Given the strained relationship between Russia and the West – especially the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict – the Riga Dialogue is becoming increasingly relevant from year to year. The event on 23 and 24 May, included three panel discussions in the closed part of the event and a public debate.
Experts in foreign and security policy, politicians and former politicians, who are still familiar with the current political processes, came from 17 different countries.
The “Roundtable” was opened on May 24 by Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs. This session focused on several key questions:
How can this year's Riga Dialogue be characterized? What about NATO 70 years after it was founded? To what extent will US foreign and security policy affect relations between Russia and the EU? How should the Baltic States deal with current and potential conflicts? Will relations between the EU and Russia, despite the Russia-Ukraine conflict, be better? Will there be a rapprochement with the US again? The question was also raised as to whether the currently lacking transformation in international security policy should be interpreted as the result of national policy change.
The second panel focused on nuclear and conventional arms control. The focus was on the following questions: What are the key security and military policy trends in the transatlantic region – especially in the Baltic countries and around the Black Sea? What is necessary to regulate the military (nuclear and conventional) competition in Europe? What are the implications of Russia's new US nuclear strategy and nuclear armament for European security? What steps are necessary for a credible deterrent policy and to avoid a military escalation? On which existing and new instruments can the West and Russia agree to improve arms control? What follows after INF? However, compared to the Cold War era, today's political conditions are more complicated and less predictable.
The third and final panel of the Riga Dialogue dealt with tackling the tensions between NATO and Russia. Among the key points of the last panel were discussion on military restraint zones in the Baltic and Black Sea, conflict prevention and confidence-building measures, and the role of regional multilateral institutions. The EU will continue to be Russia's most important trading partner in the future, so Russia has no interest in torching the EU.
The Riga Dialogue 2019 was organized in collaboration with the Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA), the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the European Leadership Network and the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation (a project of the German Marshall Fund).