Annual Newsletter of the Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University
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English News  No.4 , December 1996
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Exchange Programs with Overseas Institutions
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Essays by Foreign Fellows
News from the Library


The annual Winter Symposium was held at SRC on January 25-28, 1996. Foreign guests were Frank Umbach (Japan Institute of International Affairs), Michael Korzec (Leiden University), Evgenii Gavrilenkov (Hitotsubashi University) and the Foreign Visiting Fellows of SRC: Vojtech Mastny (USA), Jadviga Staniszkis (Poland), Li Jingjie (China) and Vladimir Popov (Russia). The proceedings of the symposium, Socio-Political Dimensions of the Changes in the Slavic-Eurasian World, published in March, 1996, include seven English language contributions.

The 1996 International Symposium, "The Emerging New Regional Order in Central and Eastern Europe," was held at SRC on July 24-27, 1996. Overall, a hundred scholars participated. Foreign guests were Ivan T. Berend (University of California Los Angeles), Laszlo Csaba (Kopint-Datorg Institute), Andrzej Rudka (Institute for East West Studies), Pertti Joenniemi (Center for Peace and Conflict Research), Ivo Samson (Slovak Institute for International Studies), Jiri Sedivy (Charles University), Vitalii Zhurkin (Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences) and Witold Morawski ( Foreign Visiting Fellow of SRC). In addition, papers were presented by Japanese scholars: Taku Shinohara (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies), Akira Uegaki (Seinan Gakuin University), Yoshikazu Hirose (Yamanashi Gakuin University), Susumu Nagayo (Waseda University), Tsuneaki Sato (Professor Emeritus, Yokohama City University), and Yoko Iwama (Kyoto University). The proceedings of this symposium will be published in a volume edited by Tadayuki Hayashi and Osamu Ieda.

The annual Winter Symposium will be held at SRC on January 30 - February 1, 1997. The 1997 International Symposium is being organized for July 17-19, 1997, in Sapporo focusing on national and ethnic problems in the Slav-Eurasian world .

Impressions of the SRC Symposium

by Ivan T. Berend (Professor of History; Director of the Center for European and Russian Studies at the University of California Los Angeles)

The Slavic Research Center at Hokkaido University (SRC) had chosen an excellent topic for its annual international meeting. The complexity of the approach was expressed by the broad range of historical, economic, social, cultural, and political problems discussed in eight sessions in the framework of the emerging new regional order in the Central and Eastern European area. What is the "regional order" emerging in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s? Is there a "Central Europe" at all? What are the main characteristics of post-communist transformation? Is a Western free market economy in the making, or, would a different model be more adequate for the relatively backward countries of the region? What is the social cost of transformation? Will this process lead toward integration into the European Union? What is the role of NATO in the process? Is it an antechamber of the EU? How does Russia react to the possible inclusion of the Central European countries in NATO? Would a regional integration help, or, function only as a substitute of the creation of a united Europe? Do the "Visegrad countries" really want a regional integration?

These and several other essential questions were in the focus of the debate.

SRC selected the speakers of the conference with great expertise and care. Beside the Japanese East Europeanists, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia, were equally well-represented by very good scholars an excellent combination of the older and younger generations. Besides the quality of the participants, I was deeply impressed by the atmosphere of the meeting. Representatives of the Central and Eastern European countries sat together, openly discussed, agreed and disagreed, but always understood each others. Signs of nationalistic approaches were not present at this meeting. As one of the participants jokingly noted: Central and East Europeans have to come to Hokkaido to sit so peacefully together with such understanding.

SRC, as a real national center, also attracted the best experts of Japan. Beside the leading Japanese participants arriving from the entire country, at least sixty participant were present at each session during two and half days. It made a great impression that Japan has such an outstanding central institution, a national Center for "Slavic" (meaning Central and East European) studies that can, indeed, mobilize experts from the entire country to discuss together the most important scholarly and political questions regarding the area.

The organization of the entire conference was excellent and guaranteed good presentations, and vivid debates on real and central questions. During the last six-seven years I have participated at dozens of scholarly conferences on East European transformation in the United States, Western Europe and Central Europe and consequently have a solid basis for an international comparison. On that very basis I should like to state that the Sapporo conference was one of the best I have ever participated in on the post-communist transformation in Central and Eastern Europe. The high scholarly level and the well-chosen focal questions resulted in important conclusions, requiring the reflection of those dealing with or working in the region. Considerations developed by the conference on economic, security, and social policy issues are valuable not only for academics but also for policy makers and politicians.

At last I should like to express my admiration and congratulations to Professors Hayashi, Ieda and the entire faculty and staff of SRC for initiating, organizing, and realizing such a successful conference of the highest international standard.

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