I would like to warmly welcome all of you here today, especially those who have travelled from abroad, to this workshop organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the Diplomatic Academy of the University of Nicosia.
The aim of the workshop is to contribute to the ongoing efforts of High Representative Mogherini in preparing an EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy to guide the European Union's actions in the future. The need for such a Global Strategy emanated from the rapid shifts in the global security system and with the term “Security” becoming even more encompassing and pressing. That is why the European Union's Heads of State and Government decided to assess the challenges and opportunities that come with these shifts. In June 2015 High Representative Mogherini presented her strategic assessment of the global context to EU leaders who then tasked her to develop, in close cooperation with Member States, as well as with EU Institutions and the broader foreign policy community, a new EU Global Strategy by June 2016.
Cyprus, as a frontline EU member state in a particularly complex geostrategic location, has a specific interest, as the title of the workshop states, in fostering resilience for the EU and the Southern Neighbourhood. In our view, a stable, secure and prosperous Europe needs stable, secure and prosperous Southern Neighbours. The inter-connectedness of challenges in our region, ranging from political instability, human insecurity, migratory flows, terrorism to issues such as access to education, youth employment and human rights, have created a clear need for the EU to recalibrate its policies. To seek comprehensive responses that are, though, country-specific. To become a more robust political and security actor, moving from diplomatic shyness to political leadership.
The Southern Neighbourhood does not only pose challenges, but also opportunities. And this should be clear. For example, hydrocarbon reserves from the region could play a key role in the EU’s energy diversification, a target that is as political as it is economic. Harnessing youth unemployment in the region could provide European industries with needed workforce but also with new markets.
One of the key issues that we have been asked to consider at the EU level, is the focus of this new Strategy and its breadth. In our view, the Strategy should not be a manual for every crises and challenges that the world faces. We don’t have the resources and the capability to be involved effectively and efficiently across the globe. But we do have the means, and it’s to the EU’s core interest, to be actively engaged with the neighbours of our neighbours. For example, we can’t resolve Libya and the growth of terrorist groups there if we are not active in the Sahel. We can’t fully engage with the Gulf Cooperation Council if we put Yemen on the backburner or if we don’t consider Iran in this equation. The EU could be a global actor by leading in its broader periphery.
Considering the deliberations of this workshop, I would like to highlight that this transformation of the international strategic and geopolitical environment led the Government of Cyprus to initiate the elaboration of its first National Security Strategy. In parallel therefore, to the elaboration of the EU Global Strategy by HRVP Mogherini, our own National Security Strategy is currently underway by a Task Force mandated by the Council of Ministers. The main aim of this Strategy of course, is the protection of the vital interests of the Republic and of its citizens. We also see this, though, as an instrument of policy-making that will strengthen Cyprus’ position, and enhance its role, as a regional stability actor on the southeastern border of the European Union.
Finally, a few words on the structure of the workshop. As we will hear from the Rapporteurs shortly, this workshop will operate in four parallel sessions, bringing together academics, policy makers and experts to freely and openly discuss four aspects that influence this region’s political, socioeconomic and security dynamism. As you would have seen from the agenda, the working groups will discuss (a) the regional socioeconomic trends, (b) the regional powershifts, (c) the regional resources and (d) societal dilemmas in security decision-making.
I am confident that the recommendations of the four workshops will enrich the work undertaken by Dr. Nathalie Tocci, Special Adviser to HR Mogherini on the EU Global Strategy and her team. At the same time, the outcomes of the workshops will help us better calibrate not only Cyprus’ approach to the security challenges that we face nationally but also, the security responsibilities that we have vis-à-vis the EU and our region.
I wish you the best. Thank you.