Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Panel 313: Youth Opinion and Opportunities for EU Public Diplomacy: Youth Narratives and Perceptions of the EU in Ukraine and the three Baltic States
Monday, 02/Sep/2019:
3:00pm - 4:30pm

Session Chair: Patrick Mueller, University of Vienna and Vienna School of International Studies
Location: Audience Room


Youth Opinion and Opportunities for EU Public Diplomacy: Youth Narratives and Perceptions of the EU in Ukraine and the three Baltic States

Chair(s): Patrick Müller (University of Vienna, Austria)

This panel seeks to discuss and reflect on EU foreign policy with a focus on EU relations and processes with Ukraine – a neighbouring society traumatised by conflict. Contributions to the panel explore a range of narratives and perceptions of the EU, Ukraine’s European orientation and EU-Ukraine relations - focusing on the three EU cases of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Baltic states occupy a special place in Ukraine’s images of European integration and Ukraine’s European path.

Contributions to the panel focus on a comprehensive analysis of youth opinion (tertiary and secondary level students) in Ukraine and the EU (three Baltic states). The focus on youth perceptions and narratives of projection and reception in the study of EU-Ukraine relations provides a sense of how educated young individuals – future leaders and voters – situate current events and actors within history and, and therefore a more powerful explanation of youth expectations and aspirations for the future course of events. Show-casing theoretical, methodological and empirical innovations, the panel compares “outside-in” vs. “inside-out” views, adding to the understanding of EU foreign policy in the context of the ongoing violent conflict which threatens the EU’s eastern edges.

The panel presented results of the Jean Monnet Project E-YOUTH (Erasmus+ action, 2018-2020).


Presentations of the Symposium


Negotiating Global Uncertainty, Identity and Europeanisation: An Examination of Youth Narrative Processes between Ukraine and the Three Baltic States

Iana Sabatovych1, Pauline Heinrichs2
1University of Canterbury, NZ, 2Royal Holloway University of London, UK

A changing, uncertain international order constitutes an ‘important theme’ (Miskimmon, 2011) for how actors make sense of their strategic relationships with other partners and the future of these relationships. Times that are narrated as a crisis of the liberal democratic order (see Ikenberry, 2018) create implications for how international actors make sense of themselves and others. We argue that little attention has been paid to how the global narration of uncertainty influences narratives and visions of the future among the general public. Here, we focus on young people in epicentres of geopolitical uncertainty such as Ukraine, because young people attest to various visions of the future of the international order. This paper explains how local narratives help young people to make sense of globally narrated uncertainty in reference to their identity. Since identity shapes the sense of a common world, it may provision meaning to global uncertainty and thus affects the construction of strategic relationships between Ukraine and other international actors. This paper analyses the narrative processes between Ukraine and three such international actors (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia). Building its strategic relationship with the EU, Ukraine counterbalances the geopolitical uncertainty posed by Russia (and the narrative of Slavic brotherhood) and pressure for Europeanisation (and the narrative of the return to Europe). The three Baltic states are considered as leading the example of Europeanisation. This paper accordingly incorporates global context and historical considerations in the analysis of strategic communication across national, European, and global levels of negotiations of uncertainty and future.


Friends, Supporters and Allies? Narratives and Framing of the Three Baltic States in Ukrainian e-News Portals

Natalia Chaban, Viktor Velivchenko
University of Canterbury, NZ

Applying a novel IR’s theory of strategic narrative (Miskimmon et al. 2013) to EU foreign policy studies, this paper traces narratives on systemic, identity and issue levels, situating them within the projection and reception phases of the narrative cycle argued by the theory. The paper explores media and audience narratives in Ukraine on the three Baltic states - Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - in the context of EU-Ukraine relations. Innovatively synergizing IR’s strategic narratives theory with communication studies’ cascading activation framing theory (Entman 2004), our paper asks if the three Baltic states are framed by Ukrainian online news media and perceived by the audience (youth) as role-models in post-Soviet transformation; advocates and supporters of Ukraine’s European orientation; and/or Ukraine’s allies within the EU in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Ultimately, the paper explores the narrative of an ‘ally/friend’ (typically overlooked in favour of the ‘enemy/adversary’ narrative) and aims to contribute to the theoretical and methodological discussions on role of positive emotions in the information flow and perception formation on foreign policy and international relations Conclusions contribute to the discussion on EU public diplomacy and media literacy as a pivotal issue in the region, specifically in the context of Russian ‘infowar’.


Understanding the Formation and Reception of Foreign Policy Narratives of the EU and Russia in the Baltic States and Ukraine

Alister Miskimmon1, Ben O'Loughlin2
1Queen's University Belfast, UK, 2Royal Holloway University of London, UK

This paper develops the growing field of EU narrative research (e.g. Manners and Murray 2016) through a comparative study of differences in narrative projections in the EU's Eastern neighbourhood that allows for an explanation of the likely effects of EU public diplomacy. We examine the reporting of the European Union and Russia in news media in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine. Taking a narrative approach, we focus on how the EU and Russia are presented and what future relationships are envisaged. The paper will also present findings of audience research carried out in the four countries to understand how citizens respond to media narratives. The third aspect of the paper will reflect on EU public diplomacy efforts in the neighbourhood and consider how the EU might craft a strategic narrative to align with how citizens imagine their futures.