Support for Ukraine remained the headline issue on Day 3, but GLOBSEC 2022 also looked at geopolitics; improving healthcare; innovation & technology; strengthening resilience; and role of media in times of crises.
In his closing remarks, President of GLOBSEC Robert Vass noted we are standing strongly with Ukraine. “Not only winning, but also rebuilding and reconstructing of Ukraine is important,” he said and reiterated continued political and military support is a must. He also mentioned, Central Europe needs to be a leader in the process of securing unity, “because only united we survive.” In this, we cannot forget other partners: Balkans, Georgia, Moldova – so that Ukraine scenario will not repeat.
Over the three days of the Forum, 45 main panel sessions took place with 130 speakers. There were 36 closed-door sessions and more than 150 bilateral and multilateral meetings. GLOBSEC 2022 Bratislava Forum welcomed more than 140 journalists from more than 55 regional and international media. Overall, there were more than 1500 participants from 80 countries.
Here’s a quick digest of the Day 3 highlights:
The panel on a “New Marshall Plan” for Ukraine was looking for practical solutions on how to best help rebuild Ukraine after the conflict. Regional Country Director for Eastern Europe, World Bank, Arup Banjeri, said: “As part of international recovery, we have to consider not only grants but also loans – they will not be possible under market conditions, those would be too high – they have to be concessional, with a substantial grace period before Ukraine will repay.” He also added: “With expected economic growth after the war, Ukraine will pay back by itself.” Markus Berndt, Deputy Managing Director, EIB Global mentioned, that “on top of grants and loans, there will be a crucial role to bring in private sector investors. To achieve that, the accession process and association to the EU will be essential.” Considering semantics, Lisa Magno, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID said: “I feel more comfortable talking about the Marshall Plan as the Ukraine Plan, led and owned by Ukraine.” She also explained “on February 24, the first day of war, the USAID sent immediate assistance to Ukraine, to support people in Ukraine those in need of immediate economic assistance.” Addressing the Ukrainian representatives, Wilhelm Molterer, Chairman, GLOBSEC Board of Directors, said: “We are talking about money and it is necessary – please give us an indication where you need it.”
In a discussion featuring four journalists who have covered Russia, its propaganda, free speech and media freedom, Chief Editor of Kyiv Independent, Olga Rudenko said: “President Zelenskyy before the war had problems with criticism by the media, now his wartime leadership is being praised 24/7. I am concerned about the effect.” The panelists also touched upon the issues of fake news and Russian propaganda. “If the basic journalistic values are relevant, we need to fight against fake news,” reporter of the Slovak daily SME, Lukáš Onderčanin, said.
GLOBSEC fellows, Dominika Hajdu and Katarína Klingová, presented the results of Globsec Trends 2022 Report, which mainly shows how the war changed the perception of Eastern Europeans on Russia. In all polled countries except for Bulgaria, willingness to stay in NATO increased. Both Germany and US are now perceived as the most important strategic partners for Central and Eastern European states.
In panel focused on the future of West – China relations, Yanzhong Huang, Senior Fellow for Global Health Council on Foreign Relations commented on the official position of China on Ukraine, which he said “has been quite nuanced and balanced – from the very beginning, they refused to call it invasion and to criticise it, they blamed the NATO and its expansion – sided with realistic policy scholars that blame Ukrainians for triggering Russia invasion.” Senior Fellow, Europe Centre, Atlantic Council, Rachel Rizzo explained: “Biden administration´s policy toward China is practically a continuation of Trump´s strategy with allies – critical approach not based on the concept of ‘America first’ but with allies from the democratic West in terms of democracy v. autocracy principles.” She also added that “to expect US to approach China and convince them to stop supporting Russia or turn away from it- is not realistic.”
Healthcare a priority
Based on the results of soon to be launched GLOBSEC’s Healthcare Readiness Index, ten Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries accounted for 65% (two-thirds) of excess deaths per capita in the EU-27 since the pandemic erupted over two years ago. Eight of these rank among the top ten for COVID-related mortality. In order to prevent this, “healthcare investment in CEE countries must be increased to make healthcare systems more resilient,” Gabriele Grom, Public Policy Lead, Mid-Europe Region, MSD said. She also added: “as the European Commission points out in its recent recommendations on public spending, EU member states, especially those in the CEE region, must also devote resources to their health systems, which suffer from continuous under-investment.” Martin Smatana, GLOBSEC Research Fellow, also referred to a short-term planning of governments in the area of health which is preventing progress. “On the issue of healthcare, EU Commission and the WHO has to have a stronger position,” he said, stressing that „EU Commission needs to step up in a more aggressive way.”
Innovation and Technology
Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and GLOBSEC have issued the first ever joint statement on the Danube Tech Valley (DTVI) initiative, which aims to accelerate innovation potential in the Danube region. “Due to the unprecedented interest in this region in relation to the Russian aggression in Ukraine, there is an increased potential of the CEE countries as a possible focus of innovation and cross-border cooperation, “said Robert Vass, founder and president of GLOBSEC. “DTVI will serve as a catalyst for policy action arising from regional cooperation. Furthermore, the DTVI will unite various stakeholders to identify policy areas that will make CEE more competitive, innovative, and sustainable, ” Katarína Cséfalvayová, DTVI initiative Project Lead, said.
In a discussion with Ivan Bartoš, Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation & Minister of Regional Development of the Czech Republic, convening a few weeks before the upcoming Czech presidency of the Council of the EU, the digital agenda was in the spotlight of the debate. Deputy Prime Minister said: „The Russian war in Ukraine affects priorities of the EU and individual states.” He also touched upon disinformation, saying we should „not only fight it but increase trust of the security of data.“
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.