Stay tuned for highlights, watch our livestream  & Facebook and follow #GLOBSEC2018 on Twitter!

3:45 PM Multilateralism in the “Me-First” World with No Rules session
The 20th century design for multilateral processes and institutions has been challenged by new the wave of inward looking where ”no-rules” is the new norm.
World needs a multilateral renaissance – a term proposed by H.E. Miroslav Lajčák – to overcome current downturn in terms of security and global coexistence. This should come with rethinking of not what is being said but how it is being said. Dialogue is the key message and it should aim at balancing conflicting narratives.

“I am standing here, for one main reason: I want to call for a multilateral renaissance.”
Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

The two conflicting narratives are today multilateralism with anti-multilateralism but the critics have no other constructive proposal on the table. This is also why the current UN design is the best working and universally acceptable format, including veto mechanism in the Security Council. In fact the existence of UN helps other formats like G8 or OSCE to develop and change.

After the keynote by the Slovak Minister of Foreign Affairs the topic of multilateralism was addressed jointly by Hon. Thomas Greminger, Secretary-General, OSCE, H.E. Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations and Amb. Mark Lyall-Grant, former Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations in a session moderated by Nik Gowing.

“Me only” or “me at your expense” will not get you very far. States have the self-interest to work together. Not altruism for sake of world peace, but effective multilateralism for sake of realpolitik.”
Thomas Greminger, Secretary-General, OSCE

The world has changed in the past few decades, and each country is becoming ever more focused on fulfilling their own needs. However, to combat issues which are larger than any one country (i.e., nuclear proliferation, climate change, international trade), we need multilateral platforms to open up both traditional and more modern lines of communication.

There are new challenges to the political stability that are manifested nearly simultaneously in different places of the globe such the rise of populism after Brexit and Central European, or use of chemical weapons by state actors, there is militarization of South-China sea and some countries also start like Egypt or Indonesia moving backwards, instead of transforming towards democracy. These do put additional constraints on the UN but it remains the only universally accepted multilateral platform and today – despite some reservations – serves to engage also those who at first sight seem not to align with universal principles like China.

“UN is advantageous for China. China speaks differently that the rest of the world, but when it speaks so, it also does so.”
Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN

The debate took an angle at the case of Russia in the UN. As Nik Gowing observed – many blame Moscow for leading the self-centred agenda – provoking an informed response by H.E. Vassily Nebenzia. In the response we heard that multilateralism presumes diversity but building like-minded initiatives and blaming those who don’t join in is not exactly an multilateral approach. He stressed that it is still the same world order as created in 1945 and there is no new paradigm coming.
The audience was engaged in several exchanges asking questions of both philosophical nature of how to reverse me-first narrative to very practical ones like plans for the Slovak OSCE presidency scheduled for the upcoming year.
By Wojciech Przybylski, Visegrad Insight

1:45 PM AI in Conflict: Hyper War No Longer Sci-Fi

Military has only really started to adopt AI solutions. So far it focuses mainly on deploying their less controversial applications first such as in training and logistics. In an effort to address responsibility concerns and legal liability, NATO maintains doctrine that requires human on decision loop when deploying AI in warfare. However other players seem to be less concerned for this requirement and hence create pressure in terms of decision time. This requires innovation in how officers are trained in order to minimize this disadvantage but avoid faulty decision-making.
It is unclear if AI will play stabilizing or destabilizing role in world’s security system as it may provide early warning and better monitoring but also is empowering various non-state groups.

The use of AI outside military context is far more important than in the military context.”
John Allen, President, The Brookings Institution

Public is mostly concerned with autonomous systems that may make decision to kill. It seems however that AI will be at first more useful in non-combat tasks including training, logistics, monitoring and analytics as these applications are less controversial than using them in combat. Such approach is also aimed at building public’s trust in AI before moving to more controversial areas like offensive actions. There are also huge hopes in terms of providing interoperability of defense systems of all NATO members which are not compatible now.

“I have way bigger worries about political interoperability than about military compatibility.”
Denis Mercier, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, NATO

US is currently in the lead in terms of development of AI and it will continue for some time but to preserve its dominance it requires unified strategy and investment, or it will be surpassed by China that is heavily investing in the area.

The AI may provide substantial benefits on battlefield by providing quick intelligence and indicate anomalous behavior of other actors. This however may upset the balance of nuclear deterrence that provided pace so far. On the other hand the watchful eye of partners may deer from aggressive behavior.

“AI absolutely a key to being effective in the battlefield in the future.”
Howard B. Bromberg, Vice President, Lockheed Martin

The audience was mostly concerned with the opaqueness of the technology. We do not know how exactly AI works and how it arrives at the conclusions it does. This leads to multiple problems including the ability of the enemy to feed the system doctored data in order to cause malfunction. This may lead to turning the weapon against its wieldier.
This in turn created concerns whether such technology should be militarized. Possibly instead of arms race we should reach for de-escalation.

1:45 PM The West and Russia: Managing the Flashpoints
Russia and the West must work together to find peaceful solutions for today’s major security challenges. In places like Ukraine, Syria and the wider Middle East where tensions are running high and diverse ideologies could lead to further conflict, it is necessary for both sides to find common ground and strategies.
Unfortunately, the discussion left little ground for optimism. Moscow seems to have hardened its stance, believing that its will to compromise in the past has been abused by the West.

For its part, the West is prepared to open discussions that could lead to a sustainable solution Ukraine’s Donbas region and other areas of major disagreements. Russia wants dialogue and to improve its relations with Western actors but without compromising on issues such as Ukraine or Georgia, which the West considers of major importance.

“Its ten years from the Russian invasion of Georgia and Russia still occupy a big territory of independent Georgia.”
Ian Brzezinski, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council

Assessing the state of the relationship: There was a broad agreement that relations between Russia and the West are at a very low point. In the absence of meaningful dialogue, there is serious dangers of a further escalation in tensions .

‘‘The Iran deal hurts and will have an impact on Russia-West compromise.”
Amb.Tomáš Valášek, Director, Carnegie Europe

Impact of the sanctions: There were differences over the assessment of the impact of the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia following its annexations of Crimea. Vyacheslav Nikonov maintained that sanctions have had no major impact and have in fact helped its defence industry to become self-sufficient. Other speakers saw the sanctions as having a major negative impact on Russia’s economy.

“I do not think there is a very big difference between Russia and West in terms of democracy, human rights and freedom of press.”
Vycheslav Nikonov, Chairman, Committee on Education and Science, State Duma, Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

Steps that could lead to the improvement in the relationship: several ideas were floated, however the Western panelists agreed that finding a solution to the ongoing violence in Donbas should be a starting point. The Russian participant saw potential in a meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.

“It is meaningless to try to achieve some consensus with Russia, unless the situation is the same on Donbas.”
Amb. Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman, Munich Security Conference

Transatlantic differences: European participants and audience members stressed that Washington’s policy on Russia is ambivalent. On one hand the administration and Congress run an assertive policy towards Moscow, while on the other President Trump is looking for accommodation in the relationship. Trump’s recent stance on Iran has brought bad blood to the transatlantic relationship and eroded trust.

GLOBSEC 2018 Bratislava Forum kicked of at noon with warm welcome to all its guests from near and far delivered by President of the Slovakia Andrej Kiska and Miroslav Lajčák, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic, currently serving as President of the UN General Assembly.
The essential theme to the opening remarks was that GLOBSEC is a family concerned about the future, trying to create a better world. In Central Europe, as well as the global community, we are living in the most dangerous and uncertain of times, though opportunities are presenting themselves all around us.

There has been an eroding of the moral fabric of our societies, redlines have become acceptable situations, and this trend must be reversed in order for us to prosper. Unscrupulous politicians and political parties bent on undermining independent journalism are a scourge for our modern democracies. By attacking civil society, these self-interested actors wish to slowly erode the institutions which safeguard our civilisations, and this could reverse the progress Central Europe has made since 1989.

However, all is not bleak. In many arenas, civil society and the citizenry are standing up against these blatant and hidden attacks, showing that foundations of our CE democracies are not as flimsy as they are being portrayed.
The audience echoed similar sentiments during kick-off brainstorming session on the global trends. Distrust in governance and multilateralism under stress resonated strongly appeling on the liberal democracies across the world to dediated more efforts as well as funding to the multilateral institutions. Additionally, cyber featured among concerns of GLOBSEC audience with clear message to demystify this phenomenon. It is no longer a technical question and rather becoming integral part of foreign and security policy of every state. GLOBSEC community identified among the most underrated global challenges climate change, migration and inequality.

On the occassion of GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum, GLOBSEC Policy Institute launched its Megatrends 2018 report summarising seven biggest trends shaping global politics today:

  • Central and Eastern Europe is at its most geopolitically vulnerable since 1989
  • The theoretical model of flexible integration is becoming reality
  • More and more countries are losing faith in multilateralism
  • The West is increasingly challenged by revisionist powers and ideological adversaries
  • Global Security Relations Are Increasingly Confrontational
  • Ungoverned cyber space becomes an alluring setting for global conflict
  • Technologies are increasingly weaponised to achieve political goals