Aston University: Aston Centre for Europe brings together UK and Central European experts in Bratislava

The Aston Centre for Europe held a two-day workshop in the Slovak capital, Bratislava, on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 March, bringing together a range of experts from the UK and Central Europe to discuss pressing questions of common concern, including security policy, energy and climate policy, and the future of relations between the UK and the region.

Part of the event was a public discussion addressed by the UK’s ambassador to Slovakia, Nigel Baker, leading Slovak MEP Vladimir Bilcik, Czech expert Monika Brusenbauch Meislova, and deputy director of the think tank UK in a Changing Europe, Professor Catherine Barnard.

The workshop was organised by the Aston Centre for Europe, in conjunction with the Comenius University in Bratislava (which hosted the event), and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), which along with Aston University provided the funding.

Vladimir Bilcik MEP said:

“This was such an important time to bring together experts from the UK and Central Europe, in the light of the Kremlin’s appalling aggression against Ukraine.

“Dialogue between academics, politicians, think tankers and diplomats is always of value, but especially at the current moment, and I am grateful to the Aston Centre for Europe at Aston University, as well as the FCDO, for taking the initiative.

“I hope we can continue these conversations in the future.”

Saskia Loer Hansen, Interim Vice Chancellor of Aston University, who was present to launch the event, said:

“Aston University prides itself on its relevant research, and it was encouraging to see a partnership between Aston University, the Comenius University in Bratislava, and the FCDO hosting such an important conference.

“It gave great insights into perspectives from Central Europe on the many common problems faced by the UK and other European countries, and the findings are sure to be of value to the UK government as well as others in attendance.

“I hope we can build on this co-operation in the future.”

Ed Turner, co-director of the Aston Centre for Europe, added:

“This is the fourth event we have held jointly with the Comenius University, and it was great to bring together people with a diverse range of perspectives.

“It strikes me that with the current crisis in Ukraine, the UK and Central European countries need to work more closely together than ever, and I hope our event gave participants, including the FCDO, some valuable ideas in how to take that co-operation forward.”

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