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163nd Bergedorf Round Table

“A ‘Westphalia’ for the Middle East?”

Berlin, 11-12 November 2016

The Middle East continues to be shaken by violent conflicts, sectarianism, and conflicting great-power interests. Epitomized by the Syrian civil war, this confluence of destabilizing factors is felt far beyond the region and has renewed the need for creative formulas of power sharing and sectarian accommodation.

The 163rd Bergedorf Round Table will be held in cooperation with the Forum on Geopolitics (University of Cambridge) and will be opened by Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier. It will bring together around 30 high-ranking politicians, senior members of administration as well as experts and historians from the Middle East, Europe, and the United States to reflect about the crises of the contemporary Middle East, especially the Syria conflict, in an innovative way.

The participants will investigate the conflict-resolution models of the Treaties of Westphalia, and discuss what principles and mechanisms embodied in the Peace of Westphalia might be relevant for solving today’s conflicts in the Middle East. The aim is not to develop wholesale solutions as blueprints for the present situation, but rather to take history as a source of inspiration for solving the current geopolitical and sectarian challenges. What lessons can be learnt from the historical experience of the Thirty Years War? What are main obstacles to achieving peace and stability in the Middle East, and how should they be dealt with? What could the regional and international dimension of a peace settlement for the Middle East look like?

Read the Conference Report of the 163rd Bergedorf Round Table (PDF)
Conference Report in German (PDF)

List of Participants

Related Readings:

“A Westphalian Peace for the Middle East - Why an Old Framework Could WorkWhy an Old Framework Could Work” – Michael Axworthy and Patrick Milton in Foreign Affairs (October 2016)

Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier to the opening of the 51st Biennial Meeting of German Historians (September 2016)

The Peace of Westphalia as a model for reflection on the Middle East. Talk by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Osnabrück Peace Forum (July 2016)

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