Sessions are held under the “Chatham House Rule” and streamed exclusively for participants of the “Rīga Conference”

15:00 – 16:00

Riga time (UTC+2)


With the COVID-19 pandemic entering its second wave worldwide, attention has largely focused on the pandemic’s spread and its hoped-for mitigation through an effective and credible vaccine. Climate change and its impact on the Arctic has been mostly relegated to expert analysis with little broader public discussion. Yet, this does not mean that the threat is less serious. The Arctic is a living laboratory of what awaits humanity. Since last year’s discussion of the Arctic at the Riga Conference, the situation has worsened. The panel will explore recent developments and touch upon the climate impact, the increased geopolitical tension, as well as the political and economic developments that turn to the opportunities that a progressively ice-free Arctic offers.

Dr. Marc Lanteigne, Associate Professor and Researcher, the University of Tromsø: The Arctic University of Norway

Jānis Eichmanis, Ambassador, Retd., Associate Fellow, the Latvian Institute of International Affairs

Prof. Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, Head of Politics and International Studies, Loughborough University

Moderator: Elisabeth Bauer, Head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Office for the Baltic States

16:00 – 17:00

Riga time (UTC+2)


Today, Belarus is sending a powerful message to the international community and reminding it that democracy is still in high demand. The Belarusian society is expressing its support for democratic reforms and regime change. At the same time, it is obvious that the old regime is not going to give up its powerful position and is seeking support from Russia’s political elite. What type of power transition can we expect? What strategies will we see after a transition of power? What policies are to be introduced for the country’s stabilization and growth?

Pavel Latushko, Politician, Member of the Board, Coordination Council of Belarus

Dr. Aliaksei Kazharski, Researcher, the Institute of European Studies and International Relations of the Comenius University, Lecturer at the Department of Security Studies of Charles University in Prague

Linas Kojala, Director of the Eastern Europe Studies Centre, Lithuania

Enrique Mora, Deputy Secretary General, European External Action

Artyom Shraibman, Founder of Sense Analytics, Political Analyst, TUT.BY, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Moderator: Maira Mora, Former Ambassador of Latvia and of the EU to Belarus

19:00 – 20:30

Riga time (UTC+2)


As with a wide variety of issues, the global pandemic has brought attention to the critical importance of security of supply and Allied support in a crisis. In our interconnected world, sudden crisis situations force governments, businesses, and societies to readjust to the new conditions, which affect free movement and deliveries of essential goods and services crucial for the continuity of states and their societies. International cooperation to ensure the security of supply is increasingly important in a broad spectrum of crises – from pandemics and natural disasters to military conflicts and wars. Moreover, the recent pandemic has shown that agreements for rapid reinforcement, both civil and military, should be put in place during peacetime. How can we ensure rapid movement of reinforcements in a time of crisis – essential services, various goods, medical assets, food, and, if necessary, also military personnel and transport?

General Jörg Vollmer, Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum

Alain Alexis, Acting Director Defence Industry, European Commission

Lieutenant General (Retd.) Benjamin Hodges, Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies, Center for European Policy Analysis

Tony Lawrence, Head of Defence Policy and Strategy Programme, Research Fellow, International Centre for Defence and Security

Ģirts Bramans, RB Rail AS, Country Manager, Latvia and EU

Moderator: Jānis Garisons, State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia



9:00 – 10:00

Riga time (UTC+2)


Welcoming remarks by H.E. Krišjānis Kariņš, Prime minister of the Republic of Latvia

Lead- in- speaker H.E. Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO

Moderator: Pauls Raudseps, Journalist, Chairman of the Board of Cits Medijs

Q&A session

Special video address by H.E. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

10:00 – 11:00

Riga time (UTC+2)


Resilience of the EU has been tested in several crisis over the last decade. What makes the COVID-19 crisis different? Resilience and solidarity have not been “working” under the pressure of the pandemic. Why is that? After the questionable let down to act in a timely and effective manner, the member states demonstrated their commitment to act based on the principle of solidarity and agreed on the multiannual financial framework and the EU recovery fund under the Next Generation EU. Will financial efforts be translated into a comprehensive policy package delivering results from which citizens could benefit in the not too distant future? Does the EU have a comprehensive contingency plan in building up and strengthening the resilience needed to face the next crisis? Will the implementation of those policies demonstrate the willingness of countries to go beyond their differences and national preferences? To what extent will the urgency to deal with COVID-19 impact or even undermine the implementation of ambitious plans for Europe to become more “sustainable, more digital and more unitized”?

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice–President of the European Commission

Dr. Vaira Vīķe- Freiberga, Former President of the Republic of Latvia

David M. Herszenhorn, Chief Brussels Correspondent, Politico

Ana Palacio, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain

Dr. Jana Puglierin, Senior Policy Fellow for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Head of the ECFR Berlin

Moderator: Dr. Daunis Auers, Assoc. Prof. of Comparative Politics at the University of Latvia

11:15 – 12:15

Riga time (UTC+2)


2020 has been a year full of various challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the importance of strengthening resilience through civil and military preparedness and collaboration. Initial national and EU responses to the pandemic have been lackluster; countries were pursuing individualistic policies by closing borders, limiting the movement of goods, and competing for vital medical equipment. COVID-19 has already had a negative economic impact and could have further significant consequences for defence budgets.

Despite the pandemic, threats at a global and regional level have not diminished – Russia has continued with large scale military exercises, developing its military capabilities and maintaining an active presence abroad. Additionally, there is unpredictability due to the developments in Belarus. During these turbulent times – what are the necessary steps for both EU and NATO to ensure credibility, solidarity, and strength?

Dr. Artis Pabriks, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Latvia

Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence of Canada

The Rt. Hon. Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Jüri Luik, Minister of Defence of the Republic of Estonia

Moderator: Jānis Sārts, Director, NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence

13:30 – 14:30

Riga time (UTC+2)


For a long time, a majority of Russian foreign policy experts, government officials and academicians have been convinced that multi-polarity is the basis of any future world order. They call to review established rules of liberal world order and to grant national states a broader role, including the idea of prioritising national laws over international laws. Russia has advanced a foreign and security policy that serves to enhance multi-polarity that is played out economically, politically and militarily in different regions around the world. What is the balance between Russia’s geopolitical interests and its geo-economic interests as drivers of its foreign policy, when viewed by its actions in Syria, Latin America, Africa and Europe? Will Russia’s geopolitical ambitions be implemented through a traditional divide and rule method or will new approaches be elaborated and applied? Will there be novel strategies applied in the regions of Russia’s “privileged and exclusive interests”? What consequences are there for the European neighbourhood?

H.E. Urmas Reinsalu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia

Boris Ruge, Vice-Chairman of the Munich Security Conference

Prof. Dmitry Suslov, Deputy Director, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies, National Research University-Higher School of Economics, Russia

Moderator: Elīna Lange Ionatamishvili, Senior Expert, NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence

14:30 – 15:00

Riga time (UTC+2)

Special address by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Political leader, Initiator of Coordination Council of Belarus

Q&A Session

15:15 – 16:15

Riga time (UTC+2)


The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here, reaching far beyond technological developments and future economies. Its speed is exponential, causing deep systemic change in every aspect of human life and societal transformation. Its nature is both – highly creative and disruptive. One example is modern information technologies. They enable the spread of information at such a speed and volume, that it affects national and international economies, politics and security in ways utterly disproportionate with the root realities. An infodemic is a blend of “information” and “epidemic” that typically refers to a rapid, overwhelming and far-reaching spread of both accurate and inaccurate information about an issue. An infodemic could do more harm than a global health crisis. The infodemic has been a factor in implementing a range of COVID-19 pandemic related government policies. What are the tangible consequences of an infodemic in terms of economies, politics and security? Have new technologies influenced our perception and core value systems, for better or worse? How could governments use new technologies to shape discourses for long-term, strategic objectives?

Līga Raita Rozentāle, Senior Director of European Cybersecurity Policy, Microsoft

Ieva Ilvesa, Adviser to the President of Latvia for Information and Digital Policy

Prof. Filippo Menczer, Director of the Observatory on Social Media, Indiana University

Hannes Krause, Head of Strategic Communication at the Government Office of the Republic of Estonia

Moderator: Dr. Gunda Reire, Advisor to the Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia

16:30 – 17:30

Riga time (UTC+2)


The COVID-19 pandemic is truly a global phenomenon with few countries unscathed. It has come at a time when power in the international state system is shifting to the east, with China asserting a global leadership role in limiting the spread of the contagion, while the U.S. is seemingly relinquishing such a role to focus on itself but, at the same time, finds itself in a power competition with China on economic and technological issues. Will the pandemic become a trend enhancer, strengthening bipolarity while weakening multilateralism? Will this power reconfiguration push countries, including in Europe, to take sides? What patterns will we see in relations between China and the U.S.? Some tend to say that this is the first global crisis in more than a century where Washington was not able to lead by example. Is U.S. leadership declining globally and who is to replace it? Since the pandemic is not a “self-eliminating political problem”, which political actors will undertake the role of leadership? Will it be China? Will the reshaping of the global order or anarchy influence regional architectures? Will the next decade be an era balancing threats, partnerships and competitors? What are the global economic consequences of the U.S. and China opting to either have active engagement in global affairs or a refocus on domestic affairs?

Dr. Kori Schake, Director of Foreign and Defence Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute

Prof. Liu Chunrong, Executive Vice Director of the Fudan- European Centre for China Studies

Brig Gen (Retd.) Robert Spalding, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute

Dr. Patrick Keller, Vice President of the Federal Academy for Security Policy

Moderator:  Dr. Sandis Šrāders, Fellow in Russian Strategic and Military Studies at the Baltic Defence College

18:15 – 19:15

Riga time (UTC+2)


The relevance of NATO is a recurring topic of contention among the Allies with the issue of budgetary commitments in dispute. As Europeans respond with a focus on ‘independence’ and ‘strategic autonomy’, one is reminded of the warning made by Madelaine Albright in 1998 – no de-linking CSDP from NATO, no duplication of efforts, no discrimination against non-EU members. Will these efforts result in a division of labour, and if so, what will comprise the EU-NATO cooperation agenda? Will Europe grow stronger if some NATO responsibilities are taken over by the EU? National political agendas on both sides of the Atlantic are driven by the tackling of the emergency health situation. Will countries be able to keep up with given promises to raise defence spending and proceed with expensive defence reforms under the pressure of the pandemic? What is the likely outcome of NATO’s reflection process and the EU’s search for its Strategic Compass?

Hon. Ronald Harold Johnson, United States Senator

Baiba Braže, Assistant Secretary General of NATO for Public Diplomacy

Anna Fotyga, Member of the European Parliament, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland

Dr. Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Director of Research, Transatlantic Security and Director of the Paris Office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States

Moderator: Ben Heap, Senior Expert, NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence

19:30 – 20:40

Riga time (UTC+2)


The United Nations underpins the international order that we have known since 1945.  Is the multilateral, rules-based approach still the key to tackling global issues?  How do we maintain and strengthen multilateralism in a rapidly changing world?

H.E. Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia

H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia

H.E. Gitanas Nauseda, President of the Republic of Lithuania

H.E. Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland

Moderator: Prof. Žaneta Ozoliņa, Chairwoman of the Board of the Latvian Transatlantic Organisation

Concluding remarks by H.E. Edgars Rinkēvičs, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Latvia