The third day of the Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum 2019 began with an assessment of the security challenges faced by NATO in the Black Sea region and the Balkans, such as the militarization of Crimea, the frozen conflicts that can once again become the place of military confrontation or instability in Balkan space. The two regions share a similar situation in terms of the need to strengthen defense capabilities and increase resilience. The security challenges in these two regions not only affect the states in the area but the stability of Europe. Russia has transformed the Black Sea into a theatre of military operations, including attempts to nuclearize the Crimean Peninsula. One of the answers that NATO should take in this circumstance is to encourage investment in developing the discouraging capabilities.
Another panel of the conference was dedicated to the link between connectivity, prosperity and citizens’ safety and community development. The central objective of the “smart city” concept is to increase quality of life and foster sustainable development that can be achieved primarily through the collaboration between the public domain, the private sector and society. The contribution of these actors is vital to ensure the representation of the needs of all individuals. In Romania, an obstacle to city development at the desired level is the legislation that hinders this cooperation, one of the main reasons being that the administration law only refers to administration and does not include aspects such as management and performance measurement.
The Middle East and security issues in the region that could affect the Balkan or Black Sea area was another topic under consideration at the Forum in Constanța. In addition, the talks focused on how actors in the Middle East or beyond could influence the region, with effects felt in the Black Sea riparian states and the Western Balkans. One of the effects of these actions is the perpetuation of Islamic radicalism. In order to promote regional stability, it is recommended to strengthen international institutions that fight Islamic radicalism and proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The fourth panel discussed issues related to the military mobility capacity at the level of the European Union and NATO, which is interdependent with the infrastructure development. Low military mobility is a vulnerability to the security challenges facing Europe after the illegal annexation of Crimea. The debates took into account the role of the TEN – T network as well as the European budget for military mobility for the period 2021-2027, given that in Eastern Europe infrastructure is less developed than in the West and therefore military mobility is also lower. Some regional initiatives, such as the Three Seas Initiative, have a vital role to play in promoting the development of military mobility.
Another topic addressed was how the militarization of the Black Sea can be duplicated in other areas. The events that took place in the Crimea in 2014 have shown that classic military means and hybrid instruments can be combined to support military action. At the same time, since 2014, we have witnessed military activities that have been intertwined with political pressure, cyber attacks, misinformation campaigns. This whole arsenal is applied not only in the Black Sea region, but across the entire Eastern Flank, from the Arctic to the Balkans.
The Constanta Forum ended with a panel in which George Friedman made an ample analysis of the security challenges in the Black Sea and the Balkans, as well as how actors in this area, as well as the big outside players, acted in this region.
The Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum brought together 80 speakers and moderators and more than 500 participants from June 12 to 14, for three days Constanta became the focus of the debates in Romania and the neighboring region on security and international affairs. We thank our partners who have supported this conference as well as all those who have participated and have made this event a real success.