Halki 2009 – Current and Emerging Security Challenges in Southeastern Europe, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the Middle East

This year’s Halki International Seminars, which celebrate their 20th anniversary, focus on the role of the transatlantic institutions in helping local stakeholders address security challenges in the Middle East, the Black Sea and Southeastern Europe. ?t is a remark of general acceptance that this year’s group is one of the strongest in recent years, as well as one of the most populous comprising of 75 participants.

The first session of the first day, entitled “Global politics on the dawn of the 21st century: trends, challenges, problems and prospects” started dynamically by mapping the future trends and challenges that are expected to arise in the short-term future. Among others speakers raised the dilemmas between multipolarity and multilateralism that we are likely to face as new emerging powers are shifting the axis of power from the West were it has been traditionally located and global challenges like energy and climate change are becoming al the more pressing.

The second session focused on the issue of “Overcoming last obstacles in the normalization of the Balkans: Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo” where the idea that the international community should gradually withdraw from the region was widely disputed. During the last session of the day the focus was on the current state of affairs in US-EU-Turkey relations focusing on the impact President Obama’s policy is likely to have on defining the relationship between the three actors as well as Turkey’s unilateral role in the region.

On the second day the morning session concentrated on the current situation and prospects for the resolution of the “frozen conflicts” in the Black Sea region, raising the question of NATO expansion as well as the Russian-Georgian relationship following the “August War” of 2008. The next two meetings evaluated the present and future of the European Neighbourhood policy, the Barcelona Process and the Union for the Mediterranean Initiative while the final session of the day examined the current situation and prospects for the resolution of regional conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean, with a focus on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The two-state solution was put forward as the only feasible option, despite difficulties and long delays while the opposite opinion – that the two-state solution will never be applicable in the present context was also a matter of contest.

The Seminar is organized by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) in cooperation with the Balkan Trust for Democracy in Belgrade and supported by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS) in Washington D.C., the Hellenic Aid of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, OTE S.A., the General Secretariat for Youth in Athens, the Embassy of the United States in Athens, the French Institute of Athens, the European Fund for the Balkans in Belgrade, the Dodecanese Prefecture in Rhodes and the Region of South Aegean in Syros.