From the fall of the Berlin Wall and the USSR to the rise of Trump and Orbán – A discussion with Dr. Fukuyama

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05 February 2020, Nicosia, Cyprus: On Thursday 30 January, Phoenix Leaders hosted Dr. Francis Fukuyama, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and best-selling author, at The Club (Nicosia) marking his first visit to Cyprus.

In an evening dedicated to the central theme of his latest book, ‘Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment’, Dr. Fukuyama explored the concept of modern identity and the key role that it has played in recent extraordinary political developments – including Brexit and the rise of Trump, Orbán and Duterte.

Following an introduction by Mr Andreas Hadjikyriacos, Managing Director of GNORA Communication Consultants, Dr Fukuyama provided an in-depth analysis of the current status of democracy in the face of a rising global middle class and what he considers to be the West’s deep-rooted political paralysis. Circling back to Cyprus, the significance of identity politics to the island’s own recent history and its two communities was further explored by the audience during the lively Q&A session which followed. Asked how Cyprus can influence its history in order to give a more holistic picture which would facilitate unification, Dr. Fukuyama responded:

“The way you shape memory is the way you teach history within your schools. The problem is that when you have a divided society, that narrative won’t be the same on both sides of the division. It then becomes a circular problem: you have a polarised society, therefore you cannot agree on a common narrative for your history, therefore you maintain the polarisation.”

Dr. Fukuyama concluded the evening by emphasising the need for leaders who do not exploit divisions but understand the importance of unity for society as a whole.

This presentation marked the first in the Discussion Series at The Club, bringing international speakers from diverse fields of expertise to Cyprus. Previous speakers have included Sir John Sawers, Former Head of the MI6, Herman van Rompuy, Former Prime Minister of Belgium and Former President of the European Council, Professor Vybarr Cregan-Reid, Nigel Jeremy, Head of Learning & Development at British Airways and Jules Chappell, Britain’s youngest Ambassador.