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Estonia: 13th Lennart Meri Conference to kick off on Friday

BC, Riga, 16.05.2019.Print version
The 13th Lennart Meri Conference, entitled "One Past, Many Futures," will start in Tallinn on Friday, informed LETA/BNS.

The conference will bring together current state leaders, policymakers and renowned think tank experts as well as young future players from across the world to discuss foreign, defense and security policy in the Estonian capital from May 17 to 19.


The conference's opening panel will start at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, featuring Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen as speakers. The panel will be moderated by Estonia's Minister of Defense Juri Luik.


Eeva Eek-Pajuste, director of the conference, said that a special focus this year will be on the youth and the future.


"In 10-15 years, today's young players will be the ones moving the power levers of the world, but their value judgments, attitude towards life and beliefs are developing at present. In order to comprehend the new trends emerging in society, it is smart for us not only to let them speak, but to listen to them and pay heed to what they are saying more ourselves as well," she said.


For this reason, this year's lineup of speakers and participants includes a number young policymakers and researchers, such as Akilnathan Logeswaran, founder of the Stand Up for Europe movement from Germany listed by Forbes as one of the 30 most influential young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers under 30, as well as Ulrike Franke, policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and recipient of the John McCain Dissertation Award at this year's Munich Security Conference.


Saturday's first public panel will explore kleptocracy and money laundering with Molly Montgomery, vice president of Europe Practice at Albright Stonebridge Group as the moderator. The speakers in the panel are Anders Aslund, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council; Marshall Billingslea, assistant secretary at the US Department of the Treasury; British journalist Oliver Bullough; and Ardo Hansson, governor of the Estonian central bank.  


In the next panel discussion the topic of populism and the roots of frustration at the dawn of the European Parliament elections will be explored by Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, Hungary's European Affairs Minister Szabolcs Takacs and other experts. The moderator of the panel is Alina Polyakova, fellow at the Foreign Policy Center on the United States and Europe at the The Brookings Institution. 


In the afternoon panel dealing with the future of defense cooperation between NATO and Europe, Camille Grand, NATO's assistant secretary general for defense investment, and member of the German Bundestag Alexander Graf Lambsdorff will be among the speakers. 


On Saturday evening the focus of the conference will shift to Russia, with the aspirations, values, moods and perceptions of the new generation in Russia discussed by Kadri Liik, senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations; Masha Gessen, staff writer with The New Yorker; Alexey Levinson, head of department at Levada Center; and Ekaterina Schulmann, associate professor of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.


The discussion on Sunday morning will be dedicated to relations between China and the West, and the conference will conclude with a discussion between former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Thomas Bagger, adviser to the president of Germany, moderated by CEPA Vice President Edward Lucas.


Aside from the panels that can be viewed live on the conference's website, multiple discussions will be held in the early morning and late evening hours on burning issues of international politics under the Chatham House rule.


This year marks 90 years since the birth of Lennart Meri, who has said that "Europe has one past, but an infinite number of futures". In order to mark the continuation of former president Lennart Meri's legacy in foreign and security policy thinking, the titles of the conference itself and its panel discussions have this time been chosen from among quotes from Meri's speeches.


On Friday and Saturday several side events of the Lennart Meri Conference will take place. Starting at 3 p.m. on Friday, the ministers of defense of Sweden and Latvia, Peter Hultqvist and Artis Pabriks, will discuss the Baltic Sea security architecture with Finnish MP Ilkka Kanerva and director of the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) Sven Sakkov.


Simultaneously the presentation of a book and a discussion on EU-Russia relations in the post-Crimea era will take place. The book, titled "Post-Crimea Shift in EU-Russia Relations: From Fostering Interdependence to Managing Vulnerabilities," will be presented by its compilers Kristi Raik, director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, and researcher Andras Racz.


From 2:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Andrei V. Belyi and Alan Riley will present a report on the energy security and the gas market of Estonia and the Baltic Sea region. At the same time a discussion on whether the Russian society longs for change will be held as part of the "Voices of Russia" series of discussions of the Open Estonia Foundation.   


The Lennart Meri Conference is organized by the ICDS in conjunction with the Lennart Meri Foundation. The sponsors of the event are the Estonian Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government Office, the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, Swedbank AS, Alexela Group OU, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS, Saab AB, Silberauto AS and Vaino Kaldoja, the US Embassy in Estonia, the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation, Milrem Robotics AS, BAE Systems Hagglunds AB, and the European Commission representation in Estonia. The conference's research partner is Elering.






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