In his opening speech, the Director of the FES Baltic States called for honest debates and the openness to always take other positions into account. And at the same time to look critically at their own - which was to become the guiding principle of the conference. The Latvian President Egils Levits agreed with this and emphasized: "We have to rethink and re-evaluate our work".
The theme that emerged throughout all the debates of the conference was the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the resulting consequences for Ukraine, but also for the West and its relation to Russia. The different perspectives and expectations of the Eastern and Western European representatives with regard to past assessments of Russia and the aid to be provided in Ukraine became clear. Nevertheless, Germany also received credit for revising its attitude towards Russia and its increased commitment to European security.
The Baltic participants in particular repeatedly referred to the support for Ukraine, the sanctions against Russia and the strengthening of the EU and NATO as the basis for the secure future of Europe. Thus, it was necessary to initiate a realistic policy facing Russia's aggressions and China's influence. However, there was disagreement on the question of how to deal and communicate with Russia, the effects of sanctions and the potential outcome of the war.
In the panel with two Russian experts, discussions focused on nothing less than the first steps of a possible conflict resolution. Initially, addressed were the Russian government’s miscalculations, the overestimation of its own strength, and the idea that Ukraine could be isolated from Western aid and that the consequences, such as sanctions, would have less effect on Russia. Western reactions in the past to the Crimean annexation or the attack on Georgia were also mentioned as reasons for the misjudgments. Remarkable was the statement that Moscow's main mistake was to "send slaves to liberate free people”.
The participants raised the issue of disagreements within the EU on security policy and the need to strengthen cooperation between the EU and NATO. Consensus was that the energy crisis will become a challenge in many European countries in the winter – nevertheless, these are seen by Central Eastern European voices as a contribution in solidarity with Ukraine in the conflict with Russia.
When asked about the possible outcome of the NATO summit in Vilnius next year, the participants in the final panel stated the following optimistic goals: Sweden and Finland are NATO members and the war in Ukraine is over.
Dzirnavu iela 37-64
LV 1010 Riga
Pärnu mnt. 27-13
A. Jakšto g. 6a/8-34