The Estonian capital hosts the 16th Lennart Meri Conference from 12 to 14 May – this year’s event features discussions on how the war in Ukraine has impacted the global balance of power; Estonian World will live stream the public discussions.
The title of this year’s conference, “Incipit Vita Nova – So Begins New Life”, is a quote from the Italian poet, Dante Alighieri. In the context of the conference, it refers to the new security situation emerging due to the war in Europe, the organisers said.
“Russian aggression has thrown Europe back to the times we thought had ended after the Second World War,” said Eeva Eek-Pajuste, the director of the conference, in a statement. “At the end of the Cold War, we prematurely thought the empire would crumble without much bloodshed. We are now witnessing the collapse of Europe’s last colonial power; it is brutal, bloody and revanchist.”
She added that this understanding of the Russian aggression may not be self-evident in the Global South (a term generally used to identify countries and regions in the regions of Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania).
“The war has torn open the wounds of the colonial past in the South, and Europe is hearing accusations of hypocrisy and indifference. Their validity can be debated, but the need for deeper dialogue and better mutual understanding is obvious, and the Lennart Meri Conference offers a platform for that.”
Among the speakers at the conference is the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, who will speak at the opening session with her Latvian counterpart, Krišjānis Kariņš, Lithuanian colleague Ingrida Šimonytė, a vice president of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager, and historian Timothy Garton Ash. Among the guests are General Christopher G Cavoli, the commander of the US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Russian expert Fiona Hill and many others.
In addition to the general political situation in the world, the topics include restrictions on freedom of the press, energy supply, secure connections, hybrid threats and issues in specific regions such as the Middle East and North Africa, South Caucasus and the Black Sea region.
The Lennart Meri Conference, dedicated to the late Estonian president, is organised by the Tallinn-based think tank, International Centre for Defence and Security, in cooperation with the Lennart Meri European Foundation.