The second day of GLOBSEC 2022 heard from global leaders on topics related to restoring security and stability amid a new era of geopolitical conflict; strengthening resilience in the sphere of healthcare, energy security, sustainability, cyber and tech; maintaining economic growth and defending democracy.
Here’s a quick digest of the highlights:
Healthcare a priority
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, Director-General of the World Health Organization, delivered his keynote remarks, in which he stressed that in order to be more pandemic resilient, great emphasis on the public health is needed and healthcare needs to be reprioritized. “The time to act is now – the history of pandemics is the history of panic and neglect. The world usually throws money at the health crisis, but cuts resources after the pandemic,” he said. Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic situation he said: “Globally, more than 60 percent of the world is now vaccinated. But it is still far too early to say that the pandemic is over. It is not over.”
Restoring security and stability
In the panel of three Ministers of Defence (Slovakia, Bulgaria and Ukraine) on “Air Dropping Military Support”, panelists spoke about how to coordinate the efforts to deliver effective military support and increase support for Ukraine. Slovak Minister of Defence, Jaroslav Naď, said: “Western EU member states should join in helping Ukraine in military terms. It needs to be timely – time is crucial. If these countries do not want to be so visible, they can help the CEE countries that are currently emptying their storage in their effort to help Ukraine.” He also said, If the European Commission claims it would like to help Ukraine with 2 billion euros, then it should have those 2 billion euros ready; it cannot wait until 2027. Bulgarian minister, Dragomir Zakov, claimed he is “not much focused on when, if and what. The most important thing is coordination.” Ukrainian Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, addressed the audience virtually. He said “the character of the war changed and more heavy weapons are necessary to reach maximum effectiveness on the ground.”
Peter Hultqvist, Minister for Defence of the Kingdom of Sweden and Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, Minister for National Defence of the Hellenic Republic, discussed the role of the EU and NATO in the current security setting. Swedish Minister Hultqvist said: “Sweden’s acceptance into NATO will increase the stability of the whole.” He also admitted that building a centralized weapon industry in Europe is difficult. „If you don’t do it, we are too theoretical,“ he said. According to Minister Panagiotopoulos: „everybody has to comply with the rules set by international law. If we all do that, we are in a good condition.“
The panel dedicated to cyber security issues titled “Threat Detected: Moving from Cyber Defence to Offence,” focused on cyber resilience of the world. Andrew Lee, Director of Government Affairs of ESET said, that “cyber resilience is under developed, underfunded.” He also reiterated that “we have seen only minimal budgets reflecting this in defence spending, in capabilities to build resilience and educate society. All technologies that we develop will have vulnerability which we have to consider as we build them, not afterwards.” Policy Advisor, Ministry of Defence of Estoia, Anett Numa said: “There has been a war in cyber space between Ukraine and Russia since 2014. If you repair and do exercises you can prepare for cyber war, that is why there is nothing much happening in cyber space in Ukraine now.”
In his panel on “Allies in the Indo-Pacific Region”, Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar discussed India’s geopolitical challenges. He said: “We are going through difficult times in our relations with China. We had difficult times but now it is harder. It is a reminder to Europe that there are other issues happening in the world, of which Europe is not always aware of.” On the situation in Ukraine he commented: “Ukraine is a major concern in India, because we are all interconnected. Indians are a digital society, so there is a lot of awareness. Everyone, to put it mildly, is disturbed.” He also touched upon the Russian sanctions, contemplating: “We do not look at the fact that we buy Russian oil, we buy the best oil we have on the market. If Europe and the US are concerned why do you not allow Iranian or Venezuelan oil to come to the market?” He further said: “Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are world problems, because that is not the case.”
Unkept promises of the European Union were in the spotlight of the debate titled “Now or Never: Unlocking the European Future for Western Balkans.” President of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović said: “The EU showed robustness to protect its system of values in Ukraine and showed they are more serious about geopolitics. But for us in the Western Balkans, we need a unique voice and message from the EU, the original message that they used to say: that every country of the Western Balkans region has a place in the EU.” He also mentioned he is “´against any shortcuts for membership. Neither the EU nor the candidate country would achieve its goal if such shortcuts occur.” Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, informed the audience on the current state of the Kosovo-Serbia relations. „We need a principled dialogue between two equal partners,“ he said and added: “I don‘t believe in Balkan’s self-sufficiency. We belong in Europe.” According to EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues Miroslav Lajčák, “the war in Ukraine made the process of enlargement political again, and if Europe wants to be a credible player, it needs to have the Western Balkans as part of the EU.”
In the discussion on “Solidifying the Neighbourhood: Partnership with Eastern Allies,” the leaders of Moldova and Georgia explained why EU candidacy and eventual membership is essential for the two countries. Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili said: “Granting the candidate status or not is a political decision but also a moral and symbolic decision. Georgia has been loyal to EU values and paid the highest price – now it’s up to Europe to decide.” President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu reiterated “in a long-term, democracy can survive only if Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine become part of the EU.“
The Russian aggression against Ukraine has brought the world in peril due to Ukraine and Russia halting their exports of agricultural goods. While Russian exports shrink in the face of isolating sanctions and their unwillingness to rely on external partners, Ukrainian ports are blocked. „The first priority is to help Ukrainians to secure ports at the sea in order to export,“ Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic Eduard Heger said. He added the port of Odessa will be a test for the EU whether it is capable to secure Ukraine and help it to export. Federal Chancellor of Austria, Karl Nehammer, said: “we have to risk something for peace and ceasefire – we have to do that now. This is democracy – there´s no discussion in Russia and it is a pity.” He also noted: “I think it necessary to talk to both sides even in conflicts. We have to get and push Putin to talk, we have to push him and make him stop this war. If not, what kind of scenario do we have for this conflict? All conflicts have ended with negotiation.”
The first panel of Day 2 on “European Responsibility in Time of Crisis” focused on three key areas: enlargement as a divisive topic for the future of the EU, the migrant situation as a result of the war in Ukraine, and the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. On the issue of coordination between the EU members, Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, pointed out the six „unprecedented“ packages of sanctions imposed by the EU. On the issue of enlargement, Martin Klus, State Secretary of MFA of the Slovak Republic said that „Western Balkan is the top priority for foreign policy of Slovakia.“
In a panel of “Struggles on the Frontline: Can Democracies Stop Tyranny?”, Leader of Belarusian Democratic Movement, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said: “We Belarusians understand and support Ukraine. Without free Ukraine there will be no free Belarus. But you cannot solve Ukraine and forget Belarus. Without free Belarus there will never be free Ukraine, there will always be a threat.” Kersti Kaljulaid, Global Advocate of the UN Secretary-General for Every Woman Every Child, United Nations noted: “We should support civil society, business but be careful not to support the regime in Belarus. This is very linked to what is happening in Ukraine, because Ukraine is fighting for a free world.”
Panel named “Fallen Villain: A Putin’s Free Russia” served as a platform to discuss possible scenarios of Russian developments after the War in Ukraine ends. Participants agreed how the war ends will greatly influence the direction that a future Russia takes. Russia needs a future that allows for reflection. Former Prime Minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, said: “We can have a normal relationship with Russia when Russia becomes a normal country.” Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the Czech Republic, Rastislav Káčer noted that when speaking about Russia: “We see a country which has a systematic problem. It is not just a Putin problem.”
Strengthening energy security
The combination of COVID, competition with China, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has accelerated the green transition and the desire for energy sovereignty and security. However, as theprices of raw materials are skyrocketing and their processing can emit a very large amount of CO2, this reality complicates the green transition. The panel titled “Rethinking the Global Energy Order in a New Geopolitical Landscape” opened up a discussion on the importance of diversification of energy sources. Former Deputy Minister of Energy of Russian Federation, Vladimir Milov said: “to divert our gas to China or Asia will take hundreds of billions of dollars of investment.” Glenn Schmidt, Vice President of Government Affair, BMW Group noted: “the global economy and our supply chains are very interconnected. They are probably more interconnected than our political world.” He also said: “We already have a 20% reduction in Germany since the war broke out, and industry works together with governments. Diversification is the key.”
About GLOBEC 2022
This year’s GLOBSEC summit, dubbed a “summit at the frontlines of war”, takes place on June 2 – 4, with the main theme of “building resilience in a divided world.” It convenes at a strategic time when more than 1,500 public figures, global and business leaders, meet in person to confront the current issues of a crisis-driven world, including restoring stability amid a new era of geopolitical conflict; strengthening resilience in the sphere of energy security, health care, sustainability, cyber and tech; maintaining economic growth and defending democracy among others.
Robert Vass, President of GLOBSEC, in his opening speech has called for action to mobilize support for Ukraine. He said: “This conflict is about far more than Ukraine. It is also about us and the world we live in. The future of the West is being decided now in Eastern Europe … Whatever the upcoming weeks and months will bring, the leaders of NATO and the EU should be designing their responses. There is no time to lose. This is what we are here for at the Forum – to offer solutions.”
This year, the 17th edition of the Forum is be the biggest conference in the CEE region with the most impressive lineup yet, including more than 30 delegations alongside a roster of internationally recognized business and opinion leaders. Furthermore, as a part of the framework of the Forum, GLOBSEC, in cooperation with the Slovak and Ukrainian governments, kicks off a campaign to mobilize political, military, financial and economic support for Ukraine.
GLOBSEC is a global think-tank based in Bratislava committed to enhancing security, prosperity and sustainability in Europe and throughout the world. It is an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental organisation. Its mission is to influence the future by generating new ideas and solutions for a better and safer world. To this goal contributes the annual GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum, one of the leading conferences on global security in the world. GLOBSEC also organises the annual GLOBSEC Tatra Summit, a conference that provides the opportunity for experts to have fruitful political discussions on the future of Europe.