The third edition of the Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum starts in Constanta. The event benefits from the contribution of some of the world’s most renowned security and international relations experts, including high-ranking officials from both Romania and abroad. These include Mr. Teodor Melescanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Romania, Mr. Gabriel Leş, Minister of National Defense, Romania, General Nicolae Ciucă, Chief of Staff of Defense, Romania, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies, Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), former commander United States Army Europe, USA, General Claudio Graziano, Chairman of the EU Military Committee, Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, Vice Chairman Cohen Group, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO Allied Command Operations, USA and General Enzo Vecciarelli, Chief of Staff of Defense, Italy. Various themes from the sphere of foreign and security policy will be addressed, such as the importance of the transatlantic link for the regional security, cyber challenges, industrial defence cooperation, militarization of the Black Sea, information war, military mobility, challenges in the economic sphere, cooperation in the format of the Three Seas Initiative, religious fundamentalism, the effects of the situation in the Middle East on the stability of the Balkans and the Black Sea region. Having a multidisciplinary approach to security, the conference represents both an excellent opportunity to understand the current geopolitical context and a regional dialogue platform.

 

On the first day of the international conference “Black Sea and Balkan Security Forum 2019”, the discussions focused primarily on the factors that make the Black Sea region a central pillar for international security, of strategic importance. The Black Sea should be regarded as a genuine extension of the Atlantic Ocean, and for this reason the West needs to pay special attention to the security environment in the region. The Black Sea represents for Russia a platform for power projection in the Mediterranean Sea and further in the Middle East and the rest of the world. These actions have a strong impact on NATO, which is why Turkey’s involvement is vital for the stability of the region. Following the occupation of the Crimea, Russia created a new Iron Curtain in the Black Sea region.

Another topic addressed is the contribution of the Bucharest 9 Format and the Three Seas Initiative to increasing cooperation and connectivity between the member countries. The complementarity of the two initiatives with NATO and EU projects contributes to increasing security in the region by raising the level of awareness at NATO and EU level of the threats that Eastern European countries face. At the strategic level, the two initiatives have achieved important results. The next step is to turn initiatives into concrete actions on the three main areas of interest: energy, transport and digitalization.

The third panel looked at the issue of climate change and the threats stemming from it. They have a major impact on society and have large economic effects. One of the main factors behind these changes is the human behavior that causes pollution through intense industrial and agricultural activities, without real concerns about environmental protection that ensure real sustainability. The reduction of these problems can be achieved, among other things, by raising awareness among political and economic actors, which have a relevant impact through their influence at society.

The last panel referred to the subject of reconciliation between various religious actors in conflict zones and the way tolerance or fundamentalism can diminish or exacerbate problems in a region. Traditional diplomacy often shows its limits and can be complemented by diplomatic actions through interconfessional dialogue. The experience of the last 20 years shows that the purely military activities can not eliminate the state of insecurity. However, interconfessional reconciliation can not succeed without a change in mentalities, which is a lengthy process with many fluctuations.

The agenda of the event can be accessed at https://2bsecurityforum.ro/event-programme/
Join us live at https://bit.ly/2wQ9uVA

Interview with Frederick Benjamin Hodges at The Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum 2019

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Tolerance or Fundamentalism? How Can Religions help Reconciliation?