Eastern Mediterranean – Stable Instability

Svetlana Stefanović

07. October 2020

Eastern Mediterranean – Stable Instability

This year the Belgrade Security Forum, under the title “No Trust – No Peace” is happening under very specific circumstances, deprived of one of its main assets – networking. However, moderator Marko Savković led an inspiring discussion on what has been done in the past 10 years since the first iteration of the Forum.

Sonja Licht, President of Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, has remembered the very beginning of the Belgrade Security Forum. Following the example set by the great events in Europe, as the Munich Security Conference, GLOBSEC, and the Brussels Forum, the idea was to raise some of the most challenging issues important for the Balkans and beyond, approach them in an innovative way, respect and open debate about those issues by respecting different points of view.

Director of Belgrade Centre for Security Policy Igor Bandović stressed tree main consequences that global pandemic of COVID-19 had on civil society organizations. Zvezdana Kovač, Secretary General of the European Movement in Serbia elaborated on the title of this year’s Forum – No Trust – No Peace, is the right title considering what is going on with the Covid19 global crisis, not only in Serbia, but around the world.

Second panel on first day of 10th Belgrade Security Forum concerned topic regarding Eastern Mediterranean. Panel was moderated by Milan Krstić.

Nikos Tsafos, Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that he was sceptic about the region uniting over the energy issue and that it would bring them to profit and peace. For Tsafos open questions are who will have legislative power and decision making power in Cyprus, and also Turkey’s claim for one small Greek island and also some bigger ones such as Crete and Rhodes.

Isabelle Ioannidies, Free University of Brussels, also pointed that Cyprus is actually key question for the region, rather than recent discovery of natural gas. She stressed that it is very hard to find a pleasing framework for solving Cyprus issue, since the fact that Republic of Cyprus is not recognized by Turkey, which in her opinion should be one of starting points for discussion.

Panel also reflected on roles of Russia and the US in the region of Eastern Mediterranean and its similarities with the approach to the Balkans. James Ker Lindsay, London School of Economics and Political Science, said that the US might have an interest to quickly resolve two long term issues – Kosovo and Cyprus, so that they could ‘put Russia outside of the game’ and significantly decrease its role in the UN Security Council.

Ending point of the panel was that status quo was most likely to remain. All sides have tools which they could use if need be and some balance seem to be in place.

You can read more about first day of Belgrade Security Forum on its official website.