On September 10, 2018, Warsaw Institute in cooperation with the International Visegrad Fund and think tanks from Central and Eastern Europe organized an international conference.
Diplomats, experts specialising in international affairs and security as well as representatives of business and media gathered at the conference. Topics such as security dimensions in the Visegrad Group, the impact of V4 on other European Union countries and the future of relations in the Central European region in the context of current world events and changes in the international order were discussed. The event became a unique opportunity to exchange views on the most important challenges in the V4 and EU region in the current decade.
The President of Warsaw Institute, Krzysztof Kamiński, opened the conference and presented its main topics, highlighting the importance of the discussion on security issues in Central and Eastern Europe. Then the President introduced the foreign partners of the conference: the European Values Think-Tank (the Czech Republic), the Slovak Security Policy Institute (Slovakia) and the Századvég School of Politics (Hungary).
The opening speech was delivered by Maciej Małecki, the Member of the Polish Parliament and Chairman of the Sejm Energy and Treasury Committee. In his speech, the Chairman stressed the importance of friendly relations between the Visegrad countries and the necessity to vote together on the European arena. The Chairman discussed the strategic dimensions of security in the Visegrad Group. He stressed the significance of unity, which can be observed in the context of the approach to migration policy. The Visegrad countries should coherently object to the forced relocation of refugees and the strengthening of the EU’s external borders. The following topic covered the approach to energy policy, including the strategy towards Nord Stream 2. Maciej Małecki emphasised that the key challenge for the Visegrad countries is the diversification of energy resources, the development of projects such as the North-South Corridor or the Baltic Pipe, the latter being extremely strategic from the Polish perspective. Next, the issue of defence policy was addressed. The Chairman stressed the key role of countries in increasing military capabilities and cooperation in the field of activities of the V4 military forces.
The first session, The Impact of Uncontrolled Migration Movements on Internal Security in the European Union, was led by Norbert Arok from the Századvég Foundation (Hungary). The issues of migration policy were discussed by the following experts: Norbert Tóth from the National University of Public Service (Hungary), Viktor Marsai from the Migration Research Institute (Hungary) and Tamás Péter Baranyi from the Antall József Knowledge Center (Hungary).During the discussion, threats resulting from uncontrolled migration movements in Europe were highlighted. Migration movements, which have been observed for several years, became a major threat to European identity and integration. The experts emphasized the significant impact of solidarity between the Visegrad countries on this policy and stressed the need to vote together on the forum of the European Union. It was noticed that the so-called Old Union countries impose a certain narrative on V4 countries on the approach to migration policy. The goal should be to achieve a common compromise between all 28 EU members.
The second session, Disinformation – Manipulation Methods, Neutralization and Consequences, was led by Radko Hokovský, the Founder and the long-term Director of the European Values Think-Tank (the Czech Republic). The experts discussed the following issues: the threats resulting from a spreading information war in Europe, the dangers of undesirable information proliferation, or the role of social media in the present times. The main topics were brought closer by speakers: Wojciech Kuchta from the Safe Cyberspace Foundation (Poland), Katarina Tracz from Free World Think-Tank (Sweden) and Professor Cécile Vaissié from Université Rennes 2 (France). The case of the Russian Federation which is particularly active in the spread of untrue information in European countries was discussed. It was noted that the Russians do not create new problems, but use European weaknesses. The attacks take place primarily through the use of internal disputes and warming up the temperature of political discussions, thus directly affecting the destabilization of countries, governments or even international organizations.
The third panel, Effective Defense Spending: R & D, Acquisitions and Modernization, was devoted to military cooperation in the V4 group. It was moderated by the Security Program Director, Juraj Krupa, from the Slovak Security Policy Institute (Slovakia). The experts discussed about the role of international organizations, such as NATO, in ensuring security in the Visegrad region. The need to develop a new format of joint military exercises under the V4 and the modernization of national armies, with the cooperation of national armaments sectors was highlighted. It was emphasized that the countries of the Visegrad Group have much greater defense potential when they are united. The speakers of the third panel were: Gergely Nemeth, Doctor in War Studies (Hungary), Marian Majer from the Ministry of Defense of Slovakia, Petr Bohacek from the Association for International Affairs (Slovakia) and Radko Hokovský from the European Vaules Think Tank (Czech Republic).
The last session, Activities of the Visegrad Group in the Context of the European Security, was led by Professor Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse from the University of Warsaw (Poland), who indicated that the Visegrad countries should seek to work out common levels of cooperation in the security context. The Professor emphasized that Europe is in a deep crisis, which should bring together all the countries of the region in order to effectively influence decisions made at the EU forum.
Aleksandra Rybińska, the member of the board of the Polish-German Cooperation Foundation and the expert at Warsaw Institute (Poland), analyzed the current situation on the European arena, pointing out that V4 countries are dealing with German-French domination, which should lead the Visegrad Group members to an effective response and solidarity in the region. Professor Andrzej Zybertowicz (Poland), Marcin Kędzierski from the Jagiellonian Club (Poland) and PhD Piotr Bajda from Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw (Poland) also took part in the panel. The experts addressed the topic of leadership in the Visegrad Group, marking the role of Poland as the natural leader of the organization. However, significant differences in the perception of the topic from the perspective of each Visegrad country were stressed. Dichotomy associated with a different perspective has a negative impact on the Group’s cohesion, and hence, the possibility of real influence on other countries and decisions taken at the EU level. During the discussion, the issues of the Three Seas initiative as a new concept of cooperation in the region, were widely discussed, which supported by good practices and Visegrad cooperation, can expand the sphere of security in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. It was emphasized that the solidarity of the Visegrad Group does not deny the active participation of its members in the European Union, but only strengthens the voice of our region in Europe.
The Warsaw Institute