The globalised nature of the world today, where people, goods, information, beliefs and ideas can traverse great distances with little effort, has influenced greatly relationships between the world powers, which are now much more interconnected than ever before.
Globalization opened many “channels” between countries not available to them in the past. This new interaction is sometimes in the form of spontaneous influence linked to a state’s soft power but other times has a more purposeful character. Foreign investments in businesses, education, infrastructure, financing and promotion of affiliated cultural institutions, as well as cultivation of relations with like-minded politicians, are just some components encompassed in a wide toolkit of instruments that world powers can employ in order to influence other countries.
Currently, the EU and its member states are the subject of the latter type of influence. Numerous studies have described influence-related activities of foreign actors in the European space, coming mainly from China and Russia -- two world powers with authoritarian governments and different ideological values than the countries in Europe. How and why are they doing it? Can this influence have a harmful impact on the states of the European Union? How, if at all, should they react to it?
In order to answer these questions, we have conducted interviews with two Czech Members of the European Parliament, Markéta Gregorová and Alexandr Vondra. Although both members of the same institutions, there are only a few things that they have in common. Mrs. Gregorová is a 28-year-old member of the Greens/European Free Alliance, while Mr. Vondra is a 59-year-old member of the European Conservatives and Reformists. Hence, they not only find themselves on the different sides of the ideological spectrum, but also in a different generation. What they have in common, however, is their stern attitude towards authoritarian regimes, which is why we wanted them to share with us their opinions and unique perspective on the issue.
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