Венский круглый стол по вопросам безопасности "Вызовы политики безопасности для Европы в 2023 году" - Драгана Трифкович (слева)

PHOTO: Dragana Trifković (left)

Published: Центар за геостратешке студије. 01.04.2023.

The international round table «Security Policy Challenges for Europe in 2023» was held on March 30, 2023 in Vienna, in cooperation with the Vienna Association of Academics and the Center for Geostrategic Studies, with the participation of politicians and experts from Germany, Italy, France, Serbia, Poland, Syria and Austria.

This interesting discussion on the Ukrainian conflict, mass migration, energy supply and current events was chaired by Patrick Poppel, an expert at the Center for Geostrategic Studies and a political analyst in Austria.

On the same day, in the Parliament of Austria, the Freedom Party of Austria expressed its displeasure over Vladimir Zelenski’s speech via video link and left the session. MPs of this party believe that this is a direct violation of the Austrian neutrality. The president of the Freedom Party of Austria, Herberg Kickl, said: «As a neutral country, Austria gives its word to the president of a country that is at war. Then you could say that he is spreading Ukrainian, NATO or American propaganda here».

The participants of the round table «Challenges of security policy for Europe in 2023» supported this position of the Austrian politicians from the Freedom Party of Austria.

Christian Zeitz, director of the Institute for Applied Political Economy and member of the Vienna Association of Academics, welcomed the guests of the conference and expressed his views and concerns regarding the current political situation in Europe.

Andreas Mölzer, former Member of the European Parliament from the Austrian Freedom Party, opened the roundtable with his presentation on European Security. He spoke about geopolitical issues, European security, the migrant crisis and the EU. He regretted that Europe does not have an alternative, i.e. an option other than European integration, especially after the First and Second World Wars. After the fall of the bipolar world, Europe began to emancipate itself, but now this process has been permanently stopped. He said that we missed the opportunity of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict to change our position or return to our previous positions. The current conflict in Ukraine has shown that the EU has no geopolitical ambitions. The EU is providing military aid to Ukraine, and Austria is one of the last neutral countries. The problem in Europe is that the political structures are not unified, for example the Alternative for Germany, the League and Meloni, which represent Euro-Atlantic interests instead of being right-wing. The Freedom Party of Austria is the only party that criticized Vladimir Zelensky’s appearance and speech in the parliament. The EU has allowed itself to be marginalized by the big powers. Mr. Mölzer also spoke about the problems related to the mass migrations in Europe that have occurred in recent years. He believes that the European social and health systems cannot bear the costs of mass migration. Political correctness will not help anyone, especially not us. A mistake was made by our and the German security system. But there is still a chance to limit the damage. Britain, for example, introduced a strict migration policy after Brexit. The migration crisis in Europe coincides with mass hedonism, the abolition of culture and religion, which destabilizes the situation even more, and on the other hand, migration is used as a means of pressure by the great powers.

The EU will not play a significant role in the geopolitical sense. «I don’t support the SMO, but at the same time I don’t think that Ukraine is fighting for Western values, rather this fight is being waged in Moscow.»

Karin Kneissl, former Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, presented her views on the combination of the energy crisis and the Ukrainian crisis and the solutions available to Europe.

Kneissl spoke about Europe’s history of dependence on foreign products and energy, and the lack of attention to energy security and affordability in recent decades, with a focus on climate change. She highlighted the importance of energy security and affordability for households and industry, and gave an example of how the Hungarian Prime Minister has taken steps to address this issue. Kneissl argued that decision-makers need to be more realistic and honest about what is and is not possible in terms of energy production, and move away from black-and-white thinking. She also criticized the West’s attitude toward Russia and emphasized the need for more mature behavior on the part of decision-makers. She stressed the need for more realistic and responsible decision-making.

Karin Kneissl agreed that the biggest problem is the conflict between desire and reality, especially in relation to the current energy crisis and the economic war against Russia, calling it childish behavior and saying that many Western governments are not behaving maturely.

Dragana Trifković, director of the Center for Geostrategic Studies in Belgrade, spoke about the violent separation of Kosovo and Metohija: «Last week was the twenty-fourth anniversary of the beginning of the NATO bombing of Serbia. The reason for the beginning of the NATO aggression was the alleged violation of the human rights of the Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija, that is, in the southern Serbian province, by the Serbian regime. Some even went so far as to speak of genocide. In fact, it was a fabricated guilt imposed by US officials led by Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Wesley Clark and so on, who used false accusations and the mainstream media to create an alibi.

There is an excellent German documentary about this: «It Started with a Lie», in which the truth is described literally. The aim of the NATO intervention was the opening of the largest American military base in Europe, on the territory of Serbia, called Bondsteel, and not the protection of the human rights of the Albanians.

Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija have rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, which concern the right to use language, culture and customs, the right to participate in all state institutions, public and political life, the right to education in the Albanian language, media in the Albanian language, and so on. The former Yugoslavia and Serbia have had a problem with Albanian terrorism for decades, and this was precisely the trigger for the crackdown on Albanian terrorists of the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbian security structures. But the Western media portrayed it as a conflict between Serbian security forces and Albanian civilians, which has nothing to do with the truth.

Now we come to the question of the rights of Russian citizens in Ukraine. In fact, Ukraine has banned the use of the Russian language, the work of Russian-language media, as well as the work of opposition parties. In 2014, after the coup in Kiev, the Ukrainian regime launched a war against its own citizens in the east of the country. However, the US did not call this a violation of human rights, but a violation of democracy. The policy of double standards is clearly visible here. A completely different relationship that speaks of the misuse of the issue of democracy, the violation of human rights, to achieve military and economic goals. You can hear the Western media talking about democracy in Kosovo. To this day, more than 250 thousand exiled Serbs cannot return to their homes and cannot exercise their human rights, but are refugees in their own country. Every day, violence is perpetrated against the Serbs who remain in Kosovo.

The only valid international document on the basis of which the Kosovo issue can be resolved is Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council. But the USA is persistently trying to solve its own project of Kosovo’s independence, ignoring and violating international law.

Now, Serbia is being offered a Franco-German plan for the solution of Kosovo, which is actually Ischinger’s plan for the independence of Kosovo from 2007. This plan is modeled on the recognition of two Germanies after the Second World War. Serbia is being asked to recognize the so-called independence of Kosovo, give up the territory and absolve the USA of responsibility for bombing Serbia. In fact, it is a violent redefinition of borders where the US is pursuing its own interests by controlling the conflict. If we completely abolish international law and accept the right of a power, in this case the United States of America, to redraw borders in Europe according to its own needs, we will find ourselves in a very dangerous situation.

An independent Kosovo can be established anywhere in Europe because there are so many potential conflicts that could be used for such a thing. Especially after the great migrations from Africa and the Middle East to Europe. It is clear that Europe is now burdened with many other problems, but in this sense the case of Kosovo should not be ignored. It really opened Pandora’s box.

The solution is to return to the framework of international law and international institutions, where dialogue should take place. If we talk about the Ukrainian crisis, we have seen that the agreements reached in Minsk were not respected, which was finally acknowledged by the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

European officials told us that they had no intention of respecting the peace agreements reached, but that they only served to arm Ukraine for the war that was being prepared.

Dragana Trifković believes that the idea of waging war with Russia, even if it is a hybrid war waged through Ukraine, is a very dangerous idea for the whole of Europe. For this reason, Dragana Trifković believes that the supply of weapons to Ukraine should be stopped immediately and the diplomatic field should be moved, but with full respect for international law and with the intention of implementing the agreements reached.

Paolo Grimoldi, a former member of the Italian parliament and head of the Italian delegation to the OSCE, spoke about the double standards involved in Europe supporting regional separatism in some cases and not in others. We have had a series of organized color revolutions, as well as failed attempts to organize them. The US administration has proven itself incapable of bringing peace to the world. Paolo Grimoldi stated that he was recently aware of the case that Tunisia started to act to prevent illegal migration to Europe, but the US criticized it. It is obvious that the USA supports mass migration and does not want it to stop. Grimoldi believes that the US is politically blackmailing many countries in Europe, including Italy. Many countries like Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, China, Russia are criticizing the US policy.

Jacques Hogard, colonel of the French Special Forces Task Group under NATO command in Kosovo and author of a book about his experiences entitled Europe Died in Pristina, discussed the consequences of NATO’s aggression against Serbia and the handing over of Kosovo to Albanian mafia groups under a joint NATO-EU protectorate. The war caused physical, material, moral and psychological suffering to the population, the death of many young people and massive destruction of infrastructure, which will have serious economic and social consequences. The author disagreed with a journalist who blamed Russia and Vladimir Putin for the war. His father, a former French army general, believed that the United States was working against France and that after the collapse of the USSR, NATO had become an anti-Slavic and anti-Russian offensive tool at the heels of American interests alone. His father even left the French army because of this.

The European Union is bankrupt, anti-democratic and corrupted by an established caste. Its disastrous management has led to the costly and criminal support of the war in Ukraine, the catastrophic handling of the covid pandemic, and the absence of a protective policy in the face of migratory surges. Other criticisms include the promotion of wokeism and the questioning of traditional values inherited from the Greek and Roman civilizations shaped by Christianity, as well as serious attacks on the identity of the peoples of Europe. The fate of France is also worrying.

The speaker, who comes from a family of French resistance fighters during the Second World War, now considers himself a disciple of General de Gaulle and dreams of a quick exit from the integrated command of NATO and the disappearance of this American imperialist tool. He believes in the construction of a real European security system from the Atlantic to Vladivostok, including Poland, Central Europe and the Baltic countries. The speaker urged the peoples of Europe to free themselves from what he sees as the American yoke and regain control of their destiny before it’s too late, citing Hungary as an example.

Petr Bistron, a member of the German Bundestag from the Alternative for Germany party, spoke about the Ukrainian crisis. He believes that the conflict in Ukraine marks the end of the monopolar world and the beginning of the multipolar world. Ukraine is the new red line on which the new division of Europe will be drawn. Europe is going to be divided into two parts. This is actually a new division of the whole world. This conflict simultaneously marks the end of US dominance and hegemony and the arrival of new forces that act together: China, India, Russia, Brazil and other BRICS countries, Africa is joining this alliance as well as Iran. This alliance is very attractive for many African and Asian countries. The European states and the USA are constantly repeating a false narrative and are trying to mark Russia as an aggressor through the thousand times repeated lie that Russia’s military action in Ukraine is the first violation of international law in Europe since the Second World War. This is not true, because the first violation of international law was the bombing of Belgrade, NATO’s aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999. So the first aggressor among other NATO countries was Germany.

Konrad Rekas, political expert, geopolitical analyst from Poland, held a lecture on the topic: «Displacement or Migration: The Movement of the Ukrainian Population after 2/24/22 as a Factor of Destabilization in Central Europe». He spoke about concerns about migration to Poland, especially from Ukraine, and the potential impact on the country’s economy and cultural values.

In February 2022, many Poles spontaneously helped those they believed to be refugees fleeing war and imminent danger, although most of the arrivals came from areas not affected by war. Over the course of 13 months, Poland received at least 4.8 million Ukrainian immigrants, representing nearly 14% of Poland’s pre-war population. This unprecedented population shock, combined with a lack of border control, opened the country to the possibility of mafia and terrorism, as seen during the 1999 Kosovo war. Rekas believes that this was another invasion organized and directed by the Anglo-Saxon occupiers under the guise of «humanitarian aid».

Rekas examines the migration crisis at Poland’s borders and compares it to the Kosovo conflict and NATO’s 1999 aggression against Yugoslavia. He also points out that Russia has accepted a significant number of refugees from the eastern, Russian-speaking part of Ukraine and is bearing the costs of the imposed war without complaining or calling for amnesty.

He then argues that the influx of immigrants is straining the Polish welfare system and that reviving the economy through immigration is not feasible. Rekas also expresses concern about the cultural indoctrination of Ukrainian immigrants with Nazi ideology and criticizes the current Ukrainian state and government for its neo-Nazi character. Rekas sees the mass migration of Ukrainians to the European Union as a destabilizing factor and a threat to European nations, and calls for action to counter what could be seen as a resurgence of Nazism.

Marco Ghisetti, Ph.D. in World Politics and International Relations and Philosophy, contributor to Eurasia magazine and director of the Classici series at the Italian publisher Anteo Edizioni, aims to provide a macro-continental perspective on the crisis unfolding in Europe and the challenges facing European states. He believes that Europe is facing a process of degermanization, which is damaging the economic engine of Germany and the strategic and political autonomy of Europe and the EU. He argues that this process is taking place at a time when Russia and China have formed an alliance, and if Germany’s center of gravity shifts eastward, it could undermine American unipolarity. The speaker also mentions the war in Ukraine and the rise of populist movements in Europe that are anti-German but pro-American.

Ghisetti notes that the current process of degermanization in Europe is not the first time in European history. He cites two previous ruined instances of Germanization: the first was in the run-up to World War I, when Germany attempted to unite the European space under its economic and political influence through initiatives such as the Berlin-Byzantium-Baghdad railway. This led to the destruction of many European powers in a kind of European civil war. The second instance was just before World War II, when Nazi Germany attempted to build a continental bloc that included the Soviet Union and Japan against the Anglo-Saxon Empire. This also led to the eventual destruction of Germany and Europe as a whole.

The speaker further argues that after World War II, Europe became a political object and lost its agency due to its dependence on foreign powers such as the United States and the Soviet Union. The speaker notes that the current economic engine of Europe is Germany, and there is a strong push to move eastward, which is being met with pressure from the United States. The speaker warns that if Europe is cut off from the economic processes of Eurasian integration, it will lose all economic power and political agency, leading to its eventual irrelevance.

Hans-Thomas Tilschneider, a member of the state parliament from the Alternative for Germany party, spoke on the topic: «Islam in Europe, a factor of resistance or insecurity». According to him, since the USA declared war on terrorism on September 9, 2001, the Islamic factor has been used as a tool for geopolitical strategies. The U.S. goal is to weaken Europe through the Islamic factor, which Huntington sees as a cultural divide. The globalist criticism of Islam is that it is not modern. On the other hand, there is a criticism of Islamization, and these are two different issues. The Islamic factor in Europe should not be seen as a weakness, but as a strength. Because most Muslims in Europe oppose American modernism and criticize US policies. Muslims do not want a war with Russia and are against sending weapons to Ukraine. Therefore, the Islamic factor is not a weakness, but can become an advantage. Europe’s problems can be solved by cutting Europe’s ties with the USA. We should leave the American sector.

Stephan Ossenkopp, a Schiller Institute fellow from Germany, spoke on the topic: «Will Germany tolerate industrialization or join global security and development initiatives?» The U.S. is pushing for sanctions against Russia, which seem to have no effect because Russia is cooperating with China. European sanctions have not hurt the Russian economy. Recently, a very important meeting was held in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where a number of agreements were signed between the two countries. The Russia-Africa Summit was also held in Moscow, attended by many presidents and officials of African countries. So Russia is not isolated. It is necessary to return to sovereignty and initiatives for a new security architecture. The German economy is suffering enormous damage.

Kevork Almasian, an award-winning political commentator from Syria, spoke about the geopolitics of Eurasia. In 2014, he was an anchor and producer at a media company in Lebanon. At that time, his immediate supervisor was a professor of international relations and an expert in geopolitics, prof. Jamal Vakim. When the Obama/Biden administration staged a coup in Kiev, Vakim told him that «if World War III happens, it will start in Ukraine. Kevork Almasian began researching to understand the nature of the conflict and why Ukraine matters, and in 2015 he had the opportunity to travel to Donetsk to see for himself. He wants to sum up the struggle for Ukraine in one word: it will be Eurasia. Today, attempts at Eurasian unity outside the US umbrella are based on three pillars: Russia, China and Iran. One of the steps towards Eurasian unity is the 1996 Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which covers about 60% of Eurasia. And with the process of Iran’s full membership in the SCO, which began in 2021, the three pillars of Eurasia have been completed. Kevork Almasian then talked about NATO, which was formed after World War II as a military alliance aimed at defeating the Soviet Union and forcing it to withdraw from East Germany and Eastern Europe. After the collapse of the USSR, contrary to James Baker’s promise to Mikhail Gorbachev, NATO expanded eastward, especially into the former Soviet states, to the borders of present-day Russia. Attempts to isolate the U.S., first from the USSR and then from Russia, did not stop in Eastern Europe. Kevork Almasian finally turned to Ukraine, which he believes is the most important geopolitical conflict of our modern times, because it represents one of the four bridges, including France, Germany, and Poland. This bridge gives the USA access to the hearth of the world. On the other hand, Russia without Ukraine becomes a regional power and loses its European dimension, according to Brzezinski. That is why Ukraine’s entry into NATO is a red line for Russia, because Ukraine will become the starting point for projecting US power into the heart of the world. Russia also believes that if Ukraine joins NATO or becomes a client state of the US, the latter will be able to project its power inside Russia and create internal conflicts and seek the balkanization of the Russian Federation.

Marco Filippi, an expert in crisis management and SME in AI and a military expert from Italy, delivered a message discussing the risks associated with the use of AI in Europe in the medium and long term due to the increasing reliance on AI in various areas during crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic. He mentioned the immediate threats to global security, such as the war in Eastern Europe and the potential crisis in the Taiwan area, and the impact of the general sentiment on the training of AI for commercial and specialized purposes in security forces, military and political decision making.

General sentiment refers to the overall mood or feeling of a particular group of people and can have a significant impact on AI training. If the sentiment is negative, it can lead to biased and flawed AI models. Incomplete or biased data during times of crisis can also lead to flawed AI models, resulting in decisions that are not in the best interest of those being helped. Sentiment analysis is used in natural language processing to extract subjective information from text, and it can also be used in military AI training to analyze sentiment toward certain events or situations. The use of sentiment analysis in military AI training can be used to identify bias in data, target propaganda to specific groups, and recognize emotions in individuals to predict behavior.

The use of AI in times of crisis raises ethical questions about responsibility for decision-making and ensuring that decisions are made in the best interests of society. It is important to consider the potential unintended consequences of relying too heavily on AI, such as overlooking important factors that only human judgment can take into account, and losing the personal touch of essential services when they are fully automated. Filippi’s talk ended with the warning that once a lightning strike occurs, it is too late.

In the final part of the roundtable, final discussions were held on the migrant crisis and the Ukrainian conflict. The conclusion was that Europe should avoid American traps and confrontational policies, but also take a different approach to migration policy. As for the Ukrainian conflict, the conference participants believe that the US does not want a peaceful solution for Ukraine and rejects peace initiatives. They also believe that the supply of arms to Ukraine must stop and that European countries should not be involved in fueling the conflict.

March 31, 2023

Center for Geostrategic Studies