An interview with Róbert Vass, Secretary General of the Slovak Atlantic Commission and Executive Vice-President and CEO of the Central Europe Strategy Council.
Wojciech Przybylski: Why is worth coming to GLOBSEC this year?
Róbert Vass: First of all, the timing of GLOBSEC is very interesting, as it’s taking place only a week before the Ukrainian elections and a week before the European elections. Now is a crucial time to think over not only what is going on Ukraine, which is one of the biggest crises we have seen since the Cold War that is having an effect on both its neighboring countries and all international relations; but, also, secondly, there are European elections, the outcome of which will be quite interesting. It is also a good time to rethink the European project.
Who will be At GLOBSEC?
We have a lot of signs that this year’s conference is going to be one of the biggest GLOBSEC conferences we’ve ever had. It is underlined not only by the significant, international interest that we’ve received for participation, but also the media interest we are already getting now. For the first time, the prime ministers of the Visegrad Four have been confirmed.
We have always had the foreign ministers, but now we have the prime ministers, as well as the defense ministers of V4. So this is a very huge achievement to have three senior members of all four countries in one place. It is going to be “the” event on the developments in Ukraine, and their consequences and implications on both Central Europe and Europe.
So would you say the main focus for this year’s GLOBSEC is Ukraine?
I would frame the conference in three topics. First of all, the overwhelming topic of importance is of course Ukraine, the consequences on bilateral relations with Russia, and the consequences on NATO and the EU.
The second topic is European integration, the European elections, and the tendencies which we are seeing in Europe, to a large extent radical, populist tendencies that might get into the European Parliament in a stronger way than have been present before, which will also have an effect on European policy.
And the third, as a conference, we are a run-up to the September NATO summit in Wales, and we are fortunate to also have Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen coming to GLOBSEC and many other people from NATO headquarters, so we expect more than 50 bilateral and multilateral meetings on these three core topics.
But of course we will also be talking about whether the sanctions on Russia will work, whether the deal with Iran has worked as well, further developments in the Middle East, the transatlantic partnership, and many other issues that will be on the agenda from a global perspective.
The Lennart Meri conference in Tallinn, Estonia, has just finished and there have been many similar topics, but with more focus on the region of the Nordic countries. Are there any topics from Lennart Meri that will continue to be discussed at GLOBSEC?
This year’s Lennart Meri conference opened many issues that we were planning to open, but GLOBSEC is more global type of operation, as Jerzy Żyżyński put it last year, as we are welcoming more than 800 people from sixty countries, which includes around twenty foreign and defense ministers, and 100 journalists from more than thirty countries.
So it’s is going to be really, really big, with six or seven prime ministers. And of course everybody is discussing Ukraine, so we will be continuing to discuss this issue. But many things can change, as this crisis is extremely dynamic and very unpredictable because it is based on the will of one person in Russia.
Transcribed by Julia Machnowska
Róbert Vass is the Secretary General of the Slovak Atlantic Commission and Executive Vice-President and CEO of the Central Europe Strategy Council.
GLOBSEC 2014 takes place in Bratislava on 14-16 May. For more information visit: www.globsec.org