On Monday 31 January 2011, Prof. P.M.E. (Peter) Volten received a Royal Decoration from Mayor Rehwinkel of the municipality of Groningen.
Volten has been professor of the History and Theory of International Relations at the University of Groningen since 1994, as well as director of the Centre for European Security Studies.
The decoration was awarded after his valedictory lecture.
In 1994, Volten became the first professor of the department of International Relations and International Organization.
It was he who turned the previous International Organization specialization into an independent department, which grew into a fully-fledged academic degree programme on International Relations, both at Bachelor’s and Master’s level.
It is now the largest degree programme in International Relations in the Netherlands.
Volten also succeeded in giving the content of the degree programme a much stronger philosophical/theoretical basis.
In the meantime, the department also has two Erasmus Mundus degree programmes to its credit: Euroculture and International Humanitarian Action.
During his period as research director and vice president of the Institute for East-West Studies in New York (1989-1992), Volten carried out pioneering work after the fall of the Berlin Wall by establishing contacts with the new Central and Eastern European democracies.
After his return to the Netherlands, in 1993 he founded the Dutch branch of the Institute for East-West Studies (Netherlands IEWS Center) so that the Netherlands, too, could contribute to the transformation of the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe.
In 1995 the Centre for European Security Studies (CESS) was founded and located in Groningen,
and Peter Volten became the director of this Centre.
Thanks to his boundless energy and wide international network, the CESS was able to set up teaching, training and research programmes.
After the wars in Yugoslavia, the working area of the CESS expanded to the Balkan states.
Developing mutual understanding about European security between East and West, a democratically functioning security sector, facilitating a Euro-Atlantic security community by helping Eastern and Southeastern European countries prepare for NATO membership and EU membership (Turkey) remained central goals of Volten’s efforts.
During the Dutch chairmanship of the EU in 2004, the CESS under Volten’s leadership started up a unique, politically sensitive programme in Turkey.
The Dutch government enabled the CESS to conduct informal diplomacy and to support Turkey in the reform of its civil-military relations, with the aim of enabling it to join the EU.
Since 2005 CESS has been concentrating on schooling.
Many schooling programmes have been developed and implemented in the former Soviet republics, from Ukraine to Kazakhstan.
In addition, under Volten’s leadership the CESS has implemented programmes in Moldavia and Georgia in support of parliamentary control of security policy.
In the last ten years, once his own children had left home, Volten has regularly housed PhD students from Ukraine, Turkey, Poland and Switzerland for free, as well a student from Russia who was training to become a pianist at the conservatory in Groningen.
Peter Volten will be made an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.
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