Von I. Reșat Özkan
This paper aims to briefly convey the scope of the official discussions that took place during the sessions of the Warsaw Security Forum 2015, which took place on 5th and 6th of November in Warsaw, Poland.
The conference, which was organized by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation, led by Zbigniew Pisarski, was a product of ten plenary sessions, accompanied by six panels, two roundtables, two working lunches, a working breakfast, and a gala dinner. I will be covering only half of the panels, as they were taking place simultaneously.
Plenary 1 & 2 – Welcome Remarks and Keynote Address
Welcome remarks have been delivered by Zbigniew Pisarski, and Pawel Soloch, Head of the National Security Bureau of Poland, followed by Tomasz Siemoniak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense of Poland.
Plenary 3 – The Rise of the West in a post-Western World
This session, moderated by Katarzyna Pisarska, Director of the European Academy of Diplomacy of Poland, hosted Mark Galeotti, Vuk Jeremic, Vytautas Landsbergis, and Mikheil Saakashvili. The speakers, all prominent experts in their respective fields, shared their experiences on a post-bipolar world, warning of the security threats of the evolving geopolitics, mainly in the Baltics and in Eastern Europe. The annexation of Crimea and the partial invasion of Georgia were among the focal points of the discussion.
Plenary 4 – Eastern Partnership 2.0
Moderated by Svoboda Cyril, Minister of Foreign Affairs (2002–2006) of the Czech Republic, the panel of David Bakradze, Marieluise Beck, Pavlo Klimkin, Pawel Kowal and Artur Nowak-Far have shed light on the history of the Eastern Partnership Program, its achievements and failures, and its current state. From the perspective of NATO member states and referring to the “Business as Usual” policies, it was questioned to what degree relations with Russia and neighboring countries have been maintained. Possible NATO expansion in the Balkans, European visa regime, Ukraine and Georgia were the highlights of this session.
Panel 1 – YGL Session: Regional Instabilities in the European Neighborhood
Moderated by Jason Worlledge from the European Academy of Diplomacy of Poland, this session took place in partnership with the EAD, and with the Young Global Leaders Initiative of the World Economic Forum, bringing Sony Kapoor, Vera Kobalia, Katarzyna Pisarska, and Ihor Shevchenko together. Aside from the geopolitical tensions that were broadly covered during other sessions, the speakers of this panel brought the refugee crisis into the spotlight, mainly discussing the current European approach thereto, and brainstormed about new policies that may be implemented to address the issue.
Panel 2 – The “New Security Wave” in EU Border States
Led by Andrew A. Michta, Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, the panel of Efraim Gomez, Zoran Jolevski, Igor Luksic, Jiri Schneider and Krzysztof Szczerski, analysed the current state of the border security of the European Union. It was stressed that EU’s borders are facing two main challenges from the “East” and the “South”, “East” being attributed to Russia, and “South” being attributed to the refugee crisis. It has been acknowledged that EU’s borders should have been strengthened, cooperation with neighboring Turkey should be enhanced, and the root causes of migration should be addressed.
Panel 3- Challenges for Cybersecurity Cooperation
Joanna Swiatkowska, Program Director at the Kosciuszko Institute of Poland moderated the panel, where Petra Hochmannova, Markko Kunnapu, Kirstjen Nielsen, and Andrzej Zybertowicz were present. It was among other things noted that one of the greatest challenges in ensuring transparency in the cyber realm is due to the extreme difficulty of attributing attacks to certain actors, as offenders consciously employ numerous methods to avoid detection. It was also stressed that there is no global institution that regulates and controls the flow of data on the network, and therefore this makes it particularly difficult for governments to enforce cyber norms and regulations, such as the privacy of information, rights of intellectual property, etc.
Plenary 5 – The West vs. Russia
Moderated by Michal Baranowski of the German Marshall Fund, the panel included Andrei Piontkovsky, Jerzy Pomianowski, Constanze Stelzenmüller and Daniel Twining. The panel employed quite a broad approach to the relationship between the transatlantic community and Russia.
Plenary 6 – Conversation with a Special Guest
Alexander Vershbow, Deputy Secretary General of NATO was publicly interviewed by Zbigniew Pisarski, President of the Casimir Pulaski Foundation. During the conversa- tion, Mr. Vershbow pointed out the evolving challenges, which both the NATO Alliance and the EU are facing, whilst elaborating European security from both “East” and “South” perspectives.
Plenary 7 – All Eyes on the Eastern Flank: The Warsaw NATO Summit in 2016
Moderated by Michal Kobosko, Director of the Poland Office of the Atlantic Council, Andrii Deshchytsia, Linas Linkevicius, Pawel Soloch and Damon Wilson discussed the expectations from the upcoming NATO Summit, which will take place in Warsaw in 2016, as the title suggests. Possible deployment of stationary NATO forces in Poland, in addition to the rotational RRFs in the region, were among the hot spots of the discussions during this plenary session.
Panel 4 – Rise of Illiberalism and Russian Involvement in EU Politics
Slawomir Debski, Director at the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding in Poland moderated the panel that brought Marcel H. Van Herpen, Olga Irisova and Natalie Nougayrede together. Russian-state investments in various media institutions in Europe and alleged indirect involvement of the Russian State in European politics th- rough allegedly providing financial support for populist and euro-skeptic parties in the EU were two highlights of the session, in my opinion. It was stressed that above mentioned investments are supposedly taking place through third parties in the EU and are allegedly traceable back to the Kremlin.
Plenary 8 – Improving Dialogue on Defence and Security in Europe: The Regional Perspective
Alexandr Vondra, Minister of Defense (2010–2012) of Czech Republic, moderated the panel that hosted Daniel Ionita, Gerhard Jandl, Daniel Kostoval, Johan Lagerlöf and Peter Siklosi, who analysed the security policies employed by CEE and EE countries, both jointly and separately.
The following three are among the most interesting parts of this particular plenary session: it was stressed that the Czech Republic is willing to invest more in its defensive capabilities, aiming to increase its military abilities; Visegrad Group and its principles were outlined; the neutrality of Austria was discussed, questioning whether neutrality would suffice in the face of new threats for Austria and for the EU.
Plenary 9 – The Russian Gamble in Ukraine and Syria: How it will impact European Security?
Brian Whitmore, Senior Editor and Russia Analyst at Power Vertical Blog, moderated a panel of Przemyslaw Zurawski vel Grajewski, Ilya Ponomarev, Robert Pszczel and Borys Tarasyuk, who had discussed Russia’s new proactive strategy in Syria, and its possible implications for Europe, among others. Personally, I found the suggestions for the EU to unilaterally include Russia in its Erasmus program and to provide more convenient cooperation for Russian Universities particularly interesting, as to these were concrete suggestions about what could be done to establish a healthy communication between the communities of the EU and Russia.
Reșat Özkan is an undergraduate student of Political Science at the University of Vienna, with multiple years of experience in civil society and political engagement. twitter.com/iroresat
(1) – Titles of the speakers have not been provided to deliver a more convenient reading experience.
(2) – Since the event was partially under Chatham House Rule, I have abstained from attributions of statements to certain speakers.
(3) – The full agenda, as well as a detailed list of speakers, partners and organizers is available at: http://warsawsecurityforum.org/agenda-2/, (access: 12.11.2015).