The following remarks are based on a trip to Israel and Palestine from 15th to the 22nd of February 2019. A small civil society delegation from Austria consisting of the president, Hannes Swoboda, and director, Stephanie Fenkart, of the International Institute for Peace (IIP) in Vienna, the director of the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution in Schlaining, Austria, Gudrun Kramer and Wilfried Graf, director of the Kehlman Institute for International Conflict Resolution, met various experts, politicians and civil society representatives in Israel and Palestine. This was organized in order to get a picture of current new developments around the million dollar question: How to re-initiate a peace process?
In the framework of a project about the youth in Western Balkans jointly organized by the International Institute for Peace, the Renner Institut and the Austrian Institut for International Politics we had a 3 days trip to Pristhina, Skopje and Belgrade. Some of our young participants from the Western Balkans traveled with us and underlined the connections that exist between young people in different countries of the region.
On February 4-5, 2019 the International Institute for Peace (IIP) co-organized together with the International Centre for Advanced and Comparative EU-Russia Research Vienna (ICEUR), Raiffeisen Bank International and the city of Vienna, the “Vienna process conference 2019”. This was a moment to celebrate the ten years activity of ICEUR and to work on ideas on how to strengthen the EU-Russia political and economic dialogue. The speakers highlighted the necessity of a frank dialogue about goals and principles on which a restored relationship should be established. The second day of the conference featured three panel discussions on economy and finance, civil society and the role of investigative media.
Two briefs but nevertheless impressive visits to Addis Abeba and Nairobi are reasons for this new reflection on Africa. In Ethiopia, I met with Stephanie Fenkart, director of the International Institute for Peace (IIP), where she participated in a conference on Art and Peace. Together we flew to Nairobi to take part in a "Learning Journey to Silicon Savannah". During our visit, we saw poverty and deprivation but also much optimism and energy. Both capitals are thriving cities with many new skyscrapers - often not - yet - finished. In both cities, we found the effects of urbanization: higher education and fewer children per family. While Addis is much poorer and dusty, Nairobi showed clear economic progress and wealth in many green quarters around the city. For both capitals and their countries, hope can be seen at the horizon.