Eastern Europe is part of an increasingly globalized world, and events there are of great significance for the rest of Europe, including Switzerland. Not everywhere did the transformation from communism and planned economies to democracy and the free market go as smoothly as many had hoped in the euphoria following the end of the Cold War.
Russia, the Caucasus region and Central Asia in particular have seen strong tendencies towards authoritarianism, nationalism and militarism in recent years. Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014 and its clandestine warfare in eastern Ukraine are drastic examples of how such developments can affect peace and stability in Europe.
Not least due to these recent events, there has been a sharp rise in demand – including in Switzerland – from the media, politicians, businesses and the general public for expertise on Eastern European affairs. With the establishment of the Center for Eastern European Studies (CEES), the University of Zurich seeks to address this demand and to strengthen its research and teaching on the region. The aim is also to expand existing expertise on Eastern Europe at UZH, ensuring that specialist knowledge on current events in the region becomes accessible and institutionally embedded over the longer term.