On the second day of the Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum 2019, the debates started with the importance of strengthening the Euro-Atlantic relationship, which constitutes the basis for the regional security by stimulating a joint response to all types of threats. It stressed the need for a consensus at allied level to provide 2% of GDP for defense, as strengthening the defense posture is the main guarantor of democratic values in Europe. It is important to remember that defense investments should not be exclusively focused on the traditional military domain, but to consider the increasing relevance of emerging threats such as economic, energy, hybrid or radicalization. Romania is placed in an epicentre of Russia’s confrontation with the West, fact that constitutes an additional argument for meeting of the commitment to increase defense spending.

In the second panel, the discussion focused on investments in military technology, as well as on digitization and artificial intelligence, viewed from the perspective of effective countermeasures of hybrid threats. Emphasis was placed on the need for cooperation in both the military and the economic field at the Euro-Atlantic level. Thus, in the strategic plan, it is advisable to intensify cooperation between NATO and the European Union, because none of these organizations can counter all the challenges in the sphere of the hybrid war by themselves.

Another topic tackled the cyber defense and deterrence. The private sector is a key actor in cyber security because it owns more than 80% of the cyber space. Society is directly affected by cyber attacks. We need to build a new security culture to ensure defense in the region, which is why strengthening resilience is vital. The assignment of a cyber attack has always proved to be difficult because of the political tensions it can create. Governments should also be more active in combating “zero day” attacks, due to the degree of destruction they can inflict. International society must come to a consensus in setting a set of rules to facilitate actors’ accountability for their actions. Discouragement is not only effective through cybernetic tools but must be duplicated by a set of active cyber defense actions.

The fourth panel addressed the issue of economic development in the Black Sea region and the Balkans. Economic and security are interdependent because they support each other. The region has made significant changes in this area. Energy security is a central element of the economic challenges in the region, and from this point of view, Romania is in a good and balanced situation. Romania can play an important role in the region in terms of energy, but we need to develop the necessary infrastructure.

The discussions in the fifth panel focused on the various forms of information warfare that became a powerful weapon in hybrids designed to affect the credibility of institutions and confidence in the values of the democratic world. The central elements of combating this phenomenon are increasing resilience in democratic societies, with emphasis on digital components and those related to artificial intelligence. It is important to note that there is a direct proportional relationship between increasing the intensity of the fake news phenomenon and the increasing use of social media tools.

 

The topic of the debate in the last panel focused on enhancing resilience in the Eastern Bloc and the Balkans, where the major international players involved are the United States, the EU, Russia and China. In this context, Romania has a comprehensive approach to regional security files, the Black Sea region and the Balkans being a vital space for Romania’s security. The threats that have taken place across the two regions, as well as the ways to counter them, have been discussed.

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