Event concept and panel description

The sixth edition of the Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum is to take place on 2-3 September 2022, in Bucharest. This flagship annual event is organized by the New Strategy Center with institutional support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence of Romania. The Forum also benefits from the co-sponsorship of the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, just as it did for all its previous editions.

The 2021’s edition of the Forum has been an eventful one. Three decades of relative calm and stability after the end of the Cold War, albeit punctuated by occasional flare-ups of tension and local military interventions but generally manageable and still leaving room for hope for better days, are fading into past history. Now we are facing the unthinkable: a full-blown war in the heart of Europe of a magnitude and ferocity unprecedented since World War II.  The unprovoked and unjustifiable aggression of the Russian Federation against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the proven atrocities against civilians and war crimes committed by Russian forces represent not only gross violations of international law and accepted standards of civilized behaviour of states but they also pose a direct and present threat to European security and stability with serious repercussions world-wide. While more than half a year into the war the Ukrainian armed forces and the population in occupied territories have successfully put up a staunch resistance to the invaders, the military situation on the ground is still fluid and may develop in unpredictable ways. In the meantime, some of the consequences of the war in Ukraine are being felt in other parts of the globe, disrupting supply chains, raising the cost of energy, fueling inflation, endangering food security especially in the import-dependent countries of Africa and Asia, and affecting the post-pandemic economic recovery.

The response of the international community has been prompt and impressive, as witnessed by the majority votes in the United Nations General Assembly. In particular, the developments in and around Ukraine have catalyzed the unique value of the transatlantic link and the complementarity in action between NATO and the European Union as illustrated by the analytical convergence of EU’s Strategic Compass and NATO’s Strategic Concept and by the material assistance rendered to Ukraine by the two organizations and their member states. This unparalleled display of allied unity and solidarity was further enhanced by the accession to NATO of formerly neutral Finland and Sweden. Important as it is, however, this renewed sense of cohesiveness should not be taken for granted. More efforts will be required to make sure that we stay united and to discourage or prevent any temptation for domestic political agendas to prevail over agreed common positions and joint action. The stakes are too high to afford any distraction from the main allied goals of deterrence, defence and continued resilience in the face of hostile propaganda, disinformation, hybrid and other unconventional threats.

These items, and many more, are going to be discussed at the Bucharest Forum 2022. According to an established tradition, security concerns in the Black Sea region and the Balkans, seen as a geopolitical continuum, will continue to be a central subject of the debate, considering this area’s vulnerability to various old and new threats and challenges. With the war raging on next door and numerous other sources of instability, from hostile actors keen to disrupt the security environment to historical grievances and protracted conflicts threatening to heat up at any moment, the Black Sea region and the Balkans are both targets and potential sources of sensitive dynamics.

Over the years, the Forum has evolved into one of the region’s premier discussion platforms, as a meeting place for free exchange of views on the most pressing issues of national security, defence, and international politics. It brings together incumbent and former officials, both civilian and military, opinion-shapers, researchers, analysts, academics, think tanks and other relevant NGOs, international experts and other stakeholders as a congenial venue for intensive dialogue and multifaceted approaches to old and new challenges.

With 21 panels scheduled over two days, the Forum will set the ground for what we can do together for a safer and prosperous Europe and for a stronger Alliance in a world facing a multitude of new challenges; it will also look at the prospects of the global  economy in the short and medium term,  opportunities for regional development and cooperation, diversification and green transformation in the energy sector, supply chains, infrastructure, including military mobility, food security and climate change, potential impact of new military technology such as advanced computing, unmanned systems and related opportunities for the defence industry. In designing this event, we paid special attention to the importance of transatlantic cohesion and effectiveness in enhancing allied deterrence and defence posture, particularly on NATO’s exposed Eastern Flank. Useful insights are expected from Romanian speakers on the increased budget allocations for defence from 2 to 2.5 percent of GDP and on other concrete measures to improve Romania’s own military capabilities as part of the allied effort.

An impressive list of distinguished keynote speakers, panelists, and moderators from EU and NATO member states and partner countries participating either in-person or via online video connection holds the promise of lively, informative and meaningful debate at the Forum.

The working sessions will be open to the media and interested public, as specified in the conference programme. Media opportunities will be available to participants throughout the event. The Forum will take place in an open space on the campus of the University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (USAMV) in Bucharest.

The War in Ukraine and the Security Challenges in the Black Sea Region and the Balkans

  • What is the impact of the war in Ukraine on the security environment in the region of the Black Sea and the Balkans? How can the region become more resilient in the face of current and future challenges?
  • Following the Russian aggression in Ukraine, how are the Atlantic Alliance and the European Union coping with the new deterrence and defence requirements on the Eastern Flank?
  • Continuous support for Ukrainian resistance has been a strong point of the Western response. How can we maintain the momentum in relation to Ukraine’s actual needs?

Education and the Challenges of War and Pandemic. Resilience through Education in the Era of Hybrid Threats

  • How can education contribute to national resilience in the post-pandemic context when faced with hybrid threats?
  • National information campaigns are effective means to counter such threats. How can we build individual awareness into broader societal resilience?
  • To what extent should governments be involved in hybrid threat literacy campaigns?

From the Prague NATO Summit to the Madrid NATO Summit. NATO after 20 Years – New Challenges and New Opportunities

  • The Madrid NATO Summit clearly stated which are the risks, threats, and challenges facing the North-Atlantic Alliance. Is that enough? What steps should be taken in order to see concrete actions and further political unity among allies?
  • Developing a new perspective on relations with the Russian Federation.
  • In the current international context, NATO has the opportunity to enhance its partnerships around the world and encourage further integration. How will its policies for the Black Sea region look like following the Madrid Summit?

Why the Wider Black Sea Region Matters in the Energy Sector?  Challenges and Opportunities for Cooperative Action

  • Most of the Countries in the Wider Black Sea Region are dependent on Russian gas supplies. How can we increase the resilience of this region and of Europe in terms of access to energy resources?
  • The new Romanian legislation on the development of off-shore resources and the partnership with the US offer an opportunity for Romania to become a relevant regional energy hub. What is the current state of affairs?
  • How can gas and nuclear resources contribute to Romania’s progress in sustainable green transition?

New Generation Warfare, New Technologies. Unmanned Systems in the Black Sea Region. Deterrence & Defence Perspective

  • What are the lessons learned so far following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in terms of technology and use of unmanned systems?
  • How can unmanned systems contribute to the NATO defence posture in the Black Sea region?
  • What is the cost-benefit ratio for the use of unmanned systems and anti-UAVs devices?

The War in Ukraine, Climate Change, Food Security and the Impact on the Black Sea Region and the Balkans

  • The blockade of Ukrainian harbours by the Russian forces has seriously affected the global food supply chains. How can Ukraine be helped in order to overcome such disruptions?
  • What short-term and long-term approaches are advisable to tackle regional vulnerabilities related to sustainable development and climate change?
  • The war in Ukraine has caused huge damage to natural environment in wide areas. What can we do to prevent further disruptions?

The War in Ukraine. Lessons Learned for NATO Comprehensive Deterrence and Defence Posture in the Black Sea Region and the Balkans

  • NATO military capabilities are directly linked to the allies’ national investments in the defence and security sector. The Madrid Summit decisions to boost Allied presence on the Eastern Flank in a single approach from the Barents and the Baltic to the Black Sea.
  • 8 months since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, what could have NATO allies done differently?
  • How are the relationships between NATO and partners in the wider Black Sea region and the Balkans likely to evolve in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

Security and Technology. Regional Opportunities on Semiconductor Supply Chains

  • What are the expected high-tech development opportunities for Romania in the context of the EU-funded recovery and resilience plan?
  • The geopolitical imperatives that exacerbate complexity in both demand and supply.
  • Are the market forces sufficient to regulate technological responses to changing global trends?
  • Which actors are likely to come on top regarding the future of semiconductor supply chains?

New Trends and Developments in Energy. The Potential of the Black Sea Region:  From Wind to Hydrogen

  • The developments in the energy sector are directly linked to the security environment in the Black Sea wider region. The Russian militarization of the Black Sea poses a significant threat to the pursuit of European energy security.
  • What is the promise of wind and hydrogen resources in order to overcome the European dependence on a single (hostile) energy supplier?
  • What is the potential of the Black Sea resources in terms of sustaining the energy needs of the countries in the wider region?

Deterrence and Defence Policy of the Euro-Atlantic Area. From Frozen Conflicts to the War in Ukraine

  • What are the main changes NATO will undergo following the Madrid Summit as relevant for the Black Sea and the Balkans?
  • How can we prevent scenarios like the one in Ukraine from being repeated in the case of Republic of Moldova or Georgia?
  • What can the European Union and NATO realistically do in order to prevent further escalations in frozen conflict areas?
  • Can the war in Ukraine become another frozen conflict?

From Homo Sovieticus to Homo Putinus.  The Impact of the War on Russia and Its Neighbours

  • How far do President Vladimir Putin’s imperial ambitions extend to Russia’s neighbours in Europe, the Wider Black Sea region, Caucasus, Central Asia and the world?
  • Former Soviet republics have different positions regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. How significant are those nuances?
  • What is the impact of the war in Ukraine at the federal and local level on the Russian society and general public?

How Will the War in Ukraine Influence the Future European Security Architecture? Post-War Order and Stability in the Wider Black Sea Region

  • Will the eventual peace negotiations to end the war in Ukraine concern only Ukraine or will they involve planning for wider European security architecture?
  • What sort of relations are likely to be established between the West and Russia after the war in Ukraine is over. Will it be Cold War II or business as usual?
  • Stability in the wider Black Sea region entirely depends on the outcomes of the war. What roles are NATO and EU expected to play in a final global settlement?

Strategic Infrastructure in the Context of the New Security Challenges. Deterrence through Military Mobility and Investments in the Naval Domain

  • Reliable infrastructure enables enhanced mobility of military forces across the North-Atlantic space. Civilian-military cooperation on infrastructure development offers better conditions for regional security while also providing business and employment opportunities.
  • Should the involvement of systemic rivals in European infrastructure projects be a matter of concern?
  • The maritime domain is of strategic importance for NATO’s defense and deterrence posture. What are the prospects for a more robust allied presence in the Black Sea?

Defence Industry Cooperation in the Context of the War in Ukraine 

  • The European Union needs to make genuine progress in terms of production and procurement of modern defense capabilities. How will it share the burden with NATO?
  • How will the lessons from the war in Ukraine influence NATO and EU priorities in defence procurement?
  • The increase of Romania’s defence budget from 2% to 2.5% of GDP will lead to more substantial arms purchases. What opportunities may arise for industrial cooperation and joint production in Romania?

The Impact of the War in Ukraine on the Western Balkans

  • How can Russia and other relevant external actors influence security policies in the Western Balkans?
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina as a case in point. What would a cohesive Western response look like from the perspective of Sarajevo?
  • Regardless of the outcome of the war in Ukraine, how deep should the NATO and EU involvement be in the Western Balkans security environment?
  • What should the EU institutions and member states do in order to increase the attractivity of membership and to keep the momentum for the full integration of the Western Balkans?

How can Putin be Defeated? The Ukraine-West Strategy for Victory in the Russian-Ukranian War

  • What should be the pace of the military and economic aid of the democratic world for Ukraine so that it is possible to repel Russian aggression? Can Putin be defeated?
  • What impact do the sanctions have on Russia’s supply of special components needed for high-precision weapons, especially cruise missiles? Can Russia replace Western technology through domestic production or imports from other countries?
  • Will China help Russia to export the technology so necessary to continue the war?
  • How resilient is Russia’s energy sector to sanctions, and how long can it continue to function well in the absence of Western technology?

Lessons Learned from the War in Ukraine in terms of Strategic Communication. Weaponized Narratives and the Effects of Disinformation

  • In the extraordinary circumstances of a fighting war, Russia has proved to be effective in manipulating the narratives and spreading disinformation. The West’s initiatives to counter Russian propaganda through smart use of open-source information have been partially successful, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
  • How can the private sector and mass-media be involved in anti-disinformation campaigns in order to boost societal resilience while preserving the principle of free speech? What other methods can be used in order to prevent the spread of weaponized narratives and fake news?

Security Challenges in the Black Sea Area and the Response of the US Defence Industry. Partnerships for a Safer Region

  • The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the superiority of some tactical US weapon platforms and their importance for the defence capabilities of NATO’s Eastern Flank.
  • In the NATO context and at the bilateral level, how can we incorporate national contributions into the supply networks of leading American defence contractors?
  • Learning by doing: how can industrial cooperation and know-how transfer with US companies enhance the quality of national military production in a country like Romania?

The Ukrainian Miracle: How Did They Hold the Line and Stop the Invasion?

  • The reasons why the Ukrainian society and its leaders managed to mobilize against the Russian invasion in 2022 better than in 2014. From reconstruction of the armed forces to increased societal resilience.
  • How important is international support for the performance of Ukrainian forces? What else is needed and in what order of priorities?
  • What is the proper definition of victory and what it takes to achieve it?

Building a More Resilient Critical Infrastructure. Lessons for the Future

  • The disruption of key systems and essential services can cause substantial economic damage and pose a significant threat to national security. What is the main challenge of the next decade and how to go about it?
  • The role and responsibilities of national legislation and specialist institutions. Who regulates the regulators? Are international conventions a feasible solution?
  • How can public-private partnerships contribute to the better resilience of critical infrastructure? Which are the necessary steps to make them work?

Transatlantic Link and the NATO – EU Cooperation

  • The war in Ukraine demonstrated the merits of Western cohesion and unity and highlighted new opportunities for further NATO-EU cooperation. How will NATO-EU interface look like in the future and how do the NATO Strategic Concept and the EU Strategic Compass complement each other?
  • European defence capabilities and NATO capabilities. How can we avoid duplicating policies and resources?
  • How will the United States manage simultaneously two essential spaces for its interests: the Indo-Pacific theatre and the relationship with Russia?

Battlefields of the Future. To Adapt and Innovate in the Context of the New Generation Warfare. A Political-Military Perspective

  • How do we estimate the changed European security environment after the war in Ukraine? The impact of new technologies on future battlefields.
  • Lessons learned from the war in Ukraine so far. What should NATO learn from Russian actions in Ukraine?
  • New challenges require new approaches. How will NATO counter the multi-level hybrid threats?