Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum 2020 – day 1

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Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum 2020 – day 1

The fourth edition of the international conference „Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum” has strarted today at the University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (USAMV). This event is organised through a joint collaboration of New Strategy Center and USAMV, ensuring the existence in 2020 too a platform of debate on crucial themes in the security and international relations domains. High-ranking officials, cilians and militaries, as well as reputed experts from Romania and abroad have discussed subjects such as the cooperation at the EU level in the context of the pandemic, the strategic importance of the Black Sea and the solidarity between NATO states on the Eastern Flank, the impact of the pandemic on the economy and education, cooperation opportunities in the cosmic space, consequences of the pandemic in the medical domain and the lessons learned, as well as the subject of energy security in the Black Sea region.

The conference was opened by Romania’s Prime Minister, Ludovic Orban, who, in a dialogue with Sorin Ducaru, Honorary Chairman of the Scientific Council of New Strategy Center, has referred to the EU-wide need for solidarity and the transatlantic space, focusing on our common values and interests.
In the opinion of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, the European Council’s agreement on the Multi-annual Financial Framework and the Economic Recovery Pact signal a shaping of European solidarity, despite negative voices in this sense over the last period. The economic relaunching plan shows the fact that Europe wants to find common solutions and generate necessary resources for the Member States, Romania being one of the important beneficiaries.

The second panel focused on the impact of the pandemic on the economy and education, and was moderated by Marilen Pirtea, rector of the West University of Timișoara. Speakers of this panel were Daniel Dăianu, Chairman of the Fiscal Council, Sorin Cîmpeanu, Rector of the University of Agronomic Sciences, Ionuț Stanimir, Director for Marketing & Communication at the Romanian Commercial Bank (BCR), and Ulf Pehrsson, Vice-President at Ericsson Corporate. The pandemic generates major changes in society and accelerates some pre-existent processes. The health, economic, and social impact on society has been major, and these public health concerns become security problems. We witness already a form of unilateralism in international relations and a return of the national state, but also an erosion of multilateralism, of the transatlantic relations and of the mainstream parties. The current context implies the development of an educational system meant to inform the population better about the problems we are facing. In this case we cannot talk about resilience and developing the educational domain, since the educational system is the main motor of progress. From this point of view, this situation should be seen as an opportunity for development and reform.

Another panel of the conference, chaired by LTG (Ret.) Dumitru Prunariu, Honorary Member of the Romanian Aacdemy, has discussed the subject of cosmic space and the resources it offers. Speakers in this panel were Major General Viorel Pană, Chief of the Air Forces Staff, Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, Honorary Chairman of the Scientific Council of New Strategy Center and Director of the European Union Satellite Center, Col. Daniel Cocolici Chief Analyst of the Ministry of Defence, and Roberto Scagnoli, representative of the space alliance. This critical domain plays a significant role in the social, economic and scientific development, but also in maintaining peace and security, key domains for all states. Military doctrines consider space as a crucial element for modern war, as it is recognized by countries such as Russia, China, and the USA, who invest heavily in technology. Military deterrence in space is also an issue where States and institutions should take into account, as counter-capacities will be developed if space is used for deterrent purposes. The private sector also increases its competitiveness in this area by offering the potential to stimulate such developments, with a direct impact on economies and everyday life. Space becomes crowded and challenged, a place that is expected to develop significantly.

The impact of the pandemic on the medical domain and the lessons learned in the wake of this crisis have constituted another panel of the conference. Speakers of this panel were Nelu Tătaru, Minister of Health, Raed Arafat, State Secretary and Head of the Emergency Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Daniel Ioniță, Cyber Security Manager at Cymed/Infoworld, and Kristie L. Oxford, scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA. This pandemic has outlined issues with the legislative framework, lack of response systems which necessitates a better adaptation to crisis situations. There has been a high level of inter-institutional cooperation and a general approach which has aided Romania. One fact has become clear, that there is a clear need for collaboration with the civil society, the military, and with the mass-media representatives. Considering that pandemic has accelerated the digitalisation process, the importance of cyber security in the medical field has increased.

The conference has also had a panel dedicated to energy security in the Black Sea region, moderated by Bogdan Berneagă, Senior Associate Expert at New Strategy Center as moderator. Virgil Popescu, Minister of Economy and Energy, Ion Sterian, CEO Transgaz, Alexandru Maximescu, Public and Regulatory Affairs Director at OMV Petrom, Ștefan Popescu, Deputy Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs at ENGIE, were speakers at this panel. The Black Sea can become an important source of regional energy security growth, through the exploitation of natural gases, which can advance the transition towards a decarbonized, electric economy towards 2050. Other than natural gases, the off-shore wind energy and, potentially, the production of green hydrogen in the Black Sea area, can become the engines of this transition in the next few years both for the riparian countries and for the region in general.

The Romanian Government intends to create a legislative framework through political consensus, towards the year 2020, which should permit the decision to start the exploitation of offshore gases from the Neptun Deep perimeter, “Final Investment Decision” – FID. The natural gas can be produced within 4 years of the FID. Transgaz will complete the BRUA pipeline by the end of 2020, allowing regional supply of gas flows from the South and the Black Sea.

„Why the Black Sea Matters? What Can We Do for a Safer Region?” was the panel moderated by ambassador Cristian Diaconescu, member of the Scientific Council of New Strategy Center and former Minister of External Affairs, while Mr. Nicolae Ciucă, Minister of National Defence of Romania,  Mr. Andriy Taran, Minister of Defense of Ukraine, General (ret.) Philip M. Breedlove, former SACEUR, and  Mr. James Appathurai, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, NATO were were speakers.  The debate took into account the strategic importance of the Black Sea, both for Romania and well as for the Euro-atlantic alliance. For an integrated and comprehensive response to the security challenges in the region, cooperation at the regional level is essential, but so is ensuring the enhanced presence of NATO in this region, materializing the saying „one flank, one threat, one presence” in the Eastern Flank.

The last panel of the day was focused on the NATO response to new emergent challenges, and had as invitees General Tod D. Wolters, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO, Lieutenant General Daniel Petrescu, Chief of Defense Staff, General Rajmund Andrzejczak, Chief of General Staff of Poland, and Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ben Hodges, former commander of United States Army Europe. The moderator of this session was Major General (ret.) Leonardo Dinu, member of the Scientific Council of New Strategy Center. The Eastern Flank faces security challenges from outside actors that threaten the resilience, cooperation and coherence of the Alliance. External actors are trying to weaken and divide the Alliance using a wide range of instruments, from classical methods to emergent ones. In this context, in order to shoulder these challenges, increasing the cooperation, as well as the complementarity within NATO, is vital.

The event was organized in compliance with all measures of prevention and protection against the SARS-COV2 virus (assessment of the temperature of each participant in the registration, open spaces, respect for social distance and mandatory wearing of masks for participants, ensuring distance between speakers, disinfecting surfaces, providing disinfectants each participant).