SKOPJE, Macedonia (12-13 September, 2018) – The Partnership for Peace Consortium’s (PfPC) Emerging Security Challenges Working Group and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia Institute for Geostrategic Research and Foreign Policy co-organized a conference entitled, “Stabilizing Effects of Euro Atlantic Integration: Working Together Against Hybrid Threats.”
The opening session featured remarks by the Vice Prime Minister/Minister of Defense of the Republic of Macedonia, Her Excellency Radmila Sekerinska. She explained how crises do not occur because of a single threat but due to several types of threats. “The current and general atmosphere is difficult for civilians to make a difference between real and fake news. [In Skopje], we are facing one of the biggest challenges in our history – the referendum. Citizens should take a decision on the removal of the final obstacle on the road to full-fledged NATO membership and accelerated EU integration.”
His Excellency Viktor Dimovski, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs argued how hybrid threats are used to destabilize countries, governments, and institutions, requiring structures to contend with these threats through partnership, coordination, and dialogue. Mr. Michael Gaul, Co-Chair of the PfPC Emerging Security Challenges Working Group, reminded the audience of PfPC’s long-standing cooperation in the Balkan region, and reiterated that deterring hybrid threats requires close cooperation with allies, partners, and international institutions. Mr. Stevo Pendarovski, National Coordinator for NATO Accession emphasized that countering hybrid threats requires a spectrum of tools that uses partnerships, as well as involving a new way of thinking.
The keynote presentation was provided by NATO Assistant Secretary General, Emerging Security Challenges Division, His Excellency Ambassador Antonio Missiroli. The Ambassador built upon earlier themes by describing how emerging hybrid threats can be the result of synergizing new technologies to bring desirable benefits, but they also open avenues to unintended dangers. This is why, “countering hybrid threats is a team sport that requires the cooperation of states as an important factor for success.”
The two-day conference brought together 130 government officials and security experts from 17 countries to examine the evolution of hybrid threats by using a comparative approach, as well as to underscore the importance of a multinational and whole-of-government response to such threats.
Discussion panels provided detailed analysis of current and prospective hybrid threats across different regions and domains. PfPC co-chairs, Dr. Jean-Marc Rickli and Mr. Michael Gaul guided these presentations and discussions. Mr. Gaul provided a fundamental analysis that in emerging hybrid threats, “the best way to defend is to be aware, alert, and to anticipate, such as the timeliness of this conference with respect to the upcoming referendum.” Dr. Rickli illustrated that part of being aware of a new context of hybrid threats is to realize that “you cannot build a wall around you to protect yourselves—this belongs to the past.” Instead, Dr. Rickli emphasized that an active resilience is the basis to effectively counter future hybrid threats. Established in 2012, the PfPC Emerging Security Challenges Working Group seeks to bring together international experts to analyze the most emergent security concerns, world-wide.