Lennart Meri Conference 2017 

“Darkest before Dawn? The War on Trust and How to Win It” 

12-14 May 2017, Tallinn, Radisson Blu Sky Hotel

Friday, May 12

16:30-16:35     Welcome Remarks by Jüri Luik, Director of the ICDS

16:35-18:00     Opening session

The EU at 27: What Prospects for a Stronger Union? 

Part I

Conversation with Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice-President of the Commission

Moderated by: Hans Kundnani, Senior Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund

Part II

Panel Discussion

Founded to uphold peace and foster prosperity, the European Union now looks to many eyes both intrusive and ineffective: impinging on national sovereignty, yet unable to control immigration, foil terrorism or promote economic growth. Post-Brexit, unity among the remaining member states is more vital for external credibility and domestic decision-making. What will the departure of one of its largest and most influential members mean for the EU at home and abroad? What can be done to prevent further fragmentation? Is the answer greater European integration, or is it time for more flexibility and creativity? How can the EU win back the trust of its member governments, and their citizens? 

Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia

Knut Abraham, Head of Divison for Bilateral Relations with the States of Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus, Federal Chancellery, Germany

Enrico Letta, President of the Jacques Delors Institute, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) at Sciences Po, and former Prime Minister of Italy

Moderated by: Edward Lucas, Senior Vice-President of CEPA 

18:15               Transfer to the Dinner
19.00               Dinner, hosted by the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid
                        (by invitation only)
21.30               Transfer to the hotel & conference venue

22:00               Night owl session 

People Have the Power:  Can Democracy Survive Populism?

Although mainstream parties in Western democracies have always been challenged by anti-establishment rivals, populism is thriving as never before. Donald Trump’s election victory and the Brexit vote exemplify the political impact of social distress and growing inequality. Political outsiders frequently disregard the existing rules, inventing facts and disrespecting democratic institutions. Mainstream parties may feel forced to adopt the same tactics and rhetoric if they are to compete. 

The anti-systemic newcomers offer easy answers, but no lasting solutions to the woes of the West. So what can be done to restore public trust in politics? Can greater boldness help mainstream politicians and their parties regain the high ground—or are they doomed to fight a defensive battle?

Carl Bildt, Co-Chair, European Council on Foreign Relations

Phillip Blond, Head of the Respublica Think-Tank

Robert Cooper, Former British Diplomat, Author

Constanze Stelzenmüller, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

Moderated by: Gideon Lichfield, Founding Editor of Quartz Magazine and Former Moscow Bureau Chief for the Economist

Saturday, May 13
08:00-09:00     Breakfast sessions

Securing the Eastern Partners 

Victor Dolidze, State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration

Frederick Hodges, Commanding General, US Army in Europe

Ian Bond, Director of Foreign policy, Centre for European Reform

Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Latvia

Moderated by: Andreas Umland, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, Kyiv

Defence and Deterrence in the Baltic Region: Attending to the Blind Spots?

Raimundas Karoblis, Minister of National Defence, Lithuania

Heinrich Brauss, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning, NATO 

Margus Tsahkna, Minister of Defence, Estonia

James Henry Bergeron, Chief Political Advisor, Allied Maritime Command, NATO

Moderated by: Christian Mölling, Deputy Director, Research Institute, German Council on Foreign Relations

Turkey: New Approach Needed?

Hakan Özoğlu, Professor of History and Director of Middle Eastern Studies University of Central Florida

Carl Bildt, Co-Chair, European Council on Foreign Relations

Javier Niño Pérez, Head of Turkey Division, EEAS

Moderated by: Peter Semneby, Ambassador of Sweden to Lebanon

The Balkans: Troubled Again?

Jelena Milic, Director of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies, Serbia

Ognyan Minchev, Executive Director, Institute for Regional and International Studies, Sofia, Bulgaria

Iztok Mirošič, Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Slovenia

Moderated by: Konstantin von Eggert, Commentator and Host, TV Dozhd (TV Rain)

09:00-10:30     Panel discussion

Hacks and (Fake) Facts: Warfare in the Information Space

Our computers and networks are vital to modern life. Yet they are vulnerable to breaches and data thefts. Adversaries can use increasingly inventive combinations of disruption, penetration and dissemination, lowering confidence in both digital services and the integrity of public life. Unscrupulous and malevolent websites, and networks of fake users on social media can spread disinformation, shape public opinion and distort decision-making. Under state sponsorship, such influence operations have rapidly evolved to become a tool of inter-state conflict and a threat to open societies.

How should we understand, forestall and impede intelligence operations that use cyber-space to attack our political systems? What can we do to deter other countries from carrying them out? And how do we regain public trust in the meantime?

Gerhard Conrad, Director of the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre

Hans-Georg Maaßen, President, Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany 

Taimar Peterkop, Director-General of the Information System Authority, Estonia

Keir Giles, Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House

Moderated by: Edward Lucas, Senior Vice-President of CEPA


11:00-12:30     Panel discussion

More EU, Less NATO?

Needing to show post-Brexit cohesion, the EU has beefed up its defence efforts. Intensified cooperation is partly aimed at showing the US that Europe is ready to take a greater role in security and defence. Yet Europe still relies on NATO as its geopolitical cornerstone. Donald Trump’s administration, like its predecessor, is placing less emphasis on transatlantic ties and urging Europe to do more —and to spend more. Can Europe live up to these expectations at home and abroad? Is meaningful defence cooperation possible without a common foreign policy?  Does the EU Global Strategy provide answers? How should NATO react to the EU’s ambitions and aspirations—and will they accelerate American disengagement? What role do France and Britain have as European nuclear powers in an era of transatlantic dislocation and uncertainty? 

Rose Gottemoeller, Deputy Secretary General, NATO

Nathalie Tocci, Director of IAI, Special Adviser to Federica Mogherini

Reinhard Brandl, Member of the German Bundestag

Etienne de Durand, Deputy for Defence Policy and Strategic Foresight, Directorate General for International Relations and Strategy, Ministry of Defence, France

Moderated by: Jüri Luik, Director of the ICDS

12:30-13:45     Lunch

14:00-16:00     Optional events – visits and excursions       

16:00-17:30     Panel discussion 

Dealing with the White House – The Limits of Transactional Foreign Policy

Donald Trump speaks of American foreign policy in blunt, zero-sum terms. But neither American greatness nor Western goals are based solely on self-interest. Values and belief systems, and a long-term perspective are important too. Can US foreign policy succeed based on the thinking outlined in The Art of the Deal? How far does rhetoric match reality, and what role do the leading figures in the Administration have in implementing, or constraining, Mr Trump’s thinking? What would a purely transactional approach mean for Europe, as an American ally—and competitor?  

Stephen Biegun, Vice President of Ford

Peter Brookes, Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs, Heritage Foundation 

Sarah Kendzior, Journalist, Political Analyst, Writer

James Kirchick, Fellow, Foreign Policy Initiative

Moderated by: Ahmed Rashid, Journalist, Author

17:30-18.00     Key Note: Lennart Meri Lecture

Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland


18.30-20.00     Panel discussion

Be Careful What You Wish For: is Russia Trumped?

During the US Presidential election campaign Donald Trump offered a radically new approach to American relations with Russia, including the dropping of sanctions, disengagement from Ukraine, disregard for NATO and intensified cooperation against Islamist terrorism. Yet the Trump administration has had a bumpy start, dogged by investigations about collusion with the Kremlin. No ‘reset 2.0’ or ‘Grand Bargain’ seems likely. Moreover, Russia has lost the monopoly in geopolitical unpredictability that had allowed it to take the initiative and to reject international rules.

What are the prospects now for US-Russia relations? Which areas for cooperation are still open: where will the benefits flow, and who will pay the costs?    

Dmitry Suslov, Deputy Director of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies (CCEIS)

Thomas Graham, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates

Stefan Meister, Head of Program for Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia; Robert Bosch Center for Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Asia; German Council on Foreign Relations

Anthony Gardner, Former US Ambassador to the EU

Moderated by: Jill Dougherty, Global Fellow, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Centre

20.00              Networking dinner in the conference hotel
21:30              Night owl sessions

Ukraine: Politics of Reform vs Politics of War 

Mustafa Nayyem, Member of Ukrainian Rada, Journalist

Anders Åslund, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council 

James Sherr, Associate Fellow, Chatham House

Moderated by: Jana Kobzova, Head of Policy, Rasmussen Global

When the Medium is the Message: Shaping Foreign Policy through Social Media

Saara Jantunen, Doctor of Military Science, Author

Michael Weiss, Senior Editor / Editor, The Daily Beast / The Interpreter

Peter Pomeranzev, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics, Author, TV producer

Moderated by: Gideon Lichfield, Founding Editor of Quartz Magazine and Former Moscow Bureau Chief for the Economist

What Are Russia’s Values?

Zhanna Nemtsova, Reporter, Deutsche Welle

Alexey Levinson, Head of Socio- Cultural Research, Yuri Levada Analytical Centre 

Arkady Ostrovsky, Russia and Eastern Europe Editor, The Economist

Sergei Utkin, Head, Strategic Assessment Section, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences

Moderated by: Brian Whitmore, Senior Russia Analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

New Nationalisms

Anton Shekhovtsov, Visiting Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences, Austria

Lindsay Jenkins, Journalist and Author

Masha Gessen, Journalist and Author,

Lars Fredén, Former Swedish Ambassador

Moderated by: Indrek Tarand, Member of European Parliament, Estonia


Sunday, May 14


08:00-09:00     Breakfast sessions

                        US-China Relations: Security and Economy Revisited

Peter Brookes, Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs, Heritage Foundation

Harinder Sekhon, Senior Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation

Victor Zhikai Gao, Director of the China National Association of International Studies

Moderated by: Lars Fredén, Former Swedish Ambassador

France and Germany:  In Europe’s Driving Seat Once More?

Przymyslaw Źurawski vel Grajewski, Advisor to the Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland

François Lafond, President, Blue Networks and Opportunities

Kai-Olaf Lang, Senior Fellow, German Institute for International and Security Affairs

Moderated by: Damien McGuinness, BBC Correspondent in Berlin

Grids, Pipes and Plants: EU Energy Policy in Limbo

Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia

Vladimir Milov, Founding Chairman and Member of the Board, ‘Democratic Choice’ Movement, Russia

Alan Riley, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council

Václav Bartuška, Ambassador-at-Large for Energy Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic

Moderated by: Anke Schmidt-Felzmann, Researcher, Europe Programme, The Swedish Institute of International Affairs

What Colour Revolution in Belarus?

Andrey Dmitriev, Head of the Tell the Truth Movement, Belarus

Arkady Moshes, Programme Director, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

Yauheni Preiherman, Head of Minsk Dialogue Track-II Initiative

Moderated by: Kadri Liik, Senior Fellow, European Council for Foreign Relations

09:00-10:30     Panel discussion

Can the Outside World Fix the Middle East? 

In the last eight years, the United States has been very careful to avoid deep involvement in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, despite the risks posed by the deteriorating situation there. New players, notably Russia, have moved to fill this vacuum. Can outsiders exert a positive influence to return peace and stability to the region? Does the United States now intend to be more engaged in Syria? Can outside powers find common ground with local political forces and with each other? Is the Middle-East doomed to be a region where large powers settle their differences?   

Andrey Kortunov, Director General, Russian International Affairs Council

Sven Mikser, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Estonia 

Mehmet Şimşek, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Turkey

Hayman Hussein Mirkhan, Director of the Centre for Regional and International Studies (CRIS), University of Kurdistan Hewlêr

Moderated by: Kim Dozier, Daily Beast and CNN Contributor


11:00-12.30     Panel discussion

Free Trade and the Global Economy – Can Growth Be Sustained in a Protectionist World?

An early move by the Trump Administration was to withdraw from the near–complete Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Objections of a Belgian regional government nearly destroyed the Canada-EU Comprehensive Trade Agreement (CETA). Protectionist instincts, even in leading economic powers, are straining the free-trade consensus. The G20 has abandoned its long-standing support for trade liberalisation as the engine of economic growth and poverty reduction. The financial crisis is partly to blame—not least in fanning protectionist sentiment among the public in France and Germany—but it is President Trump who has made protectionism an ideology.

Has the tide of globalisation truly turned, as it did nearly a century ago? Are deals such as CETA the last gasps of a decades-long era of trade liberalisation, or do they show the continued resilience of the global free trade paradigm? Who stands to lose and gain if globalisation goes into reverse?

Mauro Petriccione, Deputy Director General of the Directorate General for Trade, European Commission

Marietje Schaake, Member of European Parliament, the Netherlands

Stephen Biegun, Vice President of Ford

Siim Kallas, Professor of the University of Tartu, Former Vice- President of the European Commission

Moderated by: Kristjan Lepik, Product Manager at Move Guides Teleport, Estonia

12:30-12:45    Final words
13:00               Farewell lunch