By Christine June George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany, January 12, 2016 — Russia’s continuing aggression in Ukraine, concerns among its neighbors and NATO allies, and Russia’s newly published national security strategy that identifies NATO as a threat are all elements of the changing security dynamics in Europe -- and topics for discussion at the Marshall Center’s first European Security Seminar-East here yesterday.
“These changes are forcing us to rethink concepts of security cooperation, economic interdependence and the prospects for continued European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation and integration,” said retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here, a German-American partnership. “As the situation is new, we must think anew, and armed with this new thinking, face the coming challenges, real and imagined."
The seminar included 58 participants representing the respective ministries of defense or ministries of foreign affairs from 28 countries. Dayton said Germany asked specifically for the Marshall Center to conduct the seminar to "examine the challenges emanating from the east."
The idea for this seminar, and a sister seminar -- European Security Seminar-South, which is scheduled for May -- came from discussions held in Berlin in 2014, citing shared U.S. and German concern about the changing security environment in Europe, Dayton said.
“These participants are high-level officials who are dealing with these problems every day,” said U.S. Army Col. John Knightstep, ESS-E deputy director. “We are giving them time to share, reflect and think of possible changes or alternatives to current European-Atlantic policies and new strategies for the region.”
Regional Conflicts, Vulnerabilities, Disorder
Dr. Ralf Roloff, senior German professor at the Marshall Center’s College of International and Security Studies said the ESS-East and ESS-South are "of utmost importance for European regional security today.
“[The] overall intent for both seminars,” he said, “is to bring more awareness to what is really going on in the region -- to pulse the region -- then provide to our stakeholders better information about what is a possible policy that could achieve European regional security.”
Roloff explained that the seminars aim to go beyond bringing people together to develop a common understanding. "We are going to develop comprehensive strategies with the participants to address conflicts, vulnerabilities and the disorder in those particular regions,” he said.
Publishing Strategies, Recommendations
The seminars will ask participants will express their perspectives on the current situation and then identify the implications of all these developments with the shared and joint neighbors, the European Union, NATO, Partnership for Peace Consortium countries, and the main partners of the Marshall Center -- Germany and the United States. At the end of the five-day seminar, the participants present their strategies and policy recommendations on how to engage, contain and deter Russia’s resurgence in eastern Europe.
Roloff said the recommendations will be published and presented to the Munich Security Conference in February.
“The Munich Security Conference is a really important and big event on the annual calendar of security policy and international diplomacy,” he said. “It’s the most important and prestigious security conference on the globe.”
He said conference attendees typically include heads of state, diplomats, senior flag officers and journalists. This year, the MSC's title is “The New Dynamic in the East; Conflicts, Vulnerability and Disorder; Russia and The West."