The National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA) is organising, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defence and NATO Headquarters, a high level international conference on the 11th and 12th of November to address NATO’s historic decisions to respond to recent security developments and evolving threats on the Euro-Atlantic frontier.
The conference “A Changing Security Environment: New Threats, New Solutions” organised by the NATO Partnership Studies Center within the Department of International Relations and European Integration will be a flagship event in the series dedicated to the celebration of SNSPA’s 25 years of existence as an independent university and school of government and governance.
The organizers intend to transform this event into an annual conference in Bucharest which will serve as a platform for analysis and debate, concerning the specific evolutions of the Euro-Atlantic security environment, especially on its frontiers, in Central and Eastern Europe and the Wider Black Sea Area, entitled “Bucharest Security Conference” (BSC).
The conference gathers high officials from the ministries of foreign affairs and defence from B9 member states, other West European states, USA and partner states from the Wider Black Sea Area, as well as experts and academics.
Enhancing NATO visibility of its policies
The overarching goal of the BSC is to increase NATO visibility and to raise awareness of NATO policies with a strong emphasis on its firm commitment to collective defence, the development of NATO’s partnerships and its global role in crisis management. BSC also has several secondary objectives.
Dialogue enhancement and promotion of a common Allied vision of risks and threats
First of all, the conference will gather high level decision-makers, academics and experts to further strategic reflection on the implementation of the Warsaw Summit’s decisions, to debate the impact of the new strategic concept, the future of NATO’s partnerships, in particular the recent impetus given to NATO-EU relations and to outline Romania’s role in the region as a factor of stability. As such, one objective of the conference is to enhance dialogue and promote a shared vision among all allies regarding the risks and threats we are confronted with.
Evolution trajectory of the Euro-Atlantic security environment and the risks and threats against it
Second, the beginning of the 21st century brings an important number of challenges to the fore, calling into question the security arrangements in the Middle East, North Africa and other regions across the world, but most surprisingly as well as in the Euro-Atlantic area – especially on its Eastern frontier. After the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, the whole security vision in the Eastern flank and Europe as a whole has changed. To the threats to the European security environment, we add the crisis and confrontations at the South-Eastern EU and NATO frontier, the terrorist attacks swiping Europe from Istanbul to Brussels and to Paris and, to complicate the situation further in the Euro-Atlantic area, the waves of migrants pouring into Europe – either people fleeing destruction and famine or economic immigrants - add another dimension to the security challenges presented above.
To address these threats, the Euro-Atlantic community intensified its efforts starting with the September 2014 NATO Summit in Wales. The Declaration issued in Wales by NATO Heads of State and Government and the Warsaw Summit Communiqué stressed that the aggressive actions of Russia against Ukraine have fundamentally challenged the Alliance’s goal of a whole, free and peaceful Europe, strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence posture - building on the success of the Readiness Action Plan and also the NATO – EU strategic partnership established in Warsaw. The Russian aggressive actions on the Euro-Atlantic Eastern frontier - hybrid warfare, cyber-attacks, anti-Western propaganda and support offered to rebels in Eastern Ukraine -, led to the deterioration of the security landscape in the European neighbourhood, meaning that important benchmarks and tendencies are crystallizing for the next years. In this sense, another objective of the conference is to define in more precise terms the directions towards which the security environment, risks and threats to the Euro-Atlantic space and its Eastern border will evolve.
Transnational and multi-dimensional threats on the Southern flank of the Alliance
Third, another challenge to NATO’s security is the growing instability brought about by transnational and multi-dimensional threats in the Southern neighbourhood. Hence, the conference also aims at analysing the implications of military and political instability - generated by the failed coup attempt in Turkey - in the southern part of the EA community, including Russia’s posture. Also, the recent terrorist attacks in Belgium, France and Turkey, prove that terrorism has become a significant and imminent threat against which the Allies are determined to fight regardless of the forms it takes. Even in the light of these threats and challenges to security, the Wales Declaration and subsequent NATO official documents reiterate that the Alliance remains an essential source of stability in an unpredictable world and is ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
The future of the Alliance/ Where is the Alliance heading to?
As the Allies are already implementing the biggest reinforcement of their collective defence since the end of the Cold War, meaning the full implementation of the Readiness Action Plan (RAP), the Warsaw Summit reinforces the course for the Alliance’s adaptation to the new security environment and emphasizes the importance of strengthening partnerships with countries and organizations around the globe to better build security together. The fundamental themes of the Warsaw Summit were strengthening defence and deterrence in the spirit of Allied solidarity (collective defence) and projecting stability beyond NATO’s frontiers, in the spirit of cooperative security. Among the objectives of the Summit there were the cooperation with partner nations and organizations to keep NATO’s neighbourhood safe and stable; the long-term commitment to Afghanistan through the Enduring Partnership; and strengthening the bond between Europe and North America on which the Alliance is founded.
The conference will address these issues paying a special attention to to the Alliance’s frontiers focusing on the principles of bridge-building and supporting members from the Eastern and Southern flanks.
The conference will also act as a promotion channel for NATO’s strategic options and messages, this way reassuring members that the Alliance is ready to respond swiftly and firmly to any challenge that poses a threat to the security environment they are situated in. Moreover, despite the results of the UK referendum on leaving the EU, the NATO – EU partnership is being strengthened which is indicative for the fact that “NATO is in robust health”. Therefore, all allies should focus on common action, enforcing the principle of collective defence which is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty, proving that “fundamentals are strong” as the NATO Secretary General stated on June 29th.
The transformations in the Euro-Atlantic security environment raised some questions related to the common perceptions of risks and threats among NATO members, that have been doubled by other questions following Russia's attempt to regain influence
- Is there a specific security and defence agenda of the Euro-Atlantic space regarding its Eastern frontier?
- What are the risks and threats the countries on the Eastern Flank are confronted with? Is there a common vision of the risk and threat dimension among the Eastern Flank NATO members? How are these risks and threats perceived by "Western allies"?
- What type of relationship is there between the United States´ perceptions and the views of Eastern Flank countries?
- What are the political, economic, military and ideological elements of the hybrid war fared by Russia?
- What kind of definition is suitable for the present hybrid war of terrorism?
- What do we foresee as the next stage: urban guerrilla?
- How can one define the actions of influencing at the elite level, the manipulation, disinformation, etc. - detailed at the Berlin Security Conference last year?
- How is the future security environment crystallizing?
These questions cannot be ignored and are worth discussing if we want to adapt and bring together our visions about security and defence in this new security context.
1st Session (plenary): A changing security environment: New challenges and new threats. A vision from the Eastern and Southern flank
1st panel (in parallel): The present military challenges on the Euro-Atlantic frontier
2nd panel (in parallel) Cooperation in intelligence. Developing trust and the necessary solutions among allies (off the record parallel panel, by prior registration only; closed to press)
3nd panel (in parallel) Asymmetrical threats and critical infrastructures. Addressing the cyber threat landscape as an operational space (off the record parallel panel, by prior registration only; closed to press)
Finally, the conference will identify the conclusions that Romania could draw (but also other ‘border’ countries) regarding the required adjustment of its national security strategy and policy to these new evolutions.
The overall debates of the international conference should lead to several sets of conclusions.
1. Characterizing the tendencies in the present security environment. Our first intention is to decipher the evolutions of recent events happening around us and the way in which the future security environment is crystallizing. Our second intention is to predict a possible evolving trajectory for the security environment in the Euro-Atlantic space with a special focus on the Eastern flank, pinning down solutions to counter the risks and threats to the Euro-Atlantic security environment. We would debate if the current buildup of military power in the region has been successful in deterring a military confrontation or has added incentives for further tensions.
2. Assessment of the current NATO's adaptation to the new security environment and the enhanced forward presence on the Euro-Atlantic frontier with the purpose of developing new scenarios and contingency plans, and of identifying national voluntary contributions to this adaptation. We seek to promote the continuation of comprehensive individual or joint efforts by member states in NATO or between NATO’s Eastern Flank Allies in line with the goals set in Chicago and strengthened by the Wales Summit Declaration and the Warsaw Summit Communiqué, from July 2016, with the unchanged mission “to ensure that the Alliance remains an unparalleled community of freedom, peace, security, and shared values, including individual liberty, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law".
3. The role of Romania in the present security environment on the Euro-Atlantic frontier. The main aim is to determine the way in which we will rethink the security and defense policy from Romania, starting from what we understand related to the new security environment. Furthermore, another aim is to evaluate and to strengthen the role of Romania in the region as a stability factor and its potential to adjust its national security strategy and policy to properly answer the challenges faced by the Alliance. Last but not least, the aim is to test the newly institutionalized security and defence policy formulation in Romania through theoretic debates with international contribution. The lessons from this test could be exported to other interested nations
4. NATO cooperation with the partners from the Western Balkans, South Caucasus and Eastern Europe. Firstly, our aim is to conceive comprehensive reforms of the relevant national systems and inter-agency mechanisms in aspiring to NATO membership Western Balkans, South Caucasus and Eastern European countries against the backdrop of their cooperation with NATO. The second aim is to identify the implications of military and political instability on the Southern border of the Alliance, together with comprehensive ideas for consolidating Eastern Flank Allies’ contribution to NATO. Thirdly, we seek to enhance dialogue and promote the common vision among the NATO allies and partners of the risks and threats challenging the security environment. Also, this set of conclusions should lead to enhanced regional cooperation both within NATO and between the Allies and NATO partner countries, on governmental and non-governmental levels, together with a stronger involvement and sound responsibilities for the Eastern Flank members in order to consolidate and project security beyond the borders of NATO.