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Continuing our special series connected with the Cambridge Central European Conference: Prague Spring and its legacies on Saturday 28 April 2018, Czech politician Jan Kavan, a student leader in the 1960s and founder of the Palach Press Agency, looks back at the impact of the student movement on the events of 1968 and vice versa.

I was one of the Czech student leaders in the period 1963–1969 and therefore involved in the movement that brought about the Prague Spring of 1968. By the end of that year, I was one of the Czech student leaders who formed an alliance with individual industrial trade unions as part of the resistance against the Soviet occupation and especially against the concession-making government.


Emmanuel Comte's The History of the European Migration Regime (Routledge, 2018) looks at how the international migration regime in Europe after the Second World War took a course different from the global migration regime and the migration regimes in other regions of the world. On the basis of relevant national and international archives, it explains how German geopolitical and geo-economic strategies during the Cold War shaped the openness of that original regime. It highlights how the regime was instrumental for Germany to create a stable international order in Western Europe after the war, conducive to German reunification, the rollback of Russian influence from Central Europe, and German economic expansion. The book embraces a large time frame, mostly between 1947 and 1992, and deals with all types of migration between and towards European countries: the movements of unskilled labourers, skilled professionals, and self-employed workers, along with the migrants’ family members, examining both their access to economic activity and their social and political rights.

This Q&A with the author accompanies the launch of the book on 10 May 2018, hosted by the Cambridge Forum on Geopolitics.


When Libya’s former president, Muammar al-Qaddafi, asked ‘Who are you?’ (min antoum?), addressing the Libyan protesters in 2011, his question was met with a mixture of anger and sarcasm. Yet as one observes the Arab region today one can’t but repeat the same question, addressed this time primarily to the leaders of different Arab states, but equally to the diverse social groups and factions living, interacting and frequently fighting across the region.

For politicians and scholars alike, the region is becoming increasingly complicated. Zooming in on questions of identity and alliances, the image becomes even more blurry and complex. For instance: Who is fighting in Syria today? Or rather, who is not fighting in Syria today and why? Who is ruling Libya at present, if anyone? Who is supporting them and why? What do terms like ‘enemies’ and ‘friends’ mean for different Arab states? Looking at some Gulf countries, for example, and how they fight each other or support opposing forces in ongoing wars in some Arab countries, while being part of the same coalition in others, confounds the notion of alliances.

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