Border security in Eastern Europe: lessons for NATO and its partners

  • 09 Jun. 2016 - 10 Jun. 2016
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  • Last updated: 13 Jul. 2016 15:40

Experts and officials from across the public sector and international institutions gathered to discuss issues related to border security and resolving conflicts in Southern and Eastern Europe at a workshop in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 9 to 10 June 2016.

Over 40 participants from Europe and the United States attended.  The event welcomed guests from think-tanks, non-governmental organisations, governments, the military, and border guards. The wide range of participants’ fields and nationalities alike provided for a unique discussion not only from a multinational perspective, but also from a distinctive combination of strategic and military expertise with policy analysis.

As Ukraine served as the host country, the event enjoyed a particularly broad Ukrainian representation that included the Border Guard Service, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior, the Ukrainian parliament, and non-governmental experts.

The two-day gathering started with a policy dinner with keynote speeches given by the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, and Irina Friz of the Ukrainian parliament’s Committee on National Security and Defence. Discussions covered topics such as information and hybrid warfare, border management strategies, as well as Western engagement in Southern and Eastern Europe.

Michael Gaul, Senior Adviser at NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division, opened the workshop stating, “NATO is certainly not primarily known as a border security organisation but border security matters for nearly all the asymmetric security challenges which cannot be addressed by purely military means. And at the end of the day, NATO is also affected by political and security developments beyond its borders”.

In this vein, the discussion focused on current hybrid threats which represent new challenges to today’s security environment. As Dr András Rácz from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs asserted, "Hybrid warfare is not a substitute for conventional warfare. It is a combination of military and non-military means”.

The First Deputy Head of Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service, Lt Gen Vasyl Servatiuk, added that the security of the Eastern European borders today has acquired a qualitatively new meaning. The enhancement of such border security must be based on the principles of absolute trust, cooperation and coordination among the partner countries, who share the same European and transatlantic values.

The event also offered an opportunity to detail the technical aspects of border security and management as it was related to local residents as well as guard enforcement.

Deputy Prime Minister Klympush-Tsintsadze emphasised the difficulties with the term “frozen conflicts”, especially in the context of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. Her point was echoed by Jan Pieklo, Executive Director of the Polish-Ukrainian Cooperation Foundation, by saying “The term ‘frozen conflict’ is no longer politically correct and it is important to call things what they really are”.

The discussion further drew comparisons between the three primary “frozen conflicts” across Southeastern Europe and posed the question of whether there is a visible overarching strategy that links them together.

As summarised by Andrew Tesoriere, Head of the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine, “the relationship between border security and border management is that they are complementary. You’ve got to do one to enhance the other”.

The event was organised by the Warsaw office of the German Marshall Fund in partnership with the Institute of World Policy (Ukraine) and the Foreign Policy Association (Moldova) and with the support of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme.