Democratic Security and Resilience in the Era of Great Power Competition



The Aspen Institute Romania in cooperation with the Bucharest Office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States will organize the 3rd edition of the Atlantic – Black Sea Security Forum on 31 May – 2 June, 2021, in a hybrid format. The Atlantic – Black Sea Security Forum is a high-level international event dealing with most ardent topics on the international security agenda. This year’s edition will discuss technological advances and their impact on security, with a focus on resilience in the Black Sea-Mediterranean Sea conundrum and beyond.

The decade started on a new reality that encapsulates a transformed definition of security as a global, comprehensive construct. COVID-19 was just one reminder of the global inter-connectedness, and the fact that no one is safe and well until everyone is. Hence, the whole-of-society approaches are dogmatically embedded in every reflex and requirement of the current policies. An increasing sense that security prerequisites must be formulated by grass-roots needs is driving a legitimate claim for improved resilience. Cooperation and competition are reassessed by prescriptions that center on well-being of communities, societies, and environment.

The new reality is a complex of systemic challenges:

Political and social vulnerabilities are deepened by extremism, disinformation, and caveats to confidence building that feature in individualistic foreign policies. Economic tensions accumulate as markets shift, supply and value chains are reassessed, and risks reshuffle as society claims a wider redistribution of profits and interests. Besides traditional risks associated to the sanitary and functioning of health sectors, the pandemic casts uncertainty on effects of mental and physical well-being of our populations on the long-term and generates an open-ended discussion on the prospects of socio-economic recovery. Defense and hard-security are complicated by ever-intricate geo-political shifts, aggravated by persisting use of hybrid tactics and emergence of disruptive technologies.


Event Agenda


  • Day 1
    31 May
  • Day 2
    01 June
  • Day 3
    02 June
    • 9:30 EEST
    • Opening Session

      • Florin Pogonaru - Acting President, Aspen Institute Romania
      • Alina Inayeh - Director, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Bucharest Office
    • 10:00 EEST
    • Responding to challenges – NATO and the EU in a post-pandemic world

      The COVID-19 pandemics is reshaping the world, both by accelerating trends already in motion, and bringing about new challenges, exacerbating competition, and shaping new attitudes. The world is in accelerated motion, and international organization, NATO, and the EU most importantly, need to adapt to the new realities, and increase the resilience of both their members and the organizations as a whole. Thinking forward while acting now is the main challenge of the two institutions, and setting in motion processes to adapt, act and anticipate has become of paramount importance.
      • Mircea Geoană, Deputy Secretary General, NATO
      • Bogdan Aurescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Romania
      • Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight, European Commission
      • MODERATOR: Alina Inayeh, Director, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Bucharest office
    • 11:00 EEST
    • Coffee Break

    • 11:45 EEST
    • The Future of Energy Security in the EU and the Region

      The nexus between geopolitical interest, security, and a balanced energy mix remains as relevant as always given the current state of international relations. Energy is being used as a political tool by external powers trying to increase their influence in the EU and its neighbourhood. At the same time, the European Green Deal is paving the way for a sustainable, carbon-neutral economy, even though potential tensions between national and European perspectives on energy policy might impede a common approach. The panel discusses energy security from an EU and regional perspective, looking at security of supply (including production of green energy and the use of transitional fuels), security of infrastructure in the context of the digitalization of electric grids, and the role of energy diplomacy in this era of great changes in the sector.
      • Cristian Bușoi, Chair of Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, European Parliament
      • Christina Verchere, Chief Executive Officer, OMV Petrom
      • Corina Popescu, Chief Executive Officer, Electrica
      • Alessio Menegazzo, Director for Sustainability and Institutional Affairs, ENEL Romania
      • MODERATOR: Cristian Pîrvulescu, Director, Aspen Energy & Sustainability Program
    • 12:45 EEST
    • Lunch break

    • 13:45 EEST
    • Illiberal tendencies and NATO’s political role

      The Alliance is looking at its profile in 2030, designing both its military and political roles in a larger definition of, and approach to, security. It is paramount that illiberal and extremist tendencies are to be looked at as threats to trans-Atlantic values, but also to political and security systems. The expansion of these tendencies, catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic, affects individual countries as well as international organizations and their activity. The panel will look at these effects, actions that could counter them, and what the Alliance should/could do in this context.
      • Dan Neculăescu, Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania
      • Ian Lesser, Vice President and Executive Director, German Marshall Fund of the US
      • Antonia Colibășanu, Senior Geopolitical Analyst and COO, Geopolitical Futures
      • Ivan Vejvoda, Director Europe's Futures project & Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna
      • MODERATOR: Radu Tudor, Political and Military Analyst
    • 14:45 EEST
    • Coffee Break

    • 15:00 EEST
    • Emerging and Disruptive Technologies and the New Definition of Security

      It has become increasingly clear that the definition of security has transformed to denote a global, comprehensive construct. The traditional security paradigm is no longer applicable, as states and international organizations must now increase their resilience in the face of a diverse range of global threats such as cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, pandemics, and environmental disasters. Emerging and disruptive technologies play a key role in the changing security environment as they represent a cheap and effective tactics for actors trying to destabilize democratic societies. The panel will discuss the latest developments in the field and potential responses at a national and international level.
      • David van Weel, Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, NATO
      • Simona Cojocaru, State Secretary, Ministry of National Defence of Romania
      • Jamie Shea, Professor of Strategy and Security, University of Exeter; Former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, NATO
      • Jarno Limnéll, Professor of Practice, Cybersecurity, Aalto University; Adjunct Professor, Cybersecurity leadership, National Defence University, Finland
      • MODERATOR: Kimberly Dozier, Contributor, TIME Magazine; Global Affairs Analyst, CNN
    • 16:00 EEST
    • Keynote Speech

      • Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the Military Committee, NATO
    • 16:15 EEST
    • Military Mobility in the Age of New Security Threats

      While transport infrastructure is the backbone of the economy, it has traditionally proven to also play a key role in military confrontations. Military mobility, denoting the unhindered movement of military personnel and assets, thus represents a valuable deterrent. This is particularly important in the case of multilateral Alliances, which must focus on simplifying and standardize cross-border military transport procedures. The panel will focus on military mobility from the perspective of key institutions such as NATO and the EU, while analysing existing challenges in the context of new security threats posed by disruptive technologies and cyberattacks.
      • Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport, European Commission
      • Bogdan Cernat, Commander, Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre, NATO Commission
      • Ben Hodges, Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies, Center for European Policy Analysis
      • Tengiz Pkhaladze, Senior fellow, International Centre for Geopolitical Studies, Former Advisor-Foreign Relations Secretary to the President of Georgia between 2014 – 2018
      • MODERATOR: Paul Taylor, Senior Fellow, Friends of Europe, Contributing Editor, POLITICO
    • 11:30 EEST
    • Building resilience in a pandemic and infodemic environment. The struggle for credibility

      Particularly in the context of the pandemic, new technologies provide opportunities for the spread of dissenting views and disinformation in order to fragment societies, erode public trust in the state, and undermine democratic institutions and policies. To increase resilience in the face of these challenges and build the credibility of authorities, a whole-of-society-approach is needed, as the public sector must work together with the private sector and civil society. The panel will discuss methods to achieve this.

      • Iulia Matei, Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania
      • Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia; Permanent Fellow, IWM Institute of Human Sciences, Vienna
      • Clara Volintiru, Director, Aspen New Economy & Society Program
      • Bogdan Lăzăroae, Former Director New NATO Headquarters Project Office and Transition Office
      • MODERATOR: Sam Burke, Anchor & Reporter, CNN Affiliate Networks
    • 12:30 EEST
    • New Approaches to Old Problems - a Conversation on the Middle East

      • Doru Costea, Ph.D., Ambassador (ret.), Member, Aspen Institute Romania Strategy Group
      • Cristina Cileacu, Journalist, Digi24
    • 13:00 EEST
    • Lunch break

    • 14:00 EEST
    • Technology and Maritime Security, from Black Sea to Mediterranean

      Maritime trade continues to play a critical role in today’s global economy, hence maritime security and the ability to deter maritime attacks and disruption must remain on the policy agenda of states and international organizations alike. This is particularly challenging when adding new technologies such as AI or anti-access/area denial into the equation. The panel addresses the issues of technology and maritime security in the Black Sea and Mediterranean, regions of critical strategic importance to European security which are currently facing increased militarization.

      • Commander Daniil Trică, Deputy for Resources of the Romanian Naval Forces Chief
      • Dragoș Tudorache, Chair of Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age, European Parliament
      • MODERATOR: Koert Debeuf, Editor-in-Chief, EUobserver
    • 15:00 EEST
    • Coffee Break

    • 16:15 EEST
    • Multi-stakeholder Coordination at the Intersection of Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies

      Cybersecurity knows no borders and is not limited to any one geography or culture. The challenges and opportunities facing policymakers, cybersecurity experts and the public are global and interdisciplinary in nature and require multi-stakeholder engagement. At the same time, rapid changes and advancements in technology have expanded the threat landscape while directly impacting the societies it serves and the security to protect them. During the early decades of the internet age, there was a race to deploy world-changing technology without always thinking through its security implications. In the age of emerging technologies, we must avoid pitfalls and promote multi-stakeholder inclusion and transatlantic cooperation to not repeat that mistake.

      • Dan Cîmpean, General Director, Romanian National Computer Security Incident Response Team CERT-RO
      • Sheetal Kumar, Senior Programme Lead, Global Partners Digital
      • Rachel Azafrani, Security Strategist, Digital Diplomacy, Microsoft
      • Klara Tothova Jordan - Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, UK, BlackBerry
      • Giacomo Persi Paoli, Programme Lead for Security and Technology, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
      • MODERATOR: Roxana Voicu-Dorobanțu, Associate Professor, Bucharest University of Economic Studies (ASE)
    • 10:00 EEST
    • Keynote address

      • Nicolae Ciucă, Minister of National Defence of Romania
    • 10:30 EEST
    • Russian assertiveness in South East Europe and the Black Sea region. Version 2021

      2021 has been a tense year for relations between the West and Russia. Developments such as the Russian military build-up at the Ukraine border, escalations in the Donbas conflict and the increased militarization of the Black Sea create a particularly challenging context. What does the future hold for the region and what should be a common response from the EU, NATO and partner countries in the region?
      • Nicolae Ciucă, Minister of National Defence of Romania
      • Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine
      • Lela Chikovani, First Deputy Minister of Defence of Georgia
      • Irakli Beraia, Head of Defence and Security Committee, Parliament of Georgia
      • Goran Ilioski, Chief of Policy and Planning Department, Ministry of Defence of the Republic of North Macedonia
      • MODERATOR: Andrew Wrobel, Founding Partner, Strategy & Content, Emerging Europe
    • 11:30 EEST
    • Coffee Break

    • 12:00 EEST
    • Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and security - a conversation

      • Sebastian Cochinescu, Founder & CEO, TailPath
      • Mihai Ivascu, CEO, Modex
      • MODERATOR: Sam Burke, Anchor & Reporter, CNN Affiliate Networks
    • 12:45 EEST
    • Lunch Break

    • 14:30 EEST
    • The NATO 2030 Initiative – Preparing for the Security Challenges of Tomorrow

      The NATO 2030 initiative is a consultation process involving public sector experts, the private sector, civil society and young leaders, seeking ideas to make sure that the Alliance will be able to face tomorrow's challenges. It aims to strengthen collective defense and resilience, while acknowledging that NATO will need to broaden its approach to security, including by addressing the security implications of climate change, maintaining NATO’s technological edge, and protecting democratic institutions. What are critical future priorities and what decisions should be taken at the next Summits in order to make sure that NATO remains the most successful military alliance in history?
      • Benedetta Berti-Alberti, Head of Policy Planning, NATO
      • Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Defense, Germany
      • Daniel S. Hamilton, Director, Global Europe Program and Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Distinguished Fellow, Wilson Center
      • MODERATOR: Andrew Wrobel, Founding Partner, Strategy & Content, Emerging Europe


Our Speakers


Deputy Secretary General, NATO
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Mircea Geoană became NATO Deputy Secretary General in October 2019, after a distinguished domestic and international career. Mr Geoană is the first Deputy Secretary General from Romania, and the first from any of the countries that joined the Alliance after the end of the Cold War.

Mr Geoană was born in Romania on 14 July 1958. He studied at the Polytechnic University in Bucharest, the Faculty of Law of the University of Bucharest, the Ecole Nationale d’Administration in Paris, and he holds a PhD from the Economic Studies Academy of Bucharest. Mr Geoană has served as a diplomat and a politician, and in 2009 was his party’s candidate to be President of Romania.

• 1991-1995: Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Romania
• 1993-1995: Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
• 1996-2000: Romanian Ambassador to the United States.
• 2000-2004: Minister of Foreign Affairs
• 2001: President in Office of OSCE
• 2004-2016: Senator
• 2004-2008: Chair of the Senate Foreign Policy Committee
• 2005-2010: President of the Social Democratic Party
• 2008-2011: President of the Romanian Senate
• 2012-14: High Representative of the Romanian Government for Strategic Economic Projects and Public Diplomacy
• 2012-2014: Chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area

Mr Geoană is a strong advocate of transatlantic integration and has held a number of international positions, including OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in 2001 and personal representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Georgia in 2005. He is President and founder of the Aspen Institute Romania and has published extensively on domestic and international affairs. In 2000, he was made a Commander of the National Order, The Star of Romania. He has also been awarded the French Legion d’Honneur and the Italian Stella della Soliedarita.


Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight, European Commission
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Maroš Šefčovič (born in 1966) is a Slovak career diplomat and since 10 September 2019 European Commission Vice-President-Designate for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight. He has been Vice President of the European Commission in charge of the Energy Union since 1 November 2014. In this capacity, he leads the "Energy Union" Project Team within the Commission which comprises of 14 commissioners.

From 2010 – 2014 he was Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration. In 2009-2010, he was European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth. From 2004 -2009, he was the Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the European Union. As diplomat by profession he served between 1992 and 2004 in Zimbabwe and Canada and as Ambassador to Israel.

He graduated from the University of Economy in Bratislava and the Moscow State Institute for Foreign Relations. He holds a degree as Doctor of Law and a PhD of European Law from the Comenius University, Faculty of Law, Bratislava. He also studied at Stanford University, USA.


Chairman of the Military Committee, NATO
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Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach (United Kingdom – Air Force) is the 32nd Chairman of the Military Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); the most senior and longest standing military structure in the Alliance. Air Chief Marshal Peach is NATO’s most senior military officer and is the Military Adviser to the Secretary General and the North Atlantic Council. In addition, he is the United Kingdom’s most senior serving officer. He was educated in the West Midlands, attended the University of Sheffield (BA), University of Cambridge (MPhil in International Law and International Relations), RAF Staff College and the Joint Services Command and Staff College (HCSC). He holds four honorary Doctorates from UK Universities: Hull, Kingston, Sheffield and Loughborough, in Technology and Letters (DTech, DLitt). Commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 1974, he flew Canberras in the photographic reconnaissance role assigned to FIVEATAF in Italy prior to three successive tours on Tornado GR1 in the UK and Germany, qualifying as a nuclear, weapons and electronic warfare instructor. He commanded IX (Bomber) Squadron at RAF Brüggen in Germany 1994-1996 acting as Brüggen Strike Wing Leader for NATO response missions both nuclear and conventional. Staff tours include personal staff officer to the Deputy Commander and Commander-in-Chief in RAF Germany, Executive Officer to Commander TWOATAF and Director Defence Studies Royal Air Force. He has written widely on defence issues. Operational service includes Belize, Hong Kong and Germany in the 1980s, Deputy Commander British Forces in Turkey (Op Warden), UK Head Military Coordination Centre Zakho (Iraq), Detachment Commander in Saudi Arabia (Op Jural), Commander British Forces in Italy (Op Engadine) and Battle Staff Director NATO CAOC Vicenza, Air Commander (Forward) in HQ KFOR (NATO) in Kosovo and Deputy Senior British Military Adviser in US HQ Central Command 2001-2002. He commanded the Air Warfare Centre at RAF Waddington from 2000 to 2003, where he was also UK Director of Electronic Warfare in support of NATO (and is a Gold Medal “Old Crow”). He was Director General Intelligence Collection in the Ministry of Defence 2003-2006 and Chief of Defence Intelligence and Deputy Chairman of the UK Joint Intelligence Committee 2006-2009, where he held the UK seat at the NATO Intelligence Board. He held the appointment of Chief of Joint Operations at PJHQ(UK) from March 2009 to December 2011 commanding all UK Force Elements in support of NATO operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya before becoming the first Commander of the UK Joint Forces Command from December 2011 to Apr 2013. He was Vice Chief of the Defence Staff from May 2013 to May 2016 and was responsible for all UK military personnel in NATO. He was Chief of the Defence Staff (CHoD) from July 2016 to June 2018 and assumed the role of Chairman of the Military Committee of NATO in June 2018, his fourth four-star appointment. Air Chief Marshal Peach is married with two children. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Lincolnshire. He holds the freedom of the City of London and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Defence Studies, an Honorary Fellow of the Downing College Cambridge and Royal Institute of Navigation. He was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air in 1990, an operational CBE for command in the Balkans in support of NATO in 2001, knighted by HM The Queen (KCB) in 2009, and became a Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire (GBE) in 2016. He has been awarded the Joint Staff medal by Italy, the Order of Abdulaziz (First Class) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Defense Intelligence Medal by the United States, is a Commander of the Legion of Merit of the United States, and holds other awards.


Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine
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In 2008, graduated from the Faculty of International Law of the Institute of International Relations of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Specialization: international law and translation.

In 2016, obtained a specialization in Finance and Credit from Odessa National University of Economics.

Short-term scholarships at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna and at the Estonian School of Diplomacy.

Work Experience:

In 2007-2010 – private legal practice

In 2010-2015 - worked in the Department of International Law / Department of European Integration at the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.

In 2017-2019 – Director (later Director-General) of the Government Office for Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration at the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

In 2020 – private legal practice

On June 4, 2020, was appointed as Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine.


Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Defense, Germany
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In 2018, Thomas Silberhorn was appointed Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Defence. From 2014 to 2018, he served as Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. Thomas Silberhorn has been a Member of the German Bundestag since 2002.

At the Federal Ministry of Defence, his responsibilities include equipment and international armaments policy as well as military planning, budgetary affairs and the real estate management of the Bundeswehr.

Thomas Silberhorn is a lawyer. After his second state examination, he worked as a research assistant at the University of Bayreuth from 1994. In 2001, he took up work as a lawyer in Munich and Berlin.


Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Romania
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Dr. Bogdan Aurescu is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania, a career diplomat holding the rank of ambassador. With an extensive diplomatic career, started in 1996, he served as Presidential Advisor for Foreign Policy to the President of Romania (2016-2019), after completing his first mandate as Minister of Foreign Affairs (2014-2015). Between 2004 and 2009, Bogdan Aurescu was Romania’s Agent at the International Court of Justice, coordinating the team that represented Romania in the case on Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea. Between 2009 and 2014, he was Secretary of State in the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Among other achievements, in 2010-2011, Bogdan Aurescu was chief negotiator of the Romania-USA Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement and of the Joint Declaration on the Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century between Romania and the USA. An acknowledged university professor and International Law expert and author, Bogdan Aurescu is, inter alia, member of the UN International Law Commission, member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, substitute member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) of the Council of Europe.


Minister of National Defence, Government of Romania
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Nicolae-Ionel CIUCA was born on 7th Feb 1967, in Pleniţa, Dolj County, Romania. He graduated the “Tudor Vladimirescu” Military High School in 1985, and “Nicolae Bălcescu” Land Forces Academy in 1988.

Land Forces Academy in 1988. His education and training were closely connected to his appointments as he subsequently achieved various positions from platoon leader up to battalion and brigade commander in 2011. During this period, he participated in different operations and missions, both national and international, such as: UNAVEM III Angola in 1996 as staff officer, Enduring Freedom Afghanistan (2002-2003) and Antica Babilonia Iraq (2004) as Battalion Commander.

From 1993 to 1995, he graduated from the National Defense University in Bucharest, and in 2003 he achieved a PhD in Military Science.

In 2011 he was appointed Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, and, three years later in January 2014 he took over the command of the Romanian Land Forces Staff. In October 2014 he was appointed Deputy Chief of Defense Staff. Since January 2015 until October 2019 he successfully accomplished the most demanding position within the Romanian Armed Forces, Chief of Defense Staff.

During his entire career, Minister Ciuca attended various courses, the most relevant ones being: Instructor for Peacekeeping operations Course in Turkey, Joint and multinational operations Course, Civil-Military Cooperation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia Course, Florida/USA, US War College in 2006.

Besides his education and training, he took part in many exercises, national and multinational: Blue Danube 2000, Dynamic Response Kosovo, ISAF 2003, and Eurasian Star 2010 in Turkey.

He was awarded The National Order for Merit in the rank of Officer, The National Order for Merit in the rank of Knight, UN Medal for participating in UNAVEM III Mission, The National Order for Merit of the French Republic, in the rank of Commandor, The US Medal of Merit, The Medal of Honor of the Special Operation Forces of the USA.


Chief Executive Officer, OMV Petrom
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Christina Verchere holds a Master degree in Economics Science from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. She started her career in 1993 and has spent over 20 years with an oil and gas supermajor, where she held numerous leadership positions in the UK, the US, Canada and Indonesia. Between 2012-2014, she has been the Regional President Canada of BP located in Calgary and between 2014 – 2018, she has been the Regional President of the Asia Pacific region, located in Jakarta, Indonesia. She was appointed Chief Executive Officer and President of the Executive Board of OMV Petrom starting May 1, 2018.


Contributor, TIME Magazine; Global Affairs Analyst, CNN
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Kimberly Dozier is a TIME Magazine contributor, and CNN Global Affairs Analyst, covering foreign policy, intelligence and national security. Past posts include AP Intelligence Writer, and 17 years as an award-winning CBS News TV correspondent. She’s covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel and Palestinian areas, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, and won awards including a Peabody and several Edward R. Murrow awards.


Vice President and Executive Director, German Marshall Fund of the US
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Ian Lesser is vice president at The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and a member of GMF’s executive team, managing programs across the organization. He also serves as executive director of the Brussels office of GMF, and leads GMF’s work on the Mediterranean, Turkey, and the wider Atlantic.

Prior to joining GMF, Dr. Lesser was a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and vice president and director of studies at the Pacific Council on International Policy. He came to the Pacific Council from the RAND Corporation, where he spent over a decade as a senior analyst and research manager specializing in strategic studies. From 1994-95, he was a member of the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, responsible for Turkey, Southern Europe, North Africa, and the multilateral track of the Middle East peace process.

A frequent commentator for international media, he has written extensively on foreign and security policy issues. Dr. Lesser was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, the London School of Economics, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and received his doctorate from Oxford University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He serves on the advisory boards of the Delphi Economic Forum, Atlantic Dialogues, the NATO Defense College Foundation, and Turkish Policy Quarterly, and has been a senior fellow of the Onassis Foundation in Athens and the Luso-American Foundation in Lisbon.


Head of Policy Planning, NATO
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Dr Benedetta Berti is Head of Policy Planning in the Office of the Secretary General at NATO. She is also Associate Researcher at the Institute for European Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Visiting Professor at the College of Europe and a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. An Eisenhower Global Fellow and a TED Senior Fellow, in the past decade Benedetta has held research and teaching positions at West Point, The Institute for National Security Studies and Tel Aviv University, among others. Her research focuses on armed groups, internal wars, and protection of civilians. Dr. Berti is the author of four books, including "Armed Political Organizations. From Conflict to Integration" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). Her work and research have appeared, among others, in Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, the National Interest, the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times; as well as in Civil Wars, Democratization, Government & Opposition, Mediterranean Politics, the Middle East Journal, Parameters, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Terrorism and Political Violence. @benedettabertiw


Head of Defence and Security Committee, Parliament of Georgia
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Anchor & Reporter, CNN Affiliate Networks
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Samuel Burke is an Emmy award-winning bilingual business and technology journalist who has anchored, reported and produced at CNN, CNN en español, ABC and NPR.

Currently, he’s developing a TV series and authoring a book on how two unexpected DNA test results shook his family to the core.

Burke has reported from the scene of major world events such as the Manchester Ariana Grande concert bombing, the Grenfell Tower residential fire, as well as the UK parliament and London Bridge terrorist attacks.

He’s hosted the “iReport” program at CNN International and for nearly a decade anchored CNN en español’s “Cibercafé” for the network’s flagship morning program.

Burke covers major international technology events and has interviewed the heads of the world’s largest companies like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, Tinder Founder Sean Rad, Ford CEO James Hackett, T-Mobile CEO John Legere, former Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, former Ford CEO Mark Fields, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, TransferWise CEO Taavet Hinrikus as well as heads of state such as Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, as well as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

He started his CNN career as an intern for Anderson Cooper and then served as Christiane Amanpour’s digital and field producer. Alongside Amanpour, he traveled across the Middle East producing reports and live broadcasts from Egypt during the country’s first-ever democratic elections, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Before joining CNN, Burke was a freelance producer for Phoenix’s NPR affiliate KJZZ and ABC News’ 20/20 program.

Burke studied Spanish linguistics at La Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara in Mexico and graduated summa cum laude from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University. He received his master’s degree in journalism from The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and now serves on the Cronkite School National Board of Advisors.


Chair of Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, European Parliament
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Cristian-Silviu BUŞOI is a Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee. He is also Member of the Delegation for Southeast Asia, as well as substitute Member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and the Delegation for the Arab Peninsula.

Mr. Busoi graduated Medicine from Carol Davila University in Bucharest, Law from Titu Maiorescu University in Bucharest, and Diplomacy from the Romanian Diplomatic Institute in Bucharest. His political career started in 1996 when, as a student, he became member of the National Liberal Party. Eight years later, he entered the Romanian Parliament and, in 2013, became President of the Romanian National Health Insurance House. Since 2007, he has been elected to the European Parliament for three consecutive terms.


Commander, Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre, NATO Commission
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Brigadier General (BGEN, Romanian Army) Bogdan Cernat was born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1969. He graduated from the Infantry School in 1991 and took his first assignment as platoon commander and instructor in the 98th Special Training Battalion.

Between June 1994 and November 2000, he served as platoon and company commander in the 30th Guards Regiment. Between July 2002 and June 2007 he returned as battalion commander in the same regiment.

In June 2007, BGEN Cernat took his first staff assignment as chief Future Logistic Ops in the Joint Logistics Command and continued as chief of Protocol Office of the national Ministry of Defence, coordinating protocol activities involving representatives at the political-military level and ensuring implementation of relevant international protocol requirements.

Between February 2009 and May 2014, he was assigned within the General Staff as Chief of Military Police Division. In this role, he directly advised his Chief of Defence on the relevant aspects of: homeland force employment as well as employment in theatres of operations; policy development; and contribution to and implementation of relevant international standards.

Later, within the national Military Police, he led the analysis in support of the capability development and training of the military police forces which contributed to the implementation and improvement of these forces. Further, BGEN Cernat also initiated and implemented the national Lessons Learned structure and process within his division and supported its wider implementation across the military police forces.

During his career, BGEN Cernat continued his education, including: The International Military Observer and Staff Officer Course, United Nations Training School, Ireland; Defense and Operational Planning Course, the Netherlands Defense College; Exercise Planning and the Law of Armed Conflict Course, Turkey; Command and Staff College for Land Forces, Romanian National Defence University. He also holds a Master in national defence and security from the Romanian National Defence University and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from University of Economic Studies in Bucharest. Finally, he is a 2013 graduate of the US Army War College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the United States.

In May 2014, BGEN Cernat was assigned as the commander of 30th Guards Brigade, ensuring, among others: development of human capital; the high readiness combat status; force protection for strategic military installations; military ceremonies—particularly those involving the Romanian President; design, development, and implementation of specific Lessons Learned procedures necessary to capture all experiences leading to organizational improvements.

Throughout his career, BGEN Cernat has received several awards and medals, granted by various entities, including at the presidential level.

He is married and has a daughter.


First Deputy Minister of Defence of Georgia
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Journalist, Digi24
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Cristina Cileacu is a veteran TV producer and reporter, with over 20 years of field experience. She worked for major Romanian national TV stations and contributed to international media outlets. For the last 10 years she produces and hosts her own program at Digi 24, “Diplomatic Passport”, that introduces Romanian viewers to key global issues through interviews with the world’s leading political, economic, and diplomatic figures. For her work focusing on diplomacy and international affairs, she has covered a number of international conflicts, the Innauguration Day of both President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, Brexit and other big international events. Cristina Cileacu has a keen interest for the Middle East, United States, Russia and Caucasus. She reported often from and about issues related to this areas. Recently she graduated the IVLP program of the State Department.


General Director, Romanian National Computer Security Incident Response Team CERT-RO
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Dan accumulated over 20 years of experience in cyber security, risk management in Brussels, Bucharest and internationally. He led professional teams that supported European Institutions, National Competent Authorities and large industry actors in defining and implementing their cyber security policies, strategies, operational and technical measures. Since May 2020 he was appointed as General Director of CERT-RO by decision of the Romanian Prime Minister. He has the exciting mission to lead the effort for transforming this great organisation.


Founder & CEO, TailPath
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Sebastian is a tech entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of TailPath.com (SupplyBlockchain, Inc.) – a company that adds transparency to supply chains by using public blockchains.

He has more than 20 years of business executive-level experience working with Apple, Hubert Burda Media and Avandor. In 2018 he was awarded with the Honor Emblem of the Romanian Army High Command.

He also graduated the Executive Management Program – Blockchain Academy at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.


State Secretary, Ministry of National Defence of Romania
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Simona Cojocaru has been serving within the Romanian Ministry of National Defense for more than 20 years, currently holding the position of State Secretary and chief of the Department for Defense Policy, Planning and International Relations.

Previously she held a series of very important positions as Director of the Defense Policy Directorate from 2013-2015 and 2017-2019, and Director of the Cabinet of the Minister of National Defense, between 2015-2016. She has been awarded the Order of Merit in rank of Knight (2016), The Merit Emblem "In the service of the Romanian Armed Forces", 3rd class (2014) and the "Honor of the Romanian Military" emblem (2014).

Simona Cojocaru holds a degree in economics, graduating the Faculty of International Economic Relations within the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, and a master's degree in International Relations and European Integration at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies, Bucharest. She has completed multiple courses of international relations training at renowned schools abroad, such as the High Level Course at the European Security and Defense College, JFK Government School - "Senior Executives in International Security" Program, Royal Military College, Shrivenham, UK - "European Security"; France - "Personalité d'avenir défense" program, organized by the French Ministry of Defense; USA - "Challenges of US foreign policy. European Regional Project" - International Visitor Leadership Program, organized by the US State Department.


Senior Geopolitical Analyst and COO, Geopolitical Futures
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Antonia Colibasanu is a senior geopolitical analyst, focusing on strategic competitive intelligence analysis. She is Geopolitical Futures’ Chief Operating Officer. She is responsible for overseeing all departments and marketing operations for the company. Colibasanu has joined Geopolitical Futures team as Senior Analyst in 2016, after working for more than 10 years with global analysis firm Stratfor in various positions, including Partner for Europe and Vice-President for International Marketing.

In february 2020, Antonia joined the teaching staff of the National University for Political Studies and Public Administration, as a full time lecturer on geopolitics, geoeconomics and economic diplomacy.

Since 2016 she is also leading the Active Compete+ (AC+) group of Ferinvest Technik + Service SRL, a company based in Romania and actively trading and advising international businesses in Europe for the last 25 years. Her team offers advisory services on geopolitics and international development strategy.

She works closely with bestselling authors George Friedman and Robert D. Kaplan and served as Honorary Adviser to Romania’s Minister of Energy.

She is a trainer on geopolitics for European Affairs program at the Romanian European Institute. Dr. Colibasanu has also worked and developped various courses and educational programs with the Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest. She frequently speaks on international economics and security topics at conferences and events in Europe, and since 2012, she has served on the educational board of the International Academy of Advanced Studies in Greece, a summer program that brings together students from Eurasia and the Middle East.

Prior to joining Stratfor in 2006, Dr. Colibasanu held a variety of roles with the World Trade Center Association in Bucharest. Among other academic credentials, she holds a doctorate in international business and economics from Bucharest’s Academy of Economic Studies, where her thesis focused on country risk analysis and investment decision-making processes within transnational companies. She also holds a master’s degree in international project management. She is an alumna of the International Institute on Politics and Economics, Georgetown University.


Ph.D., Ambassador (ret.), Member, Aspen Institute Romania Strategy Group
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Doru Costea (b. 1953) was with Romania’s MFA between January 1990 and July 2017, where he was successively deputy-director for the Middle East and North Africa (1990-1991), head of the Policy Planning Group (1995-1997), director of Analysis and Information Coordination Department (2001-2003) and Secretary of State for Global Affairs (2009-2011).

He was Romania’s Ambassador to the State of Kuwait and the Sultanate of Oman (1991-1995), Egypt (1997-2001), UN and other international organizations in Geneva (2003-2009) and to China and Mongolia (2012-2017). While in Geneva, Costea was the second President of the UN Human Rights Council (2007-2008) – the first representative of a EU Member State in this position – and steered the setting up of HRC new mechanisms (the Universal Periodic Review, the Review of Mandates of Special Procedures and others).

Costea is fluent in Arabic, English and French and has a PhD in political science (2009) with the National School of Political and Administrative Studies, Bucharest, on democracy building in the Middle East. He lectured, inter alia, at the American University – Cairo, the Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies at Columbia University – New York, Tsinghua University, the Institute for International Studies, the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies with Renmin University, China Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing and at the Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou (Canton). He was a panelist at previous editions of the Bucharest Forum organized by the Aspen Institute Romania and the German Marshall Fund and speaker at meetings of the China Strategy Group with European Center on Foreign Relations.


Editor-in-Chief, EUobserver
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Koert Debeuf (1974, MA Ancient History) is a geopolitical analyst, columnist and writer. He is Interim Editor in Chief of the EUobserver, Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford’s Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict and Associate Researcher of the Institute for European Studies at the Brussels University VUB. From 2016 to 2019 he was European director to the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. In 2011 he moved to Cairo where he represented the ALDE group of the European Parliament, and from where he travelled the MENA region extensively until 2016. From 2009 until 2011 he was Chief of Staff of Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the ALDE group in the European Parliament. Koert Debeuf was advisor, speechwriter and spokesperson of the Prime Minister of Belgium from 2003 to 2008. His latest book “Tribalization. Why War is Coming” (2018) appeared in English, Arabic and Japanese.


Director, Global Europe Program and Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation
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Dr. Daniel S. Hamilton is the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Distinguished Fellow and Director of the Global Europe Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he leads the Center’s NATO Task Force. He is also Senior Fellow and directs the Foreign Policy Institute’s “The United States, Europe, and World Order” Program at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. He has held a variety of senior positions in the U.S. Department of State, including Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, responsible for NATO, OSCE and transatlantic security issues, Nordic-Baltic and Balkan Affairs; U.S. Special Coordinator for Southeast European Stabilization; Associate Director of the Policy Planning Staff for two U.S. Secretaries of State; Director for Policy in the Bureau of European Affairs; and Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador and U.S. Embassy in Germany. Selected publications include Europe Whole and Free: Vision and Reality; Open Door: NATO and Euro-Atlantic Security After the Cold War; The Eastern Question: Russia, the West and Europe’s Grey Zone; and Alliance Revitalized: NATO for a New Era.


Senior Editor, POLITICO
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Ryan Heath is the host of Global Translations, POLITICO’s global newsletter and podcast, and previously authored POLITICO’s U.N. Playbook, Brussels Playbook, and Davos Playbook.

Ryan moderated the first presidential debate of the 2019 EU election, as part of a five year stint in the POLITICO’s European leadership team. Prior to POLITICO, Ryan wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, and worked for the European Commission in Brussels as a presidential speechwriter and later as the Commission’s spokesperson for digital issues.


Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies, Center for European Policy Analysis
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Lieutenant General (Retired) Ben Hodges holds the Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis. He joined CEPA in February 2018.

A native of Quincy, Florida, General Hodges graduated from the United States Military Academy in May 1980 and was commissioned in the Infantry.

After his first assignment as an Infantry Lieutenant in Garlstedt, Germany, he commanded Infantry units at the Company, Battalion, and Brigade levels in the 101st Airborne Division, including Command of the First Brigade Combat Team “Bastogne” of the 101st Airborne Division in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (2003-2004). His other operational assignments include Chief of Operations for Multi-National Corps-Iraq in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (2005-2006) and Director of Operations, Regional Command South in Kandahar, Afghanistan (2009-2010).

General Hodges has also served in a variety of Joint and Army Staff positions to include Tactics Instructor; Chief of Plans, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea; Aide-de-Camp to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe; Chief of Staff, XVIII Airborne Corps; Director of the Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell on the Joint Staff; Chief of Legislative Liaison for the United States Army; and Commander, NATO Allied Land Command (İzmir, Turkey). His last military assignment was as Commanding General, United States Army Europe (Wiesbaden, Germany) from 2014 to 2017. He retired from the U.S. Army in January 2018.


Chief of Policy and Planning Department, Ministry of Defence of the Republic of North Macedonia
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COL Goran Ilioski is Head of the Department for Policy and Planning (DPP) in the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of North Macedonia. He earned degrees from several defense institutions including the Baltic Defense College and Turkish War College. He holds a Master's degree earned at the Faculty of philosophy on Peace, Defense and Security in Skopje. During his professional development, he was recognized for his involvement in several different national and international endeavors. In the last couple of years, before the country's membership in NATO, he has been actively working on defense transformation as a precondition and preparation for the accession. He has continued to work in the area of defense and national transformation as a head of DPP in the Ministry of Defense in particular in synchronization of the process NATO defence planning process and the national defence planning process.


Director, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Bucharest office
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Alina Inayeh joined GMF in 2007 as the director of the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, a project dedicated to strengthening cooperation and fostering development in the Black Sea region. She is an active practitioner in the field of international development and democratization, having run the Freedom House office in Ukraine in 2004 and the NDI office in Russia between 2000-03, with a focus on civic education and political processes. She has trained NGOs throughout Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union on issues related to NGO development and democratization. Inayeh was a leading civic activist in the 1990s in her own country, Romania, and an active promoter of the NGO sector in the country.

Alina received her bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Bucharest and a master’s in public policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.


CEO, Modex
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Serial social impact and technology entrepreneur, CEO and Founder of London based tech group M3 Holdings which comprises 3 fast growing companies: Moneymailme, a Neo-Banking technology infrastructure provider; M3 Payments – FX management and global payments platform; Modex Blockchain Database – technology provider, which in less than 5 years has come to be valued at GBP 250 million. Founder of Ingenium Group – the technology infrastructure and logistics provider for M3 Holdings, which employs 100 software developers, engineers and business executives in 4 offices around the world: London, Bucharest, Silicon Valley and Washington D.C. During its 12 years of existence, the company has worked with over 200 clients. Mihai holds an MBA in Innovation Management and is currently enrolled in a Doctorate of Business Administration at INSEEC Group with a Thesis on Disruptive FinTech Technologies. Awarded Forbes 30 Under 30 and finalist of Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Mihai is an experienced speaker and entrepreneurship mentor. As an early-stage tech investor and result-driven executive, he holds positions in various tech startups and advisory Boards, managing to have a transformational role given his practical expertise. Over the years, Mihai graduated from various executive training programs from Harvard, MIT, Stanford University, and Silicon Valley Innovation Center. Passionate about chess, martial arts, and motorsports, the youngest member of the prestigious Monaco Impact is focused on tech applied in social impact projects that range from financial inclusion, charity, and shared value initiatives.


Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, UK, BlackBerry
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Prior to joining BlackBerry as the Director for Government Affairs and Public Policy for the UK Ms. Jordan was the Executive Director for the EU and Africa at the Global Cyber Alliance, an international, cross-sector effort dedicated to eradicating cyber risk and improving our connected world. Previously, she served as the director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council think tank, leading the work at the nexus of geopolitics and cybersecurity to craft strategies to help shape the conduct of statecraft and to better inform and secure users of technology. She also worked in the policy and privacy division of FireEye, a global cybersecurity company, focusing on providing insight to FireEye on opportunities and risks that stem from emerging policy, laws, and regulation. Her background also includes work on international law issues at the American Society of International Law and at NATO’s Allied Command Transformation.


Senior Programme Lead, Global Partners Digital
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Sheetal currently provides strategic oversight for a global cybersecurity and human rights programme which supports the facilitation of civil society perspectives into global level cybersecurity policy discussions and supports civil society organisations from the global South to protect and promote human rights in cybersecurity policy discussions. She acts as liaison civil society partners and provides practical research, facilitation and coordination support on a day-to-day basis to enhance their ability and effectiveness to influence cyber-related policies at the national, regional and global levels. She has facilitated the engagement of civil society into a wide range of global policy spaces, in order to promote more open, inclusive and transparent policymaking processes.


Former Director New NATO Headquarters Project Office and Transition Office
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Bogdan Lazaroae is a business transformation leader with enterprise-wide policy, financial and operational experience, accumulated over more than 25 years working on two continents in governmental, commercial and international organizations.

Bogdan was the Director of the NATO Headquarters Project Office and Transition Office, a role to which he was appointed by the NATO Secretary General. In this capacity, Bogdan lead the joint office responsible for the delivery of the new NATO HQ campus, a Euro 1.2 billion project, as well as the multiple transition projects necessary for the policy, procedural and operational transformation and physical relocation to the new headquarters environment. The decade-long project delivered a modern and highly secure campus housing 48 embedded national embassies and NATO civilian and military organizational entities totaling over 4,200 staff.

Bogdan also worked across multiple NATO HQ functions as the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Project Manager, the Head of the NATO-wide Office of Shared Services and the Executive Officer for the NATO Executive Management Division.

Before joining NATO, Bogdan accumulated over a decade of experience consulting for public and private sector organizations in the United States of America on finance, tax and resource management, as well as business process improvement and systems implementation. He worked for the cities of New York, Houston, Dallas, Austin, Anaheim and Honolulu as well as the Commonwealths of Virginia and Kentucky.

Bogdan holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Simon Graduate School of Business at University of Rochester and an engineering degree from the Polytechnic University Bucharest. In his spare time, Bogdan is an avid skier and golfer.


Professor of Practice, Cybersecurity, Aalto University; Adjunct Professor, Cybersecurity leadership, National Defence University, Finland
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Jarno Limnéll is the Professor of Cyber Security at the Finnish Aalto University, and an Adjunct Professor at three other universities. Jarno Limnéll is the Chief Executive Officer at Tosibox Oy. By education he is a Doctor of Military Science, Master of Political Science and Officer. He has been working with security issues for more than 25 years, and he has written numerous books and scientific papers. Jarno Limnéll is a well-known expert and a sought-after speaker both in Finland and internationally, thanks to his way of explaining even complicated matters in a simple and understandable way.


Director for Sustainability and Institutional Affairs, ENEL Romania
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Alessio Menegazzo joined Enel in 2009 and is now the Head of Sustainability and Institutional Affairs for the Enel companies in Romania. From this position he coordinates a team in charge of promoting a sustainable development system based on the creation of shared value, both for the company and the community, embedding sustainability in the core of Enel’s corporate culture. Moreover, his team represents Enel in the public policy process in Romania, both at national and local level, managing relations with all key stakeholders. Prior to Enel, he worked as General Manager of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Romania. He is a board member of the Romanian Utilities Association, member of the Aspen Institute Romania and is also involved with various NGOs in Romania. He graduated from the University of Genoa with a degree in International and Diplomatic Sciences, with a specialization in developing countries. His hobbies include spending time with his dog, practicing Brasilian Jiu Jitsu and cooking.


Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania
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Dan Neculăescu is the State Secretary for Strategic Affairs in the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, being appointed in august 2017.
Between June 2016 and July 2017, he held important positions such as State Counselor for Foreign Affairs of the Romanian Prime Minister.
He is a career diplomat working in the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since October 2002, holding the diplomatic rank of Ambassador. During his diplomatic career, he fulfilled responsibilities in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the diplomatic service abroad.
He held high-ranking positions in the Romanian MFA from which he contributed to the preparation for NATO Summits in the US (Chicago - 2012), UK (New Port - 2014), and Poland (Warsaw - 2016). He also contributed to the development of the strategic partnerships of Romania with the United States of America, Poland and Turkey, especially on the security dimension. In the period January - November 2013, he was responsible for the planning of monitoring activities in the headquarters in Tbilisi of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM).
Between December 2006 and May 2009, he was Deputy Permanent Representative of Romania to the political-military dialogue in Vienna (Forum for Security Dialogue/FSC, Open Skies Consultative Commission, Common Consultative Group/JCG) and OSCE Security Committee, created in 2006.
From May 2009 to September 2011, he was Deputy Permanent Representative of Romania to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, and the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Test Ban Nuclear Treaty (CTBTO). From this position he contributed to the preparation and carrying out Romania’s mandate as Vice-president of the IAEA Board of Governors (2009 - 2011), respectively Chair of the IAEA General Conference (September 2011). At the same time, he supported the fulfilling of Romania’s mandate as coordinator at the level of the Agency in Vienna for negotiations with IAEA Secretariat and member states on the IAEA budget for 2010 - 2011 and the IAEA Medium Term Strategy for 2012 - 2017.
Previously, between March 2004 and December 2006, he served as Head of office and subsequently Director of the OSCE, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Between 2002 and 2004 he held several positions such as advisor to the Minister’s Cabinet and Third Secretary, then Second Secretary, within the Analysis and Policy Planning Directorate and NATO Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He graduated from the Faculty of Political and Administrative Science of the University of Bucharest and the Faculty of Law of the University “Nicolae Titulescu” of Bucharest.
In addition, he graduated courses of the Diplomatic Academy of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2002), the Diplomatic Academy in the United Kingdom (2002) and NATO College in Rome (2003).


Programme Lead for Security and Technology Programme at UNIDIR
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Giacomo is the Programme Lead for Security and Technology Programme at UNIDIR. His expertise spans the science and technology domain with emphasis on the implications of emerging technologies for security and defence. His recent work focused on arms control, technology horizon scanning, AI and cyber security. Before joining UNIDIR, Giacomo was Associate Director at RAND Europe where he led the defence and security science, technology and innovation portfolio as well as RAND's Centre for Futures and Foresight Studies. He served for 14 years as warfare officer in the Italian Navy and has been extensively engaged in small arms and light weapons research in support of UN processes. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Rome, Italy and a master's degree in Political Science from the University of Pisa, Italy. He speaks English, French and Italian.

Giacomo’s areas of expertise include defence and security science and technology, innovation, emerging technologies, futures and foresight studies, and international security and disarmament.


Director, Aspen Energy & Sustainability Program
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Cristian Pirvulescu is General Manager and founding partner of ENEVO Group, a power and automation specialized company. After five years of activity, the company was involved in major projects on 4 continents, working with some of the biggest utilities and having technical partnerships with all the top 5 technology producers in the world for the specific business. He carefully put together over the years young engineers and ambitious individuals who grew into a multidisciplinary team able to implement a wide range of projects in the fields of power generation, transmission and distribution, oil & gas, utilities and industry both in Romania and abroad. Prior to starting ENEVO, he held the position of Business Development Manager of Romelectro, the largest Romanian EPC Contractor. Cristian managed highly complex projects such as greenfield thermal power plants, modernization and rehabilitation projects for hydro and thermal power plants, as well as development of electricity transmission infrastructures. Between 2014 and 2017 he was also member of the Supervisory Board of Transelectrica SA (Romania’s Transmission System Operator). Member of various NGO’s, Cristian is founding member of EESTEC LC Bucharest (academic students’ organization within Politechnica University of Bucharest) and Aspen Institute Fellow.


Senior Fellow, European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), Brussels)
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Mr. Tengiz Pkhaladze was appointed as an Advisor to the President of Georgia – Foreign Relations Secretary on June 19, 2014.

Between 1992 and 2004 he held various positions in Governmental sector and served as a Chief of Service of Diplomatic protocol of the Head of State of Georgia, Vice governor of the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, Consul of Georgia to the Azerbaijan Republic, Deputy Director of the Department of Asia, Africa and Pacific Countries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.

In 2008-2014, Tengiz Pkhaladze was the Chairmen of the International Centre for Geopolitical Studies. Numerous researches on National Security and Foreign Policy issues were conducted under his guidance and involvement. During this period, he also led the special training courses on national security for the Officers of the Ministry of Defense, the General Staff of Georgian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Mr. Pkhaladze is the author, co-author and editor of several books and monographs about the Russian foreign policy, Georgian-Russian relations, Russian “Soft Power” towards the Eastern Partnership countries, international relations and security issues. He is also a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs – Chatham House. He participated in numerous international forums and conferences related to the foreign policy and security issues..

Mr. Tengiz Pkhaladze graduated from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, faculty of International Law and since 2012 he is a Doctorate student at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs.

He speaks English and Russian.


Acting President, Aspen Institute Romania
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Florin Pogonaru is the coordinator of the “Central European Financial Services” Group for Romania and member of the boards of directors and investment committees for the Romanian Post Privatisation Fund. From 1997 he is a member of the Business Advisory Committee of the Southeast European Cooperation Initiative, and since 2002 holds the same position in the Stability Pact. As of 2000, he is President of the Businessmen’s Association of Romania (AOAR) and since 2004 rotating chairman of the Association of Employers Confederation of Romania (ACPR) – the most influential employers association in the country, member of UNICE. As member of the BAC of SECI, Mr. Pogonaru is actively involved in the evaluation and monitoring of the critical issues of the business environment in the South Eastern Europe region, contributing to institutional and policy building initiative in the region (covering topics from anti-corruption activities through the Bucharest SECI centre to trade facilities between the countries of the region). Florin Pogonaru’s professional activity concentrated mainly on investment banking, being successively country head in Romania for certain important financial groups among which are Creditanstalt (CAIB), Bank Austria (IBA), Alphabank (BIG). In this capacity he was involved in the most important fund raising operations on international financial markets for investments in Romania. For reference in this sense are: the cooperation created with Alliance Capital or GED Capital and the setting up of the Romanian Fund for Investments (USD 60 mil.), and the formation of the Romanian Post Privatisation Fund (Euro 66 mil.). At the same time, starting with 1994, worth mentioning is the instrumental role played in several privatisation deals in Romania where the investment banks he coordinated acted as consultants, or in the IPOs for Romanian companies on the local or foreign capital markets. Florin Pogonaru received from the Academy of Economic Studies – which he graduated from – a Ph.D. in Economics. He is also a graduate from the Law School of the Bucharest University. During 1993-1994 he has made a series of presentations regarding the transition process in Central Europe at Georgetown University. He is the author of over 100 articles published in Romania and abroad and co-author of various papers published under the auspices ofprestigious international financial institutions. Florin Pogonaru is a member in the Board of Directors or scientific councils of the Indian Institute of Finance, Canadian MBA etc.


Chief Executive Officer, Electrica
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Georgeta Corina Popescu is a top executive with an impressive experience in the field of electricity and natural gas. Appointed General Manager of Societatea de Distributie a Energiei Electrice Muntenia Nord, part of Electrica Group, on June 1, 2018, Corina Popescu also took over from November 1, 2018, the position of interim CEO of Electrica SA.

Starting with February 1, 2019, Corina Popescu holds the position of CEO of Electrica, for a period of 4 years.

Graduate of the Faculty of Power Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, Power Engineering Systems department, Georgeta Corina Popescu started her professional career in Sucursala de Distributie si Furnizare a Energiei Electrice Bucuresti.

Since 2007, Georgeta Corina Popescu has worked in the private sector, helding important positions in E.ON Romania Group and OMV Group.

Between December 2015 and February 2017, Corina Popescu held the position of State Secretary within the Ministry of Energy, during which time she was also a member of the Board of Directors of Electrica SA. Starting with May 1, 2017, she was appointed in Transelectrica’s Directorate, and during the period of June 2017 – April 2018 she was Transelectrica’s Directorate Chairperson.


Professor of Strategy and Security of the Strategy and Security Institute, University of Exeter
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Visiting Professor of Strategy and Security of the Strategy and Security Institute, University of Exeter, United Kingdom and member of the Group of Strategic Advisors of the NATO Special Operations Forces Command at SHAPE in Belgium.

Prior to joining the University of Exeter, Jamie Shea was an international public servant and a member of the International Staff of NATO for 38 years. His last NATO post was Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. Other positions included Director of Policy Planning in the Private Office of the Secretary General, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for External Relations, Public Diplomacy Division, Director of Information and Press and Spokesman of NATO.

Outside NATO, Jamie Shea has been involved with several prominent academic institutions. For 20 years, he was Professor at the Collège of Europe, Bruges. He was also Visiting Lecturer in the Practice of Diplomacy, University of Sussex and Associate Professor of International Relations at the American University, Washington DC. Jamie Shea is a Senior Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics, where he teaches a course on crisis management and political communication.

Amongst his many associations and memberships, Jamie Shea is an Associate Fellow at Chatham House. He serves on the Board of the Danish Defence College, Copenhagen and is currently a Senior Advisor at the European Policy Centre and a Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe. These are two of the most active and influential policy think tanks in Brussels.

Jamie Shea has been awarded two honorary doctorates: one from the University of Surrey and the other from the National School of Public Administration in Bucharest, Romania. He is a recipient of the NATO medal for Meritorious Service.

In 2020, Jamie Shea was awarded the honour of Companion of St. Michael and St. George for services to NATO and diplomacy.

English mother tongue, in addition Jamie Shea speaks French, Italian and German fluently.


Senior Fellow, Friends of Europe, Contributing Editor, POLITICO
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Paul Taylor is a senior fellow at the Friends of Europe think-tank and writes the “Europe at Large” column for POLITICO. He was previously a correspondent for Reuters, the international news agency, for 39 years.

He has published a series of reports on European defence and security issues for Friends of Europe since 2017, most recently Crossing the Wilderness - Europe and the Sahel (May 2021). He is now working on a study on the Black Sea and European security to be published in January 2022.

Taylor studied History and Modern Languages at Balliol College, Oxford, before joining Reuters as a graduate trainee in 1977. Over nearly four decades, he specialized in European politics and economics, defence and diplomacy, and the Middle East. He has worked in London, Paris, Tehran, Bonn, Brussels, Jerusalem, Berlin and Cairo. From 2008-16 he also wrote the “Inside Europe” column for the International New York Times.

A dual British and French citizen, he splits his time between Paris and Provence.


Political and Military Analyst
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Born on July 24, 1970. 30 years experience in media as tv host and anchor, columnist and radio collaborator.

Covering NATO Summits since 1994, moderator and invitee to several events on institutions, forums and NGO’s for defence, security, intelligence and foreign affairs : NATO, SHAPE, Aspen Institute, German Marshal Fund and others. Radu Tudor is the host of daily political show “Punctul de intalnire” at Antena 3 TV, the CNN partner in Romania.

Awarded in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 and 2015 by Romanian Association of Professionals in Television (APTR).Since 2000, Radu Tudor is Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent in Romania.

Radu Tudor is a graduate of the Higher School of Journalism, graduate in audio-visual media at Faculty of Journalism Bucharest, a graduate of National Defense College (1995) and the National Security College (2001). He has a Masters in National Security (2007) from the National Defense University “Carol I”.

Besides journalistic studies, Radu Tudor has a solid background on analysis on defense, intelligence, international relations. Quoted in articles and studies by US Atlantic Council, Rand Corporation, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Strategic Studies Institute – US Army War College, New York Times, BBC.

He’s the author of 4 books on defence, security, foreign affairs and politics.

You can also find his comments and analysis on www.radu-tudor.ro.


Commissioner for Transport, European Commission
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Adina Ioana Vălean is the Chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Committee for Industry, Research and Energy. In her previous term, she served as Chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. From 2014 to 2017, she was Vice-President of the European Parliament, on behalf of the EPP Group, in charge of ICT. Apart from her work in the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, she is also a Member of the Delegation for Relations with the United States of America and a Substitute Member in the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee. As Chair of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, her work focuses on telecommunications, energy, as well as research and innovation. In the previous mandate, she was the rapporteur on the Connecting Europe Facility, a financing instrument which aims at funding €33.2 billion worth of investments to improve Europe's transport, energy and digital networks. She takes an incisive approach towards reassessing public financing, which she thinks should be primarily used for completing the Single Market: by increasing competition and incentivising private investment. A strong believer in the benefits of strong EU-US relations, she is a Steering Committee Member of the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue and has developed a keen interest in the negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the benefits of which she has long advocated. With a solid commitment to the internet economy, entrepreneurship and innovation, she was elected Member of the Steering Committee of the European Internet Forum, as well as Board Member of the knowledge4innovation platform. With a particular interest in securing the competitiveness of the European automotive industry, Adina Vălean is Co-Chair of the Forum for Mobility and Society. She is a Member of the Romanian National Liberal Party (PNL) and from 2004 to 2006 was a Member of the Romanian Parliament. Vălean’s main focuses, while in the National Parliament, concerned market and labour issues. Prior to that, she acted as the Secretary-General of the National Liberal Party's youth wing, and Secretary of the National Liberal Party Committee on business, privatisation and competition policy. She joined the National Liberal Party in 1999. Before becoming a politician, Adina Vălean was a social activist and member of several foundations and associations which promote tolerance, dialogue and a liberal economic market. She began her professional career as a maths teacher in Bucharest. She has a Master's degree in European Integration and Security Studies, postgraduate studies in National Security and Defence Management and a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She is married and has one child. MEP since 2007.


Chair of Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age, European Parliament
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Dragos Tudorache is a Member of the European Parliament (Renew Europe) and the Executive President of the PLUS party in Romania. He is the Chair of the AIDA (Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age) special committee and sits in LIBE, AFET, SEDE, and the European Parliament’s delegation with the United States.

Dragos began his career in 1997 as judge at the Galati court. Between 2000 and 2005 he built and led the legal departments at the OSCE and UN missions in Kosovo. After working on justice and anticorruption at the Commission Representation in Romania, supporting the country’s EU ascension, he joined the Commission and, subsequently, qualified for leadership roles in EU institutions, managing a number of units and strategic projects such as the Schengen Information System, Visa Information System, and the establishment of eu-LISA.

During the migration crisis, he was entrusted with leading the coordination and strategy Unit in DG-Home, until he joined the Government led by Dacian Ciolos. Between 2015 and 2017, in Romania, he was Head of the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, Minister of Communications and for the Digital Society, and Minister of Interior. His current interests in the European Parliament include Artificial Intelligence and new technologies, the Republic of Moldova, internal affairs, security, and transatlantic issues.


Head of Europe's Futures Progam & Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna
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Ivan Vejvoda is senior vice president for programs. From 2003-10, he served as executive director of GMF’s Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions in Southeastern Europe. Vejvoda came to GMF in 2003 from distinguished service in the Serbian government as senior advisor on foreign policy and European integration to Prime Ministers Zoran Djindjic and Zoran Zivkovic. Prior to that, he served as executive director of the Belgrade-based Fund for an Open Society from 1998 to 2002. During the mid-1990s, Vejvoda held various academic posts in the United States and the U.K., including one-year appointments at Smith College in Massachusetts and Macalester College in Minnesota, and a three-year research fellowship at the University of Sussex in England. Vejvoda was a key figure in the democratic opposition movement in Yugoslavia through the 1990s, and is widely published on the subjects of democratic transition, totalitarianism, and post-war reconstruction in the Balkans. He is a member of the Serbian Pen Club and is a board member of U.S. social science journals Constellations and Philosophy and Social Criticism. Vejvoda has been awarded the French National Order of Merit in the rank of Officer and the Order of the Italian Star of Solidarity, second rank (Commendatore). He holds a diploma from Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and completed postgraduate studies in philosophy at Belgrade University. He speaks fluent English, French, and Italian in addition to his native Serbian.


Director, Aspen New Economy & Society Program
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Clara Volintiru is Associate Professor in the Department of International Business and Economics (REI), at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies (ASE). She graduated a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and has been involved in various international research projects in the field of behavioural studies, good governance, informal exchanges and political economy. She has been a consultant for international organizations such as the World Bank, European Commission, Eurofound, Committee of Regions, Partnership for Research in International Affairs and Development (PRIAD). Her recent publications appeared with Oxford University Press, in European Political Science Review, Eastern European Politics, or Research & Politics. Synthetic versions of her work are available in videoabstracts or such online platforms as Forbes, EUROPP, IPI Global Observatory, Emerging Europe, Global Policy or Huffington Post.


Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, NATO
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David van Weel is NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. He is the Secretary General’s primary advisor on emerging security challenges and their implications for the security of the Alliance and a member of the Secretary General’s senior management team.

The Emerging Security Challenges Division, which he directs and manages, aims to provide a coordinated approach by the Alliance to all new and emerging challenges. These include cyber and hybrid threats, terrorism, as well as emerging and disruptive technologies (such as AI and quantum computing), energy security challenges, including those posed by environmental changes, and data policy. The division also runs the Science for Peace and Security Programme, which promotes dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO and partner nations through scientific research, technological innovation and knowledge exchange.

The Division aims to provide innovative policy solutions for countering and defending the Alliance and Allies against these challenges and to maintain the innovative and technological advantage of the Alliance in conjunction with partners, industry and other multilateral organisations.

Prior to joining NATO, David van Weel was the Foreign Policy and Defense Advisor for the Prime Minister of The Netherlands (2016-2020). This position followed a long career in The Netherlands Ministry of Defence, where he ended as Director for International Affairs and Operations/ Policy Director (2014-2016) after serving as the Chief of Cabinet for the Minister of Defence and the Permanent Secretary (2012-2014) and as the senior policy officer for amongst others operations in Afghanistan and Libya, NATO, nuclear policy and disarmament, special operations and the preparation of the Defence Budget.

David started his career in the Royal Netherlands Navy, where, upon completion of the Naval Academy (1994-1999), he served on different frigates, served in the British Royal Navy as an exchange officer, worked as a Staff Officer for Middle and Eastern European countries in the Defence Staff and ended as a Primary Warfare officer and Navigation Officer.

David is married to Iris and has two daughters, Felice and Alix.


Founding Partner, Strategy & Content, Emerging Europe
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Andrew Wrobel is the Founding Partner of Emerging Europe, a London-based intelligence, news and community platform, and the leader of the Tech Emerging Europe Advocates initiative, a member of the Global Tech Advocates network. Trained as a journalist, he specialises in technology and innovation, foreign direct investment, nation branding and soft power, and cross-cultural communications. Andrew regularly interviews political and business leaders and speaks at or moderates international political, economic and technology events, where he promotes discussion about emerging Europe. He is also a juror at various international business-related competitions, a media coach, a location promotion trainer and a media commentator. He has authored and contributed to a number of international business, investment and trade-related publications focused on the region.


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