This Program is dedicated to the memory of Madeleine K. Albright, a great American and a great European.

An international Leadership Seminar, conducted in English,
developed by Aspen Institute Romania in partnership with the Aspen Institute Socrates Program, supported by the Bucharest Office of the German Marshall Fund of the US.

Societal and Democratic Resilience in the Era of Great Power Competition

The Seminar will be organized in Brussels, in cooperation with NATO Policy Planning Unit and the European External Action Service.

For the 3 days of the Seminar, we will explore, in a transatlantic context,
how the current strategic competition and the broadening definition of security are impacting the existing approaches in operationalizing societal and democratic resilience.

We are now at pivotal time for European and transatlantic security. Today, the Euro-Atlantic area is no longer at peace. In fact, we are facing the gravest security crisis since the Second World War. Our strategic environment has changed beyond recognition. The norms and principles designed to uphold stability, predictability and peace in global affairs are actively contested. Putin’s armed aggression against Ukraine is the culmination of broader pattern of destabilizing behavior.

Strategic competition continues to rise. A. China and Russia are at the forefront of an authoritarian push back against the rules-based order. Autocracies tout their own systems as “efficient”, and they use a broad array of tools to amplify fissures and undermine confidence within democracies. When they cannot do so successfully, they use diplomatic, military, and other means of coercion.

In addition, new technologies are changing the nature of competition and conflict. Digital transformations are disrupting the foundations of diplomacy and defense. The scale and complexity of critical economic, environmental, technological, and human flows have increased dramatically, as has the dependency of many societies on such flows. Increased interconnectedness and digitalization can bring prosperity, but they can also generate vulnerabilities, as state and non-state actors seek to manipulate and exploit dependencies. Critical societal functions are increasingly susceptible to disturbances, interruptions, and shutdowns. Climate change and energy transitions pose new security dilemmas and amplify ongoing crises.

It is time to adopt a more comprehensive and dynamic approach in enhancing national and Euro-Atlantic resilience, mindful of the need to operate in a more unpredictable and unstable strategic and security environment. We need a realistic assessment of how we use national and international toolboxes to address a broader spectrum of resilience challenges and operationalize the mutually reinforcing instruments of democratic, societal and collective resilience.

This Transatlantic Socrates Seminar will discuss ways to advance the development of a comprehensive and dynamic yet operational approach to resilience, including with a view to demonstrating that liberal democracy delivers. It will also seek to incentivize discussions on optimal ways of pursuing an enhanced Euro-Atlantic resilience agenda, including by exploring necessary synergies between relevant institutions and societal stakeholders.

It will also explore opportunities and challenges presented by new technologies, debating how the transatlantic community can improve its resilience and mobilize key resources in order to be competitive in this era of great security and technological challenges.

Furthermore, as part of the wider technology and democracy debate, the Seminar will address online disinformation and fake news and the pressure these tactics place on institutions and on individuals. Undertaken sometimes as part of fully-fledged influence campaigns, these tools aim at eroding trust in institutions such as NATO, the EU, and the governments of their member states and partner countries. This triggers a relevant ethical and societal debate with regard to the real impact of tech on our democracies – does it hurt more that it helps?

Taking place in Brussels, a city serving as a focal point of both NATO and the EU, the seminar will provide a channel for informal and informed dialogue with key stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic, in a multi-national environment. Around 25 participants – influential leaders of the Brussels’ international and diplomatic community, alongside members of the relevant Aspen Institute programmes will participate in a moderated high-level conversation, benefitting from high-level guest speakers from NATO and EU. In addition, the Seminar will provide participants the opportunity to become part of the unparalleled network of international Aspen Institutes, in Europe, US and around the world, and join the ever-growing network of fellows and alumni of the world-renowned Leadership programs of our network. The participation to the seminar will be by invitation only.

Moderators of the Seminar:


Professor of Practice and co-chair of the Global Politics and Security program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a non-resident fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Jodi Vittori is an expert on the linkages of corruption, state fragility, illicit finance, and US national security. She is Professor of Practice and co-chair of the Global Politics and Security program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a non-resident fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Before joining the Georgetown University faculty, she was the US Research and Policy Manager for Transparency International’s Defense and Security Program and a senior policy advisor for Global Witness. Jodi also served in the U.S. Air Force, advancing to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel; her overseas service included Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, and she was assigned to NATO’s only counter-corruption task force. She was an Assistant Professor and military faculty at the US Air Force Academy and the National Defense University. She is also a founder and co-moderator of the Anti-Corruption Advocacy Network (ACAN) which facilitates information exchange on corruption-related issues amongst over 750 participating individuals and organizations worldwide. She is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and received her PhD in International Studies from the University of Denver.


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 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.

Guest Speakers:

MIRCEA GEOANĂ, Deputy Secretary General of NATO

STEFANO SANNINO, Secretary General of the EEAS

BENEDETTA BERTI, Head of the NATO Policy Planning Unit