The aim of the seminar was to gain a more detailed picture and thorough understanding of German foreign and security policy in the European dimension, with a special emphasis on Central Europe. At the seminar the experts have touched upon topics like Germany’s possibly changing role in NATO and EU security policy, crisis management in Ukraine and on German – Hungarian relations. The participants have emphasized that while we see the increasing economic and political role of Berlin in Europe, and the necessity of comprehensive reforms in the European Union, in order to become a leader of Europe, Germany needs to adopt a truly global visions and detailed strategies that can mobilize the support of European nations.
Dr. Péter Tálas, the director of CSDS has identified the added value of the seminar as the following: “The opportunity of being able to discuss Hungary’s and Central European countries’ bi- and multilateral relationship with Germany in a seminar with experts of the field can serve as a bridge for their views and helps to go beyond the aspects often represented in media as conflicting ones. At events where representatives from the Hungarian Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade can join the discussions, pragmatic and solution-centric proposals can be more easily assembled.”
Having started with Gen. (ret.) Zoltán Szenes, former Chief of Defense of the Hungarian Defense Forces’ welcoming remarks on the event, the experts have discussed their views of security challenges that Central European countries face and their subjective threat perceptions in three panels and a roundtable discussion. Such challenges can be accounted for Russia’s resurgent great power stance, long-term effects of the economic crisis, as well as the direct and indirect challenge of mass migration flows and the increased potential of terrorism.
Tamás Csiki, the coordinator of the workshop has highlighted the following: “Having seen the perceived threats and challenges, we were looking for areas along which the states of the region are willing to align their foreign policies. Such an exchange of opinions can serve as an orientation point for Hungarian foreign and security policy – CSDS works on playing a role in this.”
In the fourth year of the workshop series, the current event, funded in the KÖFOP-2.1.2-VEKOP-15--2016-00001 „Public Service Development Establishing Good Governance” project framework, hosted experts from various think tanks specializing in foreign and security policy, from Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine.
Dr. Péter Tálas, the director of CSDS, summarized the purpose of the meeting as the following: “We are preparing a complex research project focusing on the Central European region which will contribute to the work of the Hungarian Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as the Prime Minister’s Office. Understanding the drivers of foreign and security policy in our region is not only Hungary’s fundamental interest for acquiring a deeper insight of its environment but also a tool for more effective cooperation by which shared interests can be identified and conflicts of interest can be more easily resolved. Albeit we live in a ‘common integration space’, there are several questions, to which the answers may differ from country to country, for instance, the relationship with Russia or our stand regarding European migration policy. Having a profound understanding of the differences in our perceptions is essential when it comes to making policies – therefore our planned research will target that.”
The aim of the meeting was to discuss elements of research cooperation in assembling and publishing comparative country- and policy-specific studies regarding ten Central European countries in the course of the next two years. Having discussed the theoretical framework, focal points and structure and the format of the papers, the experts shared their ideas which have contributed to a productive meeting.