European Security: Stepping Back from the Brink
October 7-8, 2019
With the imminent collapse of the INF Treaty and unravelling of the arms control system developed in the late 20th century, European security faces its most profound challenges in three decades. Europe looks set to find itself in the middle of a new arms race. Moreover, the existing framework for strategic stability, which has been the cornerstone of international security, appears increasingly outdated and may no longer be able to provide for mutual deterrence amid growing strategic competition.
These dangerous developments demand action. Yet tensions between the major geopolitical rivals intensify, generate uncertainty, and aggravate the security dilemma. Rivalry has eroded political and military-to-military communication channels, while established specialist conferences have increasingly succumbed to propaganda and counter-propaganda, diminishing their value as platforms for open dialogue. Even among allies, unilateral actions often prevail in place of cooperation as states and societies face a growing range of security threats.
Despite this, we cannot simply wait until everyone agrees that the situation is ripe for a serious conversation about new security arrangements in Europe. The cost of waiting will likely only be another crisis and we will have no mechanisms in place to manage it. Stakeholders in European security have a fundamental joint interest in launching a discussion about Europe’s basic security safeguards.
In today’s world, this discussion needs to go beyond hard security issues only and deal with broader political, economic, and societal trends. We need agreed rules and norms in non-military areas as well, which will ensure overall stability. Moreover, a number of recent and upcoming elections, including in Ukraine, Armenia, and Moldova, might facilitate new openings for trust-building and fresh solutions to security problems.
The Minsk Dialogue Forum provides a unique platform where relevant stakeholders can engage in such discussions and seek, at the very least, to agree on minimum standards of security for all. The event will gather high-profile representatives and leading experts from the EU, Russia, USA, China, and east European and south Caucasian nations.
This year’s forum will focus on the following topics:
- Strategic stability and arms control: What confidence- and security-building measures are appropriate? What innovative approaches can work?
- Propaganda and counter-propaganda: Do we still have high-quality journalism and can we agree on some common journalistic standards?
- Eastern Partnership at 10: ways forward to enhance soft security and resilience.
- China as a strategic actor in Eastern Europe and BRI’s connectivity potential.
- Can Belarus become a success story of East European security?
- Donbas and Transnistria after the elections in Ukraine and Moldova.
- Where is the Eurasian Economic Union heading?
- Transatlantic cooperation amid growing strategic competition.
ABOUT THE MINSK DIALOGUE
The Minsk Dialogue was launched as a Track-1.5 initiative at the beginning of 2015. Its mission is to offer an open and geopolitically unbiased platform for research and discussion on international affairs and security in Eastern Europe. Regular Minsk Dialogue events gather international experts, as well as high-level officials and diplomats.
The Minsk Dialogue’s team and its expert network produce analytical reports, policy papers, commentaries, backgrounders, and conference non-papers, which are widely distributed among the relevant international stakeholders. All analytical publications and conference materials can be accessed at www.minskdialogue.by.
The inaugural Minsk Dialogue Forum took place in May 2018. It gathered over 500 experts and diplomats from 59 countries, as well the OSCE Secretary General and high-level representatives of NATO, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Council of Europe, and the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The Forum’s partners included the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, RAND Corporation, European Leadership Network, Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the European Endowment for Democracy, the University of Kent, the University of Cambridge, and others.
After the success of the inaugural Minsk Dialogue Forum, this year’s forum is expected to gather high-level representatives of governments and international organisations, as well as leading international experts on European security.
Founder and Director, Minsk Dialogue Council on International Relations