The second day of GLOBSEC 2023 heard from leaders from the CEE region and beyond addressing immediate needs regarding geopolitical cooperation and security issues while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable and resilient world.
The discussions on the sidelines of the main panels focused on working toward solutions while enhancing public-private cooperation on the interconnected issues of energy, innovation, infrastructure, and health.
Support for Ukraine
It is still too early to speak of peace in Ukraine, given the most recent Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure in Kyiv and elsewhere. Based on the discussions at the GLOBSEC panel, any terms of peace will have to be decided by Ukrainians and only when they are prepared to do so.
Ihor Zhovkva, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, ensured that global voices are heard in Kyiv: “The Global South is also affected by the war in Ukraine. We heard some thoughts from China, Cuba, the Vatican, South Africa, etc., and we are ready to listen and consider all the suggestions. Yet what we need is peace. And any peace should respect the Ukrainian formula, as we are the ones who suffer.”
Matti Maasikas, Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, expressed the EU’s support for the Ukrainian scenario: “Peace will be installed when Ukrainians tell us they are ready. They get to decide. […] It is not hard to understand the reasons why Ukrainians want to push the Russians out completely.”
John R. Allen, former Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, warned about the possible consequences of the USA’s 2024 elections for Ukraine: “We have not informed our public about what the risk is here, about the larger conflict we have been in with Russia. There is a war and there is a conflict. We have to educate our public. The outcome has to be to provide support to Ukraine to defend Russia. The end state will be to push Russian conventional forces out of Ukraine, to the extent that Russia will come to the negotiation table.”
Ivan Korčok, former Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, highlighted a potential threat for Zhovkva and Maasikas’ aspirations: “Hungary is a problem. It is a problem not in tactical terms but in terms of political interpretation. There are many who refer to the Hungarian position as brave while other Central European countries like Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic are referred to as American puppets.”
Watch the full discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAZ_fd-NkAY
Building Resilience of Europe
The European Union has been reformed and modified for EU enlargement and is ready for new members. But Euroscepticism in the Balkan region is growing due to the tardiness of the EU accession process. Accelerated integration for EU Membership might be a new solution for this.
H.E. Alexander Schallenberg, Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, called for quick action: “We have to act now. We have to act ready. […] Ukraine can be the rocket start for Balkan enlargement. We have proved in the last months that if we want, we can.”
H.E. Elmedin Konaković, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ensured the readiness of Balkan states to integrate: “Our countries belong to Europe and we are in the heart of Europe. We need reforms, we need it fast […] then you will see how far the Western Balkans can go with the European Union.”
H.E. Bujar Osmani, Chairman-in-Office, OSCE & Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia, drew attention to the ongoing tensions in Kosovo: “It’s important that all sides [Albania, Kosovo, Serbia] continue to deescalate and keep the flow of the interactions. […] You cannot leave a region at the heart of Europe unattended.”
Megi Fino, Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, concluded, “EU integration is the only path forward. … In 2024 we have elections: new leaders and new directions.”
To watch the full panel, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqky5VX00UI
For Schengen, the ultimate priority is encompassing logistics at the levels which many countries have not reached yet. The panel on “Rebuilding Europe’s Arms Base” called for a more cohesive and coherent regulatory framework. The whole experience should be used for Europe to prepare for future security-related challenges when NATO and the US will not get involved.
Nathalie Loiseau, Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence at the European Parliament, stated, “We do not have a NATO army; we have national armies under the EU and NATO umbrella. […] It’s about time that we listen and act as a single European pillar.”
Siemtje Möller, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Minister of Defence of Germany, called for close collaboration on defence issues, “It’s not about different nations trying to overcome each other, but working together. If we don’t stand together we will lose.”
Jiří Šedivý, Chief Executive at the European Defence Agency, reminded the participants about our common responsibility: “We should be prepared for situations when Europe will be challenged in our neighbourhood. We should have the capacity to react independently.”
Marcel Grisnigt, Chief Corporate Development & Integration Officer at KNDS, remarked about the room for improvement in the current situation: “Exploit existing initiatives, do not add more.”
Watch the full debate here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdjRDQEoGqI
The State Secretary at the Ministry of Defence of the Slovak Republic, Marian Majer, emphasized the importance of proper investment in defence. Regionally, he stated: “We are trying to involve at least 30 to 40% of our companies in Slovakia. We are investing in defence, but these companies are also spread around Slovakia, [creating employment].”
Andrej Benedejčič, State Secretary for National and International Security, Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, underlined his support for their partners: “Moldova is one of the most vulnerable members along with Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. They should know that we think about them.”
Chairman of the Future of Security and Defense Council, GLOBSEC, and Former Commanding General of the US Army of Europe, Lieutenant General (Rtd) Ben Hodges, spoke on the progress NATO has made in recent years: “It is so much better now than when I was a commander. NATO got better, but we still must move from where we are now.”
Anna Wieslander, Director for Northern Europe, Atlantic Council, spoke on the challenges of keeping up both interest and investments: “You need to sustain these levels for years to come, but this is also hard to maintain. You cannot just make a political speech and expect it to happen.”
Co-CEO, Helsing, Gundbert Scherf, explained: “NATO’s eastern flank is twice as large as before. We have to do things differently and fast.”
The full panel is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zrfAInsxZw
In the presentation on the GLOBSEC flagship publication, GLOBSEC Trends 2023, The level of support for Ukraine varies among countries in the region. Bulgaria and Slovakia emerge as the countries most susceptible to narratives related to sanctions against Russia, whereas Poland stands on the opposite side. These findings indicate the significant impact of the information war in Slovakia, particularly in light of the upcoming elections scheduled for September.
More information watch the presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7MrqUp9eFA
In a one-on-one chat with Robin Shepherd, Executive Director for North America, GLOBSEC, and Eli Cohen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, reiterated Israel’s support for the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine. He explained that Israel is in a precarious situation, essentially sharing a border with Russia in Syria, and that it is concerned about cooperation between Russia and Iran, but that it will continue to support Ukraine nevertheless.
Watch the full chat with Eli Cohen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFS0f0GgExA
There are many interpretations and scenarios about a hypothetical ceasing of the Russian regime and one of them is state failure. However, the EU would not want to have a failed state on its borders. At this point, some of the GLOBSEC participants discussed the potential fall of Putin’s regime:
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Founder of Open Russia, said that Putin’s death is the main condition for change in Kremlin, “The regime will change when Putin dies and it is obvious, for many, that until he dies the regime wouldn’t change. … Maybe it is less obvious for people who think that it would change anyways.“
Nicolas Tenzer, Chairman of the Center for Study and Research on Political Decision, instead stressed the military defeat of Russia as a possible pivotal moment: “There must be a radical defeat of Russia [on the battlefield] in order for Russia to be free one day.”
Rosa Balfour, Director of Carnegie Europe, highlighted the opposition forces in exile: “It is important for the West to engage with the Russian Opposition because they are the building block of the Russian future.”
For the full panel see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwEN2P06w7E
Free and healthy media are key elements in changing the situation of countries with troubled politics, as access to the right information fosters the shift of people’s mindset and, therefore, a change in people’s mindset which leads to a change in their activism for the better. Jamie Fly, President & CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, stated: “We believe that healthy independent media is essential for democracy. At this point in the US and the EU, there is a decline in media, and I think that citizens take it for granted.”
The achievement of freedom, peace, and justice in vulnerable countries such as Belarus requires an immediate engagement of the West forces. To this end, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskava added: “We face a lot of challenges in the international arena and in Belarus, but we have a lot of friends and I believe in our victory.” She also left the audience with a simple message: “Don’t lose hope & keep believing that your fight will prevail.”
Lobsang Sangay, Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School and Senior Visiting Fellow at East Asian Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School, spoke in regard to the situation in Tibet, as it is currently ranked next to Syria when it comes to various freedoms. He said: “I lobbied to pass a law in support of the US. It took me 34 visits to Washington. Now, the climate has changed, and there is a realization that China is a threat to freedom, democracy, and human rights.”
Watch the discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVn1xqqezBY
In the panel “New Global Economy: Critical Supplies and Dangers of Protectionism,” the speakers asked themselves: Is globalization under assault?
Deputy Minister of Economy of the Slovak Republic Peter Svec stated that the World Trade Organization is “not working as we expected, and states are not showing signals of liberalization, which makes trade difficult.”
Deputy Minister for Strategic Industries of Ukraine, Sergiy Boyev, underlined how Russia’s war in Ukraine has further emphasized a strong need for collaboration.
Regarding the impacts of the Covid19 pandemic on globalization, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Olga Algayerova stated, “Covid-19 brought the regional and international community together and built resilience. But that resilience came with protectionism.”
Director of EU Public Policy at Amazon, James Waterworth, emphasized the importance of collaboration, speaking for a Pan-European infrastructure.
Finally, Gordon Bajnai added: “Globalization has slowed down, but hasn’t stepped back when it comes to international trade.”
Watch the full discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMcgoneDHEk
Defense investments and spending by NATO member countries shouldn’t only be looking at the Ukrainian war, but also at long-term security. This would lead to a pivotal change in the general alliance capacities.
Lili Bayer, Senior Reporter for NATO and Central Europe at POLITICO Europe, moderated a high-level dialogue, illustrating the current dynamics of the defensive grouping.
Martin Sklenár, Minister of Defence of the Slovak Republic, remarked that NATO’s capacity does not only depend on ammunition innovation, “It’s not just the equipment and how it should be developed. It’s an industry that has to be able to deliver the necessary capabilities necessary to change the situation.”
NATO’s Assistant Secretary-General For Operations, Thomas Goffus, also ensured that the recent expansion will not disturb, but only enhance, the strength of the alliance, “Seeing Finnish and Swedish soldiers working in NATO is not new. They participated in Afghanistan, the Balkans, and in Iraq. We know them and they know us. The plan now is to integrate them.”
Watch the full discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/live/nibe9zDdHoM?feature=share
About GLOBEC 2023
The 18th edition of GLOBSEC’s annual Bratislava Forum will take place from 29 – 31 May, to which a record number of regional and international politicians as well as renowned opinion leaders, have confirmed their attendance. The meeting will convene 1200 leaders from over 60 countries, including 11 heads of state and government from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and beyond.
The programme of the GLOBSEC 2023 Forum calls on leaders from the CEE region and beyond to address immediate needs regarding geopolitical cooperation and security issues while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable and resilient world. It also focuses on working toward solutions while enhancing public-private cooperation on the interconnected issues of energy, innovation, infrastructure, and health. The full agenda is available here.
The GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum is the preeminent international strategic conference on the frontlines of a newly divided world. Over the 18 years of its existence, the Forum has established itself as the most distinguished platform throughout the CEE region. This year it has been organized with help from the Czech and Austrian governments.
For more information, visit https://forum2023.globsec.org/ and share it on social media using the hashtag #GLOBSEC2023.
GLOBSEC is a global think-tank based in Bratislava committed to enhancing security, prosperity and sustainability in Europe and throughout the world. It is an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental organisation. With its presence in Bratislava, Brussels, Kyiv, Vienna, and Washington, GLOBSEC’s mission is to influence the future by generating new ideas and solutions for a better and safer world. To this goal contributes the annual GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum, one of the leading global security conferences. GLOBSEC also organises the annual GLOBSEC Tatra Summit, a conference that provides the opportunity for experts to have fruitful political discussions on the future of Europe.