For this year’s edition of the Forum the organizers suggest three main themes: the West’s strategic stability, resilience and opportunity, and three overlapping territorial angles: European, regional and transatlantic on top of the traditional East-West nexus that is the trademark of Bucharest Forum’s approach.

This geography and the mentioned objectives generate specific challenges: a Western societal crisis expressed by both Brexit and the rise of nationalist populism in Europe and the US; divided societies and a lack of answers to the profound economic, social and cultural changes in our societies including economic and social justice, territorial development, migration, intercultural and inter-confessional dialogue; a European institutional crisis showing the limits of the current integration model; external challenges from the east and south brought about by Russia’s current engagement strategy and continuous crisis in the Middle East.

There are also important opportunities: new possible openings created by the Iranian nuclear deal, the need for East-West strategic cooperation on the Syrian and anti ISIS files, an ambitious new European Global Strategy, the launch of an equally ambitious NATO-EU cooperation agenda.

Topics for discussion for the fifth edition of the Bucharest Forum:

Keywords: Security, inclusion, climate, energy, technological revolutions, governance, sustainable and just economic growth, European cohesion, productivity, stability.

The perennially shifting target in the south-eastern and eastern European region:
– Black Sea maritime security for transatlantic resilience
– E-W economic potential and the need for smarter industrial policies, investment and targeted European projects
– Good governance as a prerequisite to stability and resilience

Moving from reassurance to deterrence on the Eastern flank:
– The West and Russia; dialogue with Russia, framework, objectives and the realm of possibilities
– The West and Turkey: dealing with the aftermath of the attempted coup and the effects of the Syrian crisis
– East and South flanks converging

How do we get to more and better Europe:
– more (inclusive) Europe as the solution
– EU ambitions in unclear times
– European citizenship: political dynamics in member states and the issue of justice and social and territorial inclusiveness in an intergovernmental Europe
– European cities, urban development and referential identities: the challenge of regionalism, separatism and the need for flexible and desirable/achievable alternatives.
– Maintaining the transatlantic relation and the coherence of the Western narrative and societal identity
– The emerging challenges of a post globalization economic model
– US elections, Brexit the left behind and the populist extreme: priorities for a new US administration
– Defending liberal order, the rise of nationalism and populism
– Making deals: trade relations in the era of populism
– NATO and EU as the backbone of a new Western global engagement agenda



October 5

20:00 Bucharest Forum Welcome Dinner (closed to public, for speakers only, Salon A, Grand Ballroom)

Mediterranean and Black Seas – A Nexus of Security Threats and Economic Opportunities

Calin Ungur, State Councilor to the Prime Minister of Romania
Rüdiger Lentz, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Germany
Jean-Christophe Bas, Founder and CEO, The Global Compass, International Development Aspen Institute France
Moderator: Andrei Tarnea, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Romania


October 6

10:00 – 10:15 Opening addresses and kickoff (Constanta Ballroom)

Mircea Geoana, President, Aspen Institute Romania
Alina Inayeh, Director of Bucharest Office, German Marshall Fund of the United States


10:15 – 10:30 Keynote Speech:

Dacian Ciolos, Prime Minister of Romania


10:30 – 11:40 Session 1. Plenary session: Western Liberal Order under Siege? (Constanta Ballroom)

The concept of political West is simultaneously clear and complex and thus difficult to circumscribe in terms of geography, interests, governance, as well as economic and foreign policy preferences. It is also both surprisingly coherent and at times disconcertingly diverging. The West used to be defined both by the shared belief in and a readiness to defend a certain liberal order; at present, however, there are growing rifts and tensions between the West and its challengers, as well as within Western societies themselves. These are testing the Transatlantic link and the European unity. In a globalized world that is no longer unipolar not all challenges to the western liberal order are external. Some of the most difficult to address come from the rise of populism, nationalism and a return to the tension between short term political interest and value based policy choices. On the back of financial crisis and institutional failures, the EU is seeing a half century process of progressive integration being challenged by new sovereignist, nationalist and populist ideas. In the midst of serious external challenges and a US apparent disengagement from Europe, political leaders claim the rise of an illiberal democratic model. External actors also challenge the West not only in its influence and clout but also on its values. From Ukraine and Syria to East Asia the western liberal order is seeing its competitors on the move.

Keynote Speech (10:30 – 11:40):

H.E. Hans Klemm, Ambassador of the United States to Romania


Constantin Ionescu, State Counsellor, National Security Department, Romanian Presidential Administration
Jan Techau, Director of the Richard C. Holbrooke Forum, American Academy in Berlin
Arkady Moshes, Programme Director of the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia Research Programme, The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Sinan Ülgen, Visiting Scholar, Carnegie Europe
Moderator: Ivan Vejvoda, Senior Vice President, Programs, German Marshall Fund of the United States


11:40 – 12:00 Coffee Break


12:00 – 12:30 Plenary session (Constanta Ballroom): A Conversation with: Volkan Bozkir, Member of Parliament, Ambassador, Former Minister for European Union Affairs of Turkey

Moderator: Balazs Barabas, Journalist, Digi24


12:30 – 13:45 Session 2. Plenary Session: Runaway Train? From Reassurance to Deterrence on the Eastern Flank (Constanta Ballroom)

Since 2014 Europe is experiencing circumstances that have not been seen since the beginning of WWII. The illegal and illegitimate annexation of a sovereign territory has shattered any illusions of security and of a shared interest between Russia and the West in terms of space of peace in Europe. This was heralded by both the Allied difficulty to achieve a common stance on NATO enlargement and the confusing reaction to the 2008 Russia’s war against Georgia. The NATO summits in Wales and Warsaw have seen some responses on the security side. Both NATO members and the EU have put in place a regime of sanctions designed to pressure Russia to return to a status quo ante. What options are available to bring lasting stability and security in Europe’s East? What does this mean for EU and NATO enlargement and to the relations between the countries in the region and the West? With shared interest elsewhere but strategically and tactically incompatible approaches Russia and the West appear engaged in a costly stalemate. Can this be unlocked by deterring further security breaches and establishing a new normal?

Keynote addresses (12:30 – 12:50):

Mihnea Motoc, Minister of National Defence of Romania
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Minister of Defence of the Netherlands


H.E. Sorin Ducaru, Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, NATO
Ihor Dolhov, Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine for European Integration
Nicolas Tenzer, Chairman, Center for Studies and Research on Political Decision
Rolandas Kačinskas, Political Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania
Moderator: Max Hofmann, European Correspondent, Brussels Bureau Chief, Deutsche Welle


13:45 – 14:45 Lunch Break (Salon B, Grand Ballroom)


14:45 – 16:15 Session 3. Plenary Session: A Bridge too Far? Unlocking Economic Potential via Trade, Technology and Investment on the East-West Corridor – Romania Gateway Project (Constanta Ballroom)

Besides the Brexit negotiations, two processes will shape the future of trade and investment in Europe: the future of TTIP and the development of a coherent Western policy vis-a-vis the New Silk Road. Incidentally all these aspects are related. Europe needs a strong and coherent strategic vision in order to match the ambitious One Belt one Road policy deployed by China or the process of increased cooperation between Eurasian Union countries. With investment, infrastructure development and trade cooperation in Eurasia growing, Europe needs to find a way to project its own interests in this area of growth. For both Romanian and all the countries in South East Europe this is a logical instrument of creating growth and employment. It is also a string incentive for cooperation between the EU and Eurasian economies. Can a EU in the midst of its greatest identity crisis find the resources for the right policy responses? To what degree EU and US perspectives on the region are aligned? Can the Junker plan be used by the countries in Europe’s South East to establish themselves as a major gateway on the New Silk Road? What are today the major strategic and practical obstacles to trade and investment on the East-West corridor from a Western perspective?

Gao Chunyan, Councillor of European Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
Adrian Curaj, High Representative of the Prime Minister for Development of the Ecosystem Based on Science, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Associated to the ELI-NP pan-European Infrastructure
Frances Burwell, Vice President, European Union and Special Initiatives, Atlantic Council
Paulo Correa, Practice Manager, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, Europe and Central Asia Region West, The World Bank
Moderator: Vasile Iuga, Senior Advisor, PwC Romania


14:45 – 16:15 Parallel Sessions:

A.Room for Diplomacy? Stability and Resilience in the Region through Engagement, Enlargement and Dialog (Timisoara Meeting Room)

Central and Southeastern Europe is gripped by a nexus of instability. The fear of migrants, the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, the attempted coup in Turkey are all issues that appear to have a long tail and impact negatively the prospects for prosperity and stability in the region. They are more serious and potentially more dangerous than the wars in Former Yugoslavia. How can we return to stability in the region? Specific rifts are also matched by differences in opinion among Western countries in EU and NATO on how to best address these. One such major issue regards the relation with Russia. Another one revolves around how to react to the post-coup realities in Turkey.

Levente Benkő, Deputy State Secretary for Security Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Hungary
David Kramer, Senior Director for Human Rights and Democracy, The McCain Institute for International Leadership
Andrei Kolesnikov, Senior Associate and Chair of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program, Carnegie Moscow
Özgür Ünlühisarcikli, Director Ankara Office, German Marshall Fund of the United States
Moderator: Tim Judah, Balkans Correspondent, The Economist


B.Albatross or Black Swan? Maritime Security in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea (Galati Meeting Room)

Through Russia’s actions in Syria, but also through the effects of the refugee crisis, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea have de facto become a single strategic space. This raises difficult issues in terms of developing coherent and effective policy responses in both NATO and EU setting. The mixture of classic, hybrid and non-conventional threats and the reality of humanitarian, economic and political imperatives make this further difficult. What role does the Russian-Turkish dynamic play in the maritime dimension? What are the possible steps by the West to address jointly these sources of insecurity and contribute to the long term stability of the region? Specifically what can NATO and its members in the region do to ensure the effectiveness of the Alliance’ role and make the Eastern Med and Black Sea a space of shared security?

Sebastian Huluban, State Councilor, National Security Department, Romanian Presidential Administration (TBC)
CAM Constantin Ciorobea, Deputy Chief of Staff, Romanian Naval Forces
Antonia Colibasanu, Senior Analyst, Geopolitical Futures
Pavel Felgenhauer, Analyst, Novaya Gazeta
Mustafa Aydin, Rector, Kadir Has University
Mihai Carp, Deputy Head of Section, Operations Division of the International Staff, NATO
Moderator: Dimitar Bechev, Visiting Scholar, Center for European Studies, Harvard University


16:15 – 16:30 Coffee Break


16:30 – 18:00 Session 4. Plenary Session: Beyond Sykes Picot? Opportunity for Realignment in the Middle East? (Constanta Ballroom)

The greater Middle East and the Arab World are marked by both societal convulsions and proxy wars masquerading as civil wars. With the US administration hindered by presidential elections dynamics and the long-term effects of past policy choices the power vacuum is filled by new and resurgent actors. This is evident in Syria and Yemen. Several overtures at the UN Security Council or in Geneva have offered what proved to be false starts. Still pushed by global realignments and the regional realities, key powers and local factions feel the pressure for a new more stable and less acute framework. Is a realignment possible despite apparent mutually incompatible interests? To what degree societal perspectives play a role? What are the long-term implications of the current status quo in Syria for both the Muslim World and the West? Long-lasting binomial relations (Israel – US, Turkey – US, US – Saudi Arabia) are bearing the effects of ideological, societal and demographic changes. How stable is the Russian-Turkish detente? What are the reasonable expectations for how the Middle East will look in 5 years?

Keynote address: Daniela Gitman, Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Christina Lin, Fellow, Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University
Barbaros Binicioğlu, Istanbul’s representative, Ankara Policy Center
Koert Debeuf, Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, Oxford University
Mehmet Öğütçü, Chairman, Global Resources Partnership, UK
Andrei Tarnea, Executive Director, Aspen institute Romania
Moderator: Marta Dassù, Senior Director, European Affairs, The Aspen Institute, Editor-in-Chief of Aspen Institute Italia’s journal, Aspenia

16:30 – 18:00 Parallel session: Vectors and Fault Lines in Current Strategic Trends (roundtable conversation, by invitation only) (Brasov Meeting Room)

The United States gears up for its next presidential elections, the EU undergoes multiple internal challenges such as BREXIT, the refugee crisis, and the popularity of anti-EU and populist parties, the Ukrainian war and Russian propaganda. Strong strategic vision and cutting – edge leadership is vital for maintaining stability on both continents. The challenges that young leaders in strategic areas face today imply strong components of crisis management, handling new technologies, navigating complex cultural contexts, hybrid threads and unpredictable security scenarios. How can they better prepare for these entangled analysis and decision making processes? How can major international crises be avoided and what is the responsibility of the new generation of strategists in maintaining transatlantic dialogue and stability? How does the emergence of global trends and publics, mediated by the Internet and digital media, influence the tools of strategic forecasting, planning and operational interaction? Can we talk about a digital age in diplomacy?

Cathryn Cluver, Executive Director, The Future of Diplomacy Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
David Kramer, Senior Director for Human Rights and Democracy, The McCain Institute for International Leadership
Moderator: Dimitar Bechev, Visiting Scholar, Center for European Studies, Harvard University


20:00 – 21:30 Bucharest Forum Power Dinner: A Shared Western Vision of the World?

Carlo Strenger, Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, Tel Aviv University
H.E. Sorin Ducaru, Assistant Secretary General Emerging Security Challenges, NATO
Cathryn Cluver, Executive Director, The Future of Diplomacy Project, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
Moderator: Alina Inayeh, Director of Bucharest Office, German Marshall Fund of the United States


21:30 Night-owl Sessions (off the record parallel sessions, closed to press, by prior registration only)

A.Unity in the New Europe? (Timisoara Meeting Room)

Zsuzsanna Szelényi, Member of the Hungarian Parliament
Matei Paun, Managing Partner, BAC Investments
Roberto Menotti, Editor-in-Chief of Aspenia online, Senior Advisor – International Activities, Aspen Institute Italia
Moderator: Dani Sandu, Freelance Sociologist, Development Sociologist


B.East Side Story (Galati Meeting Room)

Andrei Kolesnikov, Senior Associate and Chair of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program, Carnegie Moscow Center
Mehmet Öğütçü, Chairman, Global Resources Partnership, UK
Iulian Fota, Military and and Foreign Policy Analyst
Moderator: Orysia Lutsevych, Manager, Ukraine Forum, Chatham House


C.Moldova – A Lesson Learned? (Brasov Meeting Room)

Hanna Shelest, Editor-in-Chief, UA: Ukraine Analytica
Vadim Pistrinciuc, Member of the Parliament of Moldova
Vladimir Socor, Political Analyst of East European Affairs, Jamestown Foundation
Igor Munteanu, Igor Munteanu, Executive Director of the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) “Viitorul”
Dan Dungaciu, Director, Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations of the Romanian Academy (IRRA)
Moderator: Ovidiu Nahoi, Editor-in-Chief, RFI Romania


D.Southern Surroundings – Opportunity of a Pivotal Change in the Middle East (Oradea Meeting Room)

Marc Franco, Senior Associate Fellow, Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations
Mustafa Aydin, Rector, Kadir Has University
Mohammed Nosseir, Managing Director at Global Marketing Consultancy, Writer on liberal and reform issues, Former Member of the Political Bureau of the Free Egyptian Party
Koert Debeuf, Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict, Oxford University
Moderator: Daniela Schwarzer, Director of Research Institute, German Council on Foreign Relations


October 7

08:30 – 09:45 Working Breakfast: Nothing New on the Eastern Front? (limited capacity, by prior registration only, Timisoara Meeting Room)

Russia’s most debated foreign actions this summer have been around Syria and the Democratic Convention. While the situation in Donbas does not appear changed it is not stable either. In both practical terms, regarding its ability to sustain two costly and complex operations at the same time, and in terms of perception, Russia has chosen a low key approach. Do sanctions work? What can Europe and the US do to address the establishment of yet another complex frozen conflict on Europe’s threshold? Ukraine continues to fight its own demons. Is the Ukrainian society becoming inured to the simmering conflict? What are the key dynamics shaping Ukraine’s political process? What implications will these have in the country’s relations with the West and with Russia? Moldova enters its presidential election season with a divided and confusing political spectrum. After a brief return to high intensity the Armenian-Azeri conflict is again under control and local political crisis dominate both Erevan and Baku. Georgia has been largely out of the news but struggles to bring back its economic performance of a few year back. What are the prospects for the former Eastern Partnership? Europe, dominated by the trifecta of internal crisis (financial, migration and terrorism) has to face the rise of populism and centrifugal forces made evident by the Brexit vote. Pressured by external risks in its south and in Syria the EU appears less interested in dealing with the complications of former Eastern Partnership countries. While the Global Strategy offers some perspective on the next phase, it si nor at all clear if this will have traction in post Brexit EU. With the US caught in electoral funk the region is left fending those demons largely on its own. Will it succeed?

Orysia Lutsevych, Manager, Ukraine Forum, Chatham House
Hanna Shelest, Editor-in-Chief, Ukraine Analytica
Iulian Groza, Executive Director, Institute for European Policies and Reforms
Andrei Popov, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova
Moderator: Tim Judah, Balkans Correspondent, The Economist


10:00 – 10:45 Plenary Session: A conversation on: A New European Strategic Vision (Constanta Ballroom)

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission
Lazar Comanescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Romania
Moderators: Cristina Cileacu, Journalist, Digi24 and Radu Tudor, Political and Military Analyst


10:45 – 11:00 Coffee Break


11:00 – 12:20 Session 5. Plenary Roundtable Session: Critique of Practical Reason? A Strong Europe: Where Strategy Meets Reality (Salon D, Grand Ballroom)

One of the most important elements at the core of Europe’s overlapping crises is migration. Whether this means freedom of movement in the EU, the Schengen area or treatment of refugees these issues are yet to be solved. The stop-gap deal with Turkey provides, for the time being, a respite. The complication of Brexit becoming evident, the promises of populist, right-wing and anti-EU politicians ring a little hollow. At the same time anti-establishment, populist and sometimes hard right wing parties in Europe are still on the rise mounting challenges to the mainstream forces. This creates internal and external complications for Europe. The context is unfavorable to address the “unfinished business” in the Balkans and at in Europe’s East. What can be done to address existing institutional and policy shortcomings and restore EU’s citizen’s faith in the EU’s capacity to provide for effective and safe borders and a just, human and sustainable migration policy? What does that mean for EU’s relationship with Turkey, and other candidate countries? On the other hand what does that mean for its relation with the US? Fear and loathing of globalization and its multicultural tale are instrumental in the rise of populisms To some extent this is what fueled the discourse that led to Brexit and sustains the neo-sovereignist “illiberal democratic” leaders in Central Europe. What impact will this have on the chances of a TTIP deal with a next US administration? Particularly difficult given the US has to face similar anti free-trade sentiments and a wave of populism. With elections looming in France and Germany the context for the sort of practical and sensible policies required by the making of a strong Europe appear illusory to many. How can that be changed?

Dragos Tudorache, Minister of Interior of Romania
Aleksandar Andrija Pejović, State Secretary for European Integration, Chief Negotiator for Montenegro’s Accession to EU, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Montenegro
Frances Burwell, Vice President, European Union and Special Initiatives, Atlantic Council
Daniela Schwarzer, Director of Research Institute, German Council on Foreign Relations
Moderator: Ivan Vejvoda, Senior Vice President, Programs, German Marshall Fund of the United States


12:20 – 12:30 Coffee Break


12:30 – 14:00 Session 6. Plenary Roundtable Session: Getting Back in Shape – Financing the Non Eurozone Economies in an Era of Uncertainties (Salon D, Grand Ballroom)

Europe’s banking system is still reeling from the effects of its most serious economic and financial crisis. Beyond specific policies, the crisis is rooted in the imperfect design of the EU’s financial and budgetary workings. Economic nationalism is resurfacing in many EU countries and it is particularly evident in Europe’s Central and Eastern countries. A populist discourse against “foreign interests” , “foreign capital” and the EU is amalgamated with a criticism of Europe’s decadent values. The rise of a new conservative and nationalist ethos is used to defend illiberal economic and social policies. With a growing public discontent against neoliberal policies and an open criticism of globalization (often both are conflated with the EU and its problems) Europe is hard pressed to reform. Decade long low growth in some of its large economies and stubbornly high youth unemployment in unreformed economies creates further social and political pressures. Brexit has made all these issues evident and central to Europe’s own idiosyncratic efforts to reform. Businesses are weary of political and systemic risks and are looking for stability. Nothing of that sort is on offer. With France and Germany going into elections, Italy holding a referendum with unclear prospects and Spain returning for the third time to the polls failing to achieve a governing majority there is little wonder business are not very positive about EU’s economic prospects. At the same time there are few other areas of safe investment. Beyond the evident political risks in CEE region, what are the prospects for convergence? How can Europe address the requests for more effective Euro-zone mechanisms and follow the calls for more flexible rules for member states? Can Junker plan be updated and expanded significantly to serve this purpose?

Enache Jiru, Secretary of State, Ministry of Public Finance
Jacek Rostowski, Chairman of the Board, Foundation for Contemporary Liberalism, Former Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of Poland
Daniel Badea, Managing Partner, Clifford Chance Badea
Steven Van Groningen, President and CEO of Raiffeisen Bank Romania, President of The Council of Bankers Employers in Romania
Raluca Tintoiu, CEO of NN Pension Fund, President of the Association for Privately Administered Pensions in Romania (APAPR)
Cezar Scarlat, Partner, Head of Abris Romania
Moderator: Radu Soviani, Economic Journalist


14:00 – 14:40 Lunch Break (Grand Ballroom Foyer)


14:40 – 16:30 Session 7. Plenary Roundtable Session: Give Energy a Chance: Energy Union and Regional Transformations (Salon D, Grand Ballroom)

Green sustainable energy but also an energy revolution for growth and jobs is present in the US elections, Polish politics and it is the very core of the Paris agreement on Climate Change. In many ways energy policies are the greatest shaper of the future of our societies and our planet The transition is complicated and decisions required to make it successful are complex. With the recent OPEC decision on curtailing supply there is a clear return to active actions to generate growth in the fossil sector. The latter will continue to play a significant role in the energy transition. With new deals on supply in Turkey and South East Europe, with practical steps towards cross-border interconnectivity the energy sector in the region enters a new dynamism. The opportunity for onshore and offshore extraction, new but daunting governance and market performance issues remain. National and EU wide reforms are required to complete the project of a European Energy Union. How will this play out against re-emerging economic nationalism and short term bets? At the other end of the policy, business and science spectrum, what to expect from the impact of disruptive technologies in the field of renewables, storage and electric vehicles? Will these be effective enough to answer the climate imperatives? What role for energy in the Transatlantic relations? What role can Romania play in the region as one of the few energy sufficient countries of SEE and a country determined to play a role in the effective establishment of an EU wide Energy Union?

Keynote addresses:

Victor Grigorescu, Minister of Energy of Romania
David Monsma, Executive Director, Energy and Environment Program, The Aspen Institute


Niculae Havrilet, President, National Energy Regulatory Authority (ANRE)
Azamat Zhangulov, Senior Vice President, KMG International
Mehmet Öğütçü, Chairman, Global Resources Partnership, UK
Haris Boko, Chief Adviser, Energy Institute Hrvoje Pozar, Croatia
Moderator: Corina Murafa, ‎ Energy Policy Consultant


16:30 – 16:45 Closing Remarks