“Middle Eastern, Balkan and Japanese perspectives
on the global and regional impacts of the Ukraine War”
Date: Wednesday, September 7, 2022 (09:30 AM to 2:00 PM, Time in Lebanon)
Venue: Japan Center for Middle Eastern Studies (JaCMES), A2-1 Azariyeh Bldg.,
Beirut Central District.
*This conference will be held online.
*Please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name, e-mail address, affiliation and position if you want to make an application or have inquiries.
Time in Lebanon (Universal Time Coordinated +2, Japan Standard Time −6)
09:30−09:40 Hidemitsu Kuroki (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Head of JaCMES)
“Welcome remarks and preamble”
09:40−10:00 Karim Makdisi (American University of Beirut)
“The crisis of the international order in light of the Ukraine War”
10:00−10:20 Kimitaka Matsuzato (The University of Tokyo)
“Secession conflicts and how to solve them: Towards comparison between the
former communist countries and the Middle East”
10:20−10:40 Tasos Kostopoulos (The Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Crete)
“Ukraine, Macedonia, Palestine: Collective identity transformations on the way to the nation-state”
10:40−10:50 Q & A
11:00−11:20 Mustafa Türkeş (Middle East Technical University, Ankara)
“The war that must never have been fought: The multiple failures in Ukraine”
11:20−11:40 Dima de Clerck (American University of Beirut)
“The Ukrainian War from a general Lebanese perspective, in a context of severe
socioeconomic crisis, and security and political instability and uncertainty”
11:40−11:50 Q & A
12:00−12:20 Tetsuya Sahara (Meiji University, Tokyo)
“Honor and Manhood in Contemporary Paramilitarism in the Balkans and Caucasus”
12:20−12:40 Predrag Marković (Institute of Contemporary History, Belgrade)
“New privateers: Paramilitary forces as ‘war entrepreneurs’ in Yugoslav Wars,
12:40−13:00 Ken’ichiro Takao (Middle East Institute of Japan, Tokyo)
“The present and prospect of the global jihadists”
13:00−13:10 Q & A
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February that has led to the current protracted war has revealed its proxy nature (US–Ukraine vs. Russia) and shone a light on the ongoing international political entanglements centering on Russia and Ukraine. Because of the multilayered background of this war, we may be able to trace the origin of the conflict back to various events: the Euromaidan Revolution in 2014, the Georgian War in 2008, the Iraq War in 2003, NATO’s expansion to Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic, Putin’s rise to power in 1999, the collapse of the USSR in 1991, or even further back to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the Crimean War in 1853–56, Russian annexation of Crimea in 1783, and even the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
The opening of J.A.R. Marriott’s The Eastern Question, which was published in 1917, suggests that any answers to this question are possible.
“From the time immemorial Europe has been confronted with an ‘Eastern Question’. In its essence the problem is unchanging. It has arisen from the lands of South-Eastern Europe between the habits, ideas, and preconceptions of the West and those of the East. But although one in essence, the problem has assumed different aspects at different periods.”
It is no coincidence that the direct cause for the current conflict is NATO’s eastward expansion plan to include Ukraine, a move that Russia regards as an “existential threat.” Indeed, it could be said that the 2022 Ukraine War is an extension of the “Eastern Question,” a term that was first employed during the Greek War of Independence during the 1820s when they were seeking to extract themselves from the Ottoman Empire.
More than two centuries later and influenced by the nuclear power states of the US, Russia, and other countries, this question raises concerns about the possible global reach of this eastward expansion, which may even be extended further to the Far East.
In addition to the loss of life and the destruction of Ukraine’s infrastructure (and partly Russia’s), the war has had significant global impacts in many areas, such as energy, food supplies, global supply chains, internet, inflation, and refugees.
Therefore, the war must be halted immediately through the total cooperation of the global society. However, there are significant barriers to this aim.
Because Russia’s military action had not been expected by many people, including experts, the news of the invasion caused panic in the international media. However, it was surprising that an easy “Russia vs. Ukraine” dichotomy prevailed in the Western press, which immediately and firmly implanted “the usual Little Red Riding Hood pattern” (words of Pope Francis in an interview in May) into Western thinking. Simple discourses, such as “changing borders by force could never be permitted in the modern international society,” started to be asserted in the Western (and Japanese) mainstream media, which has resulted in cynical reactions in the global south, especially in the Middle East, where Palestinians have been suffering from the West’s double standards for decades.
This cognitive divide is not being seriously considered in the plans to expand the NATO member countries. However, it is a serious concern to the global south, as evidenced by the very few states that have chosen to introduce sanctions against Russia.
The Balkans and the Middle East, which have been involved in major “Eastern Question” stages over the last two centuries, are being strongly affected by the current crisis because of their proximity to the warzone. Sharing common historical experiences associated with Ottoman rule, civil wars, and conflicts involving the Western states and Russia, the Eastern Mediterranean is the best place to observe, analyze, and understand the current state of affairs of this ongoing disaster and the possible future repercussions.
Modern history and political science researchers from Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and Serbia will discuss the above issues with researchers from Japan in the Far East, an area that may be the next focus in the near future.
Research Projects (Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research)
“Comparative Studies of Civil Wars in Lebanon, Yugoslavia, and Syria” supported by
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
“Connectivity and Trust Building in Islamic Civilization” supported by
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan
Contact : email@example.com (Islamic Trust Studies Project Office / イスラーム信頼学事務局)