Bucharest Forum is an annual high-level event organized by the Aspen Institute Romania and the German Marshall Fund of the US, Bucharest office. Since its inception in 2012, the mission of the Bucharest Forum is to create a regional platform for forward thinking on economic and security policies, and for promoting political dialogue between governments and civil society.

In 1989 the trans-Atlantic space seemed to have come to a stable and tranquil state that would forever ensure peace and prosperity not only on the two sides of the Atlantic, but to those parts of the world willing to embrace and abide by the same values. Thirty years later the world is marred by geopolitical disruptions, economic volatility and social anguish, with questioning the very values they cheered three decades ago. Trans-Atlantic cooperation is weakened by a return of great power politics, the US is reframing its attitude towards the world and within itself, while Europe seems captive to its own angst and low self-esteem.

Technological advances are both embraced and feared by businesses, politicians and citizenry, and the wide opportunities they open lead to scenarios ranging from heavenly to apocalyptic. Trans-Atlantic space seems more unsettling and the future more unpredictable than ever in the last decades. Against this background, China continues to rise economically, and Russia seems to intimidate the European neighborhood, opposing their streamlined decision making and tight control of society to the seemingly less efficient democratic system and respect for human rights, only to further threaten democratic self-esteem and deepen polarization within societies. Nowadays East meets West not only geographically, and not only in the East of Europe.

Thus, there are three silver linings this edition of Bucharest Forum aims to explore:

  • Citizens in Europe continue to cherish the European Union and believe in the values it was founded on, as revealed by opinion polls throughout the continent;
  • On both sides of the Atlantic, but especially in Europe, businesses integrate and use technology to the benefit of both economy and citizenry, without major disruptions to the workforce. Governments follow suit, albeit at a slower pace.
  • Europeans started taking their security seriously, in all its dimensions (cyber, informational, economic and military).

Bucharest Forum 2019 will offer a platform for reflection on the challenges of the present, and on possible paths for the future, as seen from the Eastern border of the Western world.

Organizers: Aspen Institute Romania, German Marshall Fund of the United States

Institutional Partners: Government of Romania, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, Ministry of National Defence of Romania, Palace of the National Military Circle, Ministry for Communications and Information Society

Strategic Partners: GLOBSEC, DOHA FORUM, RAND Corporation

Knowledge Partner: A.T. Kearney

Main Sponsors: Enel, Microsoft, Roche, Raiffeisen Bank, Mastercard

Sponsors: MOL, Novartis, British American Tobacco, Globalworth Foundation, ENEVO, Coremar, JETFLY HUB, Exxon Mobil, CEC Bank

Supporter: Aqua Carpatica

Main Media Partners: Digi24, Adevarul

Media Partners: Emerging Europe, Caleaeuropeana.ro, Energynomics.ro

Conference Report

Photo gallery




October 16
Cercul Militar Naţional / Palace of the National Military Circle

Sala de Marmură / Marble Hall
13:15 – 14:00 Welcome & Registration

14:00 – 14:20 Official Opening
Ciprian Ladunca, Managing Director, Aspen Institute Romania
Alina Inayeh, Director, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Bucharest office

14:20 – 14:35 Keynote address
• Doru Frunzulica, Secretary of State, Ministry of National Defence of Romania

14:35 – 15:45 Emerging Europe @30 – a Fresh Perspective
For 30 years, countries to the East of Berlin have been both struggling with old approaches and behavior and striving on new segments of modern economy. Embracing various and, at times, antagonistic discourses, political class is looking either to the East, to the West or at times at both, proposing societal constructions and economic models accordingly. While recent history continues to influence the region, it emerges as a region with potential, ideas and, possibly, solutions.
Dan Neculaescu, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• Matthew Boyse, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, US Department of State
• Rastislav Kacer, Chairman, Globsec
Moderator: Alexandra Martin, Strategic Forums Director, Globsec

15:45 – 16:00 Coffee Break

16:00 – 16:30 Conversation with Octavian Ursu, Mayor of the City of Görlitz, Germany and Cosmin Prelipceanu, Journalist, Digi24
The conversation will be held in Romanian and simultaneous translation in English will be available

16:30 – 17:30 Emerging Europe @30 – A New Economic Model?
This year, Central and Eastern European states are celebrating 30 years since they begun their transition from centrally planned economy to market economy. Currently, these states are experiencing different levels of economic development, due to differences in productivity and connectivity. However, one challenge all these economies will likely have to overcome in the near future is escaping the middle-income trap, as countries which have achieved significant growth thanks to their EU membership may begin to stagnate due to rising wages and labour costs. This panel discusses possible solutions to this problem, including a paradigm shift to a new economic model based on investments in education, innovation and on strengthening institutions.
Steven van Groningen, President and CEO, Raiffeisen Bank Romania, Member of the Board, Aspen Institute Romania
Daniela Iliescu, CEO, Patria Bank
Mark Davis, Regional Director for Romania and Bulgaria, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Clara Volintiru, Associate Professor, Bucharest University of Economic Studies (ASE), Aspen Alumna
Rogier van den Brink, Lead Economist, World Bank
Moderator: Andrew Wrobel, Founding Partner, Strategy & Content, Emerging Europe

19:30 Power Dinner – Aspen Dialogue (by invitation only)

October 17
Cercul Militar Naţional / Palace of the National Military Circle

Sala de Marmură / Marble Hall
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome & Registration

9:30 – 10:00 Keynote address
9:30 – 9:45Ramona-Nicole Mănescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Romania
9:45 – 10:00Ambassador Tacan Ildem, Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, NATO

Sala de Marmură / Marble Hall
10:00 – 11:00 Technology and Its Impact on Business & Society
The rapid development of technology is changing business approaches and models, creating opportunities for growth and development, while deeply affecting old structure of economy. Individual, business and national security are also impacted by technological developments, forcing governments and international organizations to broaden their approaches and responses to new threats and vulnerabilities.
Alexandru Petrescu, Minister for Communications and Information Society
Sorin Ducaru, Director of the European Union Satellite Center
Violeta Luca, General Manager, Microsoft Romania
Martine Draulette, General Manager, Roche
Moderator : Samuel Burke, Journalist

11:00 – 11:15 Coffee break

11:15 -12:15 Parallel sessions

Sala Eroilor / Heroes’ Hall
Business, Governments, Citizens and the 4th Industrial Revolution
The 4th industrial revolution affects the workforce, in particular, and societies, in general in ways still unclear. Business, governments and societies are facing new challenges and pressures, yet only seldom are policies thought of and devised to respond not only the immediate needs and crisis but the long term transformations.
Claire Casey, Global Director of Public Policy, The Economist Intelligence Unit
Florian Teleabă, Manager, A.T. Kearney
Henry Olsen, Washington Post columnist, Senior Fellow, Ethics & Public Policy Center
Moderator: Roxana Voicu-Dorobantu, Associate Professor, Bucharest University of Economic Studies (ASE), Aspen Fellow

Sala de Marmură / Marble Hall
Middle East – Is anyone Still Looking for a Solution?
Thirty years ago, the sand dunes and shadowy vales in the Middle East and Northern Africa felt a tremor that seemed both familiar and disconcertingly new. Two Gulf Wars and twenty years later, it turned into an earthquake toppling leaders and making three countries all but disappear. External ‘traditional’ players are shifting places; and the inventory of local influencing factors, including religion and non-state actors, has changed. Solutions are needed lest the Wider Middle East becomes Wilder.
Lolwah Rashid Al-Khater, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar & Executive Director, Doha Forum
Neil Quilliam, Associate Fellow, Middle East & North Africa Programme, Chatham House, Royal Institute of International Affairs
Mohammed Loulichki, Senior Fellow, Policy Center for the New South, Former Ambassador of Morocco to the UN
Koert Debeuf, Interim Editor-in-Chief, EUobserver, Middle East expert
Moderator: Doru Costea, Ph.D., Ambassador (ret.), Member, Aspen Institute Romania Strategy Group

12:15 – 13:15 Lunch

13:15 – 14:15 Parallel sessions: International Governance in the Age of Economic and Military Conflicts

Sala Eroilor / Heroes’ Hall
Trade Wars, Conflicts and Global Governance
The economic clout has had trade as its main fuel for ever. Conflicting trends are vying for keeping the mechanisms ruling the overall environment of trade and development, or for changing them, as globalization seems to be coming of age and enter a new era. The so-called ‘multipolarity’ is a receipt for more global cohesion – or a disguise for reverting to One Way to Rule Them All.
Shinichi Nakabayashi, Director for Japan, Board of the EBRD
Kerry Brown, Director of the Lau China Institute, King’s College London
Jin Canrong, Associate Dean of School of International Studies, Renmin University of China
Moderator: Terry Martin, Senior News Anchor, Deutsche Welle TV

Sala de Marmură / Marble Hall
Energy Today: between Conventional and Sustainable?
Energy today is at a crossroads, both on the world stage and regionally, with decision-makers and industry facing a choice between continuing to rely on fossil fuels and integrating newer, cleaner sources of energy. While there are different approaches among world powers, the future will no doubt start bringing a new energy mix. The panel will explore how changes brought by the new geo-economic, financial and technological context can bring sustainability and efficiency to future energy systems as well as energy security.
Mehmet Ogutcu, Founder & CEO, Global Resources Partnership
Corina Popescu, Chief Executive Officer, Electrica
Alessio Menegazzo, Head of Sustainability and Institutional Affairs – Enel Romania
Moderator: Cristian Pirvulescu, General Manager & Founding Partner, Enevo Group

14:15 – 14:30 Coffee break

Plenary Sessions:
Sala de Marmură / Marble Hall

14:30 – 15:00 Conversation with Nicu Popescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Republic of Moldova and Radu Tudor, Political and Defense Analyst

15:00 – 16:00 Transatlantic and Eurasian Security at Crossroads
Security of the Transatlantic space is currently facing new challenges, out of the traditional military ones. Cyber threats, informational wars, and many hybrid actions of both state and non-state actors are complicating the security landscape and create, or expose, new vulnerabilities, Tensions within the transatlantic space are adding to the complexity, as do imminent major political events (Brexit, US elections, among first). An ever-warming relation between Russia and China may well be extended beyond the current economic dimension, creating an even more complex security context.
Bobo Lo, Russia Research Fellow, French Institute for International Affairs
Ömer Önhon, Director General for International Security Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
Ely Karmon, Senior Research Scholar, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Herzlyia
Radu Tudor, Political and Defense Analyst
Moderator: Alina Inayeh, Director, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Bucharest office

16:00 – 17:00 Old and Modern Geopolitics for the Greater Black Sea Area – Caspian, Black Sea, Mediterranean
Geopolitical competition for areas around seas has always been present as societies developed. After a few decades of shared goals and ideological harmony, major power politics returned, and the Black Sea area has become, yet again, a geopolitical competition field. In the era of globalization and trans-national threats, vulnerabilities and opportunities, what happens in the Black Sea does not stay in the Black Sea anymore, but influences, and is influenced, by events in proximity. A look at the enlarged geopolitical and geo-economics context is suitable to better identify trends and developments.
Alexander Iskandaryan, Director, Caucasus Institute
Arsen Kharatyan, Former Advisor on Foreign Relations to the Prime Minister of Armenia
Vasil Sikharulidze, Chairman, Atlantic Council of Georgia
Hanna Shelest, Editor-in-Chief, Ukraine Analytica
Moderator: Tim Judah, Balkans Correspondent, The Economist

17:00 Closing