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Third Annual Security Conference: Security Risks and Transformation - Euro-Atlantic and Regional Perspectives
19-20 November 2005
Sofia, Bulgaria


New security risks and transformation issues increasingly dominate the security policy debates within the Alliance and member nations. While the philosophy of change from legacy to modern forces has universal application to national and allied assets in the whole Euro-Atlantic area, transformation issues continue to enjoy a more receptive environment in NATO, as the military aspects have been more actively scrutinized in the past several years. However, the very nature of these risks requires improved interaction between military and non-military assets, incl. paramilitary and law enforcement formations. Thus a comprehensive approach to transformation is needed, which should outstretch beyond its mainly military dimensions of today. As the issues of law enforcement and border security continue to receive priority attention in the overall European approach to security, there seems to be a good ground for mutual engagement between NATO and the EU, which could look like an acceptable “division of labour”, without prejudicing developments in the CFSP area.

These issues are particularly relevant to developments in the Western Balkans, the Black Sea and the Caucasus regions as the enlarged NATO and EU project their presence further East, which results on the one hand in closer contact with the challenges, and on the other- in stronger capabilities to influence the security situation. Both aspects require a bolder approach to transformation of defense and security systems, in order to avoid shocks to NATO and EU interests over the next decade or more.

In the last years the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) (www.csd.bg), Bulgaria’s largest think tank, has focused on contributing to the rethinking of the responses to the new security challenges through a variety of instruments, including policy studies, monitoring and high level conferences. CSD has sought to highlight the risks stemming from the spread of cross border organized crime, and the need for an adequate policy for making crime a priority issue in the framework of the newly defined regional and European security, and the innovative responses to the new security risks. In addition to a series of policy papers on these issues, CSD has provided regional platform for a debate engaging both NATO and EU partners and the countries of the region.

CSD’s International Security Conferences have been taking place since 2003, successfully accommodating a high level of participation (NATO Secretary General, ministers of defense and of Interior, political, military and security leaders from SEE, NATO and the EU, Council of Europe and other International organizations, policy analysts and media representatives) with a traditionally free and flexible non-government, non-partisan discussion environment.

The 2005 Conference is expected to continue the tradition to contribute to the debate on contemporary security issues. This time it will focus on the need of bold and vigorous transformation of security systems, from both a more general, Euro-Atlantic perspective, as well as from a specific regional view (Western Balkans, Black Sea/Caucasus).


Ministers of defense and interior, CHODs incl. from Southeast European and Black Sea Countries, high-level military representatives of NATO, EU, policy analysts, media and others

Members of Government and Parliament of Bulgaria, high-ranking government and military officials, ambassadors, NGOs and others

“Boyana” Conference Center, Sofia, Bulgaria


Session 1: NATO and EU response to new security risks - conceptual and practical approaches

The threat of international terrorism, the potential use of WMD and regional instability are broadly recognized as the profound security challenges of the new century. Security developments since 9-11 have underscored the importance of fundamental reform of key components of national and international security systems, including military, law enforcement, intelligence and the way they interact among each other.

NATO and its member nations have embarked on an ambitious programme to adapt their concepts, forces and capabilities to match the changed security environment. The future of the Alliance depends on the depth and speed of transformation. And although many relevant decisions have been taken since 2002, much remains to be desired in terms of national contributions, political will and capacity to overcome legacy thinking.

Conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction matter as much as prevailing on the battlefield. The very nature of the new risks requires improved interaction between military and non-military assets, incl. paramilitary and law enforcement formations. This brings to widening the whole concept of transformation, beyond its mainly military dimensions of today.

As risks like trafficking, organized crime, illegal immigration and etc. are often mentioned as key factors in the wider concept of terrorism, there are few, if any, operational concepts how to deal with them in a sustained, global manner. A key reason for that lies in their very nature, which puts them in the periphery of traditional, both military and law enforcement doctrines. Thus the area, where military and non-military functions overlap needs additional attention, and possibly - new policies.

As the issues of law enforcement and border security continue to prevail over military matters in the overall European approach to security, there seems to be a good ground for mutual engagement between NATO and the EU, which could look like an acceptable “division of labour”, without prejudicing developments in the CFSP area.

Session 2: Transformation and the Black Sea and Caucasus regions

Security risks, emanating from the Black Sea/Caucasus region are often included in the set of arguments, driving transformation efforts. These risks are referred mainly to existing ethnic conflicts, security of Caspian oil supplies and logistic lines to coalition forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Greater Middle East. However, the debate on operationalization of these risks and translating it in practical policies, is far from over.

There are now 3 NATO members along significant part of the Black Sea coastline, with a high probability of additional US presence on land, as a result of implementation of the new US Global Posture Strategy, complementary to the national security interests of Bulgaria and Romania and NATO as an Alliance. But the imminent membership of the two countries in the EU brings in an additional dimension to the problem- they also become the easternmost boundary of the Union, with all the conceptual and legal implications. Thus, military and border-patrol operations will become increasingly complex to co-ordinate and manage, first- because they involve different national agencies; second- because they have to follow separate NATO and EU policies and regulations and third- because they have to avoid conflicting with other co-operative schemes, involving non-member littoral nations, like Russia, Ukraine and Georgia. The notion, that the perceptions of security risks in the Black Sea/Caucasus area are rather more consensual than conflicting for the regional and global players, deserves special attention, as it may bring additional boost to transformation efforts.

Session 3: NATO and EU in the Western Balkans

It is now widely assumed that the conflict potential in the Western Balkans is reduced far below critical levels. NATO and the EU continue to play a key role in the security in the region, although questions persist as to whether the current conceptual and security framework is adequate to the new risks and threats, like residues of ethnic hatred, organized crime, trafficking and the like. States, which emerged from the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia are in the process of rebuilding or reforming their security institutions, which brings additional vulnerability to those risks, as well as possibilities for spillover of regional and wider European scale.

NATO’s enlargement with 3 regional countries potentially enhances the pool of resources for countering the new risks. These countries, as well as those expecting invitations for membership in NATO or PfP are willing and increasingly able to take their responsibility for solving the common security problems. There is a wide recognition that defense and security sector reform and transformation is much needed, but the general problems of democratic transition, nation-building and reconstruction affect the maturity of the debate and resulting policies.

Moreover, the lack of clear NATO/EU vision of what should be the security structures of the future, and how the military and non-military components would fit into them and interact, results to slowing down of transformation efforts. A closer international and inter-institutional cooperation, to include military, law enforcement, intelligence and other relevant components is indispensable for taking the necessary actions. Also, the presence on the ground of NATO and EU forces as well as international police contingents should be better used for fostering reform.
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