Gathering soon for a much-needed debate on unprecedented challenges

The fourth edition of the Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum will be held in Bucharest, between the 4th and 5th of September, 2020. The Forum has become a regular event, this edition being organized by New Strategy Center, in partnership with the University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (USAMV), with the institutional support of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence. At the same time, it benefits from the co-sponsorship of the Public Diplomacy Division of NATO, as it did for all its previous editions. At its fourth edition, the Forum has consolidated its position 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 responding to the need for comprehensive, multi-perspective solutions. Given the unprecedented conditions determined by the pandemic, we acknowledge the importance of asking the critical questions in times of crisis, therefore, we are going forward with organizing the fourth edition under special safety conditions.

From its very beginning, the Forum was envisaged as a meeting place for in-depth debate on the security risks, threats and vulnerabilities, pushing further the discussion to potential evolutions and imaginative scenarios, as well as the practical ways and methods to tackle those challenges. The overarching goal of the Forum is to foster professional debate and to promote stability and prosperity through cooperation in the twin regions of the Black Sea and the Balkans. The past years confirmed the rationality of such a comprehensive approach to regional affairs considering that some of the reverberations are also felt in the strategically important regions in its vicinity. The plethora of frozen conflicts and the proximity of the Middle East and the Balkans are sources of instability posing significant threats to an already long-time challenged status-quo of the region. In an ever-changing security landscape, with old animosities and unexpected friendships, naval incidents and disputed borders, the region is a tireless source of unexpected developments. Described by a sensitive dynamic where interests of global and regional powers either coincide or collide, the Black Sea region continues to present the particularities of a region with global relevance.

In this complex and troubled international environment, the 2020 Forum seeks to address the relevant security concerns in the Black Sea and the Balkans, in a wider context severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Sixteen scheduled panel discussions will cover a vast range of topics such as the consequences on the global order of the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of defending values and rebuilding trust in the transatlantic community, as well as the potential for enhancing our resilience to misinformation campaigns like the ones we are facing during this pandemic. We are asking how the world will look like after tomorrow and what long-term challenges the pandemic is posing to our economies and societies, while assessing the consequences of the pandemic in the medical field. Subsequently, we approach the strategic importance of the Black Sea and we tackle the great powers competition in the Western Balkans, as well as the classical and newly emerging security challenges in this region. In addition, more subjects will be tackled in separate sessions (some running in parallel) on energy, the implications of the newest developments in the outer space, frozen conflicts, defence industry and hybrid operations.

As per tradition, the first three 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 representation from the United States, some of which will either be present in-person in the conference venue, either will participate via an online video connection. 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. We mention that the forum will be organized in an open space, the social distancing will be ensured, the organizers being committed to prioritize the safety of all participants.