In recent years, Ukraine has tried it all. From being a beacon of democracy in the region, it went to seeming on the path to becoming a failed state. Malfunctioning institutions undermine democratic reforms and corruption poisons economic development. This same story has been told by media from all over the world, with the only minor difference being the “pro-Western” or “pro-Russian” label attached to the government in place. The equally poor domestic performance of succeeding governments left little choice to international observers but to distinguish Ukraine’s political forces by their foreign policy preferences. To their credit, foreign policy choices did not match the monotony of mismanaged domestic affairs. Ukraine’s strategic directions resemble the three roads of a fairy-tale. However, whatever direction was chosen by the government – Eastward or Westward, or balancing in-between – it was supposed to bring Ukraine closer to one goal. The goal of providing security for the Ukrainian state and guaranteeing its independence must have united otherwise feuding political camps.
Leaning to the West did not bring the desired security dividends, while the Russian bear continues to instill fear. The balancing act could be an alternative, if Ukraine were to accept a security vacuum that will constantly divert both the leaders’ attention and resources away from much needed reforms.
Ukraine is in a delicate position which makes it all the more important that key decisions be based on a strong understanding of the national interest. But whatever the country’s strategic choice, its leaders must remember that security is in the eye of the beholder.
13:00 – 14:30 Panel I: Security Is In the Eye Of The Beholder: The Case Of Ukraine
- The Kharkov Agreement: Real Versus Perceived Threats To Ukraine’s Security?
- Great Powers’ Bargain: Does Ukraine’s Balancing Act Make it An Easy Bargaining Chip?
- Ukraine’s National Interests: Beyond East-West Rhetoric
Opening remarks: Arseniy Yatsenyuk, MP, Leader of the Party “Front Zmin”, Founder of the Open Ukraine Foundation (confirmed)
Slawomir Debski, former director, Polish Institute of International Affairs,Poland (confirmed)
James Sherr, Head of Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House, UK (TBC)
Valeriy Chaly, Deputy Director General, Director of International Programmes, Razumkov Centre, Ukraine (confirmed)
Pavlo Klimkin, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine (invited)
14:30 – 15:00 Coffee break
The economic and financial crisis raised serious concerns about security and stability on the European continent. Economic failures, especially in the Black Sea region, provoked huge popular discontent. While in some countries it threatened to bring down governments, in others it led to authoritarian practices. On many national agendas, the need for reform was replaced by the urgency of obtaining bailout funds.
In the European Union, the reluctance to bailout the bloc’s weaker economies in the East prompted the Hungarian Prime Minister to warn against the dangers of raising “a new Iron Curtain” in Europe. However, an ephemeral curtain is hardly an obstacle to such concrete threats as migration flows or organized crime. Outside the European Union, the crisis left the door wide open to hard security threats. Weak economies in the Black Sea region are even more prone to instability due to the fragility of their state institutions, protracted regional conflicts and geopolitical rivalries. However, the security concerns raised by Black Sea countries do not seem to be heard in key capitals. The economic crisis brought internal problems to the top of their agendas, while severely curtailing the resources available to key regional players to remain engaged in the region. Despite its strategic importance, therefore, the Black Sea region remains in a security vacuum.
Strategic neglect of the Black Sea region risks coming at a high price for European security and stability. As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it during her speech on European security in Paris earlier this year: “if Europe is not secure, Europe cannot lead. And we need European leadership in the 21st century.” The economic crisis contributed to a global power shift, exacerbating geopolitical rivalries for world leadership. Europe can emerge stronger from this crisis or concede its fading influence in global affairs.
15:00 – 16:30 Panel II: Wider Black Sea Region: A No Man’s Land Or A Cornerstone Of European Security?
- Regional Rivalries Or Cooperation: How Does The Crisis Affect The Redistribution Of Power Among Key Regional Players?
- Is Security Perceived Differently Throughout The Region: Guarantee Of National Survival Versus Pursuit Of National Interests?
- Will The Economic Crisis Be A New Yalta? Will New Walls Be Built In Europe?
Moderator: Andrew Wilson, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, UK (confirmed)
Mitat Celikpala, Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Turkey (confirmed)
Serhiy Hlebov, Associate Professor, Department of International Relations; Senior Researcher, Center for International Studies, Odesa Mechnikov National University, Ukraine (confirmed)
Narciz Balasoiu, Researcher and Programme Officer, Conflict Prevention and Early Warning Centre, Romania (confirmed)
16:30 – 17:00 Coffee break
17:00 – 18:30 Panel III: One Europe: a win-win strategy or a zero-sum game?
- Will Realpolitik Prevail On The European Continent? What Is The Future Of European Collective Security?
- How Did The Crisis Redefine The Role Of Europe In The Global Security Environment?
- Can The European Continent Emerge Stronger From The Crisis?
Andri Veselovsky, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Head of the Mission of Ukraine to the European Communities, Ukraine (TBC)
Andri Fialko, Advisor to the President of Ukraine (confirmed)
Irina Kobrinskaya, Leading Research Fellow, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (confirmed)