SEESOX/NATO Public Diplomacy Project 2018

Can the international community cope with current security challenges?

A team from SEESOX, with invited guest speakers, visited Athens for a series of events from 22-24 October, 2018. This was generously funded by the Public Diplomacy Division of NATO.

The centrepiece of the visit was a presentation at the Megaron on 23 October. Richard Caplan, Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, addressed “Contemporary Global Security Challenges”. Lucas Kello. senior lecturer in International Relations at Oxford, and Director of the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs, spoke on “Evolving Cyber Threats”. Ino Afendouli, Programme Director at the Public Diplomacy Division of NATO, presented on “The new security environment: The View from NATO”. Marilena Koppa, a former MEP, and now an Associate Professor at the Panteion University, and currently an Academic Visitor at St Antony’s College, Oxford, covered “Europe and Common Security and Defence Policy.” The session was chaired by David Madden.

Briefly, the themes were as follows. The international community was facing major security challenges: among others, the return of geopolitics; unprecedently high migration flows; security threats induced by climate change; and renewed nuclear proliferation concerns. In parallel, there was the rise of cyber security threats. Cyberweapons challenged basic assumptions of strategic theory. Their use was difficult to model and regulate. The growth of cyber arsenals was rapidly outpacing the design of doctrine to limit their risks. Was the international community equipped to meet all these challenges? From a NATO perspective, the international security environment was complex, unpredictable and unstable. There was a shift in Transatlantic relations, and no let-up in threats and challenges from Russia. Crimea represented a change of paradigm. But NATO stood firm. There had been expansion, and a clear-headed focus on the risks. There was now need for common policies between NATO and the EU, despite Brexit. On the EU side, the 2016 Security Strategy stressed resilience, close cooperation with NATO, and also a new emphasis on European defence, with increased coordination and inclusiveness.

There was a large audience of some 250 people. The presentations were well-received, and there was an hour of lively Q&A covering: relations with Russia and China; energy; world order; Trump and NATO; cyber non-proliferation; and democratic legitimacy.

Earlier in the day on 23 October there was a lunch with senior business men. Richard Caplan briefed on multilateralism and the US; Lucas Kello on cyber security and Russia; Kalypso Nicolaidis on Brexit and bilateralism in the EU. Discussion covered Russian tactics and objectives; Brexit, and North Macedonia as a future member of NATO.

The British Ambassador kindly hosted a working lunch at her Residence on 24 October. Othon Anastasakis, Manolis Pratsinakis and David Madden briefed on the work of SEESOX, including regional and geo-political work (Macedonia name issue and prospects for resolution and NATO membership, Berlin Process, Greece and Turkey, other Turkey issues, the crisis of democracy in the Balkans, and the role of Russia). A round-table discussion covered: the Western Balkans, including the role of Greece; Cyprus; and the role of Germany in Europe and the region.

In the evening there was a working dinner with IDIS/Panteion University. Apart from Greek/Turkish relations, and the rise of populism and nationalism in Europe, this concentrated in particular on the Middle East and the role of various players, with particular emphasis on the objectives and intentions of Russia.

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