Thank you to our wonderful panellists, our partner VoxEurop, and everyone at ‘Lector in fabula’ for a great festival and insightful talks.

The recording of the Debates on Europe panel at ‘Lector in fabula’ festival is now available to view online. The panel discussion took place on 25th September 2021 in Conversano, Italy.  

Photo credits: Mimmo Donghia

Tomorrow, Catherine André, Carl Henrik Fredriksson, Marina Lalovic & Iryna Vidanava discuss #COVID19 & its impact at the ‘Lector in fabula’ festival in Italy. The panel ‘Diagnosis Europe. A viral story about heroes, conspiracies & the Swedish variant’ is moderated by Gian-Paolo Accardo.

For almost two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of Europeans’  lives – education, work, politics, healthcare… But countries have reacted differently to its impact, depending on political culture, the trust in science and government, and even geopolitical affinities. The first reaction was “every nation for itself”. 

If the EU ended up managing the vaccination challenge better than expected – after a slow start – most of the distribution has been done at local level, with domestic politicians and experts occupying the media space. As a result, the more polarized societies are, the more vaccination sceptics they have, these often being played by radical and populist politicians.

In a truly international event, journalists and commentators from all over Europe discuss the diverse encounters with the COVID-19 pandemic: from the start of the Belarusian revolution in the failed Corona measures, to the special Swedish way and the anti-vaxxers in France and Eastern Europe.

Gian-Paolo Accardo Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Voxeurop (Italy, Netherlands)

Carl Henrik Fredriksson Program Director of Debates on Europe & co-founder of Eurozine (Sweden, Austria)
Catherine André Co-founder and executive editor of Voxeurop (France)
Iryna Vidanava* Co-founder and CEO of (Belarus)
Marina Lalovic Journalist at Rai News 24 (Italy, Serbia)
*will join online

In cooperation with Voxeurop

Thank you to our wonderful panellists for last night’s great discussion on literature & freedom as well as all delegates who participated in yesterday’s seminar! Thank you also to University of Gothenburg , PEN Sweden, Gothenburg City Theatre & Författarförbundet for making the event in Gothenburg possible.

Vad gör litteraturen med sin frihet?What use does literature make of its freedom?

In Eastern Europe, writers have for a long time played the role off truth-tellers and literature has been a corrective to repressive regimes’ twisted versions of both past and present. “Live not by lies” is the title of one of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s most famous essays. “Living in truth” was the dictum of Václav Havel, who thereby formulated not only a political programme, but also a literary project. This tradition is still very much alive and writers often engage in memory work neglected by media and universities. In this kind of literature, history and stories are part of an ongoing struggle rather than of closed archives. But what is then the relation of literature to memory and politics? What concept of truth applies to poetry? At an event in Gothenburg Swedish and international writers will read from their work and talk about what use literature actually makes of its often-apostrophized freedom.

Participants: Sergei Lebedev (writer, Russia), Ida Börjel (writer, Sweden), Ola Larsmo (writer, Sweden), Sanne Kofod Olsen (dean of the faculty of fine and applied arts at the Gothenburg University), and Carl Henrik Fredriksson (programme director, Debates on Europe).

Time and place: 1 September, 7pm; Sjöströmsalen, Artisten, Fågelsången 1, Göteborg

The discussion is organised by Debates on Europe and Gothenburg University, in cooperation with Swedish PEN, Swedish Writers Union and Gothenburg City Theatre.

Registration is mandatory:

In connection to the event in Gothenburg, there is a one-day seminar at Jonsered Manor: “Freedom of Expression & Politics of Memory – The Battle for History and the Fight for the Present”. More information:

Event details:

“I felt there was a need in Hungarian children’s literature to talk about difference since there has been so much radical propaganda against difference of any kind under the Orbán regime,” said Hungarian writer Zsófia Bán in our recent Budapest & Beyond series that took place in May. Talking to A. L. Kennedy and Rosie Goldsmith, she described how her children’s book, Vagánybagoly és a harmadik Á, avagy Mindenki lehet más, which among other strong characters features a girl with two moms, was publicly torn up by a far-right MP in the lobby of the office building of the parliament in Budapest.

The recent developments in Hungary, with new bans in place, have not made this or the other talks in this series lose any of their urgency and topicality. On the contrary.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s leading intellectual magazine, Élet és Irodalom, has published a special supplement featuring all the Budapest & Beyond talks. In addition, the Hungarian translations were also made available online. Moreover, both Voxeurop and Eurozine have started to publish English transcripts of the talks. We feel much pride that these conversations have reached and will reach an even bigger audience this way.

Our marvelous panel “Between Critique and Cohesion. Art and Culture in Divided Societies” with Jan Carson, László Földényi, and Iryna Vidanava can now be viewed online. We extend our gratitude to the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden who put together a wonderful inclusive & international ‘Geteilte Heimaten’ congress.

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all Debates on Europe: Budapest & Beyond. Defending Intellectual Freedom participants. It’s been a wonderful and joyous experience, despite the tough subjects and geographical distances.

All talks can be viewed online.

Over the course of the next four days we will explore and discuss the crisis of democracy in Hungary but also in Poland and elsewhere in Europe.

Join us this evening for the opening talk of the series: Réka Kinga Papp and Gian-Paolo Accardo will press Timothy Garton Ash on the EU’s deepest weaknesses, political optimism, and whether crises are necessary for democratic renewal.

Tonight at 7PM (CET)

All events take place exclusively online and are available on our Budapest & Beyond page & YouTube channel.

We are looking forward to our event ‘Between Critique and Cohesion. Art and Culture in Divided Societies’ as part of the ‘Geteilte Heimaten’ congress, organised by the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden. The congress, planned for last year, will now take place online from 10-12 May 2021. Our panel includes author Jan Carson (Northern Ireland), writer and academic László Földényi (Hungary) and journalist Iryna Vidanava (Belarus) and will take place on 11 May 2021 at 7pm CET time. The panel will be moderated by Carl Henrik Fredriksson.

Registration for the congress is open until 30 April.

You can view all registration details and the full programme here.

The first event in the Debates on Europe series took place in Budapest in 2012. Meanwhile, almost a decade on, Hungarian “illiberal democracy” has developed into one of the biggest challenges facing the European integration project.

So, it is high time to revisit the issue of Hungarys role in Europe. We are happy to present our programme for Debates on Europe: Budapest & Beyond. Defending Intellectual Freedom. In five events from 4 to 7 May, Zsófia Bán, Győző Ferencz, Anna Gács, Timothy Garton Ash, Rüdiger Görner, Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger and other wonderful participants will discuss the importance of academic and artistic freedom and what it actually is.

You can view the full programme here. The events will take place exclusively online and will be available on our website and our YouTube channel. For general updates, please follow our Twitter account. No registration is necessary.