Jointly organized by the Aspen Institute Romania and GMFUS office in Romania, Bucharest Forum enjoys the key support of the Romanian Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania and the Ministry of National Defence of Romania. It benefits from a diverse participation of foreign and Romanian government representatives, political figures, experts, media and think tank representatives, as well as business leaders.

The sixth edition of the Bucharest Forum takes place between 4-6 October, 2017, at critical times for the region and Europe. The current international context is in flux, as on both shores of the Atlantic national politics is driven by new agendas and discourses, imprinting a consequent dynamics to international relations, and affecting economic trends at national, regional and international levels. Brought to the fore by grievances of a plurality of citizens who feel left out of mainstream politics and economy, the new political trend and its economic philosophy are generating antagonistic approaches and actions of various actors, leading to numerous clashes of interest, intention and outcomes. Indeed, the main feature of the current context is the numerous clashes being either in incubation phase or out in the open.

Bucharest Forum 2017 offers a platform for the various actors to meet and discuss their interests, approaches and goals, analyze potential and existing clashes, their implications and results, and look for ways to maximize the potential benefits of diverging views and mitigate the consequent negative impact.

The agenda of the Forum is structured around an overarching theme, Center and Periphery – Bridging the Divide, and the discussion will focus on its economic, financial and societal implications. The themes brought forward by this year’s Bucharest Forum are:

  •      Investment climate in Central and Eastern Europe
  •      Energy Union – a Fractured Market and an Elusive Goal
  •      The Future of Energy, the Energy of the Future
  •      A Transatlantic Defense Industry?
  •      CEE – Losing Its Sense of Direction or Being Pushed off the Cliff?
  •      Populism Trumping Democracy
  •      Building New Economies in Old Countries
  •      Financial Markets – New and Old
  •      Free Trade in the Age of The Deal
  •      New Generation of Investments
  •      Competing for Talent and Skills in the Workforce
  •      Offshore/onshore Security at the Black Sea
  •      Digitropolis
  •      Air and Space Industry
  •      Smart Cities and a Connected World
  •      Creating a Culture of Entrepreneurship



October 4

16:00 – 18:45      Young Strategic Leaders Forum (Conversation, closed to public) (Oglinzilor Hall, Cercul Militar National)

The Young Strategic Leaders Forum aims to create a space of discussion and a work group for young professionals of the Aspen and GMF Fellows and Alumni communities that are committed to generate innovative and up-to-date analysis, and to contribute with groundbreaking perspectives and strategies in areas like foreign affairs, international relations, global economics and international public policy. This initiative aims to create practical contributions to the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, with an ultimate goal of creating a community.

16:00 – 16:10      Welcome and introductions

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

16:10 – 17:20      Politics in the Digital Era

  • Victor Negrescu, Minister Delegate for European Affairs, Romania
  • Laurentiu Stefan, Senior Presidential Adviser for Internal Political Affairs, Romanian Presidential Administration
  • David A. Schlaefer, Political Counsellor, U.S. Embassy in Romania
  • Thibault Muzergues, Europe Program Director, International Republican Institute
  • Andrew Wrobel, Head of Editorial, Emerging Europe

Moderator: Ana Catauta, Aspen Fellow

17:20 – 17:30      Coffee break (Mihai Eminescu Hall)

17:30 – 18:40      Europe’s East in Times of Uncertainty

  • Arkady Moshes, Programme Director, The EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia research programme, The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Dan Dungaciu, Director, Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations of the Romanian Academy
  • Alice Pop, Romania Resident Director, National Democratic Institute

Moderator: Hanna Shelest, GMF Fellow

19:00 – 21:00          Speakers Cocktail Reception (closed to public, by invitation only)


October 5

– Marble Hall (Sala de Marmura), Cercul Militar National –

09:00 – 09:30      Registration and welcome coffee

09:30 – 09:50      Opening addresses and kickoff

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

09:50 – 10:00      Keynote address

  • H.E. Teodor Melescanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Romania

10:00 – 11:30      Plenary Session: A Transatlantic Anchor for Europe’s Periphery?

Central and Eastern Europe has become an increasingly troubled and complicated region, with serious security challenges, increasing illiberal tendencies and strong geopolitical competitions. Romania’s geographic and geopolitical location between East and West offers its challenges and opportunities, while its economic trajectory and strategies give the country a renewed importance in the region and with its partners. The panel will look at some of these tendencies and strategies, and their implication for and benefits to Romania’s current and potential partners.

  • Ilan Laufer, Minister for the Business Environment, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Romania
  • Decebal Fagadau, Mayor of Constanta
  • Yosuke Kawakami, Director for Japan, Board of Directors – European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
  • Soomin Park, Alternate Director for Australia, New Zealand and Korea, Board of Directors – European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
  • Patricia Wruuck, Economist, European Investment Bank

Moderator: Harlan Ullman, Senior Adviser, Atlantic Council

11:30 – 11:45     Coffee break

11:45 – 12:45      A New Economic World Order: What Role for Emerging Europe?

  • Cornel Ban, Assistant Professor, The Frederick S. Pardee School for Global Studies, Boston University
  • Andrew Wrobel, Head of Editorial, Emerging Europe

Moderator: Liz Claman, Anchor, Fox Business Network

12:45 – 13:30      Lunch break

13:30 – 14:30      A Conversation on: Trumpism, Technology and the New World Disorder

  • Mircea Geoana, President, Aspen Institute Romania
  • Liz Claman, Anchor, Fox Business Network
  • Samuel Burke, Business and Technology Correspondent, CNN

Moderator: Harlan Ullman, Senior Adviser, Atlantic Council

14:30 – 14:45      Leadership in Action – Presentation of Young Strategic Leaders Forum attendees

14:45 – 16:45      Spot on: Regaining Its Tempo

EU is facing a turbulent period, marked by centrifugal forces and processes, by a surge in populist discourse and illiberal tendencies. Many hope that, with the cycle of important European elections over, more clarity will be brought to its political landscape and new vigor to its leadership, taking the Union to its next level. The international context requires a determined and strong Europe, true to its values and beliefs. Europe needs to manage immediate threats and crises while determining and pursuing its long term vision and strategy. The panel is shaped to address both long term approach (first part) and immediate goals of the next two years (the second).

Europe Looking Ahead…

  • Victor Negrescu, Minister Delegate for European Affairs, Romania
  • Andreea Pastirnac, Minister for Romanians Abroad
  • Angela Cristea, Head of the European Commission representation in Romania

Moderator: Ali Aslan, TV Host and Journalist, Deutsche Welle TV

… Beyond the Next Two Years

  • Lilyana Pavlova, Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU
  • Matti Maasikas, Deputy Minister for EU Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Estonia
  • Franz Fischler, President, European Forum Alpbach

Moderator: Ali Aslan, TV Host and Journalist, Deutsche Welle TV

16:45 – 17:00      Coffee break

17:00 – 18:45      Spot on: Strategic Hedging and Power Politics

Europe South-East and East remain victim to complicated internal politics, difficult relations between countries and, most importantly, diverging interests and influences of external actors. Countries (or governments?) react and adapt differently to all these pressures, hedging their orientation and policies to ensure long-term positive outcomes, or at least mitigate problems. Ideology and values are used to shape the best adapting strategy, creating complicated regional mosaiques. The first part of the panel will look at countries in Europe’s South-East, divided along many lines, while the second will analyze the situation in Europe’s East, where one major actor is keen to conquer the region, both metaphorically and literally.

Divide …

  • Aleksandar Andrija Pejović, Minister of European Affairs of Montenegro
  • H.E. István Íjgyártó, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary
  • Amir Muharemi, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia

Moderator: Tim Judah, Special Correspondent, The Economist

… and Conquer

  • Mustafa Aydin, Rector, Kadir Has University
  • Pavel Felgenhauer, Analyst, Novaya Gazeta
  • Nicolas Tenzer, Chairman, Center for Studies and Research on Political Decision

Moderator: Tim Judah, Special Correspondent, The Economist

21:00     Night-owl Sessions (off the record parallel sessions, closed to press) (Athenee Palace Hilton Hotel)

A: Europe and the US – The Stress Test (Enescu I Room)

  • Adam Sambrook, Deputy Chief of Mission, British Embassy in Romania
  • Harlan Ullman, Senior Adviser, Atlantic Council

Moderator: Florin Nita, EEAS Permanent Representative in the “Security Union Task Force”, European Commission

B: From Normandy to Tiraspol: Nothing New? (Enescu II Room)

  • Hanna Shelest, Editor in Chief, Ukraine Analytica
  • Iulian Groza, Executive Director, Institute for European Policies and Reforms
  • Pavel Felgenhauer, Analyst, Novaya Gazeta

Moderator: Ovidiu Nahoi, Editor-in-Chief, RFI Romania


October 6

– Marble Hall (Sala de Marmura), Cercul Militar National-

09:30 – 10:00      Opening address

  • Mihai Fifor, Minister of National Defence, Romania
  • H.E. Hans Klemm, Ambassador of the United States of America to Romania

10:00 – 10:15       Keynote speech

  • Wayne J. Bush, Assistant Secretary General for Executive Management, NATO

10:15 – 11:30      Plenary Session:  Maintaining Security, Advancing Defense – A Trans-Atlantic Challenge

Europe’s security faces multiple challenges posed by state and non-state actors to the South, to the East and from within the continent. At the same time its decades long dependence on the US partner seems is increasingly challenged by European voices asking for more European defense. The panel will look at these new tendencies and their political, security and economic implications.

  • Gen. Nicolae Ciucă, Chief of the Romanian General Staff, Ministry of National Defence, Romania
  • George Ciamba, Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania
  • Gabriel Vlase, Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies, Parliament of Romania
  • Mihnea Motoc, Deputy Head, The European Political Strategy Center

Moderator: Radu Tudor, Political and Defense Analyst

11:30 – 11:45    Coffee break

11:45 – 13:15    Plenary Session: Reshaping Global Trade – China’s Belt and Road Initiative

China’s BRI project is getting more and more traction, as it grows both geographically and investment wise. It has become an important economic opportunity for the countries it involves, and of interest to the EU and other partners. The panel will look at the newest and future developments of the project, and at its economic and political implications, challenges and opportunities.

Keynote address:

  • Li Yujie, Councillor of European Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China


  • Tengiz Pkhaladze, Foreign Relations Secretary, ‎Administration of the President of Georgia
  • Alexey Golovin, Vice President Corporate Development and Strategy, KMG International Group
  • Cristiana Pasca Palmer, UN Assistant Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Doru Costea, former Ambassador to People’s Republic of China and Mongolia
  • Xiong Tao, European Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

Moderator:  Rene Schob, Partner, KPMG

13:15 – 14:00      Lunch break

14:00 – 14:10       Keynote speech

  • Ted Poe, Congressman

14:10 – 15:30      Plenary Session: Innovation and Sustainability in the Energy Sector

The panel discusses new, clean ways of producing energy. Technologies such as smart, integrated, digitalized grids, and the analysis of big data are leading to the emergence of prosumers and creating efficiency on the market while contributing to environmental sustainability. Embracing these innovations provides a major economic opportunity for Romania and the region. The panel also presents the white paper of Aspen Energy Lab, an Aspen Public Policy Program dedicated to emerging leaders in energy. This year, the paper focused on vulnerable consumers and energy poverty in the context of negotiations for the “Clean Energy for all Europeans” package proposed by the European Union.

* Presentation of Aspen Energy Lab 2017 White PaperAndreea Nica, Aspen Energy Lab 2017 Emerging Leader

  • Alessio Menegazzo, Head of Sustainability and Public Affairs, Enel Romania
  • Eric Stab, ‎Chairman & CEO, Engie Romania
  • Dickon Pinner, Senior Partner and Leader of Sustainability and Resource Productivity Practice, McKinsey&Company
  • Valeriu Binig, Partner, EY Romania
  • Constantin Damov, Co-founder, Green Group

Moderator: Cristian Pirvulescu, CEO and Founding Partner, ENEVO Group

15:30 – 15:45       Coffee break

15:45 – 16:30      Interactive Session with Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for The Atlantic and editor of Atlantic Live – Where Would It Break First?

16:30 – 17:45      Plenary Session: Who is Afraid of Technology?

Technology has reached the point in its development when it affects and may change industries, economies and societies. These changes require adaptation, and consequently public policies that foresee these changes and propose measures that maximize the benefits they yield and minimize the negative impact. The panel will look at the possible short-, medium- and long term changes of this nature, and their economic, political and social implications.

  • Samuel Burke, Business and Technology Correspondent, CNN
  • Tyson Barker, Program Director, Digital Program, Aspen Institute Germany
  • Mihnea Costoiu, Rector, Politehnica University, Bucharest
  • Maria-Cristina Matei, Chief Operating Officer, ING Romania
  • Bogdan Balaci, General Manager South-East Europe, Philips Lighting

Moderator: Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for The Atlantic and editor of Atlantic Live

17:45 – 18:00      Closing Remarks


Black Sea Diaries photo exhibition in the foyer

The photography exhibition Black Sea Diaries is part of a photo-video documentary project based on a journey around the extended Black Sea region that was completed in 2017. Its purpose is to discover the lives of ordinary people. While the region continues to be dominated by external conflicts and internal tensions, people still share the same joys and sorrows. They move across the region following their passions or they stay at home and build houses, families, communities, creative lives. The area’s cultural richness often attracts other settlers.

They are the people for whom policies are made. They do not determine borders. Instead, they create small universes in which they pursue the right to be happy. They are the #PeopleOfTheBlackSea

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The project has received the financial support from the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation – A project of the German Marshall Fund. Opinions expressed in the materials do not necessarily represent those of the Black Sea Trust, the German Marshall Fund, or its partners.