WROCLAW – The seventh annual Wroclaw Global Forum opened in Wroclaw, Poland this morning, convening a global group of leaders from government, business, media, and civil society. Hosted by the Atlantic Council, the City of Wroclaw, and the Polish Institute of International Affairs, the Forum began with opening remarks from the three co-hosts: Atlantic Council Chairman Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Mayor of Wroclaw Rafal Dutkiewicz, and Director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs Slawomir Debski.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland H.E. Witold Waszczykowski delivered a keynote address focused on Poland and the NATO Summit to a packed auditorium, highlighting the threats that NATO faces on both its eastern and southern flanks. He stressed that NATO needs to strengthen its military presence in Poland and the Baltics to combat an increasingly aggressive Russian.  

“NATO’s keyword should be deterrence…not as an offensive measure, but rather as the most effective and, in fact, only instrument of peacebuilding,” he said, addressing the threat posed by Russia. “We do not want to wage a war against anyone, but to avoid a war scenario we must show that we are very well prepared and determined to defend our territory and values we share,” he added.

Other discussions throughout the day focused on topics including navigating the security environment in Europe; Ukraine, Russia, and Poland’s eastern neighbors; and the challenge of remaining competitive in a changing global economy. Featured speakers included Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania H.E. Linas Linkevicius, Secretary of State of the Republic of Poland Krzysztof Szczerski, former Minister of Finance of Ukraine Natalie Jaresko, Chairman of the People’s Freedom Part of Russia Mikhail Kasyanov, and Minister of Defense of Georgia H.E. Tina Khidasheli.

A key theme for the first day of the Forum was Russia’s relations with its neighbors, Europe, and the United States. Linkevicius noted the important of not going back to “business as usual” with Russia. Kasyanov stressed the importance of western support for the Russian people, explaining that Putin’s strategy relies on “external enemies and quick victories”. Jaresko, speaking broadly of the threat posed by a revanchist Russia, stated, “Russian behavior is not just a threat to Ukraine, but to the guiding principles of post war order, which affects us all.”

Over four hundred global leaders have joined the 2016 Wroclaw Global Forum to discuss the most pressing security and economic concerns facing the transatlantic relationship. Highlighting the theme of this year’s Forum, Shaping the Policy and Business Agenda for a New Europe and a Strong Transatlantic Partnership, before the opening of the Forum the Atlantic Council hosted its second annual Business Leadership Dialogues. The Leadership Dialogues featured a diverse group of business leaders from sectors including defense and energy for off-the-record discussions.

Visit the Wroclaw Global Forum website for more information or to watch tomorrow’s sessions live. Follow us on Twitter @AtlanticCouncil and @WGForum and join the conversation with hashtag #WGF16.


Nicole Hobbs, nhobbs@atlanticcouncil.org