Speakers and Participants


Dr Balkan Devlen, Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations in Izmir University of Economics, Turkey

Balkan Devlen is Associate Professor of International Relations in Izmir University of Economics. He got his Ph.D. in Political Science from University of Missouri in 2007. He was a Levin Institute Fellow in 2011 and a Black Sea Young Reformers Fellow in 2012. He was a Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science in the University of Copenhagen in 2014. He has published and gave talks on operational codes of political leaders, strategic culture and foreign policy behavior of authoritarian regimes, grand strategies of major and emerging powers, political warfare, and the future of international order. International security issues in the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Black Sea played and continue to play a central role in his research. His current and future research projects are concerned with the grand strategies of regional powers, the future of international order, strategic narratives, and international ideologies.

Gen Sir Richard Shirreff, former Deputy Supreme Commander NATO Europe


Dr Ieva Bērziņa, Senior Researcher at the Centre for Security and Strategic Research of the National Defence Academy of Latvia

Ieva Bērziņa is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security and Strategic Studies, National Academy of Defense of the Republic of Latvia. She obtained a PhD in political science (comparative politics) from the University of Latvia. Her doctoral thesis compared Western political consulting techniques with Russian political technology, and explored their impact on political campaigning practice in Latvia. Before academic career she gained practical experience in the field of marketing and communication. Her current  research interests cover such interdisciplinary areas as Russia's information warfare, "colour revolutions", the rhetoric of political leaders, political marketing and strategic communication. Her recent academic publications include such articles as „Political Campaigning Environments in Latvia: From a Global to a Local Perspective” (2016), „Zapad 2013 as a Form of Strategic Communication” (2015), „Foreign and Domestic Discourse on the Russian Arctic” (2015), „The Russian "Colour Counterrevolution" Model for Containing Geopolitical Expansion by the West” (2015). 

Ms Guna Šnore, Programme Officer of the Engagement Section,  NATO 

Guna Šnore currently works as a Program Manager at the Public Diplomacy Division (PDD) of NATO International Staff. She holds this position as of 2011. Her main responsibilities are public diplomacy engagements on collective defence and defence capabilities, cooperation with Universities and Youth Organizations, as well as public diplomacy projects in Poland and Baltic countries. She was in charge of the public diplomacy engagements on the margins of NATO Warsaw Summit. Her professional career started at the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riga and continued at the Latvian delegation to NATO in Brussels. Before joining PDD, Guna worked at the Policy Planning Unit of the Private Office of the NATO Secretary General, where she supported the Unit’s work during the drafting process of the NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept and in particular – the work of High Level Experts’ Group. 

Mr Jānis Sārts, Director of NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, Latvia 

Jānis Sārts began his career in the Ministry of Defence after graduating from the Faculty of History at the University of Latvia in 1994. From 2002 – 2007, J.Sārts headed the Defence Section of Latvia’s Delegation to NATO and EU in Brussels. During that time, he was also a Special Advisor to Georgia on defence reforms and NATO integration plans. From 2008 – 2015 he has been a State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Latvia for seven years. From 2012 to 2015 J.Sārts was heading the Latvian Government’s efforts to increase its security and defence in cyberspace. During this period, he was a Chair of the National Cyber Security Board, a body that is responsible for formulating and overseeing the implementation of Latvia’s cyber security policy. In addition, J.Sārts was responsible for overseeing the work of the National Information Technology Security Incident Response Institution – CERT.LV. Jānis Sārts has graduated the NATO Defence College, has interned at Swedish Defense Research Agency and has received numerous state awards for his contribution to defence reforms, fostering Latvia’s membership to NATO. In July 2015 he was appointed as Director of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, based in Riga.

Mr Giles Portman, Head of East Stratcom Task Force at European External Action Service, United Kingdom

Mr. Giles Portman has been Head of the East Stratcom Task Force in the European External Action Service in Brussels since September 2015. The Task Force was established by the March 2015 European Council decision to improve communication of EU policies in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood, help strengthen the media environment and media independence in the region, and improve the EU’s capacity to anticipate and respond to disinformation. Before this, Mr. Portman worked for 12 years on EU-Turkey relations, as chair of the EU enlargement working group that negotiated the opening of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations in 2005; as Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Ankara; and as Advisor on Turkey to the EU High Representative. Mr. Portman has also worked as a diplomat at the UN in New York and in Prague, and as EU communications adviser and speechwriter to a former UK Minister for Europe. He is a member of the Council of Experts of the Democratic Progress Institute, a London based NGO working for conflict resolution, peace building and democratic advancement.

Mr Stanislavs Hiļčuks, Member of the Board & COO of APPLY Inteligent Technologies, Latvia

Stanislavs Hilcuks is a technology development visionary who specialises in conceiving and implementing intelligent solutions in a broad variety of application areas. Stanislavs possesses expertise in both the IT and the socio-economics, which places him in the position not only to offer specialised solutions for the market, but also to foresee their influence on the society. He strongly believes that it is necessary to go on boldly with research and development in technologies and artificial intelligence, as this will help keeping up the level of security and the quality of life, as much as it will contribute to the transformation of economy, which will only be possible after an even deeper mutual integration of a human and technologies has taken place, and the respective phobias have been overcome.

Mr Māris Cepurītis, Researcher, Centre for East European Studies, Latvia

Māris Cepurītis has BA and MA degrees in International relations both done in Rīga Stradiņš University and currently working on his PhD thesis. Has worked in Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, Latvian Transatlantic organisation specifically participating in organising “The Rīga Conference”. Currently Maris is working in Rīga Stradiņš University as head of “International Relations – European Studies” programme and as lecturer. In addition, he is a researcher at Centre for East European Policy Studies and member of board at Latvian Transatlantic Organization. His primary research interests include: theory and practice of diplomacy; public diplomacy; foreign policy of small states; foreign policy of Russia, especially the “nonconventional instruments”; information warfare; propaganda and strategic communication from the political perspective.

Mr James Kirchick, Fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative, journalist and foreign correspondent in Washington, USA

James Kirchick is a fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative based in Washington, D.C., a correspondent for The Daily Beast and a columnist for Tablet magazine. He is a frequent contributor to a wide variety of publications including the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, Commentary, The Weekly Standard, and the New York Daily News; in Europe, he writes for the Spectator and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Kirchick has reported from Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, across Europe and the Caucasus. He has been a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Berlin and a Hoover Institution Media Fellow. His first book, The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues and the Coming Dark Age, will be published next year by Yale University Press.

Mr Tod Lindberg, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, USA

Tod Lindberg is a research fellow at the Hoover Insitution, Stanford University. He is the author of The Heroic Heart: Greatness Ancient and Modern, The Political Teachings of Jesus and Means to an End: U.S. Interest in the International Criminal Court (with Lee Feinstein). He is editor of Beyond Paradise and Power: Europe, America, and the Future of a Troubled Partnership and Bridging the Foreign Policy Divide (with Derek Chollet and David Shorr). From 1999 to 2013, he was editor of Policy Review. He was a member of the Executive Committee and Lead Expert on International Norms and Institutions for the 2008 Genocide Prevention Task Force of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He teaches a graduate seminar on ethics in international politics at Georgetown Universityand is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.

H.E. Mr Hayri Hayret Yalav, Ambassador, Turkish Embassy in Riga, Turkey

Ambassador Hayri Hayret Yalav joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1978. He has served in Turkish Foreign Missions in Iraq, Austria, Germany, United Kingdom and the United States. He was appointed as ambassador to Argentina in 2006. He returned to Turkey in 2011 to become Director General for Eastern Europe and Asia. He was appointed to Latvia as ambassador in 2014. Ambassador Yalav has graduated from Bogaziçi University in Istanbul and has attended University of Hamburg, National Security Academy in Ankara and Royal College for Defence Studies in London.

Ms Elisabeth BrawSenior Consultant at Control Risks and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council

Elisabeth Braw is a senior consultant at the London headquarters of Control Risks, the global risk consulting firm. She was previously a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek, and is also a regular contributor to publications including Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, specializing in European security. She has also been a visiting fellow at the University of Oxford, and frequently moderates sessions at security conferences. Elisabeth is a native of Sweden and attended university in Germany, finishing her Magister Artium degree in political science and German literature with a dissertation on nuclear weapons reduction in Europe. 

Mr Jānis Kažociņš, President's national security advisor, Latvia

Jānis Kažociņš is a National Security Adviser to the President, Republic of Latvia. He was born in UK of Latvian parents. He grew up and was educated in England. After a career of 30 years in the British Army he retired early in August 2002 with the rank of brigadier (NATO 1 star) in order to live permanently in Latvia. In May 2003 and again in May 2008 he was appointed Director of the Constitution Protection Bureau (Latvia’s external intelligence service) by the Latvian Parliament for a period of 5 years. During 2011 he was Chairman of NATO’s Civilian Intelligence Committee. From 2013 to 2015 he was an adviser on international and cyber security issues to the Minister of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since January 2016 he has been the President’s National Security Adviser and Secretary of the National Security Council.

Dr Gerlinde Niehus, Head of the Engagements Section, NATO, Germany

Dr. Gerlinde Niehus leads the Engagements Section within NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division. As such, she oversees NATO’s Public Diplomacy engagements with audiences in all NATO nations and NATO partners countries across the globe, be it people-to-people, via partners and networks, or by digital means. Gerlinde Niehus started her professional life as a TV and radio editor for public broadcasters in Germany (WDR and Deutschlandfunk). She then moved to a German think tank, focusing on international relations and a growing range of education and training programmes with partners in Central and Eastern Europe and the New Independent States (NIS). In 1999 she joined NATO, and in 2012 assumed her present position. Gerlinde Niehus holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from Muenster University, Germany.  In addition to her doctoral thesis on Spanish Foreign Policy, she has published numerous academic articles on international and security matters, as well as on NATO’s evolving policies. Gerlinde is a member of Women in International Security (WIIS) and alumni of the London Business School and the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation.

Mr Vlad Alex VernygoraLecturer and NATO Project Director, Centre for Asia - Pacific Studies, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia

Vlad Vernygora, Lecturer and Project Director at the Tallinn-based Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies (Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia). He is an alumnus of the Yaroslav the Wise National Law University (Ukraine) and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). His research interests include contemporary empires, Europe’s interactions with Asia-Pacific, the EU and its neighbourhood, and neo-regionalism. Vlad is an active promoter of Asia-Pacific Studies in the Baltics/Nordics. He holds Tallinn University of Technology’s Teaching Award of 2015 and a short-listed nomination for the country-wide University Teaching Award in 2016. From October 2014, Vlad Vernygora has been managing the operational side of NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme’s biggest Project in social sciences: NATO Global Perceptions - Views from Asia-Pacific Region.

Prof Dr David J. Galbreath, Professor of International Security at University of Bath, Director of Centre for War and Technology, United Kingdom

David Galbreath, PhD is Professor of International Security, Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Director of Centre for War and Technology at the University of Bath. Having been a specialist in post-Soviet security and transition, his research has spanned from the role of international organizations in peace making and conflict prevention to more recently the role of science and technology in defence policy and military affairs. Prof Dr Galbreath is also the Conflict Leadership Fellow for the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of the journals European Security (2009-2015) and Defence Studies (2014-2016). He is currently Associate Editor for the European Journal of International Security, published by Oxford University Press. He has forthcoming publications on military transformation (with Simon Smith), technology and public policy (Sulfikar Amir) and arms control resilience (Brett Edwards).

Dr Gunda Reire, Director of the Center for International Studies

Gunda Reire is Director of the Center for International Studies. She holds the position of Lecturer in diplomacy studies at the Riga Graduate School of Law. Combining both the academic and practical spheres of politics, she has served as Deputy Chairperson of the Strategic Analysis Commission under the auspices of the President of Latvia, as the Chief of Staff of the Speaker’s Office, and as Adviser to several ministers. Her core research interests include multilateral international cooperation, Russia studies, global politics regarding the United Nations, geopolitics, and global peace and security. She is the scientific editor of several volumes of research papers and the author of scientific publications on Latvia’s foreign policy and maintenance of international peace and security.





Ahmet Yılmaz Vural, Turkey

Albin Aronsson, Sweden

Amish Laxmidas, Portugal

Ann-Kathrin Benner,  Germany

Ansis Gusts Rasa, Latvia       

Artjoms Ursulskis, Latvia 

Bartlomiej Koldziejczyk, Poland

Carmen Rijnoveanu, Romania

Chloe Anais Ophelie Dupin, France

Cornelia Zeineddine, Romania

Didzis Irbe, Latvia

Eduards Miltiņš,Latvia

Eduards Ozolins, Latvia

Einārs Leps, Latvia

Emilis Kazlauskas, Lithuanina

Firat Avci, Turkey

Franck Maxime Yankam Lemdjo, Cameroon

Gene Navarra Gesite Jr., Philippines

Giulio Maria Raffa,Italy

Gry Waagner Falkenstrøm, Denmark

Guven Erkaslan, Netherlands

Hikmat Efendi, Azarbaijan

Ieva Krekovska, Latvia

Jakub Tomasek, Czech Republic

James Hoobler, United States of America

Jessica Jie Jiang, China

Juan Fuente Bravo, Spain

Kate Elizabete Kanasta, Latvia

Kristine Borodina, Latvia

Laima Japse, Latvia

Leon Stephane Ryrko, Germany

Mads Mateusz Jaszczolt Fritzboeger, Denmark

Magnus Vetsby Thorsen, Norway

Maida Sijaric Norwegian, Montenegrin

Mariita Mattiisen, Estonia

Mariks Kosarenko, Latvia

Markuss Druziks, Latvia

Martins Galzons, Latvia

Martins Tamisars, Latvia

Mihaly Szabo, Hungary

Mykola Demchuk, Ukraine

Nataliia Drozd, Ukraine

Nico Segers, Belgium

Nina Jankowicz, United States of America

Oleksandra Garshyna, Ukraine

Pasi J Huikuri, Sweden

Paulis Iljenkovs, Latvia

Rick Jacobus, Netherlands

Roger Victor Hilton, Canada

Tataru Christian-Dan, Romania

Thevagar Mohanadhasan, Germany

Tianze Zhang, China

Tils Indans , Latvia

Tomoe Gotoda, Japan

Ulrik Trolle Smed, Denmark

Zane Kalniņa, Latvia

Log In

About Riga

Founded in 1201, Riga offers its visitors a vast historical heritage and modern dynamism that is unparalleled.

About Riga READ MORE

Contact Us

Ms Sabīne Štāla

Ms Sabīne Štāla

Contact person for logistics, security & general issues