2019 edition of the Warsaw Security Forum was highlighted by important anniversaries including 70th anniversary of NATO or 15th anniversary of Central European states accession to the EU – including Poland.
Numerous challenges of international security were discussed during the event. Among these, the most important one was probably the debate around the future of NATO and its role in Europe (especially in the context of China’s rising power, persistent security threat from Russia and President Trump’s inconsistent foreign policy). Several panel discussions were dedicated to this specific question (e.g. NATO at 70 – The Future of the Alliance or NATO’s Eastern Flank: from Strategic Reassurance to “Fort Trump”). During these events, several eminent personalities including Vicky Hartzler (Member of the US House of Representatives), Volkan Bozkir (Chairman of Turkish Foreign Affairs Committee) or Lieutenant General Andrzejczak (Chief of General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces) debated around NATO’s developments. Their general message was a strong reassurance of NATO’s role and presence in Europe and therefore the unalienable guarantee of security for Europe towards large scale security threats.
Other important discussions included, among others, the EU as a global power and the EU enlargement and neighbourhood policies. These debates were very intense as participants did not hesitate to make strong statements. During the panel discussion Ukraine after elections: new opening or a facelift, Hannah Hopko (former MP and Head of Ukrainian Foreign Policy Committee) called President Zelensky to be careful in peace negotiations with Russia and raised awareness on the eventual acceptance of the so-called Steinmeier formula (local elections and special status in the Donbass in exchange for restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty on these territories). Another example is the clear call from Péter Szijjártó (Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs) to European leaders to accept the opening of EU enlargement negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia.
Overall, many topics of security were covered from purely military security (e.g Military of the Future: Where AI and Unmanned Systems Technologies will lead?) to economic security (e.g. Three Seas: Central Europe’s Security in a World of Greater Complexity) as well as societal security (e.g. Foreign Interference: Political and Financial resilience of Western democracies).
I particularly appreciated the efforts put by the organizers on the interactivity of the discussions with the public. I believe that Fireside chats’ format is particularly interesting as it allows very close discussions with distinguished speakers and the reduced audience. Finally, I believe that the Warsaw Security Forum should also be recognized for the quality of its panels as many eminent politicians, military leadership, experts and members of the civil society were invited to speak.
I am looking forward to the 2020 edition.
Romain Le Quiniou.