By Emma Bareihs, George C. Marshall European Center for Security StudiesJune 22, 2019
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany -- The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies hosted the European Security Seminar -- East 19-13 here June 10 to 14.
This year's ESS-East focused on countermeasures to fight security challenges in Europe and Europe's Eastern flank.
The seminar brought together 57 mid-to-senior level security practitioners from the U.S. and 24 countries in Europe and Eurasia to build a common understanding of the economic, political and security dynamics in the east. This year's event is the fourth iteration of ESS-East.
ESS-East invited presenters to understand the overall theater, to get familiar with sanctions as a tool in international relations and to evaluate reactions from the private sector and the EU to increased NATO military deterrence.
"This year's course is very much about the international community and its reactions," the Course Director Dr. Sebastian von Münchow said.
"During the seminar, guest speakers, in-house teachers and participants discussed various responses by the transatlantic community regarding Russian continued breaches of the international rule-based order," he said.
In addition to discussions held in seminar format, ESS-East included a night owl session as an activity to foster dialogue.
The Marshall Center welcomed Minister of Defense of North Macedonia Radmila Sekerinska to present during this session.
Sekerinska presented on how her country kept its path towards integration into the transatlantic community regardless of outside destabilizing attempts.
"I am from Bulgaria, so I'm very familiar with North Macedonian history and I was very impressed with her speech," participant Vanya Denevska, parliamentary secretary of the Ministry of Defense of Bulgaria, said.
Denevska, said the ESS-East seminar was important to see how Europe decided on sanctions and how the Council has maintained these sanctions for five years.
"Some of us, the participants here, raised the question, 'Five-year sanctions and now what?,'" she said.
Among the speakers was Dr. Celeste Wallander, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Russia Foundation, who opened ESS-East.
An expert on Russian foreign and defense strategy, she has previously served as Special Assistant to the former U.S. administration and Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia on the National Security Council.
Wallander presented in a keynote panel with Marshall Center professor Dr. Igor Zevelev, where they explained policy-making logic in the Kremlin.
Zevelev, as a Russian and an expert on Russia, was able to explain national identity in the current world through a Russian sense of history, said Wallander. As a political scientist, Wallander then explained how interests drive policy decisions.
"You have to understand those national narratives, you have to understand a country's idea of itself, and you have to understand a country's sense of threat," Wallander said. "We have to be thinking not only for this month and this year, but also for the next decade."
Von Münchow hopes that participants benefited from the free environment of discussion at the Marshall Center.
"What I hope is that they will take back the open atmosphere of dialogue we have here," he said. "This is a place in Garmisch-Partenkirchen where representatives can meet and enter dialogue, and that is clearly wanted."
Denevska joined and added, "Probably the most valuable thing is that the Marshall Center has brought these people here to talk about real-life stories which helps us find common solutions for future cooperation and problem solving among our countries," she said.