A Strategy Towards Europe’s Contested Neighborhood

A Strategy Towards Europe’s Contested Neighborhood

The Rīga Conference 2010 opened on 10 September for two day invigorating security and foreign policy debate. The conference aims to kick-off high level international discussions on foreign and security policy issues before entering the intensive policy making season in the fall of 2010. The conference has become the most significant gathering of some of the most respected world thinkers, academics, commentators, journalists, and politicians, providing a platform for a broad intellectual exchange on the current Transatlantic agenda.

The Rīga Conference 2010 opened on 10 September for two day invigorating security and foreign policy debate. The conference aims to kick-off high level international discussions on foreign and security policy issues before entering the intensive policy making season in the fall of 2010. The conference has become the most significant gathering of some of the most respected world thinkers, academics, commentators, journalists, and politicians, providing a platform for a broad intellectual exchange on the current Transatlantic agenda.

 

riga conference 2010

Opening Discussion:What Does the World Economic and Financial Crisis Mean for Security in the West?

The opening discussion of this year’s Riga Conference was “What Does the World Economic and Financial Crisis Mean for Security in the West?” The vice-chair of the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe (2020-2030), Prof. Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia, Mr. Valdis Dombrovskis, the director of Studies at the Institute for Higher National Defence Studies, Prof. Michel Foucher, Chairman of Baltic Development Forum, Mr. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, and the holder of the Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, Dr. Simon Serfaty, took part in this discussion. The discussion was led by Robert Cottrell, the editor of TheBrowser.com.

The panel pointed on the fact that the financial crisis and its impact on the security in the West can be discussed from different angles. Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga and Mr. Valdis Dombrovskis agreed that cooperation is essential for the security in the West. Professor Michel Foucher indicated that the West is facing budgetary problems and it has an impact also on the security of the West. Now the Western countries have to explain to the societies why they need so enormous defense budgets and why they have to go to other countries and secure them with the money from the West. Before the crisis these questions where not so actual. Mr. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen paid his attention to the fact that the international system is facing a shift of powers and that the United Nations should meet some changes, if we look at the countries who have rights of veto in the United Nations. Mr. Ellemann-Jensen remarked that the EU lacks not only the quality to speak with one voice. And when talking about Turkey he pointed on the arrogance of the EU. Dr. Simon Serfaty said that the crisis in the West is not at its end, therefore the question “What Does the World Economic and Financial Crisis Mean for Security in the West?” cannot be answered yet, but the crisis is a good argument for the state governments to say that we do not want to spend money on Afghanistan and etc. Dr. Serfaty said that the EU is living trough many crisis – institutional, demographical political, strategically and etc. The discussion of the Rīga Conference is continued by Presidents of three Baltic States and President of Poland in the second panel of the Conference “Baltic Sea Region after Crises: What Next?”.

Presidents discussion: Baltic Sea Region after Crises: What Next? The second discussion of the Rīga Conference 2010 included President of the Republic of Latvia Valdis Zatlers, the President of the Republic of Poland Bronisław Komorowski, the President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite and the president of the Republic of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves for in-depth discussion “Baltic Sea Region after Crises: What Next?”, moderated by the chairman of the Board of the Latvian Transatlantic Organization Toms Baumanis. The discussion crystallized the different evaluation of economic crisis and its effect on the economies of the Baltic states and Poland represented in the panel by the presidents. While presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia agreed that the financial crisis is still an issue in their countries the optimism rate regarding the outcomes and effects yet to be expected differed across the speakers. The president of Latvia Valdis Zatlers said that Latvia was in a desperate situation, but with the help of the EU, common action and long-term planning Latvia is steadily going out of the crisis.

Furthermore, Valdis Zatlers is sure that this direction will not change also after the parliamentary elections in Latvia. The president of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite added that the crisis has highlighted the weaknesses of each country and provoking some needed reforms. According to President Dalia Grybauskaite the financial crisis made everybody to think more creative.

The president of Estonia noted that though the financial crisis has affected Estonia quite dramatically, Latvia and Lithuania suffered greater degree of crisis. All the presidents agreed that the Baltic Sea region has to act as a region to be successful. One of top issues during the discussion was the energy market. The presidents pointed out that the Baltic Sea region countries are producing energy also for export, and yet the importance of Russia in this market is huge.

A Strategy towards Europe’s Contested Neighborhood The The second day of the Rīga Conference 2010 was opened by the discussion of the Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Latvia, Māris Riekstiņš, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Georgia, Grigol Vashadze, Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Henryk Litwin, the Director General of the International Centre for Black Sea Studies, Dimitris Triantaphyllou, and the Senior Economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Alexander Pivovarsky and Director of Advanced Social and Political Research Institute at the University of Latvia, Nils Muižnieks as moderator on the topic “A Strategy towards Europe’s Contested Neighborhood”.

Māris Riekstiņš stressed that when speaking about Eastern partners we have to look at what we want. The answer is that we want to see this region to be stabile and safe. EU has both financial instruments in the form of practical projects and institutional instrument in form of treaties and agreements. Still there are also some problems – many of cooperation projects are slow and ineffective and there is a lack of strong message from EU (that it wants to see these countries as a part of organization). Similar situation applies to NATO.

The discussion indicated that the issue might be not about the “contested neighbourhood” but about “confused neighbourhood”. So we have to strengthen the Open Doors policy in order to send a clear message for the region. This will also positively influence their willingness to reform.

Reflecting on presentation of Māris Riekstiņš, Grigol Vashadze mentioned, that the term “confused neighbourhood” is not referable to Georgia, as it has solved its confusion. Georgia is ready for NATO but not yet for the EU.

Henryk Litwin focussed on the role of Poland. Poland will deepen its relations with the countries of Eastern Europe during its presidency in the EU. Poland also supports visa liberalization with Russia and the Eastern partners.

Dimitris Triantaphyllou said that we have to take into account that in the region there are countries that want to join EU and NATO, and there are some countries that do not and there are also some countries that see themselves as a pole of attraction. There is Russia, but EU wouldn’t deepen its cooperation unless Russia becomes liberal. And can it become liberal? There is also a question about Turkey where we see shift of policy in Turkey that can affect the countries` willingness to access the EU. Situation in the EU directly affects its neighbourhood, as crisis has affected the unity of the organisation.

Alexander Pivovarsky reflected on financial and economic challenges in the region. Crisis has highlighted weaknesses of the region and it will take some time until full recovery. Although data shows some recovery is already happening. This crisis has also confirmed the importance of the institutions for the market. Taking this into account the EU attempt to bring these countries together is positive. But there has to be an institutional integration for the situation to stabilize. In other case the challenges will continue.

The Rīga Conference 2010 is organized by the Latvian Transatlantic Organisation (LATO) in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and the Ministry of Defence of Latvia as well as supported by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, NATO, Soros Foundation – Latvia, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, European Commission Representation in Latvia and the Embassy of the United States in Riga, Informative support is ensured by LETA, DELFI un Latvijas Avīze.
   

 

   

 

http://www.rigaconference.lv/

 

 
13.09.2010
   
   

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