Expert conference

ISTANBUL SECURITY CONFERENCE® 2022 “Which one will win? Diplomacy or Deterrence?”

The 14th Istanbul Security Conference® 2022 “Which one will win? Diplomacy or Deterrence?” was held on 25 and 26 May 2022 in presence again since 2019.

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ISTANBUL SECURITY CONFERENCE® 2022 “Which one will win? Diplomacy or Deterrence?”

25 - 26 May 2022, Istanbul

The 14th Istanbul Security Conference® 2022 “Which one will win? Diplomacy or Deterrence?” was held on 25 and 26 May 2022 in presence again since 2019.

This years’ 14th Istanbul Security Conference® 2022 “Which one will win? Diplomacy or Deterrence?” was attended by more than 200 guests from over 30 countries. It was the first ISC in presence again since 2019.

The opening remarks were made by Mr. Frank PRIESS, Deputy Head of the European and International Cooperation Department of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V. who congratulated the Republic of Türkiye for its 70th Anniversary in NATO and highlighted that everyone is aware of Türkiye’s special importance in NATO. He thanked all guests for their attendance and Başkent University Ankara for their support and long-standing collaboration.

The following keynote speech was delivered by Ambassador Baiba BRAŽE, Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO who said that it is a very important year for NATO with the Madrid summit and the defence ministers meeting ahead and thanked the organizers to give NATO the opportunity to speak at ISC 2022. In her keynote address, Ambassador BRAŽE made the following key points:

Türkiye who plays a key role with its second biggest army in NATO, contributed to many past missions like in Kosovo, Iraq, the Baltic region and Afghanistan etc. throughout the years. Therefore, Türkiye is playing a major role in the fight against terrorism, hosts millions of refugees and is littoral getting more strategic in the Black Sea due to the instability in the region. After the Russian attack to Ukraine, Türkiye has provided support to Ukraine sharing its knowledge and expertise and playing a crucial role in implementing the Montreux Convention.

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the membership of Türkiye to NATO, Ambassador BRAŽE stressed out that unity and cohesion is the central gravity of NATO. In this difficult times, Türkiye’s commitment and leadership is needed. NATO stands up for its values and way of life to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members. Terrorism is a persistent global threat and the international community must tackle it together. This is one of the reasons why NATO is protecting Türkiye’s borders with missile defence systems and AWACS planes across Turkish territory and why NATO has invested more than 5 billion US dollars in military facilities in Türkiye including the exchange of knowledge, and expertise among the member states. Rapid technological change and global interconnectivity are key points and NATO is doing everything to counter these challenges.

The Tour d’Horizon on “The Role of NATO in the New World Order” was moderated by Ali ASLAN, International TV Presenter and Journalist. Mr. Roderich KIESEWETTER, Member of German Parliament and Special Representative of the Committee on Foreign Affairs/Spokesperson Crises Prevention together with Mr. Akif Çağatay KILIÇ, Member of Turkish Parliament and Chairman of the Committee for Foreign Affairs in the Grand National Assembly of the Republic of Türkiye shared their views on the role of NATO in the new world order as well as on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

When asked that Germany was criticized for not doing enough for Ukraine, MoP KIESEWETTER replied that Germany does a lot on the civilian side and has invested more than 2 billion Euro in Ukraine in 2016 and has been providing a lot of medical aid for 8 years. Together with the EU, Germany alone has invested 4 billion Euro in the civilian area in Ukraine more than any other country. MoP KIESEWETTER added that in Berlin there is still a wrong hope to solve the war through negotiations with Russia. According to him, Germany should give a clear message to Ukraine and this message is “Trust in the future of Ukraine”. 

Mr. KIESEWETTER added that Türkiye should be applauded for applying the Montreux Convention in which it has made very clear their position in regards of their support of Ukraine. In general, a European effort is needed because if one country is blocking the sanction system against Russia it will not work.

When asked about the current debate about the NATO-Membership of Sweden and Finland, Mr. Akif Çağatay KILIÇ, said that the PKK is not only recognized as a terrorist organization in Türkiye but also in the EU, by the UN and more other countries in the Alliance and there is no doubt what the PKK is doing. Türkiye is the only country in NATO that is in direct risk with the aggressor Russia and raised the questions of what happens if the Russian Navy tries to pass the Bosphorus. He continued to underline that even if Sweden and Finland start their process to join NATO today, it will take time before all parliaments have ratified this.

Terrorist groups in Europe were dealing with drugs, human trafficking etc. Türkiye wants its security concerns and the concerns of the Turkish people to be respected because its neighbours are Syria, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Russia to the North, the Caucasus and the Black Sea region.

The second day of the conference was opened by Mr. Walter GLOS, Director of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Turkey (KAS) who thanked the Başkent University Ankara for their long-standing support over the last years in co-organizing the Istanbul Security Conference® together with the Turkey Office of KAS. He stressed out that this conference has been changed somewhat in format this year and that the ISC functions as a networking stage and offers the opportunity to exchange ideas among the participants in addition to the official speeches and discussions with approx. 200 security experts from diplomacy, politics, think tanks and state institutions from about 30 countries, offers for the first time substantive exchange of expertise for more than 60 international experts who have the chance to discuss among themselves in three different working groups.

Prof. Dr. Yelda ONGUN, Director of the Strategic Studies Implementation and Research Centre of the Başkent University Ankara, conveyed best wishes in her speech of Prof. Dr. Ali Haberal, the rector of the Başkent University and Prof. Dr. Abdülkadir Varoğlu, the vice rector and her deepest gratitude to KAS Turkey for organizing such a conference.

H.E. Ambassador Jürgen SCHULZ, German Ambassador to the Republic of Türkiye in Ankara started his opening remarks in saying that Russia must not win its war of aggression against Ukraine. Germany supports Ukraine with its transatlantic partners in this matter. Direct talks between the leaders of Ukraine and Russian is indispensable to end this conflict. NATO is and remains the central corner stone for transatlantic security and common values and Türkiye has proven to be a crucial NATO ally and of course Türkiye’s security interests are taken very seriously.

The Tour d’Horizon on “USA-China Competition and its Regional Impacts” with Dr. Christoph HEUSGEN, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Former Chief Foreign Policy Advisor of the German Chancellor Angela MERKEL and Ambassador (R) Volkan BOZKIR, President of the 75th Session of UN General Assembly and Former Minister of EU Affairs in Türkiye started with the question on Turkish veto to Sweden and Finland in joining NATO.

Amb. BOZKIR said it is not easy to become a NATO member and it shouldn’t be because of a panic attack. Every country which became member had to pay a price. Türkiye is not against the expansion of NATO as such but the Allies have to understand that for Türkiye there are some particular security concerns which have to be respected. It can all be solved through negotiations and deeper understanding for each other. There are previous examples where it doesn’t make any sense to discuss difficult subjects after a membership. Sweden and Finland have to respect Türkiye’s security concerns.

Dr. HEUSGEN added that NATO and its Allies have to be tough on terrorism indeed and with no doubt therefore also towards the PKK. Nevertheless, when the discussion of the membership of Sweden and Finland came up, he asked whether it would not be easier to have these discussions if Sweden and Finland were members of NATO.

On the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Dr. HEUSGEN said that continuous sanctions have to be implemented on Russia. Ukraine has to be provided with heavy arms to support them and their security. It must be clear, that if Putin wins, he will not stop there. By supporting Ukraine, European security is supported as well. The invasion of Crimea and Donbas in 2014-2015 and the solution with the Minsk agreement stopped the Russian aggression at this point and Chancellor Merkel back then worked very hard to find a political solution.

The public part of the conference which was open to all participants and press ended at this point and was followed in the afternoon by three closed working groups, where invited experts exchanged views on the topics “Security Dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean”, “Climate Change as a Global Security Threat” and “Geopolitical Competition in the Caucasus and the Black Sea”.

After two very successful days full of interaction and networking among the participants the Istanbul Security Conference® 2022 came to an end. The next conference will be held again in Istanbul in the first half of 2023.