Cross-border Talks is being realised by the Polish journalist Malgorzata Kulbaczewska-Figat, the Czech-Finnish journalist Veronika Sušová-Salminen and their Bulgarian counterpart Vladimir Mitev. They reflect on international relations through in-depth research and analysis with or without the help of interlocutors.
Cross-border Talks aims to connect Central and South-eastern Europe with the world beyond. It is a non-partizan, independently minded initiative promoting change, regional cooperation, and critical thinking. Our intention is to look at both Western hegemonic and anti-Western totalising narratives from the outside and offer an interpretation of events that puts people, their needs, and aspirations, in the centre of attention.
The podcast is a co-operation by Polish Quarterly Journal Nasze Argumenty published by Fundacja Naprzód and the Czech-Slovak Website !argument. It has also its own presence on Facebook, YouTube, Rumble, SoundCloud and other social media. The podcast is having a partner and support in the face of the Austria-based foundation transform! europe, which forms a network of progressive European organizations and voices.
The podcast started in the summer of 2021 with two co-hosts – Malgorzata and Vladimir. They have been practicing foreign reporting for several years, feeling its blessings and curses literally on their skin. Malgorzata is fluent in Ukrainian, French, Russian, Serbian, and English, has a certain knowledge of German and Italian. She studied Eastern-European Studies at the University of Warsaw and has covered Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova through ground trips. Co-operating with Dziennik Trybuna, a social democratic newspaper, she has written on Polish social movements, covering an ongoing reactivation of militant trade unions in Poland and the women movement.
Vladimir speaks English, Romanian, Persian and has some understanding of Russian and German. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Iranian literature at the University of Sofia. He is one of the engines of the Bulgarian-Romanian cross-border site The Barricade. He also develops two cross-border blogs – a Bulgarian-Romanian one (called The Bridge of Friendship) and a Persian-Romanian-Bulgarian one (The Persian Bridge of Friendship).
In March 2022 the team was joined by Veronika Sušová-Salminen, another cross-border person. She is a Czech historian and political analyst currently living in Finland. She holds a Ph.D. in historical anthropology from the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University. Her research areas are nineteenth- and twentieth-century Central European and Russian history and politics. She is a regular political commentator in several Czech newspapers. Her book on the politics of Putin’s Russia was published in 2015.
Malgorzata, Veronika and Vladimir are gathered by the idea of bridge building and border-crossing as a way of learning about the world beyond their known territory. They have been struggling to affirm a middle ground between various poles and looking for insight into otherwise boring and standard media discourse on international relations. They also have some ideas about Central and Southeastern Europe, which they would like to test with the public, as this region needs to know itself better and be more conscious of its specifics.
Hopefully, Cross-Border Talks will make international relations a bit more understandable to the common man, will transform them into a less securitised issue, where the common people can have a say and be heard. Borders are not only between states. They are often embedded in social and cultural divisions. They are not only around, but also in us. Crossing them means that we can transcend our inability to change. It requires courage and determination to do so. So let there be life… beyond borders!