WROCLAW – Leaders from government, business, media, and civil society convened in Wroclaw this morning for two days of discussions focused on the core transatlantic values of democracy, prosperity, and security.

The sixth annual Wroclaw Global Forum, hosted in the Wroclaw Congress Center by the Atlantic Council, the City of Wroclaw, and the Polish Institute of International Affairs, began with a welcome from the three co-hosts: Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe, Mayor of Wroclaw Rafal Dutkiewicz, and Director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs Marcin Zaborowski. Following the welcome remarks, the three co-hosts presented President of the Republic of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski with the first-ever Wroclaw Global Forum Leadership Award in recognition of his patronage of the Forum.

Speaking to Forum attendees in a keynote address, Komorowski stressed the importance of forging solidarity with countries to its east, in particular, Ukraine. Polish Deputy Prime Minister Tomasz Siemoniak echoed Komorowski’s sentiments on Ukraine and emphasized the importance of a strong eastern flank for NATO’s long-term strategy.

“NATO must strengthen its strategic thinking in eastern policy. This is about a new, realistic policy vis-à-vis Russia. There has been too much of wishful thinking,” he said.

The first panel of the day was a conversation with H.E. Tamar Beruchasvili, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia; H.E. Natalia Gherman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova; and H.E. Zoran Jolevski, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Macedonia. All three spoke of the importance of further integration with the European Union and discussed the recently concluded Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, Latvia.

Turning the conversation back to Russia, Beruchasvili and Gherman noted Russia’s territorial aggression against their countries. “The illegal stationing of Russian military formations on the territory of my country is a clear violation of the constitution of the Republic of Moldova,” said Gherman. “The Russian Federation is the only country in the world that violates the neutrality of the Republic of Moldova.”

The day continued with conversations on the changing global energy environment, defense and technology, the future of the European Union, and NATO and the transatlantic security environment. Featured speakers included Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation Garry Kasparov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Gregorz Schetyna, Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson, and Commanding General of US Army Europe LTG Frederick Hodges.

Speaking on a panel about the NATO Alliance, Hodges affirmed NATO’s readiness to confront any threats it may receive and outlined the actions he’s taken to confront Russian aggression, including sending one hundred Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles into Eastern Europe in December. “[NATO] is not perfect, but for sixty-five years it has been the most successful military alliance in the history of the world,” he said, responding to criticism of NATO’s ability to act. “You don’t get to be that way and accomplish the mission of deterrence by just talking about it.”

The afternoon included a keynote address from Marshal of the Polish Sejm Radoslaw Sikorski on topics ranging from the future of Russia, to European unity, and Poland’s NATO membership. Tying together the need for a strong NATO alliance with the threat of Russian aggression, Sikorski emphasized the importance of transatlantic unity. “To face the challenges that surround us, the United States and Europe need to stick together,” he said. “Poland will remain a linchpin of NATO.”

Over four hundred global leaders have joined the 2015 Wroclaw Global Forum to discuss the most pressing issues facing Central Europe and the US-European partnership. Recognizing the importance of bringing together business executives and policymakers to discuss the transatlantic partnership, for the first time this year the Wroclaw Global Forum included Business Leadership Dialogues on topics such as energy, technology and innovation, and defense. 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 #WGF15.