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Central Europe

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Central European security from the view of experts

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The Centre for Strategic and Defence Studies (CSDS) at NUPS held an international workshop titled “From Newport to Warsaw – Measuring Central European contributions to NATO” within the framework of the event series “Central European Perspectives” on 20 May 2016.

“We have arrived at the end of a two-year cycle in Warsaw where members will evaluate the implementation of the decisions made at the previous NATO summit in Newport – something that we have decided to previously do ourselves with regards to Central Europe” – reminded Dr. Péter Tálas, Director of CSDS about the workshop’s goal in his summary of the event. Professor Tálas added that “it is quiet noticeable that Poland has made decisive steps in the past 15 years in order to become a medium power in Europe: politically, she is willing to take a leading role, has volunteered for serious military tasks in international crisis management in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has begun the extensive modernization of her armed forces since 2009, thus becoming a provider of security in Central Europe. After the crisis in Ukraine, Poland has been trying to extend and deepen these efforts across the entire East-Central European region. It is important to realize that what steps our regional partners have made in relation to their respective military capabilities and to their adaptation to the deteriorating security environment, as the deepening of our defence cooperation relies on that.”

The sixth and the latest event of the three year old expert workshop enjoyed the contribution of Czech, Estonian, Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian, Slovak and Hungarian security policy experts. The first half of the workshop focused on the developments of the 2014 NATO summit in Wales. Gergely Varga, adjunct researcher at CSDS provided a thorough review of the changes of the security environment in the last few years and of the responses made by NATO, highlighting the renewed importance of collective defence. He also examined the most important decisions made at the Wales summit and the current status of their implementation at the alliance level. Anna Péczeli (CSDS) overviewed the most important aspects of the European ballistic missile defence system, reminding that despite the fears of Moscow, the system is not directed against Russia. She also touched upon the possibilities of cooperation with the Russians in missile defence. Gábor Csizmazia, assistant lecturer at the Department of International Security Studies of NUPS evaluated the role of the Visegrad countries within NATO following the Wales summit. Despite the differences in their threat perceptions, the V4 countries have achieved successful cooperation in various areas of defence policy in the last few years. Their contributions include the participation in the stabilization mission in Afghanistan, the force contribution to NATO’s VJTF and, most visibly, their participation in various military exercises in East-Central Europe.

The second panel of the workshop focused on the current threats faced by NATO. Annamária Kiss (CENS) examined the relationship between NATO and Russia in a political aspect, analysing the reasons why and ways how Russia’s and the West’s perceptions of each other have changed in the last years. Dániel Berzsenyi from the Doctoral School of Military Sciences, provided a presentation on the policy and capabilities of NATO regarding cyber security, emphasizing the globally increasing role of the Internet and cyber security itself while also touching upon NATO’s possible role in the cyber security efforts of its member states. The presentation of Máté Szalai from the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs and Trade provided an overall view of the threats faced by the “Southern flank” of NATO. In addition to the structurally different (such as Syrian or Libyan) civil wars, the wider region of the Mediterranean and the Middle East reveals long-term instability, with this complex situation demanding adequate goals and responses from NATO. Apart from today’s challenges, NATO should also look at the potential threats of tomorrow, such as the possible destabilisation of Egypt or the negative effects of climate change and the impacts thereof in the region and beyond.

The speakers of the third panel discussed the capability development measures of Central European countries between 2014 and 2016. The experts reviewed the subject in hand from the perspective of their respective nations’ efforts with Sandra Kaziukonyte focusing on the Baltic states, Lukasz Kulesa on the national contributions of Poland, Lukas Dycka on the Czech Republic, Marian Majer on the Slovak Republic, Mirela Atanasiu on Romania and Tamás Csiki on Hungary respectively.