Event concept and panel description

The Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum to be held in the Romanian port city of Constanta, 12-14 June 2019, has become a regular annual event jointly organized by the Bucharest-based New Strategy Center together with the Ovidius University and the Metropolitan Area Authorities of Constanța. Now at its third edition, the Forum has acquired a distinct profile in the regional security debate as a highly professional conference bringing together officials, scholars, analysts, representatives of non-governmental organizations and international experts with an aim to facilitating dialogue and fostering the quest for rational and realistic solutions.

The Third Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum is held under the auspices of the Romanian Presidency of the European Union Council and in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence of Romania.

The Forum was conceived from the very beginning as a meeting place for in-depth debate on the perceived security risks, threats and vulnerabilities as well as on the practical ways and methods to overcome those challenges and to promote stability and prosperity through cooperation in the twin regions of the Black Sea and the Balkans. The developments of the past few years confirm the rationality of such a comprehensive approach to regional affairs considering that some of the reverberations are also felt in the strategically important areas of the Levant and North Africa. Recent events further highlight the fact that the sources of tension and conflict have become more complex and multi-faceted; they can no longer be confined and contained in the borderlands but affect the core interests and values of the Euro-Atlantic community in its entirety, and therefore have to be deterred and, if need be, countered. In a complex and troubled international environment, the Forum of 2019 seeks to address the relevant security concerns in the Black Sea and the Balkans, while keeping in mind the broader picture. The 16 scheduled panel discussions will cover a vast range of topics such as the militarization of the Black Sea, the classical and newly emerging security challenges, the vital importance of the transatlantic link, the on-going regional cooperation initiatives. In addition, more specialist subjects will be tackled in separate sessions (some running in parallel) on cyber security, energy, climate change, religion and security, connectivity and military mobility, urban and community development, hybrid operations and information warfare.

Following the tradition established at the first two editions of the Forum, the list of confirmed keynote speakers and panelists is impressive, comprising incumbent or former high government officials, both civilian and military, leading think tanks and prominent scholars and political analysts from EU and NATO member states and partner countries, including a strong contingent from the United States. Some of the working sessions on sensitive subjects will be conducted in confidence under Chatham House rules while others will be open to the public and the media, according to the conference program. Media opportunities will be available to participants throughout the conference.

What is Required for Security and Stability in the Black Sea Region?

What is new and different in the regional security scene compared to the situation prevailing in recent past? How would a realistic assessment of the balance of military forces in the Black Sea region look like in relation to other NATO borderlands? What can we expect in 2019 and beyond, and what our response should be?

B9 & Three Seas Initiative: Complementary Initiatives for a Safer Region

What are the conceptual similarities and distinctions between the two initiatives? Which are the main arguments in favour of closer ties among the countries of the Baltic, the Black and the Adriatic seas in terms of economic development and regional security? How do the projected activities of the two initiatives tally with the commitments of the participating states under NATO and EU? What are the early results and what is to be expected for the future?

Climate Change and Security in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea Area

What are the climate changes that can be expected to impact security in the near and long-term? What are the factors that make a country or region more vulnerable to conflicts? What types of tensions may arise due to climate change? What are the ways to prepare societies to ensure a peaceful resolution of the disputes triggered by climate change-related causes? Are Eastern European and Black Sea countries vulnerable under plausible climate change scenarios?

Tolerance or Fundamentalism? How Can Religions Help Reconciliation?

Are the principal religious denominations in the region prepared to work together for peace? Which are the main obstacles in the way of inter-faith dialogue and cooperation? What can governments and other authorities do to encourage and support the humanitarian vocation of religious communities?

NATO and EU – Stronger Together. The Transatlantic Link and the Stability of the Eastern Europe

Which are the main complementarities and possible synergies between NATO and EU? Is strategic autonomy compatible with joint action? What needs to be done in order to preserve and strengthen the north-American anchor of European security?

Investments in Defense. Are We Ready for the Next Generation Warfare?

Are we spending the 2% of GDP wisely? In terms of military procurement, is it all about technology? Do we need a proportional delimitation between the resources for national requirements and contributions to collective defence? How do we avoid monopoly positions or excessive one-source dependence in high-tech sectors?

Cyber Defense and Cyber Deterrence. Home Front First, in Combination With Collective Action.

Do we need to develop an offensive capability for effective deterrence? How do we keep pace with technological advances in terms of cyber defence? How important is to develop a proper legal and regulatory mechanism at national and alliance level? What role for private businesses and civil society?

#NATO@70. Strengthening Resilience and Cooperation in the Black Sea Region and the Balkans

What is the assessment of national security posture from the perspective of regional actors? How do we see the prospects of regional security environment in 2019 and beyond? Which are the main perceived threats to the security of NATO members and partners? What can be done at bilateral and regional level?

Economic Challenges in the Balkans and the Black Sea Area. An Assessment for a Safer Region

How dependent are the two regions and individual countries on the uncertainties of the world economic and financial scene? How vulnerable are we to the fallout of another possible recession? Can major projects involving several regional actors mitigate some of the vulnerabilities? What sort of assistance can be expected from the EU cohesion funds and Eastern Partnership programmes under the next multiannual budget?

The weaponization of Information. Fake News and Hybrid War

What new developments have occurred in the area of disinformation and other forms of information warfare? How effective our responses have been so far? Do we have to develop our own instruments of active deterrence while preserving our commitment to democratic values?

#NATO@70.  Security Challenges in the Black Sea Area and the Balkans

How far the military situation along NATO’s eastern and southern flanks has changed since spring 2014? Has the response outlined at the last two NATO summits been proportionately adequate in terms of defence and deterrence? What other measures could be envisaged to avoid further deterioration of the security climate?

Smart Approach for Safer Cities. Connectivity, Prosperity, Security

How can rational spatial planning and urban development contribute to a better security environment? Which examples of best practice and cooperative endeavours are relevant for further action at municipal level to achieve sustainable prosperity? How can wise and imaginative management of local financial and other resources combine with intra-regional and cross-border partnerships to meet that target?

The Middle East Chessboard and the Implications for Black Sea region and the Balkans

Are we witnessing increasing interaction between several security areas or the emergence of a single security space? What are the specific interests of the regional actors and how do they tally with the strategic designs of outside powers? How can the predictable political and military developments in the Levant, the wider Middle East and North Africa affect the security outlook in the Black Sea area and the Balkans?

Military Mobility: a Key Area of NATO – EU Cooperation

Why has smooth cross-border transit of troops and military hardware across Europe become so important for NATO’s defence and deterrence posture at the present juncture? How advanced is the developing synergy between EU and NATO in terms of strategic planning and allocation of resources for improving infrastructure and administrative arrangements in case of security emergency? Which are the current priorities in this regard?

The Militarisation of the Black Sea Region. Lessons for other regions of Europe.

How does the military build-up in Crimea combine with the other A2/AD bubbles in Kaliningrad and Syria to change the strategic disposition of forces in Europe? Which elements of the modus operandi developed in Syrian and Ukrainian theatres of war (with special reference to the Sea of Azov) are of topical relevance for other parts of Europe? What adjustments have been make to the Russian military doctrine in relation to the new technologies of complex warfare?

Security Challenges in the Black Sea Area and the Balkans

How and why have the military aspects of security climbed back to the top of the international agenda? What is similar and what is different in comparison to the Cold War era? How does the security situation in the twin regions of the Black Sea and the Balkans fit into the broader picture of a more confrontational climate in world affairs?

It is very important that the Constanta Forum focuses on the southeastern region of NATO, a region in which we have both conventional and non-conventional security threats, such as cyber attacks. We have an area of priority topics and themes that deserve to be discussed between officials, civil society, academia and business partners.
It is an excellent Security Forum for the Black Sea and the Balkans. It is a valuable initiative to invite top leaders and experts from around the world to discuss the common security challenges.
I am glad to be present here at this honourable and interesting conference, with very lively debates, with very interesting speakers. The forum helped me to see more clearly certain aspects of security about the Black Sea region.