow the right to self-determination? What are the wider, European and international, consequences of the Catalan discussion?

12:00 - 13:00

Youth Panel (Goethe-Institut, Conference Room)
Youth: "How Will We Form Europe in the Next 30 Years?"
In cooperation with the European Commission Representation.


Speakers:
Alina Aflecailor, Antonio Argenziano, Dejan Kovac, Tomáš Sedláček, Grigor Yeritsyan

Event description:

Václav Havel often spoke of the need for positive dreams and visions that provide the necessary energy for societal transformation. In many of his speeches and essays, he contemplated the principles governing united Europe, its ethical basis and institutional organization. The goal of this panel discussion is to offer the floor to representatives of the younger generation of Europeans and future leaders. They are invited to dream about the European future and reflect on key questions of the European project. How might Europe look like in the next 30 years? Which common themes should serve as the platform for further European integration? What should be the future role of Europe in the world?

13:00 - 13:15

Award Ceremony (Žofín Palace, Conference Hall)
Award for Committed Diplomacy in Cuba 2016-2018
Democratic Solidarity in cooperation with the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL).


Speakers:
Gabriel Salvia, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Filip Vurm

Event description:

Since 2003, the Award for Committed Diplomacy in Cuba has been organized by the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL). It highlights the solidarity work of foreign diplomats who served on the island, providing recognition, support, and protection of those acting peacefully in defense of human rights and the promotion of political pluralism. In its sixth edition, the prize is awarded to Czech diplomat Filip Vurm, nominated by various groups of the Cuban civic movement in different parts of Cuba.

13:00 - 14:15

Lunch Break

14:15 - 14:45

Žofín Conversation (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Hong Kong and Its Future


Speakers:
Arnold Chung Chin Kiu, Libby Liu, Cardinal Joseph Zen, SDB

Event description:

Since 1997, Hongkong has been a part of China, living under the promise of "one country, two systems.” However, the city's open and liberal mindset has been increasingly at odds with Beijing, which seems intent on gradually converting Hongkong to one system - a communist dictatorship. Hongkongers are, perhaps surprisingly to their Beijing rulers, strongly opposed to this.

14:45 - 15:45

Panel (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Václav Havel: Responsibility As the Ultimate Measure of Human Action
In cooperation with Václav Havel Library.


Speakers:
Haykuhi Harutyunyan, Adam Michnik, Vesna Pusić, Lobsang Sangay, Michael Žantovský

Event description:

If the future of the world appears increasingly uncertain, it is also because so many people, including politicians, refuse to take the responsibility for their own words and actions, for the habitat in which we all live, and for the future consequences of today´s decisions. For Václav Havel, responsibility, rooted in the “memory of being” beyond the horizon of everyday life, was the ultimate measure of the meaning of our existence. The imperative of responsibility was his unfailing compass both in his writings and in his political life. What would it take for the politicians, business people, and opinion-makers of today to accept their intrinsic responsibility?

14:45 - 15:45

Panel (Žofín Palace, Conference Hall)
America First! But What About the Rest of Us?


Speakers:
Neelam Deo, Michael Gonzalez, Jerzy Pomianowski, Jan Šnaidauf, Yang Jianli,

Event description:

Putting one’s interest first is a natural choice but cannot be the end of the story. America has been a guarantor of global order for much of the 20th century and into the new millennium. This was due to its power, but also its role in the making and upholding of international institutions and agreements. Today, U.S. dominance seems diminished, and its interests appear to be turning inwards. How does current America see its role in the world? Does the Trump administration still believe in multilateralism? How much has the transactional approach penetrated the US foreign policymaking? Will coalitions of the willing eventually undermine long-standing alliances? Are we giving up on global standards and rules and heading towards a ‘new cold war’?

14:45 - 15:45

Coffee Table Conversation (Žofín Palace, River Hall)
Indignados, Yellow Vests, or Fridays for Future: Can Social Movements Re-invent Democracy?


Speakers:
Giuseppe Mastruzzo, Tereza Stöckelová, Gadi Taub, Nicolas Tenzer

Event description:

Social movements can press governments to reorganize their decision-making in ways that allow the direct and indirect participation of more voices in areas such as political development, education and the environment. They can move community institutions and civic associations to engage effectively in traditional political arenas but also to create and take part in a new, more encompassing democratic politics. However, this dynamism can also block, paralyze, and perhaps even threaten the everyday life of a democratic state and its institutions. Is the recent example of the "yellow jackets" in France a symptom of a profound crisis in democracy? Is the current Fridays for Future movement undermining the democratic process with its appeal to Science as an ultimate carrier of truth or is it just articulating a legitimate public interest? Can social movements pave the way for a new form of democratic politics?

14:45 - 15:45

Panel (Goethe-Institut, Conference Room)
How Media Can Help Restore Public Trust in Democracy
In cooperation with Project Syndicate.


Speakers:
Gayane Abrahamyan, Tom Daly, Mary Fitzgerald, Jonathan Stein

Event description:

Around the world, open societies are being tested by a crisis of trust. And while a strong, independent media is the lifeblood of free societies, traditional outlets today are grappling not only with acute threats and intimidation, but, more broadly, with declining readership, influence, and revenue. At the same time, digital media have been ripe for anti-democratic forces’ exploitation of growing mistrust of established institutions. As a result, public trust in the media – and liberal democracy – is alarmingly low around the world. What has caused public trust in democratic institutions to deteriorate? How should media organizations – which are both the reporters and subjects of this story – respond?

15:15 - 16:00

Other (Žofín Palace, Lord Mayor's Hall)
Coffee with Friends of Forum 2000
By special invitation only.


Speakers:
Jakub Klepal, Tomáš Vrba

Event description:

16:00 - 17:00

Panel (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Running a Country According to "Likes"


Speakers:
Jamie Fly, Anna Lührmann, Josiah Ober, Jan Zielonka

Event description:

What does society expect from its political leadership today? Are short-term politics, based on opinion polls and immediate online feedback, hurting the long-term perspectives of democratic countries? Can coherent strategies still be implemented? How does the political class deal with this challenge? Is there still a place for responsible leadership?

16:00 - 17:00

Panel (Žofín Palace, Conference Hall)
Central Europe: The Key to the EU's Future?
In cooperation with the Polish Institute Prague.


Speakers:
Andor F. Dávid, Sławomir Dębski, Claus Offe, Oana Popescu, Iveta Radičová

Event description:

Central Europe, in particular the Visegrad Group, has not received the most favorable publicity in recent years, with issues such as the V4 reaction to the immigration crisis or the accusations about the weakening of the rule of law being still hotly debated. On the other hand, the CE has experienced years of steady economic growth, its populations are strongly pro-European, with a vigorous civil society. So, what is the true state of Central Europe? Is there a chance for the region to become a major player in the debate over the future of the EU and its role in the world? Can the CE's shared experience with communism and democratic transition be a valuable asset, while the EU is facing troubled transatlantic relations, aggression from Russia, and the menacing rise of China?

16:00 - 17:00

Panel (Žofín Palace, River Hall)
Can Business Help Reverse Democratic Decline?
In cooperation with the Center for International Private Enterprise.


Speakers:
Abdulwahab Alkebsi, Péter Árvai, Rumena Filipova, Martin Hála, Ionut Sibian

Event description:

The present era of democratic decline is taking place during a global economic upturn, which offers both opportunities and challenges. The autocrats have preyed on the openness of democratic economies, presenting new challenges to the governance of the countries receiving their capital. This capital not only benefits few with little to no democratic oversight but also exacerbates existing threats from within. In fact, many of the world’s democracies have exhibited serious stresses, including backsliding on institutional reforms, highly partisan politics, and the resurgence of corruption. How can civil society and business work together to forge locally driven initiatives to address these challenges?

16:00 - 17:00

Panel (Goethe-Institut, Conference Room)
Challenges to Democracy in Latin America: Can the International Community Help?
Democratic Solidarity in cooperation with CASLA Institute.


Speakers:
Christiana Chamorro, Michael Gonzalez, Edita Hrdá, Hasler Iglesias

Event description:

The success of the 1989 revolutions would not have been possible without the support of international actors and foreign powers. Such an enabling environment is one of the critical factors in the process of transition to democracy. Many Latin American countries are still experiencing a lack of international support and involvement in their democratization processes. What steps should the international community and regional actors take to support democracy in Latin America? What should be the approach of the international community towards the current situation in Venezuela? And what about Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Cuba?

17:05 - 17:35

Žofín Conversation (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
A Collapsing Global Order?
In cooperation with the Center on Global Economic Governance, Columbia University.


Speakers:
Szu-chien Hsu, Sook-Jong Lee, Jan Švejnar

Event description:

Tectonic shifts are taking place in the international order; we see hesitant US, rising China, but also India, disruptive Russia, Iran, and others, as well as retrenchment from multilateralism and the rules based system that was shaped after the World War II and solidified in the early 1990s. On the other hand, the increased need for global cooperation caused by environmental challenges and the risks for the global economy is apparent. Is the current rules based international order over? What will replace it? What approaches should we expect from the main global players? What should we brace for?

Tuesday, October 15

09:30 - 09:45

Special Address (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Responsible Politics for a Livable Planet


Speakers:
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

09:45 - 10:25

Panel (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Responsible Politics for a Livable Planet


Speakers:
Ralf Fücks, Bedřich Moldan, Lucie Smolková, Alexandr Vondra

Event description:

With increasing urgency, the societies at large realize that we are living in Anthropocene – an era when humankind has become a significant force in the geological history of the planet. Intended and unintended effects of human activity have manifested in global warming and related climatic processes, loss of biodiversity, radioactive materials scattered across continents, and the pollution of oceans by (nano)plastic and other chemicals. These anthropogenic processes look like a significant global disorder, rather than controlled (re)ordering, and constitute a major challenge for the long-term sustainable survival of human civilization. How can we get these processes, at least partly, under control? What kind of policies do we need to invent and implement? How to make such policies democratic? Are we seeing a beginning of a new global movement and cultural transformations comparable to the societal upheavals of the 1960s?

10:30 - 11:00

Personal Testimonies (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Gallery


Speakers:
Rushan Abbas, Hamid Arsalan, Glanis Changachirere, Ivana Štefková

Event description:

Personal testimonies of courageous democrats and human rights defenders from around the world.

11:15 - 12:45

Unconference (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Let's Make Democracy Sexy Again!


Speakers:
Irena Kalhousová, Hrishabh Sandilya

Event description:

Have your say! Join the debate with activists, scientists, and artists on the following two topics: Can democracy survive without capitalism? Does Greta exaggerate? Join us for an unconference, a place where you have the final say.

12:45 - 13:45

Lunch Break

13:45 - 14:45

Panel (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Saving Democracy from Economic Power?
In cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.


Speakers:
Abdulwahab Alkebsi , Veronica Anghel, Jan Komárek

Event description:

Post-communist transformations were driven by the belief in the causality between the free market and democracy. The experience from the three decades that followed 1989 shows a more complex picture, where economic freedom does not necessarily bring the same benefits to all the people equally. Liberal democracy is based upon the principle of each individual being granted equal opportunities to participate in the political processes and to shape the future of one’s country. But is this still so? Democracy does not seem – in the eyes of many – to stand against the power of the most wealthy. What were the original ideas driving the post-communist economic transformation? Have they been forgotten? Has the economic power colonized politics as some might suggest? Are the populists correct, and is it time to do politics differently?

13:45 - 14:45

Panel (Žofín Palace, Conference Hall)
1989 Seen from the Muslim World


Speakers:
Jana Hybášková, Gilles Kepel, Jacques Rupnik

Event description:

One of the starting points for the disintegration of the Soviet bloc was the defeat of the Soviet army in Afghanistan. The Soviets left Kabul on February 15, 1989. This moment, and what preceded it, had a strong impact on the subsequent developments in Central Europe and has serious repercussions until today.

13:45 - 14:45

Discussion (Žofín Palace, River Hall)
Authoritarians in the Post-Soviet Space: The Need for Democratic Solidarity


Speakers:
Miriam Lanskoy, Alexander Podrabinek, Zamira Sydykova, Leyla Yunusova, Yevgeniy Zhovtis

Event description:

Almost 30 years have passed since the collapse of the USSR. In many post-Soviet countries, however, the authoritarian regimes are still in power. Fighters for human rights and democracy become victims of the political repressions in Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and elsewhere. According to critics, the international community does not pay necessary attention to the problem and OSCE, Council of Europe, or the EU do not only ignore mass violations of human rights, but also support the authoritarians. It is necessary to unify the efforts of the activists in post-Soviet countries in their struggle for democracy, and to call on the international community for solidarity.

15:00 - 16:00

Closing Panel (Žofín Palace, Forum Hall)
Fulfilling the Promise of 1989


Speakers:
Glanis Changachirere, Carl Gershman, Natan Sharansky, Lech Wałęsa

Event description:

In 1989, people in Beijing, Berlin, or Prague rallied against governments with a dismal human rights record and a lack of respect for the rule of law. Citizens asked for more freedom and democracy and hoped for a just society. Today, three decades later, we are not fully there yet - but we are much closer! Despite a number of challenges that we face, the progress is palpable. We must not lose hope and abandon the effort to eventually fulfill the promise of 1989. How to overcome the challenges to freedom and democracy that we face today? What is the world we aspire to? How do we aim to achieve it?