The seventh TO BE SECURE (2BS) Forum was officially opened by Dr. Savo Kentera, the President of the Atlantic Council of Montenegro and Mr. Hoyt B. Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, USA. The Prime Minister of Montenegro, H.E. Mr. Duško Marković delivered a keynote speech. In his introductory speech, Dr. Kentera pointed out that Montenegrin flag will soon be in front of NATO HQ and that Russia must understand that Montenegro is a NATO member state. Mr. Hoyt B. Yee emphasized that 2BS forum is an example of Montenegrin leadership and commitment to regional security. He added that the US will continue to stand with Montenegro and to support it along the road it has chosen, the path that leads to the West. The Prime Minister remarked that Montenegro’s NATO accession will bring peace and stability to our country and to all countries of the region.
PANEL I: “NATO ENLARGEMENT: ENHANCING EURO-ATLANTIC SECURITY OR INCITING CONFRONTATION?”
The first panel entitled “NATO ENLARGEMENT: ENHANCING EURO-ATLANTIC SECURITY OR INCITING CONFRONTATION?” was moderated by Dr. Valbona Zeneli, Director of the Black Sea and Eurasia Program, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, while the panelists were H.E. Prof. Dr. Srđan Darmanović, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, Mr. James Appathurai, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy and Dr. Michael Carpenter, Senior Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, USA. H.E. Prof. Dr. Srđan Darmanović stated that Montenegro hasn't surprised anyone by deciding to join NATO; this was evident from the moment Montenegro renewed its independence. He also added that Montenegrin NATO membership is a game-changer. Mr. Appathurai pointed out that after Montenegro joins the Alliance, NATO will do nothing that Montenegro does not agree to. Dr. Carpenter said that Russia's influence is an attempt of undermining the core foundation of democracy.
PANEL II: “US COMMITMENT TO EUROPEAN SECURITY – THE ERA OF UNCERTAINTY?”
The second panel under the title “US COMMITMENT TO EUROPEAN SECURITY – THE ERA OF UNCERTAINTY?” was moderated by Ms. Valerie Hopkins, Journalist, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the panelists were Dr. Fabrizio Luciolli, President, Atlantic Treaty Association and Italian Atlantic Committee, Prof. Dr. Milica Pejanović-Đurišić, Former Minister of Defence, Montenegro and Ms. Laura Cooper, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, USA. Ms. Cooper remarked that if we look at the tangible signs of US support to the Western Balkans, you will see a steadiness, a support that is steady. Prof. Dr. Pejanović-Đurišić emphasized that what Montenegro has done is a good example for the region, while Dr. Luciolli pointed out that this region was neglected for far too long.
PANEL III: “RUSSIAN INFLUENCE IN SEE - REGAINING POWER?”
The third panel “RUSSIAN INFLUENCE IN SEE - REGAINING POWER?” was moderated by Mr. Timothy Judah, Journalist, The Economist. The panelists were H.E. Mrs. Marina Pendeš, Minister of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Mr. Predrag Bošković, Minister of Defence of Montenegro, Dr. Nadezhda Arbatova, Head of Department of European Political Studies at IMEMO, Russia, Mr. Janusz Bugajski, Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), USA, Mr. Paul Schwartz, Research Analyst at CNA and Senior Associate, Russia and Eurasia Program, CSIS. H.E. Mrs. Pendeš stated that no influence can be a threat if you clearly define foreign policy goals. H.E. Mr. Bošković pointed out that if we talk about foreign policy goals of Montenegro, Russia certainly presents a threat since it did not agree with the fact that we chose the Euroatlantic path. Furtermore, he said that Montenegro will not alllow Moscow to govern Montenegro and decide what is in its best interest. Dr. Arbatova emphasized that Russia cannot block NATO enlargement in the region, but it will try to retain its presence in the it. Mr. Bugajski said that Russia does not have the capabilities to achieve what it wants, but Putin certainly has ambitions. Mr. Schwartz concluded that he is quite positive that the US will stay involved and will continue to increase its involvement in the region. The third panel was followed by the reception at the hotel Queen of Montenegro, hosted by H.E. Mr. Predrag Bošković, Minister of Defence of Montenegro.
SIDE EVENT HELD DURING THE 7TH 2BS FORUM!
The Portal European Western Balkans organized a workshop with the support of German Marshall Fund of the United States of America and in cooperation with the Atlantic Council of Montenegro. The workshop “Security in the Western Balkans” was organized as an hour and a half long conversation with Michael Carpenter, foreign policy adviser of the former American Vice President Joe Biden and the Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. The workshop, held on the margins of 2BS Forum, was attended by media from the country and the region. Dr. Carpenter pointed out that Russia’s more and more intense opposition to the Western countries is trend existing in the region for the last 10 years. It turns out that what Russia is doing in the region, thus in Montenegro, is actually cheaper, less risky and more successful, since it does not comprise the use of conventional weapons. He added that the Western Balkans countries which are not NATO members are still very vulnerable to Russia’s influence. Furthermore, he emphasized that Vladimir Putin’s strategy is similar to the strategy of Kim Jong-un. Therefore, Dr. Carpenter believes that politicians from the West may think that it is dangerous to start conflicts with him, since his next step is never predictable.