The Aspen Institute Romania together with the Bucharest office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States are organizing the Atlantic – Black Sea Security Forum 2019, a high level international event, part of the Aspen National Security & Defense program, to be held  on March 20-21, in Bucharest.

The event reflects both the deterioration of the general security environment and the increased relevance of the Greater Black Sea area. Challenges to European and Trans-Atlantic security have only increased recently, due to aggressive external actors, complicated internal developments within the EU and a tense relation between Europe and the United States. Brexit, Russian aggressivity in the Azov and Black Seas and its evolving hybrid warfare, unexpected developments within the US administration, political developments within the EU contribute to a precarious security landscape and push for more resolute and coordinated responses.

Moreover, the Common European Security and Defence Policy has made its way into European vocabulary, yet little action and strategy are behind the words, despite the increased need for vision and determination in this direction. In this context, the 70-year celebration of NATO this year offers an ideal opportunity for a new security outlook and for the design of enhanced cooperation with the EU to address them. Within this framework, the 2019 edition of the Atlantic Black Sea Security Forum will provide a platform for comprehensive political discussions not only on the new, more aggressive challenges and stringent needs, but also on solutions for each and, ideally, all of these issues. Given the complex nature of security in today’s world, the main themes of the debate will be the European defense and the Brexit effect, Hybrid warfare and coordinated response, the militarization of Azov and Black Seas and the Middle East challenge.

The 2019 edition of the Forum enjoys the key support of:

Institutional Partners: Ministry of National Defence of Romania, NATO
Knowledge Partner: PwC
Sponsor: AIRBUS
Media Partner: AGERPRES




March 21

Palace of the National Military Circle, Marble Hall

09:00 – 09:30 – Registration & Welcome Coffee

09:30 – 09:40 – Welcome Remarks and Introductions
Mircea Geoană, President, Aspen Institute Romania
Alina Inayeh, Director, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Bucharest Office

09:40 – 10:10 – Opening addresses
Teodor Meleșcanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Romania
Gabriel Leș, Minister of National Defense, Government of Romania

10:10 – 12:40 – European Defense – Old and New Actors, Strong and Weak Alliances
The geopolitical space affecting and affected by Europe is undergoing major changes, with new actors taking the scene and old actors developing new attitudes and relations. The constant pillar of European security, the transatlantic relation, is under strain, as deep as the US President threatening withdrawal from NATO. Internal European defense a controversial matter.

10:10 – 11:10 – Transatlantic Relation – Sharing the Same Objectives?
The past few years have seen a growing tension between the allies on the two continents, with diverging and even conflicting views of and approaches to security, among others. Beyond the current divergences both sides of the Atlantic still share the same goals and objectives. Or do they? Are current divergences only temporary disagreements or long term splits on fundamentals of trans-Atlantic world, security included? What is the likely outcome? Can damage be mitigated, and how?

Constantin Ionescu, State Adviser, Head of the Integrated Intelligence Office, Presidential Administration of Romania
● Col. Scott A. Weston, Defense Attaché, US Embassy to Romania
Levan Dolidze, Founder and Director, Georgian Center for Security and Development
Ville Sinkkonen, Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Moderator: Antonia Colibășanu, Senior Geopolitical Analyst, Geopolitical Futures

11:10 – 11:20 – Coffee Break

11:20 – 12:40 – European Defense in a Troubled World
Although discussion of a European defense is not new, over the past few years it has been ignited by the divergences between the US and its European allies. While the goal of a common European defense is attainable in principle, there are immediate threats and challenges that need addressed. How can the long term goals and short term threats be managed? In an Europe troubled by internal developments – Brexit, cyber-attacks, hybrid and classic wars at its borders, growing Euroscepticism among political elites – can a common defense agenda be developed and implemented?

● General Patrick Destremau, Director, Institute for Higher National Defense Studies and Higher Military Education, France
● Commander Neville McNally, Defense Attaché, Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain to Romania
Alina Bârgăoanu, Dean of the College of Communication and Public Relations, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration
Thierry de Boisvilliers, Marketing Segment Manager Combat Helicopters, Airbus
Bogdan Belciu, Partner, PwC Romania
Moderator: Özgür Ünlühisarcıklı, Director, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Ankara Office

12:40 – 13:20 – The Advantages and Challenges of Maturity – NATO@70
This year NATO turns 70. It is in this time of maturity that the Alliance faces unprecedented dynamics – a strained relation between the US and its European allies – and unexpected challenges – Russia, the Middle East, as well as developments within both the US and the EU. At the same time, NATO continues to enlarge, to project power where needed, to tackle new threats – hybrid, cyber. What is the outlook of the future of the Alliance? What should it do to get to 80, and still be active, dynamic and relevant?

Mircea Geoană, President, Aspen Institute Romania
Stephen Flanagan, Senior Political Scientist, RAND Corporation & Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Defense Policy and Strategy, National Security Council Staff
Moderator: Radu Tudor, Political and Defense Analyst

13:20 – 14:20 – Lunch Break

14:20 – 15:20 – The Age of Uneasy Peace – Greater Middle East and Afghanistan
The new power game in Greater Middle East and the announced withdrawal of the US troops make a peaceful solution to conflicts in the area seem even more distant. Events in the area directly affect Europe, not only through migration and its massive political and social impact, but also through security threats and complicated conflict resolution. What are the likely outcomes of a withdrawal of US troops from the area? Should Europe be more worried, and should it be more active? How?

The panel starts with brief presentation about Spirit of America by Nick Israel, Project Manager – Europe, Spirit of America

Mehmet Yegin, Visiting Fellow, Americas Research Division at Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in Berlin
Nick Israel, Project Manager – Europe, Spirit of America
Doru Costea, Member, Aspen Institute Romania Strategy Group, Former Ambassador of Romania to the People’s Republic of China
Moderator: Florin Niță, Deputy Head of Iran Task Force, European External Action Service

15:20 – 15:30 – Coffee Break

15:30 – 16:50 – Two Seas, Same Threat: Deterrence in the Azov and Black Seas
Since 2014 the Black Sea became a militarized area, host of an open conflict. Russia’s latest adventures in the Sea of Azov maintain the security challenge in the region, and raise awareness of Russia’s political and economic motives, beyond the obvious military ones. NATO’s response has been firm, although some argue not substantial enough, and made clear the Organization’s position on Russia’s behavior in the region. What would a better deterrence look like? Can NATO be more resolute, and how?

The panel starts with a video intervention of Ambassador Kurt Volker, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations

Bekim Maksuti, Deputy Minister of Defense, Government of the Republic of North Macedonia
● Commander Auraș-Liviu Coman, Deputy Maritime Component, Naval Forces of Romania
Tengiz Pkhaladze, Associated Professor, Georgian Institute of Public Affairs
Moderator: Hanna Shelest, Editor-in-Chief, Ukraine Analytica

16:50 – 17:00 – Conclusions