As someone with a personal history of being a refugee, Secretary Madeleine Albright reiterated the importance of paying due attention to the refugee crisis as it is one the greatest challenges of our times. Madame Albright reiterated that she was strongly convinced the US should play a more active role in assisting the refugees as it was clear that the international community lacked a more resolute American approach. In this regards, political leaders in the US and in the broader West should invest their political capital in persuading their constituencies.
On the broader Middle East, Madame Albright believes that the US should continue the strategic dialogue with Iran beyond the nuclear deal, provided Iran ceases its support to terrorism. While the rise in the geopolitical importance of China will continue to shape global affairs, the transatlantic bond remains relevant. However, Europe should play a more proactive role within it. The cooperation is crucial especially in the light of Russian actions in Syria, Ukraine and in the broader Eastern Europe. While America is not the most vocal advocate of multilateralism, it is proud of its numerous partnerships and should continue its support to normative global legal regimes, like the R2P (Responsibility to Protect) to ensure that the universality of fundamental human rights will be preserved.
Secretary Albright on the refugee crisis:
“We need to stop using words like crisis and emergency because that assumes that the situations will soon pass. It will not.”
Secretary Albright on Russia:
“There are those who say: Don’t provoke the Russians. I say, it is the Russians that are the provokers.”
Secretary Albright on Transatlanticism
”(historically) Europe was part of the problem, now it is part of the solution.”
Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Judeh, has drawn a daunting picture of the nature of the challenges that the Middle East has gone through during the course of past years. The rise of regional instability, the civil war in Syria and the re-emergence of extremism have brought the region once again to the frontline of war and global terrorism. Minister Judeh defined the magnitude of the challenges by calling the current fight on terrorism and extremism as the Third World War by other means. Within this world, Islam is being used to advocate indefensible violence. In essence, there is an ongoing civil war within Islam, pushing the majority of Muslims into the corner. In order to match the scale of the challenge and to produce enduring solutions a comprehensive and holistic approach to the stabilisation process must be taken.
Minister Judeh has stated that despite the obvious problems, there are signs of hope represented by the modest improvement of the security situation in Libya and by the aversion of further regress in Syria and Yemen. While Jordan will continue to live up to its defining values and provide refuge to people in need, the Minister stated that given the truly global scope of the challenge a genuine global solution should constitute the path toward regional stability.
“Refugees are no longer our problem; it is everyone’s problem.”
“I would describe terrorism and extremism as the Third World War by other means.”
Since 2011, Syria has been experiencing a period of historical crisis. With the end of the civil war clearly out of sight, the expert panel concluded that while the territorial presence of Daesh in Syria has considerably reduced, the organisation remains the key destructive factor on the ground. NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow stated that the Alliance may have a role to play in solving the Syrian crisis by assisting its members and partners in the region in policy making. With the Russian intervention preventing the fall of the Assad regime, the West has been struggling to match the level of involvement in the crisis. Given the bitter geopolitical outcome of previous interventions in Iraq and Libya, the US are reluctant to commit to complex expeditionary operations. With Western powers lowering their footprint in the region, Russia reasserted its interests in the Middle East via its muscular involvement in the Syrian crisis. While 2016 may be an important year in defeating Daesh, there are severe obstacles to be addressed. Admittedly, defeating Daesh will require considerably more effort than what the West has been providing to date, however, as NATO Deputy Secretary-General Vershbow stated, the ultimate solution of the crisis must originate in the region itself. However, before the conditions for stability materialise, turbulence is to remain the key defining feature of the Middle East.
Alexander Vershbow on ending the crisis in Syria:
“It doesn't have to be the West who saves the Middle East, the Middle East should be able to save itself.”
Yasar Yakis on the dire prospects of a swift victory against Daesh:
“The entire eradication of Daesh does not seem to be realistic. For now.”
George Friedman on American interventions:
“We must face the limits of politics and military power. Iraq and Libya make US have no appetite for another intervention.”
David Lidington, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Europe, highlighted some of the numerous threats Europe is facing and that are in turn shaping the British public perception of the possible ‘Brexit’. For example, the escalation of the migrant and refugee crisis in summer 2015 shifted support towards Brexit. Lidington argued that a Brexit would be a destabilising factor for both the UK and for the remainder of the EU. For the UK, the possibility of erecting a border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would undermine the post-conflict reconciliation, while for the rest of the EU it would be a significant blow at a time when Europe is facing serious economic and security challenges. Britain can be happy inside the European Union (EU) on the basis of mutual respect and, therefore a focus on ‘differentiated integration’ rather than a single destination of an ‘ever closer union’, Lindington concluded.
"There is no alternative to EU membership - no credible answer given by the Leave campaigners.”
"Europe's foreign policy and security capacity would be weakened because you'd be taking out one of its biggest diplomatic and military players.”
Europe has been going through a period of numerous crises: the economic crisis, the refugee crisis and a certain form of political crisis. All three crises have a common defining feature: a fundamental lack of solidarity among member states. In addition, European unity is being tested by the upcoming referendum on the UK membership in the Union – potentially leading to Brexit. Without an effective common foreign policy, Europe cannot even manage its own internal challenges. In tackling the crisis circle Europe has been enclosed in, political and societal leaders must win the souls of European citizens and reenergize the public trust in its own values. European unity is tested by the existence of different levels of integration within the Union. Without a sustained trend reversal, the EU could be challenged by an increasingly assertive Russia and by the unpredictability of developments in the Middle East. At the societal level, political leaders should disprove the populist notion that Europe has been run by cosmopolitan elite which no longer is able to lead and willing to listen its constituencies.
Danuta Hubner on the future of European reform:
“From institutional perspective, the major issue remains to win the souls of citizens.”
Carl Bildt on leadership:
“We are left with Berlin; not by choice but by the default of others.”
The text was originally published as part of the daily summaries from the GLOBSEC Bratislava Global Security Forum.
17. Apr 2016 at 6:15