The event held on 15 June, 2017. generated much public interest and distinguished experts of various security fields shared their knowledge with a packed Zrínyi Hall at the Ludovika Campus. The discussion was moderated by Prof. Dr. Zoltán Szenes form the International Security Studies Department at Faculty of International and European Studies of NUPS, while the guests and the audience was greeted by Dr. Judit Nagy, Vice-Rector for International Affairs on behalf of NUPS.
The Vice-Rector welcomed all the distinguished guests, the ambassadors, experts and all members of the audience. She highlighted that it is an honour for the National University of Public Service to cooperate with so many embassies on such a serious and complex topic.
The Vice-Rector’s opening remarks were followed by the first part of the panel discussion, where military and security experts shared their view on the challenges of hybrid warfare, especially in the context of Ukraine and Russian hybrid warfare tactics. Before the experts’ session however, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States Embassy to Hungary David J. Kostelancik gave a speech on the vitally important situation of Ukraine. Mr. Kostelancik clearly stated how important Ukraine is not only to the United Stated, but also to NATO and all European countries. He explained that this new warfare – hybrid warfare – is conducted by Russia with the aim of damaging Ukraine and its ties to the West. Ukraine is intimidated, violent separatists use arms, energy is used as a weapon against this sovereign state and “a smokescreen of disinformation” is raised by its Eastern neighbour. All these activities blend traditional warfare with new elements in order to achieve Russia’s strategic aims. The Chargé d’Affaires of the United States Embassy urged Russia to honour the Minsk Agreement because the United States stands firm in the support of Ukraine.
The US Chargé d’Affaires was followed by Her Excellency Liubov Nepop, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Hungary. Her Excellency’s speech echoed Mr. Kostelancik earlier remarks and clearly stated the situation in her country. According to her, despite more than ten thousand people lost their lives since the beginning of the war that it is not only contested by military means. Russia uses disinformation, propaganda, cyber-attacks, and energy attacks in order to punish Ukraine for its Trans-Atlantic ties as well as cooperation with Europe. She deemed this action as part of the ancient “Divide and rule “principle and urged Ukraine, Europe, the United States and all its allies to stand united against such a threat.
First of the experts to share his opinion was Colonel Gábor Boldizsár, from the Faculty of Military Sciences and Officer Training. Colonel Boldizsár started his presentation first by defining the term “hybrid warfare”. Then he drew on his extensive field experience in military missions to both Afghanistan and Kosovo. Colonel Boldizsár also set up a theoretical framework in his speech by identifying 4 phases of hybrid warfare. In this concluding thoughts he mentioned that Hungary stands as an ally of Ukraine and Hungarian military scientists help in the development of Ukrainian military higher education.
The second presentation of the session a joint effort by military aviation experts Colonel Dr. Zoltán Krajnc and 1st Lieutenant János Csengeri, both represents the Faculty of Military Science and Officer Training. In their two-part presentation they underlined the role of airpower in hybrid warfare situations. Dr. Krajnc mentioned why airpower is one of the ideal tools of hybrid warfare, since it has “minimal intrusiveness, rapid response, rapid mobility, rapid engagement and improved strategic, operational, and tactical situational awareness“. In the second part of the talk Mr. Csengeri identified 3 aggression categories "nonviolent subversion, covert violent actions, conventional warfare supported by political subversion” and also showed an example of a hybrid conduct of war in Kosovo in 1999, when conventional weapons, terrorism against the population, and irregular forces were used too.
The final expert of the first section was Dr. András Rácz senior lecturer at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University. Dr. Rácz is a renowned expert of the topic as he was the first person in Hungarian to write about hybrid war. Dr. Rácz underlined how much Russia uses and develops its hybrid strategies. That is it part of the official Russian military doctrine to conduct such operations and that is has evolved a lot since 2008 when the Russians first used modern hybrid strategy against Georgia. He also made it clear that the strategy works undeniably well for Russia as it is illustrated by the situation in Ukraine and also in Syrian since the Assad regime is still has not be toppled. “There is no reason to believe that Russia will stop using this method in the foreseeable future” – said András Rácz. In fact, he pointed to other developments of Russian strategy that have been used lately, such as naval and long distance strikes in Syria – the first time their warplanes engaged in action outside of their country of since the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980’s – and also interfering with election in both the United States and France. Dr. Rácz concluded that Russia is an adversary that is constantly improving its strategy and we must quickly learn how to counter it, which is he believes can be done by more cooperation.
The speeches were followed by a question and answer session where, among others His Excellency Petri Tuomi-Nikula, Ambassador of Finland to Hungary, and Her Excellency Isabelle Poupart, Canadian Ambassador to Ambassador to Hungary, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina raised issues for discussion.
The second part of the panel discussion continued following a short coffee break and saw speeches from Péter Kaderják, the Director of the Regional Centre for Energy Policy Research at the Corvinus University of Budapest, Dr. Botond Feledy, Director of Saint Ignatius College and Dr. Csaba Krasznay, director of the Cyber-Security Academia at NUPS. Mr. Feledy talked about civilian and military cooperation in cyber-security, and how fake news can be combated. Mr. Kaderják detailed how energy is used as a weapon against Ukraine and how the gas supply systems in Central and Eastern Europe. Last but not least, Mr. Krasznay presented a case study in detail about a Russian cyber-attack on a Ukrainian power plant, where a malware was used as a weapon. In his final remarks he stressed that cyber-security education is the easiest way to counter such threats and that is why NUPS also places great emphasis on cyber-security education as part of the Cyber-Security Academia.
The event took place in the Chapel of the Ludovika main building, where the ambassador’s main topic were the importance of European Neighbouring Policy, energy and information security, the European Union’s policy towards Russia as well as the status of Crimea. In her speech, Ms. Liubov Nepop focused on the present and future of EU-Ukraine relations: it is currently uncertain how the European and U.S. perspectives on Ukraine will be affected by the inauguration of Mr. Donald Trump as the new President of the United States.
Her Excellency also highlighted that the Ukrainian state is dedicated to European values and it wishes to implement future policies and conflict resolutions in accordance with these values. During the presentation, it was also stated that the impact of the ongoing Ukrainian-Russian military conflict poses a challenge not only to Ukraine but also to the stability of the entire European continent. The ambassador added that support of international communities might be a key element to solve the current issues.
The opening speech of Her Excellency was followed by a roundtable discussion with the participation of Dr. László Póti, lead researcher of the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Anton Bendarzsevszkij, director of Pallas Athene Geopolitical Foundation, and Dr. János Bóka, Vice-Dean for Research and International Affairs. The guests discussed, among others, whether the situation in the Ukraine could be considered a frozen conflict, and how the outcome of the upcoming German and French elections could affect the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy as well as its crisis management concept.
The next Ludovika Ambassadors’ Forum event will be held on the 22nd of March, with special guest H.E. José Ángel López Jorrin, Ambassador of Spain.
The program included negotiations with Dr. Norbert Kis, Vice-Rector of Continuing Education and International Affairs, and presentations on the Hungarian public service, training and executive training programmes offered by NUPS and main research activities of the university. Members of the delegation also visited the Prime Minister’s Office where they learnt more about the One-Stop-Shop Government Window project and its results. On the occasion of their visit, the head of the agency proposed several areas of cooperation, such as the organization of trainings for HR management of Ukrainian government, establishment of joint pilot project on involvement of youth on civil service or the development of a complex and efficient HR management system.
The National Agency of Ukraine on Civil Service is a central executive body, its activities are coordinated by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. The Agency provides development and implementation of national policy in civil service, along with functional management of civil service.
The event has been supported by the European Union, co-financed by the European Social Fund, in the "KÖFOP-2.1.2-VEKOP-15-2016-00001 - Public Service Development Establishing Good Governance" tender.