The 2024 edition of the Socrates Seminar Moldova is a Leadership Seminar, conducted in English, organized by the Aspen Institute Romania, in partnership with the Aspen Institute U.S. Socrates Programsupported by the Foreign Policy Association of the Republic of Moldova.

Supporting Moldova Increase its Societal and Democratic Resilience

The Seminar will be organized in Chișinău.
Powered by the Aspen Institute Romania Chișinău Office.

For the 3 days of the Seminar, we will explore how the Republic of Moldova could increase its societal and democratic resiliencefacing multiple hybrid threats, continuing its path to European integration.

In a very challenging and increasingly tense geo-political and geo-economic regional context, the resilience of our societies, certainly in the countries in Central-Eastern Europe, must be constantly strengthened. Key societal values such as democracy, rule of law, good governance and transparency are essential in developing the good society the Aspen International Partners are aiming to promote and in increasing the resilience of our countries in the face of authoritarian influences and in the fight against corruption. 

Taking into consideration the decision taken in June 2022 by the European Council to grant Republic of Moldova the EU candidate status, the government’s strong commitment to deepen cooperation with the political West, and the critical global and regional geo-political and geo-economic context, which is severely affecting the Moldovan society, Aspen Institute Romania took the decision to extend its activity beyond the Romanian borders. Thus, in September 2023, the Aspen Institute Romania officially opened an Office in the Republic of Moldova, a key partner and neighbour with which Romania shares long-lasting historical, cultural, economic, and political ties.

Around 25 participants, representing multiple stakeholders, including public decision makers and private sector leaders, alongside relevant representatives of the civil society and academia, will participate in a moderated high-level conversation, focusing on ways to increase Moldova’s societal and democratic resilience, benefitting from high-level guest speakers.

The seminar will seek to discuss how Republic of Moldova could strengthen its response to the multiple challenges it faces, and how the political West could offer support, in the context of wider systemic transformations. The Seminar will also seek to incentivize debates on optimal ways of pursuing an enhanced Euro-Atlantic resilience agenda, including by exploring necessary synergies between relevant institutions and societal stakeholders. In addition, the seminar will further explore opportunities and challenges presented by new technologies, including online disinformation and fake news and the pressure these tactics place on institutions and on individuals.

The participation to the seminar is by invitation only.

The 2024 edition of the Seminar will debate the following key themes:

  • Navigating the New Multipolar Landscape

The world seems to be preparing for more conflict now that the unipolar moment has ended, and strategic competition continues to rise. Wars are ranging in different parts of the world, including Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, and beyond. Continued crises and conflicts do feel like the ‘new normal’, but we are increasingly more concerned about the potential for new disruptions to emerge or for existing conflicts to expand in scope and scale, including even more regional stakeholders.

How can we effectively engage with a world where power is distributed among multiple actors, each with its interests and agendas?

  • Redefining Resilience in a Changing World

To preserve our democracy, we need to increase our capacity to withstand shocks and to function effectively in the newly defined system. At stake is to pursue ethical and value-based interests politically, economically and technologically. Increased NATO – EU cooperation could offer better solutions, both to partners and third states. In the economic arena, we might see a shift from traditional growth metrics to a resilience-centered approach, focusing on providing for communities. Geopolitics will continue to influence the competition for supply chains, taking the connectivity game to the next level, and potentially increasing instability. Risks for popular discontent with higher inflation and labor force migration will equally need to be addressed to mitigate risks of instability.

How can we adopt a more comprehensive and dynamic approach towards national and Euro-Atlantic resilience, building societies that are more resilient to economic shocks, climate change, and other emerging threats?

  • Countering Malign Influence and Preserving Democracy

Our rules-based order is under immense pressure. Many regional powers mistrust the global institutions created after 1945, while China and Russia want to subvert the global system. The Transatlantic community looks weakened: the US economy is still pre-eminent, but the Western GDP dropped to nearly 50% share of the global one (for the first time since the 19th century). In 2024, more than 50% of the planet’s population will be called to vote, in more than 70 countries. Many elections could entrench illiberal rulers. Others could reward the corrupt and incompetent. Politics as factors of polarization will cast a pall over global developments, while US elections could impact the future trajectory of transatlantic relations.

How can we protect our democracies from disinformation, interference, and malign influence?

  • Harnessing the Power of Technology for Good

As new technologies are changing the nature of competition and conflict, we are witnessing permanent disruption amplified by increased interconnectedness and digitalization. Disruptive technologies can bring prosperity, but also generate vulnerabilities, as state and non-state actors seek to manipulate and exploit dependencies. AI gets real, everyone is adopting it, and we are witnessing a race to regulate it and improve it. Computation with advances in biotech, quantum, and human enhancement bring opportunities but also present significant challenges.

How can we best harness digital transformations to support democratic and societal resilience? How can we leverage new technologies to address global challenges, promote economic prosperity, and strengthen democratic institutions?

Moderators of the Seminar:

ALEX T. JOHNSON

Alex T. Johnson is a former diplomat and Obama Administration appointee in national security with expertise in multilateral diplomacy, human rights, health equity, and fundamental freedoms.

Mr. Johnson has extensive experience in private philanthropy, international advocacy, as well as facilitating government and civil society partnerships with diverse identity communities. Mr. Johnson spent a decade at the U.S. Helsinki Commission where he advised bicameral and bipartisan contributions to parliamentary diplomacy, culminating his service as chief of staff in the 116th Congress. His tenure included almost four years as representative of the Helsinki Commission at the United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna, Austria. Mr. Johnson previously was a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation fellow with the late U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings and a consultant for local government initiatives in Portland and Corvallis, Oregon. He is a founding Executive Board Member of fp21, a process-focused think tank driving evidence-based foreign policy formulation, and a Board Member for the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship. Mr. Johnson is a former Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a 2022 Washingtonian Magazine 500 Most Influential People honoree for his leadership in foreign policy supporting global human rights defenders and international racial justice. His work managing high-profile exchanges and public speaking has taken him to over 70 countries. Mr. Johnson received his BS in natural resources and MPP from Oregon State University.

RADU PUCHIU

Former Romanian State Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Chancellery and National Coordinator for Open Government Partnership. Aspen Seminar Alumnus, currently Aspen Technology & Society Program Director and Co-Founder & CEO of H.appyCities, building digital platforms and mobile applications that empower citizens, communities, and local authorities to think, communicate and act collectively for the benefit of the citizens. Radu is also co-founder of TINIA Group, a green energy company.

Radu Puchiu is a public policy and open government consultant with more than 10 years’ experience in the Romanian public sector. As State Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, he coordinated strategies and public policies development at the Centre of Government, between 2012 and 2017, and as National Coordinator for Open Government Partnership he represented Romania in the Steering Committee of the OGP at the international level. Starting October 2018, he was invited by the OGP to become an OGP Envoy.

He graduated the Design Academy in Bucharest, and he attended the Internet Leadership Academy at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK. He is also a member of the Open Data Leaders Network organised by the Open Data Institute London. In 2016 he was selected by Res Publica, Google, Visegrad Fund and Financial Times in NewEurope100 (http://www.ne100.org) top of innovation leaders in Eastern and Central Europe.