The Rīga Conference Future Leaders Forum
October 14-15, 2021

The hybrid format of the event blends traditional in-person meetings with remote streamlined interactions among speakers and participants in Latvia and abroad.

OCTOBER 14

08:30-09:00

Riga time (UTC+2)

REGISTRATION & COFFEE

09:00-09:45

Riga time (UTC+2)

OPENING OF THE RC FLF 2021

Welcoming remarks by
Elisabeth Bauer, Konrad Adenauer Foundation in the Baltic States
Sigita Struberga, Secretary-General of the Latvian Transatlantic Organisation
Louis Wierenga, Director of the project “Rīga Conference Future Leaders Forum 2021”, Latvian Transatlantic Organisation

10:00-11:30

Riga time (UTC+2)

RESILIENCE AND SECURITY CHALLENGES

In anticipation to 2030, NATO currently faces several security challenges due to an increasingly unpredictable security climate. The Alliance also faces challenges regarding resilience. How will NATO adopt to a transformed security climate and what can responses to various contemporary challenges tell us about the future security preparedness of the alliance as well as the capacity to deter both the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China? In addition to Russia and China, NATO faces a variety of other challenges, in particular, related to resilience and critical infrastructure interdependence. In addition to non-linear threats, the Alliance is faced with challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges highlight the vital importance of multilateral cooperation and the need to be mission-ready at all times and in all spheres. The discussion focuses on how NATO will address future challenges related to resilience in the context of security as well as the security challenges presented by China and Russia and how these fit into the NATO 2030 agenda.

Maria Mälksoo, Senior Researcher, Centre for Military Studies (CMS), University of Copenhagen: Resilience in NATO’s agenda

András Rácz, Senior Fellow, German Council on Foreign Relations: Security challenges from Russia

Aleksandra Kuczynska-Zonik, Institute of Central Europe, Lublin and the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin: EU-China relations and security challenges

Moderator: Louis Wierenga, Junior Research Fellow, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu; Lecturer in International Relations, The Baltic Defence College; Project Director, Riga Conference Future Leaders Forum, Latvian Transatlantic Organisation

11:30-12:30

Riga time (UTC+2)

Lunch break

12:30-13:45

Riga time (UTC+2)

CHALLENGES FACING THE ALLIANCE

To build on the security challenges faced by Russia and China, NATO Member States also face domestic challenges in the world of post-truth, and alternative world views. This is exacerbated by populism and nativist sentiments which counter the mainstream narrative and question the liberal world order. Terrorism – both lone actor and groups – and the capacity of Member States in countering this threat is an important security concern at the domestic level. As the liberal world order unravels, authoritarian populism is another concern at the domestic level. Some of these actors do not view Russian President Vladimir Putin as an adversary. To what extent do cozy relations with Putin coupled with an illiberal democratic outlook weaken the collective nature of the Alliance? In addition, climate security and the Arctic pose both opportunities and challenges for the Alliance. This discussion focuses on domestic issues which include climate policy and challenges, as well as terrorism and the nature and growing concern surrounding authoritarian populism.

Florian Hartleb, Hansa Advice; Lecturer at the Catholic University Eichstätt/Germany: Terrorism

Ionela Maria Ciolan, Research Fellow at European Policy Centre: Climate security and the Arctic  

Zsuzsanna Vegh, Associate Researcher European Council on Foreign Relations; Ph.D. Candidate European-University Viadrina: Domestic challenges facing Member States

Eric Povel, Programme Officer at the Engagements Section, Public Diplomacy Division, NATO: Concluding Remarks 

Moderator: Louis Wierenga, Junior Research Fellow, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu; Lecturer in International Relations, The Baltic Defence College; Project Director, Riga Conference Future Leaders Forum, Latvian Transatlantic Organization

13:45-15:30

Riga time (UTC+2)

AFTERNOON AGENDA

15:30-16:00

Riga time (UTC+2)

RETURN TO THE NATIONAL LIBRARY

16:30-18:00

Riga time (UTC+2)

CONTEMPORARY AND ANTICIPATED SECURITY CHALLENGES

One of the most recent and urgent challenges for NATO is the question of American commitment and significant shifts in US foreign policy. Policy shifts tie in regional security, both for Europe, the Middle East and Afghanistan as well as a global migration crisis. Will the United States retreat as a global actor and will the recent situation in Afghanistan serve as a catalyst for an EU army? Previously dismissed, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in her state of the Union Speech to the European Parliament, called for the EU to strengthen military cooperation and personnel in the face of global threats. What will the EU Defence Summit in 2022 likely entail and what will this mean for NATO? This discussion focuses on American and European security strategies and foreign policy shifts in the Middle East and Afghanistan in light of recent developments and the multifaceted security challenges which these present, as well as burden sharing heading toward 2030.

Roberta Haar, Professor of Foreign Policy Analysis and Transatlantic Relations, Maastricht University: Shifts in US policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan and how this impacts the alliance

Tyyne Karjalainen, Researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs: European security challenges

Eoin McNamara, PhD Candidate, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu: NATO burden sharing

Moderator: Louis Wierenga, Junior Research Fellow, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu; Lecturer in International Relations, The Baltic Defence College; Project Director, Riga Conference Future Leaders Forum, Latvian Transatlantic Organization

18:30-20:00

Riga time (UTC+2)

DINNER

DINNER SESSION: YOUTH ATLANTIC TREATY ASSOCIATION (YATA) PRESENTATIONS

Juxhina Gjoni, President: Empowering youth engagement in the international security realm

Chiara Pasini, Executive VP: Future challenges and YATA partnership for the next generations

Manuel Matos Dos Santos, Secretary General: YATA national chapters

OCTOBER 15

9:00-09:45

Riga time (UTC+2)

COFFEE AND PRESENTATION

10:00-10:45

Riga time (UTC+2)

KEYNOTE ADDRESS          

Sten Rynning, Professor, Danish Institute for Advanced Studies and Vice-Dean for Research, Department of Political Science and Public Management, University of Southern Denmark

10:45-11:00

Riga time (UTC+2)

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Eric Povel, Programme Officer at the Engagements Section, Public Diplomacy Division, NATO

11:00-12:30

Riga time (UTC+2)

SIMULATION EXERCISE

“Russia, China, and the Middle East: Hands full or mission ready?”

12:30-13:40

Riga time (UTC+2)

Concluding lunch