Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the 14th Lennart Meri Conference is postponed until September 2021. But in the meantime, we are bringing the spirit of the Lennart Meri Conference online. Over the coming months, we will be challenging leading foreign and security policy thinkers around the world to address topical issues.


Cyberspace as the Common Good

Internet and digital technologies that create cyberspace are transforming society, business, and politics. People respond to new opportunities online, react to cyber threats and change their behaviour accordingly. States compete and are increasingly weaponizing information to gain advantage, breaking into other countries’ networks to steal data, seed misinformation or disrupt critical infrastructure.

Merle Maigre, Senior Cyber Security Expert at the e-Governance Academy of Estonia and Ciaran Martin, Professor of Practice at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, formerly the founding Chief Executive of the UK National Cyber Security Centre, discuss:

  • motives and impact of cyber-attacks;
  • aspirations and capabilities of China and Russia;
  • how to deter and build resilience;
  • how to prepare for attacks and exercise;
  • attribution and transparency.


Cooperation in Deterrence in the Nordic-Baltic Region

As global power shifts, how can we ensure that Allies and partners remain committed to security at the West’s peripheries in the Baltic Sea region, and build effective deterrence against Russia?

In this session of the Lennart Meri Conference Talks, Member of the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) and former Minister of Defence of Estonia Jüri Luik, and Co-chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations and former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt discuss the challenging defence and security environment of the Nordic-Baltic region.


Time for International Sobriety

The world of yesterday is gone or rapidly eroding, and it makes it hard to establish foreign policy directions. In the great power competition, Europe seems to be confused because Russia today is not the Russia that the West imagined it to become after 1989. Politics is driven by bold announcements and exaggerated expectations instead of relying on careful analysis and long-term strategy, cool headedness, and strategic patience.

In this session of Lennart Meri Conference Talks, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations Kadri Liik and Director of Foreign Policy in the Office of the Federal President of Germany, Dr. Thomas Bagger discuss the challenges of calibrating foreign policy in today’s world, the policymaking and legacy of Chancellor Angela Merkel, German-Russian relations, and how to interpret and relate to Russia.


A Glimmer of Hope at the End of 2020?

2020 has shaken the world, but is there a glimmer of hope at the end of the year? In the transatlantic community expectations are high for some sort of renaissance in relations between Europe and the US when Joe Biden takes over the White House on January 20, 2021. Can Europe and the US create a joint front against China’s global aspirations, fight the spread of disinformation as well as support strategically important Eastern Partnership countries, especially Ukraine?

In this session of Lennart Meri Conference Talks, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and US diplomat Ambassador Kurt Volker address these and other questions on the future of US and European relations.


Russia’s Place in the Evolving International Disorder

Russia is a great power, and its determination to remain one is well understood by the countries that border it. But Russia’s interests also connect with the challenges and problems of an often disordered world. A brief glance at Khabarovsk, Belarus and the South Caucasus is reminder enough that Russia also has problems of its own.

We invited James Sherr OBE, Senior Fellow of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at the ICDS and Professor Dmitry Suslov, Deputy Director of the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow to discuss these issues.


The Era of Resentment: Causes and Solutions

In this session, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and the Pulitzer-prize winning historian and staff writer for The Atlantic, Anne Applebaum get into the bottom of the motives and the rationale of people who create the mythology and the language of modern authoritarian populism. It is not the sense of being left behind in globalization nor is it just a question of economic inequality. Likewise, it’s not just an eastern European phenomenon.

How do we overcome rising cynicism and restore optimism? This open exchange is not only about the why’s and reasons for pessimism but offers possible solutions and highlights issues that need to be tackled.

The conversation was inspired by Anne Applebaum’s most recent bestseller “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism”.


The Different Faces of Identity and Politics Today

A conversation with the Former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and the American thinker and political theorist Francis Fukuyama, Professor at Stanford University.

Identity is inevitable, says Professor Francis Fukuyama, but how to make it a solution and not a source of problems? How should one understand identity in an era of fear and hatred? Can identity help fight the decay of democratic institutions? What have been the different faces of identity through time?

In their sparkling conversation, Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Professor Francis Fukuyama focus on different aspects of identity and its impact in the world: The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, etc.

The conversation was inspired by Francis Fukuyama’s recent bestseller “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment”.