The concept of the conference itself has been designed predominantly to reinforce the existing transatlantic values and ‘export’ them to representatives of countries that are still aspiring for membership (Western Balkans), but also to improve the level of information and quality of debate in Croatian society and beyond. The outcome of the conference would substantially contribute to yielding viable practical policy-relevant solutions at the decision-making level.
The purpose of this conference is, primarily, to contribute to the content and volume of the debate about the respective topics in Croatia, which is still not substantial and comprehensive. Current security environment and threats it encompasses represent a significant challenge for the transatlantic community, especially its European part. Among many others, two of them undeniably stand out – the conflict in Ukraine (and repercussions it has on NATO-Russia and EU-Russia relations) and emergence of ISIS (and its consequences on various aspects of security in the transatlantic area). NATO as an alliance has a special responsibility for the aforementioned, which brings it into a complex and unprecedented position since the end of the Cold War. The trend of declining defence budgets adds another dimension to the complexity in which NATO is attempting to accomplish its strategic objectives, defined in Alliance’s Strategic Concept 2010. The Republic of Croatia, as a NATO and EU new member state, contributing with available capabilities and capacities, finds it challenging indeed to swiftly adjust to ever changing circumstances in the security environment. In order to do so, it is of utmost importance to intensify the debate about relevant challenges to NATO’s security objectives in the contemporary environment.
The aim of this endeavour is to analyse and comprehend to which extent have different drivers, together with emerging trends (predominantly related to changing geostrategic reality, and nature of actors and threats at the international arena) create circumstances with significant implications for the defence sector, in which a paradigm shift might be needed. For that aim, it is important to analyse ‘the structure of power’ needed to response, in particular the connection and balance of military power with others, such as diplomatic, economic and information. That should be very useful for rational estimation of European/Euro Atlantic capacities to confront current challenges and threats. Furthermore, the abovementioned distinction of capacities to be estimated should provide an opportunity to measure those of EU policies (CFSP in particular) against ones of NATO (Smart Defence) in contemporary security environment and their relevance for transatlantic community.
While broader holistic approach seems to be of undoubtable relevance for understanding of such a complex set of issues, the analysis of position of the newest member of the transatlantic community with rather limited capacities and experience in cooperative security frameworks should obviously not be regarded as less important. In that light, this conference will dedicate a separate panel to issues of existing and needed capabilities of the Republic of Croatia (civilian and military) to face contemporary challenges and counter threats. What balance between national and Alliance capabilities should the country establish? What specific defence/military capabilities Croatia should develop? What are present and emerging specific challenges/threats for the national security of the Republic of Croatia? What is its current and potential role in the framework of cooperative security within NATO and the EU? What is the view of states aspiring for EU and NATO membership from the region of Southeast Europe on that specific set of issues? These are just few major questions that would, among many others, be discussed at the panel dealing with Croatia’s position and role in the new security environment.
The aimed impact of the conference should be policy-making relevant conclusions. This is also the reason why the entire concept of the conference (the choice of topics, speakers and participants) is ‘designed’ to contribute to the overall quality of the debate, as well as to bring about an adequate form of public visibility. For that purpose, a special issue of Croatian International Relations Review (a quarterly academic journal of the Institute for Development and International Relations) would be published in due course with proceedings of the entire conference.
We foresee the two aspects of political impacts: internal and external. Internal: the conference outcome will significantly contribute to the content and volume of the debate about the respective topics in Croatia, among decision and policy makers, contributing therefore to a whole government approach to security matters. External: having representatives from A-5 countries (members and observers) involved in this kind of debates contributes significantly to NATO’s open door policy and the cooperative security core task.