Iohana VOICU and Daniel DINU
The Euro-Atlantic Diplomacy Society (EAD Society) hosted the “Defense and Dialogue in Eastern Europe” Forum between the 1st and the 2nd of August, 2017, in Bucharest, Romania.
The forum is part of a series of events, “Defense and Dialogue in Eastern Europe” (DDEE), that took place this year between July 31st-August 5th, and also included a simulation of NATO procedures. For this occasion, the EAD Society received approximately 200 guests from diverse academic backgrounds from all around the world, most of which aspiring to a future diplomatic career.
Furthermore, the event brought together security and defense experts that debated the NATO Agenda, as well as the challenges faced today by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization both within its borders, as well as in its neighborhood.
The Euro Atlantic Diplomacy Society (the EAD Society) is a non-governmental organization whose purpose is to raise awareness on the role and activity of international organizations, as well as to create a platform for debate for the younger generation to approach political, economic, social and cultural issues.
The official opening of the “Defense and Dialogue in Eastern Europe” took place on August 1st, 2017, at the “Carol I” Central University Library in Bucharest and the debates were initiated with a session on the “Ballistic Missile Defense”.
The dialogue was led by Mr. James Mackey, Head of Euro-Atlantic and Global Partnership, PASP Division at the NATO HQ in Brussels, and Col. Gheorghe Stancu, Chief of Staff at Deveselu Military Base.
While Mr. Mackey emphasized the technical details of the ballistic missile defense system used by NATO to defend its eastern flank by focusing on its defensive nature, Col. Stancu presented the structure and strategic importance of the Deveselu military base.
Moreover, Mr. Mackey underscored that the NATO missile shield does not constitute a threat to the Russian Federation. Moreover, he pointed out that the alliance has launched several invitations to the Russian Federation for a common military exercise, which were rejected by the latter.
The second panel, “NATO’s enhanced/Tailored Forward Presence” was led by Col. (r.) Ion Petrescu, Ph.D, Founder of the Romanian Military Club for Euro-Atlantic Reflection, Prof. Mihail Ionescu, Ph.D., Director of the Institute for Defense Political Studies and Military History within the Ministry of National Defense of Romania, Col. Mircea Gologan, Deputy Director for Strategic Planning at the Romanian Army General Staff, as well as Mrs. Violeta Nicolescu, the Head of NATO and EU Policy Office of Defense Policy and Planning Department within the Ministry of National Defense of Romania.
The discussions within this session focused on NATO’s relationship with its neighboring states, in addition to the current potential threats to its members, which emerged after the shift of geopolitical strategic alliances both in the Middle East, as well as in the former USSR countries.
The third panel of the forum, on “Countering Russian Disinformation”, was led by Mr. Radu Magdin, Senior Analyst, CEO of Smartlink Communications and Member of the NATO Emerging Leaders Working Group (Atlantic Council), Mr. Andreas Umland, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Ukraine, and Mrs. Iulia-Sabina Joja, Ph.D., Consultant on Euro-Atlantic Security and Defense issues at Global Focus in Romania.
Both Mr. Magdin, as well as Mr. Umland pointed out the high susceptibility of the general public to altering its perspective according to the narrative to which it is exposed to. Furthermore, Mr. Umland brought forward the Russian Federation’s alleged financing of organizations active in the public space, as well as media channels to promote its strategic interests. This stressed the necessity of NATO allies to adopt a similar approach in order to create a balance for the public and counteract the negative effects of the unilateral vision promoted by the Russians on ensuring popular support for their activities.
Likewise, Mrs. Joja followed up by underlining the necessity to raise awareness on the challenges created by the Russian-born systematic disinformation campaigns at a political level, as well as on the necessity of creating a common system to address the potential effects said campaigns could have on our society. Moreover, the speaker highlighted the underfunding of common bodies on a NATO level, such as NATO Intelligence Fusion Center, and noted the role of the private sector in signaling the necessity of international cooperation on this matter.
We mention that Romania took its first steps in combating disinformation systematically and strengthening its resilience capacity by creating within the Foreign Affairs Ministry a Strategic Communication Department to counteract fake news. The Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Teodor Meleşcanu, announced the integration of this new department in the Department for Political Analysis and Synthesis.
The second day of the event started with “Projecting stability”. This panel was led by Mr. James Mackey, Head of Euro-Atlantic and Global Partnership, PASP Division at the NATO HQ in Brussels, Mr. Samuel Vesterby, Managing Director at the European Neighbourhood Council in Belgium, Mrs. Antonia Colibaşanu, Senior Analyst at Geopolitical Futures, Mrs. Violeta Nicolescu, Head of NATO and EU Policy Office of the Defence Policy and Planning Department, Ministry of National Defense of Romania.
The dialogue centered on the impact of the image of stability and control on the security environment, as well as on the importance of projecting stability by the allies, both within the internal space of NATO, as well as in its immediate neighborhood.
Correspondingly, Mr. Mackey reiterated the existing potential to expand the alliance on a longer term in order to secure NATO’s objectives, and Mr. Vesterby brought forward the cooperation opportunities with the Central Asian states. As such, Mr. Vesterby argued that the joint military exercises performed by the allies with states from Central Asia, as well as the existing partnerships indicate an inclination of these countries towards a cooperation with NATO.
The following panel, “Cyber Security”, was held by Mr. Lance James, Chief Scientist in the Research and Development Unit at Flashpoint in the US, Mrs. Kimberly Therese Zenz, Atlantic Council Fellow, DCSO Engineering Security in Germany, and Mrs. Virginia Mărăcine, Ph.D., professor at the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies and Member in the National Council for Ethics in Scientific Research and Innovation.
The session focused on the types of security risks that both public institutions, as well as private organizations were exposed to along with the globalization of the business environment and the evolution of technology.
Moreover, even though the risk of seeing work systems compromised cannot be entirely eliminated due to the fast and constant evolution of the threat factors, the discussion pointed out methods to significantly diminish these vulnerabilities, by utilizing all the communication channels in certain parameters established by the IT experts.
The last panel, “NATO-EU Relations”, approached the importance of the EU-NATO collaboration at an institutional level. The session was led by Dr. Raed Arafat, Head of the Department for Emergency Situations at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Romania, Cpt. Marius Pricopi, PhD lecturer at the Land Forces Academy of Romania, Prof. Silviu Eugen Drogobete, PhD, from the West University of Timişoara and former diplomat within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, Mrs. Liana Negoiţă, Advisor at the Defense Policy and Planning Department at the Ministry of National Defence of Romania , and Mrs. Alice-Cornelia Sabău-Georgescu, Deputy Director to the Security Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania.
Mr. Arafat summed up the importance of cooperation of NATO and the European Union at an institutional level from several angles. Also, he articulated the need of strengthening the capacity of resilience when allies are faced with crisis situations in which a fast response is critical.
Moreover, Mrs. Negoiţă and Mrs. Sabău-Georgescu reiterated the existing measures implemented nationally and internationally to ensure a good cooperation between member states of NATO, both on a diplomatic, as well as on a defense level.
The forum wrapped up with a series of conclusions that summarized the discussions approached during the two days of debate, focusing on the need of disseminating the role of NATO to the civil society, as well as on the further development of the cooperation between member states and neighboring states to ensure collective peace and security.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Romania-Turkmenistan was represented at this reunion by Mrs. Claudia-Iohana Voicu, official representative for Research, Strategy and Development Policy and Mr. Daniel Dinu, official representative for Public Relations and IT, which underscored the importance of a NATO collaboration with Central Asian states in order to ensure regional security.
Through its representatives, the institution announced its intention to join the initiatives of the alliance regarding the creation of strategies and organisms to combat eastern information aggression, by organizing the first internship program “Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)- Collection and Intelligence Analysis” within its Competitive and Strategic Analysis Department. The program was built on clearly defined work methodologies and designed with the support of experts from Romania’s security institutions.
The focus points of the internship program are the description of particular methods and techniques that pave the road to intelligence for the civil society.
Furthermore, the long, sometimes rigid and arduous process of selection of the personnel working in security institutions led to these methods being reserved to a small number of individuals presently. However, along with the development of the internet and the relevance of groups in the knowledge society outlined through the network paradigm, the potential of strengthening social resilience through a domino effect was identified.
The specific aim is to create a selection base for the development of the Competitive and Strategic Analysis Department of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Romania-Turkmenistan, with information specialists able to elaborate analysis and informative briefings sorted through a rigorous mental process, in order to generate intelligence products that made available to the legal beneficiaries in due time, in a comprehensive and personalized format, would help the latter in adopting efficient decisions.
The general purpose of the program is to educate the civil society on the security culture by offering selected news and articles with the goal of increasing social resilience in regards to disinformation and hostile informative actions from the media.