8 December, 2014 – 10:00 to 16:45

Workshop organized by Institute of European Studies and International Relations, Comenius University and Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)

The financial crisis in the late 2000s has brought about severe cuts in the defense budgets in most NATO and EU member states. Combined with new kinds of treats and challenges emanating from a rapidly changing global environment and deteriorating international order – most recently epitomized by the worsening of relations between NATO and Russia in the context of the 2014 Ukraine crisis – this situation has been generating profound challenges for governments. Defense establishments have been struggling to maintain effective military forces with capabilities deployable in joint international operations as well as in protecting the Alliance territory. Foreign affairs establishments have been seeking to re-invent themselves so as to being able to develop new modes of engagement with shifting constellations of emerging foreign policy actors. Regional responses and strategies to address these challenges have been developed both in the Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) as well as in the Visegrad region (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia).  The Nordic region has been a champion in developing various forms of structured cooperation in the sphere of diplomacy (e.g. sharing of diplomatic resources in capitals around the world, coordination of diplomatic initiatives) and defense (e.g. NORDEFCO, Nordic EU Battlegroup, exchange of defense planners posted at defense ministries, joint exercises, joint development and acquisitions of weapons systems, cyber-defense). The Visegrad region has also been making important strides in developing these kinds of cooperation in diplomacy (e.g. V4 Houses, coordination meetings of V4 ambassadors in a number of priority countries, posting of diplomats in each others embassies) as well as in defense (V4 Battlegroup is being set up to be operational in 2016, there are discussions to establish VIDEFCO as well as exchange of planners at defense ministries). These modes of cooperation have also brought about challenges. In the Nordic region, the differences in strategic priorities among the countries remain deeply rooted, there is asymmetry in membership in EU and NATO and some of the programs for joint development of weapons systems have been stalled. In the Visegrad region, the asymmetry of the military resources and defense budgets has been placing Poland in a different – more privileged – position than the other three countries. Moreover, trust remains to be built in such sensitive areas as security and foreign policy.
What are the lessons that can be learned from the two regional processes in a comparative perspective? To what extent are Nordic experiences applicable in the Visegrad context? How does regional cooperation in security and diplomacy contribute to joint efforts in the framework of the EU and NATO?

These questions  will be addressed by a one day expert conference featuring experts from Norway and other Nordic states and Slovakia and other V4 countries. A conference report will be published providing key insights as well as a series of expert video-interviews posted on a conference web-page and a press conference with selected experts.