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03.02.2012, 15:04

Panels Descriptions

SESSION 1: EUROPEAN ECONOMIC INTEGRATION: SAVING THE UNION FROM ITSELF

SESSION 3: SMART ENOUGH? NATO’S RESPONSE TO THE FISCAL CRISIS

SESSION 4: WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE ARAB SEASONS?

SESSION 5: REVITALISING EUROPE’S SECURITY AND DEFENCE: STRATEGY VS. LIMITATIONS

SESSION 6: GENERATION CHANGE IN THE US & AUSTERITY IN EUROPE: A MARRIAGE IN CRISIS?

SESSION 7: NEW GEOPOLITICS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

SESSION 8: POST-CRISIS GLOBAL GOVERNANCE: WHOSE RULES?

NOS 1: SECURITY COOPERATION IN THE VISEGRAD REGION: WAY AHEAD (OFF THE RECORD)

NOS 2: AMERICA’S PACIFIC CENTURY: REALLY? (OFF THE RECORD)

NOS 3: AFGHANISTAN BEYOND 2014 (OFF THE RECORD)

NOS 4: THE FUTURE OF EUROPEAN ENERGY (OFF THE RECORD)

NOS 5: THE BALKANS AND THE EU: NEW REALITIES (OFF THE RECORD)

NOS 6: FROM THEORY TO HARSH REALITY: CYBER SPACE & SECURITY TODAY (OFF THE RECORD)

NOS 7: UKRAINE BETWEEN AND WITH THE EU AND RUSSIA (OFF THE RECORD)

SESSION 1: EUROPEAN ECONOMIC INTEGRATION: SAVING THE UNION FROM ITSELF

CO-ORGANIZED BY BRUEGEL

Description of the panel:

Several major EU Summits during 2011, most notably those in February, July, October and December, sought to deliver a ‘Comprehensive solution’ for the euro area’s sovereign debt and banking crisis. The strategy seems to rely on tough and enforceable fiscal rules, strong emphasis on national fiscal and structural reforms, some upgrading of financial backstops, including perhaps the earlier establishment of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), unlimited European Central Bank support for banks and limited purchases of government bonds. However, market reaction turned to negative a few days after each summit and commentators lack more ambitious plans toward completing European integration, such as a higher level of political and fiscal integration.

At the December 2011 Summit a new fault-line emerged: the United Kingdom blocked the proposed change of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Thereby, the new agreement will likely be enshrined by an inter-governmental Treaty of the 17 euro-area and most, if not all, other EU countries apart from the United Kingdom. Not codifying the agreement in the EU Treaty may reduce its credibility and it is not yet clear whether European institutions, such as the European Commission and the European Court of Justice could be employed to safeguard the new agreement. This new division may have far-reaching political implications for the future role and functioning of the EU.

Guiding questions:

  • Will the current strategy be sufficient to gradually restore market trust?
  • What if Italy or Spain would not be able to sell new bonds?
  • What are the other desirable elements of economic, fiscal and perhaps political integration that would make the euro area more crisis-proof?
  • Is the UK veto to the change in the EU Treaty the beginning of a new era of economic and political integration?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

SESSION 3: SMART ENOUGH? NATO’S RESPONSE TO THE FISCAL CRISIS

Description of the panel:

Since the financial crisis began in 2008, NATO allies have cut military spending by an amount equivalent to the entire annual defence budget of Germany, Europe's third largest. With the prospects for an economic upturn slim, NATO has been urging its member-states to seek defence savings in specialisation or collaboration, under the ‘smart defence’ initiative. In theory, countries can make more effective use of their money by sharing training and support facilities, buying equipment together and specialising in discrete military tasks. Indeed, some, such as the Nordic or Benelux countries, are doing so already.

But what makes obvious sense to experts and officials looks very different to national defence ministers. Collaboration and specialisation carry real political costs because opposition politicians and journalists will accuse the ministers of undermining national sovereignty by creating interdependencies with other militaries. Collaboration often takes years to put in place and yields rewards only long after its architects have left office. Initially, it may also cost more than it saves. And defence ministers have little guarantee that any savings which their decisions generate will flow back to the defence budget; often the treasuries take the spoils. So unsurprisingly, many NATO defence ministers choose the politically safer route of inaction.

The alliance is right to want the member-states' militaries to work together or specialise. But it may need to try harder to give the allied governments the right incentives to do so. Collaboration and specialisation may make eminent economic and military sense, but they are fraught with sensitivities and political dangers. The national governments will need all the help and encouragement they can get.

Guiding questions:

  • What is the promise of smart defence – has it generated savings for the countries that are already collaborating on defence? Can efficiencies thus generated offset the budget cuts that have been made in Europe in the past few years? Is NATO right to be devoting so much energy and time to smart defence?
  • What can be done to motivate more governments to embrace smart defence? Will the combination of peer pressure and the looming Chicago summit be enough to convince more capitals to collaborate or specialise? Or could NATO help more, perhaps by covering the start-up costs of collaborative projects from the alliance’s common funds?
  • What can NATO do to address the member-states’ fears that collaboration will create dangerous dependencies on other countries? Can it offer any guarantees that should a country be ‘abandoned’ by its partner in collaboration, other member-states will step in to help?
  • Should NATO’s defence planning be changed to better promote collaboration? Should allied defence planners be also responsible for identifying regional opportunities for co-operation? Should NATO emphasise regional, rather than national, goals for the armed forces?
  • What, in addition to smart defence, should NATO countries do to preserve defence capabilities in the face of the economic crisis? And should they prove unable to prevent large force cuts, should NATO’s military ambitions be reduced correspondingly?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

SESSION 4: WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE ARAB SEASONS?

CO-ORGANIZED BY CENTRE FOR EUROPEAN STUDIES (CES)

Description of the panel:

The Arab revolts that started in Tunisia and Egypt reached its first climax on February 11, the day Mubarak stepped down. Until that date the revolts have been spontaneous and peaceful, also called ‘the revolutions without leadership’. However, since then, protests have turned violent in Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria. The Arab upheaval of 2011 when thousands of people rejected the status quo is often heralded as an unparalleled occurrence in the region’s history. Driven by high unemployment rates, low income and years of authoritarian rule, the young Arabs took matters in their own hands and demanded a regime change.

What was initially seen as a universal desire for freedom and human dignity, soon turned into uncertainty and disappointment. Indeed, North Africa hides several big problems: great poverty, major inequalities, social exclusion, poor accountability, corruption and lack of rights for women, religious and other marginalized groups. The region needs to address these problems and the West should assist and offer tailored, well-targeted solutions while taking the internal dynamics of these transitions firmly into account. This is not easy to achieve. The West needs to find the right way how to engage with post-revolutionary countries that see foreign support as coming after the fact, or how to counter the understanding in the Arab world that decisions on whether to become active have been taken purely on the basis of economic interests than genuine support for political reform.

The New Middle East faces a wide range of challenges regarding their countries’ future and that of the broader region. Recent events, including widening political contestation and unrest across the Middle East and North Africa also raise potential issues for the EU, the EU-Arab relations, foreign assistance, and broader EU’s priorities in the Middle East.

Guiding questions:

  • To what extent is Tunisia a ‘test-case’ for democratic transitions in the New Middle East? To what extent is Tunisia a priority for the EU’s policy in the region?
  • What will the future governments and political order in North Africa look like? Is a consensus between Islamist and secular political factions possible? What are the key issues in constitution drafting, and how will Egyptians and Tunisians seek to overcome differences in policy preferences? What will the new constitutions say – if anything – about the relation between Islam and the state, women’s rights, and government decentralization? Which individuals and groups currently enjoy significant popular credibility in Libya, and what are their likely courses of action?
  • Do continued protests and insecurity constitute significant threats? Do elements of former regime continue to influence events in the New Middle East? Will there be a free and independent press and civil society in the region? How will the transitional authorities approach the question of reforming the security sector?
  • What steps need to be taken to promote economic growth and job creation, and to address socioeconomic grievances and regional economic disparities?
  • Is it possible for the European Union and the United States to help stabilize Arab countries and support the democratically elected governments while preventing radicalization of their internal and foreign policies? What policies should be adopted on our side and what resources should be invested to achieve these goals?
  • What should the West expect from the revolution in Syria? What are the prospects for future influence of Europe, US and other countries, such as Turkey, on the evolution of events in Syria?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

SESSION 5: REVITALISING EUROPE’S SECURITY AND DEFENCE: STRATEGY VS. LIMITATIONS

CO-ORGANIZED BY KONRAD ADENAUER STIFTUNG

Description of the panel:

The Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) was supposed to receive a boost from the Lisbon Treaty. It gave new instruments to an anaemic European Security and Defence Policy, such as the Permanent Structured Cooperation, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who was promoted to Vice President of the Commission, and a strengthened European Defence Agency. In addition, the pressures of the financial and economic crisis created new incentives for increased European cooperation on issues of defence planning and procurement. Initiatives on pooling and sharing of defence capabilities such as the German-Swedish "Ghent Initiative" or the Franco-Polish-German "Weimar Letter" provided first steps in the right direction.

And yet, progress is stalling. The obstacles to further defence integration are well known and might once more prove insurmountable: caveats about national sovereignty; worries about duplication of existing (NATO) structures; an inability to agree upon a coherent European security policy strategy that would design common defence planning; lack of trust in the reliable deployability of shared capabilities.  These are long-standing and justified concerns. Today, however, they limit Europe's prospects more than ever before. Europe is, after all, called upon to shoulder more responsibility in international security affairs. At the very least, it should provide for its own security and the stability of its periphery to a greater degree than in the past. This is the logical consequence of American downsizing and the ongoing re-orientation of U.S. strategic priorities.

Such broader strategic considerations in mind, this panel seeks to address the concerns accompanying the Common Security and Defence Policy and to develop new ideas for an efficient European defence. In order to secure and sustain their freedom, welfare, and security, Europeans need to come up with practical steps toward harmonised defence planning, procurement, and posture.

Guiding questions:

  • In discussing current initiatives for pooling and sharing of military capabilities in Europe, what is the actual goal to be pursued: saving cost, deepening integration, or strengthening Europe's military power? How does the choice of priority affect actual planning?
  • How can CSDP be strengthened without duplicating (and thus undermining) NATO structures?
  • What should be the role of the European Defence Agency in strengthening CSDP?
  • Are bilateral agreements detrimental to strengthening CSDP or are they building blocks for overarching multilateral agreements?
  • How can countries in Central and Eastern Europe in particular contribute to a more effective CSDP?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

SESSION 6: GENERATION CHANGE IN THE US & AUSTERITY IN EUROPE: A MARRIAGE IN CRISIS?

Description of the panel:

With the economic crisis, generational change in US political leadership and with different strategic ambitions on the both sides of the Atlantic, the NATO has once again entered, the cyclically returning, period of reconsidering the essence of its own existence. The 2010 NATO Strategic Concept has clearly identified the array of threats that justify the relevance of the Alliance for the decade(s) ahead. However, the risk that the transatlantic partnership will not be capable of absorbing the lack of mutual interest-driven apathy is still to be seriously considered. The set of existential challenges, posed by the combination of considerable (and enduring) defense cuts, an inward-oriented America, the seemingly irreversible decline of European military capability, the fiscal limitations that every European policymaker needs (and will need) to cope with, could  leave the Alliance open to neglect, disinterest and incompetence.

The establishment of such a regressive trajectory would not just leave the United States, Canada, and Europe curtailed of a special Alliance but in the end it would ultimately make them less safe and secure. In the world of complex global security threats and challenges, the direct and indirect implications of such an eventuality would almost surely be too terrible to contemplate.

Guiding questions:

  • Could the transatlantic alliance discover a new bondage that would once again solidify its reason d´etre, irrespective of the changing geo-political realities of the World?
  • To what extent does the US reluctant engagement in the Libya conflict represent the limit of the share of burden Washington would be willing to bear if another non-existential need to intervene comes into NATO´s way?
  • Where is the red line in the down-scaling, i.e. the point beyond which NATO´s actual military readiness to live up to its Article 5 obligations is essentially undermined.
  • Responses to the key threats highlighted in the 2010 Strategic Concept, such as ballistic missiles, cyber-attack, and terrorism are in their nature mainly defensive. Will the Alliance, if crucial for its core security, find the sufficient appetite to wage another expeditionary war after Afghanistan?
  • Is the Alliance still perceived as the forefront platform for the promotion of democracy, rule of law, human rights and individual liberties?
  • Is NATO´s ISAF mission more a source of fatigue for the Alliance or is it still predominantly a cohesive element.

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

SESSION 7: NEW GEOPOLITICS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Description of the panel:

During its post-Ottoman history, the Middle East witnessed a number of major changes and proved to be the most unstable region in the World. The last couple of years have suggested that the Turkish influence is reappearing and indeed, challenging the existing power schemes rapidly. At the same time, Iranian presence in the regional politics seems to be regressing after reaching its climax several years ago. The increasingly pressing sanctions, criticism over the support of the endangered Assad regime, loss of the previously enjoyed popular Arab support, worsened relations with its Arab neighbours and infightings among the conservative ranks do not allow Tehran to meet its full potential.

However, Iran is not the only country losing leverage in the area. The United States are leaving Iraq while uncertain about its future, their footprint in the Egyptian politics seems to be fading out and their long-term allies, Turkey and Israel, are downgrading their relations gradually. What disturbs the US and the European Union is the risk of degeneration of the democratic processes incited by the Arab revolts last year into the radicalisation of the Middle Eastern internal and external politics. This would naturally have security implications for the region as well as for the West.

Guiding questions:

  • Can Turkey be perceived as the major winner of the recent changes in the Middle Eastern region?  What role does it seek for itself in the region? What is its desirable role of Turkey in the eyes of the Europeans?
  • Why is Iran considered the clear looser in this process? What will the implication of the Syrian revolt on its regional standing be?
  • What impact has the Arab Spring had on the position of other states in the region, especially Saudi Arabia?
  • How should the European Union and the United States behave in this situation?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

SESSION 8: POST-CRISIS GLOBAL GOVERNANCE: WHOSE RULES?

CO-ORGANIZED BY BRUEGEL

Description of the panel:

The shift in economic power among nations means that global governance faces significant new challenges. China and other fast emerging countries are gaining higher roles in global economic power, while the West enters a potentially long cycle of deleveraging and slow growth. Corporations of emerging countries are also becoming more important. Based on the Financial Times Global 500 rankings, emerging economies now weigh more than Europe in terms of their large listed companies’ aggregate value. Three of the world’s top five banks by market capitalisation are Chinese, including the top two. Hong Kong and Singapore are moving closer to London and New York in financial centre league tables. Also, high income-per-capita Eurozone countries expect that much lower income emerging countries will contribute, through the IMF, to their potential financial rescue.

The increasing role of emerging countries contrasts with their role in global governance. Among the main global institutions responsible for economic and financial affairs, only one has a chief executive from the emerging world (OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, a Mexican) and they are all located in either Europe or the United States. A reform of the IMF quotas has started, however much more is needed, and not just at the IMF, to reflect the changing balance of economic power among nations.

Guiding questions:

  • How should the governance of various global economic and financial institutions change to reflect the global shift of power?
  • The G20 was effective when the crisis hit and countries faced huge uncertainties. But as the crisis abated, the long-standing differences between major countries prohibited significant progress. Countries not in the G20 complain of the lack of legitimacy of this formulation. What is the role of the G20 and, more generally, how can we best organise global cooperation in various fields of common interest?
  • The crisis has once again underlined the strong power of markets, including of the systemically important financial institutions and other global corporations. Are markets ruling the world in spite of various government efforts?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.


NOS 1: SECURITY COOPERATION IN THE VISEGRAD REGION: WAY AHEAD (OFF THE RECORD)

Description of the panel:

Rising costs of new military technologies and plummeting defense budgets leave Central European countries with only limited possibilities to maintain credible armed forces. This panel will explore prospects of regional security integration in the Visegrad region as a possible response to this challenging situation.

Regional defense integration has been a systemic element in the transformation of defense cooperation within NATO and the EU. Various regional groupings including the Nordic countries, the Baltic states and the Benelux have been developing frameworks for sharing costs in defense equipment acquisitions, training of personnel, defense planning and various services to their armed forces. So far, the Visegrad region has only taken a few initial and hesitant steps in such direction, but new initiatives are in the making. Some experts argue that the V4 Battlegroup that is planned to be operational in 2016 is one of the signals that the V4 willingness to cooperate in defense should be taken seriously. Others are less certain and point out that the countries of the V4 region may not have the same level of interest in extending the Visegrad cooperation also into the sphere of defense. To address this challenge and develop a set of strategic ideas on how V4 defense cooperation could work, the Slovak Atlantic Commission with the support of the International Visegrad Fund launched the project Defence Austerity: A New Paradigm for Defence and Security Cooperation in the Visegrad Region (DAV4). The project team featuring experts from all four countries has been working since September 2011. Its work has been inspired by similar endeavors in other European regions, notably the Nordic region (i.e. the 2009 Stoltenberg Report) and included expert roundtables and interviews with defense officials in the V4, in NATO HQ and in Norway and Sweden.

The panel features representatives of the expert team, who will present the first set of findings on the prospects of regional defense integration in the V4. These will then be reflected in light of the Nordic experiences with the possibilities and limits of defense integration in a region widely considered as the most advanced example of regional defense integration in Europe. Overall, the panel will hence provide a plastic picture of the opportunities and challenges related to attempts to deepen security integration among the Visegrad countries.

Guiding questions:

  • What kind of defense equipment pooling and sharing is currently going on in the V4?
  • What further practical steps can be taken in security integration in the V4?
  • What are the most serious challenges and limits in the V4 defense integration? How do past experiences influence present deliberations on defense collaboration?
  • What are the lessons of Nordic defense integration three years after the launch of the Stoltenberg Report?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

NOS 2: AMERICA’S PACIFIC CENTURY: REALLY? (OFF THE RECORD)

Description of the panel:

The new US strategic defence guidance clearly establishes Asia as the focus of America's military and diplomatic efforts, with the Middle East a close second. Europe is a distant third on the order of US priorities: the new guidace describes it as largely peaceful, and sees the unresolved conflicts in Europe as a matter for diplomats, not soldiers, to handle. One practical demonstration of the shift in US priorities is the announced drawdown of American troops in Europe, coupled with new US force deployments near Asia, in Australia.

To America's allies in Europe, the message seems clear: in future, they will be expected to lead most 'discretionary' operations in and around the continent; the US may support them (as it did in Libya), or not. Countries near NATO's eastern borders will wonder if the shift in America's priorities will leave them vulnerable vis-a-vis Russia, though the US has countered these worries recently by announcing an increased US commitment to NATO's rapid reaction force, the NRF.

Guiding questions:

  • While the US has made its intentions clear, much about the impact of the new US strategy remains unknown. Will European militaries be willing to fill the hole in NATO's collective capabilities that the reduced US contribution to NATO will inevitable create?
  • Will the Europeans be able to do so in the middle of the worst economic crisis in living memory?
  • If no country or countries compensate for reduced US military contributions, should NATO decrease its level of ambition - should it aim to conduct fewer and smaller missions?
  • Will the transatlantic alliance remain sufficiently attractive to the Europeans if the Americans start taking less interest in it?
  • Will NATO remain of interest to the US, now that the country's attention has moved away from Europe towards Asia?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

NOS 3: AFGHANISTAN BEYOND 2014 (OFF THE RECORD)

Description of the panel:

After more than ten years of active engagement, sacrifice and a huge amount of resources spent in Afghanistan, calls are growing louder for international troops to withdraw. Many assert the country is far from stable and secure, one of the initial goals ten years ago. The truth is that the goals of the international community’s engagement have changed several times; be it on official platforms by statesmen or within various analytical and academic debates.

One way or another, one must acknowledge that progress has been made in many areas. Remarkable gains for Afghan society, particularly women and girls who under the rule of the Taliban suffered the kind of oppression that has few parallels in the modern era, illustrate the point clearly. Afghans also have the opportunity to embrace democratic and economic reforms for the benefit of the whole of society.

However, there are still many challenges for both Afghanistan and NATO. The possible role of the Taliban in the future government of the country, the composition of the government with respect to the different ethnic groups, the involvement of neighbouring countries – all these issues have been temporarily overshadowed by the conflict and might once again become a source of tensions beyond 2014.

Guiding questions:

  • Is there a real danger of going back to square one once Western forces withdraw?
  • To what extent, if any, should we deal with the Taliban to secure some kind of deal for future stability?
  • What role does Pakistan have to play in this? And what of the other neighbouring countries?
  • How long will Western public opinion support the operation and could they be persuaded that some sort of semi-permanent presence of NATO forces may yet be necessary?
  • What has this whole operation taught us about NATO?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

 

NOS 4: THE FUTURE OF EUROPEAN ENERGY

Description of the panel:

Due to its aggregate dependency on external energy suppliers, Europe has been significantly exposed to geopolitical and market fluctuations. Particularly following the 2006 and 2009 gas crises in Europe and, more recently, as a result of rising price of oil and its derivatives, the intra-European discourse on energy-related issues has become increasingly securitized. Understandably, energy security policy has gained traction as a top priority of EU external policy-making and diplomacy since mid-2000s.

The key strategic goals of the European energy security policy are energy self-sufficiency and reliance on safe supply sources and routes, existing and future. This is especially pertinent in the natural gas sector, where security of supplies depends on the ability of European countries to diversify – diversify away from Russian supply of oil and gas, diversify away from traditional and geopolitically sensitive transit routes, such as the Ukraine transit system, diversify away from pipeline-transported oil and gas towards LNG infrastructure and domestic natural gas production from the recent shale gas reserve finds.

In addition to the prima facie security implications of dependency on oil imports, the high prices of oil have the potential to undermine any signs of economic recovery within the EU. With their high degree of exposure to external supplies of oil, European countries will be increasingly motivated to reduce their dependency on oil and its derivatives. This bodes well for the development of electro-mobility in Europe.

Last year’s nuclear disaster in Fukushima brought to a halt the relatively stable development of nuclear energy capacities in Europe, a step, which may, contrary to the mantra of self-sufficiency, expose even large European economies to greater dependency on external energy sources. Germany’s rejection of nuclear energy altogether may signify a sea-change in the way European electricity is produced and distributed, particularly with the view of European carbon-free energy goals of 2020.

Guiding questions:

  • Is Europe’s energy security better served by pursuing aggressive diversification away from the Eastern Corridor routes and Russian supplies of oil and gas or rather by cooperation with Russia on securing reliable delivery routes?
  • Can European customers ensure stable supply of oil and gas for the projected transit routes from the Caspian region and the Middle East (e.g., the Southern Corridor) with China competing for the same resources?
  • Can EU’s external policy successfully balance the political and energy security goals in the Middle East and beyond?
  • What are the security implications of Germany’s rejection of nuclear energy, particularly with the view of, at least temporary, reliance on natural gas imports from Russia?
  • Could the envisioned super-grids and interconnected local smart grids at least partially resolve Europe’s energy security concerns? Or would European electricity infrastructure become even more exposed to external attacks?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

NOS 5: THE BALKANS AND THE EU: NEW REALITIES (OFF THE RECORD)

CO-ORGANIZED BY THE EUROPEAN FUND FOR THE BALKANS

Description of the panel:

If one looks at the latest public opinion surveys in the Western Balkans, it can be concluded, just as Ivan Krastev noted in the 2010 Balkan Monitor report that “the EU has lost its magic but has not lost its importance.  It is clear that if the citizens of the region have any realistic hope of a better life and political stability, then that has to be related to the prospect of their country joining the EU.”

“The Balkans are a part of Europe. All the problems that the region faces are European issues and not predominately Balkan ones. And the questions that people in the region ask themselves are not related to the past, they are related to the future. Moreover, it is clear today, that the Balkan’s “new normality” is very much a reflection of Europe’s “new normality”.”

The situation in the region of Western Balkans cannot be examined separately without looking at the situation in the EU nowadays. Pressured by a crisis of Euro which threatens to undermine the EU itself, the accession agenda has been lagging behind recently. The result of all this is that around 20 million people, inhabitants of the Western Balkans are becoming increasingly aware that enlargement is no longer fashionable in the EU. At the same time, the enlargement process is still the best anchor to support political and democratic transformation in the region as a whole.

Croatia, which will become the 28th member state in 2013 is giving impetus to all those reform coalitions in other countries which are working on “europeanisation”. However, at this point of time, in spite of the efforts, the outlook for Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania seems blurred. The economic crisis as elsewhere has created levels of unemployment and diminishing standards of living that have in turn created public discontent and a sense of loss of certainty. Reforms and the reconciliation efforts have yet to become well-established in most Balkan countries, and their drives on state-building and better governance are far from over. It will be up to the leaders and the people of the Western Balkans and the EU to face these “new realities”, to analyse them and to find the way how to successfully move forward.

Guiding questions:

  • What is the state of affairs in the Western Balkans? How the countries of the region face current political, economic and social challenges?
  • What are the current key factors which define the European Union Enlargement Policy?
  • How to keep the Balkans anchored to the EU when the prospect of accession is not tangible?
  • What can be done by international and regional actors to support Western Balkan countries in their EU accession process?
  • How the EU can do better in the Western Balkans?
  • What has been the impact of the financial crisis on reforms in the Balkan countries?
  • What are the prospects of dealing with unsolved statehood problems in the region?
  • How to improve regional cooperation?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

NOS 6: FROM THEORY TO HARSH REALITY: CYBER SPACE & SECURITY TODAY (OFF THE RECORD)

Description of the panel:

The exponentially growing employment of information technology combined with the extensive on-line networking in virtually all spheres of their lives has made modern societies vulnerable to a novel threat - exploitation through cyber space. Although any attack conducted in cyber space by its nature involves “merely” reproduction, modification, or destruction of information, the consequences of such acts often manifest themselves in the material world and have the potential to negatively influence the security and functioning of modern states. Considering the fact that most of the money in today’s world exists only in a virtual form, or that substantial parts of critical national infrastructures (including the power grid, telecommunications or distribution networks, etc.) of modern states are accessible through cyber space means that a sophisticated cyber attack, or a well-coordinated sequence of such precise attacks, theoretically has the potential to cause an extensive economic and material damage.

Although no „cyber Armageddon“ or „electronic Pearl Harbor“ – as the similar scenarios are called by numerous authors – has yet taken place, and the probability of such an occurrence is arguably extremely low, given the practical challenges and the dire political consequences, a substantial number of minor incidents as well as several high-profile attacks like the one in Estonia in 2007, or the use of Stuxnet to damage Iranian nuclear plant, only demonstrate that cyber security is rightly given priority in the current security policy agenda.

The advent of this novel threat and the ongoing development of even more capable cyber weapons force the most vulnerable states to face a twofold task: first, at the very minimum, the IT-dependent states must ensure the security of their critical national infrastructures that, however, are in liberal economies to a considerable extent privately owned, raising this way the controversial question of state regulation and the division of responsibility for security between the state and the private sector. Second, and maybe the more daunting, task the states face is the need to develop adequate cyber strategies and to create effective tools and mechanisms, in order to achieve effective deterrence against major cyber attacks conducted by state and non-state actors, and to determine under what circumstances, using what kind of tools - diplomatic or military – and against whom to retaliate in case of a cyber attack.

Guiding questions:

  • Are modern IT-developed states, especially NATO members, doing enough to secure their critical national infrastructures?
  • To what level should the private sector be regulated in terms of cyber security and what should be its role in enhancing national cyber security?
  • Where does the line between state oversight and democratic freedoms lie when talking about cyber security?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

 

 

NOS 7: UKRAINE BETWEEN AND WITH THE EU AND RUSSIA

Description of the panel:

Much has been written about Ukraine as a buffer zone between the European Union and Russia. Both in the Western and Russian press, the word Ukraine immediately raises the issue of geopolitical competition. Both the EU`s current policies, namely the Eastern Partnership, and Russia`s newly announced Eurasian Economic Union offer the prospect of integration one way or the other, at least on paper. After 20 years of independence the Ukrainian elite has learned to see such proposals through the lense of its own interests. Ukraine’s tough stance on negotiations over the EU`s Association Agreement also suggests that the country has the capacity and the desire to protect its own (elite`s) interests against the promise of unclear integration prospects.

On the other hand, Ukraine still plays its much vaunted geopolitical role as a buffer zone. It still, mostly, lacks a clearly defined sense of its national interest and it has not articulated a transparent position on the matter to the international community.

The Night Owl Sessions, with speakers from key stakeholders including government, civil society and big business, will focus on what Ukraine can bring to European security in such areas as food and energy security. How important a player is modern-day Ukraine?

Guiding questions:

  • The EU-Ukraine relations: searching for the right way-out: a pause, sanctions or a credit for the future?
  • Parliamentary elections 2012 as the final test for Ukraine: opportunity or a deadlock?
  • Russian factor: pressure or an offer Ukraine cannot refuse
  • The US-Ukraine relations:  important enough to go beyond security?

You can download this Panel Description in PDF HERE.

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