One week after the cease-fire agreement reached in Minsk, Belarus, GMF’s Brussels office hosted a panel discussion entitled “Security Challenges in a New World Order and Strategic Insights from the Cold War,” as part of GMF’s “Legacy of ‘89” series. Diego Ruiz Palmer, head of the economics and security assessments unit at NATO; Ioan Mircea Paşcu, vice president of the European Parliament; and Ofer Fridman, sessional lecturer at the University of Reading, offered their insights in what was a lively discussion. Ian Lesser, senior director of foreign and security policy and executive director of GMF’s Brussels office, moderated the event.
The discussion revolved around the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, focusing on the political and institutional development of the European Union and NATO, and Russia’s marginal role in the establishment of a new European geostrategic landscape. The current situation in Eastern Europe was viewed through the lens of the legacy of the fall of the Berlin wall. As one discussant mentioned, it is pertinent when interacting with Russia that its history and background are taken into consideration and that Russian developments are not solely considered through a western lens. In this context, the question of the possibility of a democratic future for Russia was also raised. Participants offered differing perspectives on the impact the post-Cold War developments had in Europe over Vladimir Putin’s own grand strategy and to what extent Russia alone should be held accountable for the current conflict at Europe’s eastern borders and the growing schism in the Russo-Western relationship.
The discussion ended with the shared sentiment that the democratization procedure started in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall has falsely appeared conclusive. Despite the accession of the Central and Eastern European countries to the European Union and NATO, further efforts for ensuring that democracy is in place and functioning have to be undertaken.