The third international conference on Baltic Sea Security – Merging Perspectives in Northern Europe

On June 12 2018, the Atlantic Council’s Northern Europe Office and the Swedish Armed Forces arranged the third international high-level, full-day conference on Baltic Sea Security in Stockholm, with the theme Merging perspectives in Northern Europe. Previous conferences took place in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Since 2013, a lot has happened, with a deteriorated situation in the region due to Russian aggression, and a range of national and international responses in order to handle the security challenges that have emerged.

The aim of the third Baltic Sea Security Conference was to look at the Baltic Sea region and how it is linked to nearby areas such as the North Atlantic and the Arctic in order to encompass a more comprehensive Northern European approach to credible deterrence and defence. The conference brought together representatives of government, military officers and civilian personal, academic researchers and international experts from Europe and the US. Moderator and co-host for the conference was Ms. Anna Wieslander, Director for Northern Europe, Atlantic Council. From the Armed Forces, rear admiral Jonas Haggren, Head of Policy and Plans at the Defence Staff, served as co-host and offered a historic perspective on the development of Baltic Sea security in his introductory address.

Keynotes addresses were made by General Micael Bydén, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces; Carl Bildt, Former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, and Mr. Cyryl Kozaczewski, Political Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland.

After having fallen into oblivion for many years, ‘deterrence’ is back as a core concept of security and defense. The first panel brought together high-level expertise to give their view on how to build credible regional deterrence in Northern Europe. The panel featured Mr. Julian Lindley-French, Professor, Senior Fellow of the Institute of Statecraft; Mr. Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Senior Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs; Ms. Mariliis Gross, Deputy Head, NATO Department, Ministry of Defense of Estonia; and Mr. Niklas Granholm, Deputy Director of Studies, the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI).

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The deteriorated security situation in the region has spurred an increase in defense spending and initiated a build-up in defense capabilities. The second panel discussed capability requirements and build-up, as well as appropriate institutional formats for development, addressing both hybrid and territorial threats. The speakers were Ms. Justyna Gotkowska, Project coordinator, Security and Defence in Northern Europe Programme at the OSW; Mr. Martin Zapfe, Head of Global Security Team, CSS Zürich; Mr. Timo Koster, Director of Defence Policy and Capabilities, NATO; and Mr. Eitvydas Bajarūnas, Ambasador-at-large for hybrid threats, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.

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In Northern Europe, the patterns of defense and deterrence, cooperation and dialogue are changing and developing. The third panel had a forward-looking perspective to explore what the next steps should be for securing Northern Europe, using a merged perspective that connects the Baltic Sea, the North Atlantic, and the Arctic.  The speakers were Mr. Ian Brzezinski, Resident Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council; Mr. Michal Baranowski, Director, GMF Poland; Ms. Carolina Vendil Pallin, Deputy Research Director, the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI); and Mr. Njord Wegge, Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).