This issue of Diplomaatia reflects some, but not all of the topics to be discussed at the fifth Lennart Meri Conference which will be held in Tallinn on May 11–13. Some of the articles of this edition are also published in English in Diplomaatia’s special conference issue, produced by the LMC organising team and handed out on paper at the conference. This issue in Estonian focuses on security and cooperation mainly in Europe and North America. Our authors discuss matters related to the European Union, US foreign policy and new major security challenges that we are currently facing.
In the opening article, Ambassador Jüri Luik who is Estonia’s permanent representative to NATO takes a look at European defence and the EU-US relationship within NATO. Luik argues that despite the diminishing role of the US in Europe and some recent initiatives with a more active participation from Europe than during the last decades in general, European security policy is still excessively reliant on the power and resources of the US. Instead of ‘smart defence’, we should rather talk about ‘calculating defence’ in Europe, Luik claims – Europe continues to count on US help in case of emergency.
President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves writes extensively on cyber defence as the next great security challenge in an essay based on his recent lecture at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. President Ilves indicates that as our everyday world grows more and more dependent on IT, it also becomes more vulnerable to cyber attacks whose capacity to paralyse societies increases respectively. The president insists that to be able to face the challenge, we first need to realise that cyber attacks pose no less serious threats to our security than more conventional attacks.
The next two articles reflect on European cooperation and integration from a British perspective. British Minister for European Affairs David Lidington analyses the UK’s relationship with the rest of Europe, insisting that in spite of the crisis of the Eurozone and many related problems, the UK government still strongly supports further European integration. As a solution to the crisis, he proposes the promotion of economic growth and ongoing integration in the fields of free trade and services. Just like Estonia, the UK seeks solutions in freedom and openness rather than protectionism.
Journalist and political editor of The Economist David Rennie is slightly more sceptical about the UK’s position with respect to the EU. He emphasises that the relationship is, on the side of the UK, rather more calculating than emotional – that the UK is in the EU because it is beneficial, not because of a sense of European unity. As times change, the question of whether or not EU membership is becoming too costly keeps coming up. However, Rennie argues in line with Minister Lidington that EU enlargement has been highly useful for Britons and that in spite of the compromises required EU membership has more pros than cons.
Joonas Taras, an Estonian student at the London School of Economics, assesses the EU enlargement process that is being re-initiated after years of disruption. Taras asks whether or not the ‘enlargement fatigue’ of the recent years is finally over and his answer seems to be a cautious yes. He goes through the current accession processes by country and by region – the Balkans, Iceland, Macedonia. While the remaining obstacles to accession appear trivial for countries like Macedonia – just a quarrel with Greece about its name – other countries like Kosovo, not to mention Ukraine, need to deal with more serious problems before their membership can be considered feasible.
Last but not least, journalist and editor of The Washington Post Jackson Diehl focuses on the foreign policy of the Obama administration. Diehl takes a critical look at the US ‘reset policy’ and the unwillingness of the current administration to compromise friendly relations with authoritarian leaders for the sake of the rights of their citizens. According to Diehl, current developments indicate that if re-elected to the office for the second term, President Obama’s foreign policy preferences would probably remain largely the same.