Russia and the rise of “Anti-Westernism”
Gustav Gressel, Senior Policy Fellow on the Wider Europe programme at ECFR
Fredrik Weslau, Director of the Wider Europe Programme and senior policy fellow at ECFR
On 23rd March, the Warsaw office of ECFR organized a high-level seminar to discuss preliminary results of a research project titled The rise of Anti-Westernism and how the end of the liberal consensus is exploited by Russia headed by Gustav Gressel, Senior Policy Fellow on the Wider Europe Programme at ECFR Berlin Office. The meeting was moderated by Fredrik Wesslau, Director of the Wider Europe Programme and senior policy fellow at ECFR, and gathered NGO representatives, experts, researchers, as well as diplomats stationed in Warsaw.
The aim of the presented research was to examine the influence of Russia and its propaganda on mainstream political parties across the Europe. Gustav Gressel discussed briefly the reasons for the rise of disillusionment of the Western order and the role of Russia in filling in the ideological vacuum of parties with “Anti-Western” tendencies. While Russia has not caused this crisis, it has keenly exploited it to spread its influence, in some cases penetrating the mainstream of the political system.
The preliminary results of the research indicate which political systems are most vulnerable to Russian messaging, with Hungary and Austria in leading positions. Mr Gressel stressed the peculiar position of Finland and Poland on this ranking: these two states form a “Baltic paradox” where political parties show anti-Western tendencies, but do not look to Russia for alternatives for European order. Surprisingly, Poland is much more similar in its tendencies to Baltic and Scandinavian states than to any of the Visegrad countries.
The presentation was followed by the discussion where invited experts could express their comments about the report and share their own thoughts about the influence that Russia has or could have on national politics in Europe.
The report of the research will be published by ECFR by the end of April 2017