Dear friends and members of the oiip,
The year 2022 has been challenging for most of us. The war in Ukraine has been a dramatic development in our immediate neighbourhood; Russia’s attack has displaced millions of Ukrainians and has caused lasting damage and destruction to the country’s infrastructure and economy. The war has also led to a food crisis in Africa, an energy crisis, and high inflation around the globe.
While prominent figures, such as the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, have defined the war in Ukraine as a “Zeitenwende”, a turning point, it seems that the war is less the cause, but rather the result, of ongoing shifts in the international system. These shifts are characterized by the weakening of multilateralism and its institutions, such as international organizations and international law, and a trend towards transactional, bilateral relations. The last decade has seen the return of power politics, geopolitics, re-militarization and the formation of interest-based, short-term coalitions and alliances, mostly at the cost of diplomatic and multilateral solutions.
As almost a matter of course, the outbreak of a conventional war in Europe has introduced new security architecture: in a historic decision, Finland and Sweden gave up neutrality and applied for NATO membership. This move has also triggered debates on how to re-interpret or reshape Austrian neutrality. We at the oiip have been eager to advance and facilitate debates on security and foreign policy. Under the aegis of our President, Wolfgang Petritsch, we initiated the so-called Foreign and Security Dialogue, which aims at bringing experts, officials, and members of parliament together to discuss relevant topics.
Throughout the course of the year, our researchers have addressed the war and its implications on different regions, such as the Western Balkans, Turkey, East Asia, and the Indo-pacific. Among the many events that we held, we are particularly proud of our event “Third powers and Authoritarian Challenges in the Western Balkans”, which was organized by the oiip in cooperation with SAIS Johns Hopkins, the U.S. Embassy in Austria, and the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation; it took place in June 2022 in Washington, D.C.
This past year was also a particularly productive period for work. We could both deepen our valuable long-term co-operations with the Ministry of Defence and the University for Continuing Education Krems and acquire grants and implement research projects, through the hard work of our experts. We are particularly proud that, in November 2022, Daniela Pisoiu’s PARTES project was approved for EU funding. The project, which focuses on the prevention of violent extremism, started in March 2023 and runs until 2025.
On a personal note, we mourned the loss of our dear colleague John Bunzl in 2022. John was one of the first members to join the institute and he built up our Middle East expertise and was a constant and persistent activist for peace and justice. We, and particularly I, do miss Johnny and his friendship terribly.
In April 2022, I took over the role of executive director from Saskia Stachowitsch and Christian Arthaber, who both joined the staff of the Central European University (CEU). Unfortunately, Christian Haddad and Erik Hacker also left our team to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Since these departures, we have been eager to grow, build, and expand our in-house expertise, and increase our outreach and impact. Sophie Reichelt, Johannes Späth, Thomas Eder, Loic Simonet and Anna Hirschhuber all joined our team in 2022. Sophie is coordinating the Anna Lindh Network and works on migration and transnationalism; Johannes is supporting our team in the area of MENA-studies and transatlantic studies; Anna supports the EuTEX project; Thomas is a renowned expert on China and Chinese foreign policy, he previously worked for the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in Berlin; and Loic is an expert in security and military studies and previously worked for the OSCE.
In 2022, the oiip also continued to serve as a platform for international researchers. We hosted an ever-growing number of international fellows from Sweden, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Egypt, Italy, Turkey, Moldova, the United States, Spain, and Slovenia. We are incredibly grateful for their valuable contributions to the institute and its work. We are also grateful for the contributions of the large number of interns who assist our senior researchers; they have been an indispensable support for our work. Visiting fellowships, internships, and, not least, our affiliated researchers enlarge and enriched our outputs, our outreach, and our efforts to build an international network.
We started 2023 with a series of trend reports. In these reports, our experts defined the most important trends and commented on potential developments in their research areas. Our trend reports aim to highlight continuities or potential ruptures and their consequences for research and policy.
In 2023 we have broadened our research areas and now include geopolitics and the future of multilateralism in our program. We are once again planning a plethora of interesting panel discussions, expert workshops, policy analyses and policy briefs, as well as the continuation of our production of academic articles and project applications throughout the year. Please stay tuned! To keep up to date, follow us and our events on social media, and read our newsletters and the announcements on our website. I also kindly invite you to become a member of the oiip, or if you are already a member, to promote our membership to others. An oiip membership supports our work, our mission and our values, and it helps build a strong societal base and contributes to Vienna-based research on international politics. Membership also provides access to our “members only” events. We are looking forward to seeing you at our events and also to welcoming you as a member. Thank you for your continuing interest in our work.