The last day of GLOBSEC 2023 welcomed President Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen, among other leaders from CEE and beyond.

Today’s conversations about the world’s continuing instability touched upon subjects such as the sanctions on Russia, the situation in the Western Balkans, and the aftermath of the Ukrainian conflict, among others. Live broadcasts of the panel discussions were carried out and can now be viewed. Alongside, you can find the essential insights of the day.

A New EU Western Balkans Plan announced

It is not enough to say that the door is open. We must also take responsibility to bring the aspiring members of our Union much closer to us,” the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said while announcing a new 4-step plan for the Western Balkans.

As part of the “new growth plan for the Western Balkans”, four types of measures are envisaged:

1. bringing the region closer to the EU single market;

2. deepening regional economic integration;

3. accelerating fundamental reforms;

4. boosting pre-accession funds.

Read the full speech here or watch below.

Strong and tangible security guarantees are needed

In his keynote speech, President Emmanuel Macron pointed out: “We need to build something between security guarantees to Israel and full-fledged NATO membership for Ukraine.”

“We might not have a consensus for Vilnius, but we need strong and tangible security guarantees,” Macron insisted in his keynote speech, referring to the July NATO summit in Lithuania to debate the future cooperation with Kyiv.

French President reiterated Europe´s full support to Ukraine in Russia´s war, stressing that Moscow cannot dictate any peace arrangements: only the peace plan accepted by Ukraine and respecting the UN law can provide lasting peace provisions. 

Europe should be more active in increasing its defence and technology capabilities and stop relying on others. “Our stability and security should not be delegated to the US voters,” Macron said.

The other frontline is in the information space, where Russia is currently effective in its attempts to erode Europe´s unity and influence its citizens. Therefore, Europe should also become more aggressive, the French President argued.

 “This war is absolutely critical, especially in democracies. Because democracies have some native weaknesses in comparison to authoritarian regimes. They have public opinions… And how to frame public opinion is as important as how people will vote,” he said.

Watch the chat below.

Support for Ukraine

Ukrainians have received lots of assistance, but it is only enough to survive – not to win, was one of the main messages of the day.

Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna she clearly stated: “Any outcome of the war that is below the Ukrainian territorial integrity, restoration of sovereignty, and acceptance to NATO would play out in accordance with the Russian playbook.”

Benjamin Haddad, Member of Parliament, National Assembly of the French Republic, reiterated the need to give Ukraine all that it needs to be successful with its counteroffensive and that “there can no peaceful and sovereign Europe without a sovereign Ukraine.”

Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania Žygimantas Pavilionis claimed, “The only lifelong security guarantee is NATO membership,” and “the non-enlargement of NATO provoked the war.”

Tobias Ellwood, Chair of the House of Commons Defense Select Committee of the United Kingdom, said, “We blinked when President Zelenskyy asked for our support, and now we see the consequences […] Our world is getting more dangerous, not less. NATO needs to move to at least 2.5%.”

Watch the full discussion below.

In the panel “Busted? Sanctions and the Russian Economy,” State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, urged the audience to remain active in their support of Ukraine. She also said: “The sanctions are painful to Russia in the short and long term but also painful to members of the EU, so we have to find ways to compensate the vulnerable member states.”

Vladimir Milov, Former Deputy Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, provided hopeful words: “Patience is needed, and sanctions are progressing over time. Russia is entering a budget crisis that Putin did avoid last year.”

Advisor to the President of the Slovak Republic, Ivan Mikloš, warned: “The EU still has a lot of reserves when it comes to sanctions.”

For the full panel, see below.

Building Resilience of Europe

Both Slovakia and Croatia are facing upcoming elections, and thus the discussion unfolds about whether or not we should expect the narratives to change. One thing is known for sure — both countries must carefully calculate future steps whether it is about the support for Ukraine, or the domestic matters related to the economy.

Ludovit Odor, Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, stressed the importance of economic development to attract young talent: “The government has to support the economy through very hard times, [and] show the young generation that Slovakia is a place where there is a future for them.”

Andrej Plenkovic, Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, underlined the importance of joint European efforts for overarching prosperity: “We need to keep the political unity with the West in terms of political support but also economic and military support.”

Hear the full debate below.

The Green Transition was going to happen – Russia’s blackmailing of energy sources has only sped it up, was the main outcome of the discussion between the economy ministers of Slovakia and Croatia.

Minister of Economy of the Slovak Republic, Peter Dovhun, said we are seeing a higher demand for new, green technologies. He added: “It’s not only about the finances available; it’s also about the structure available for the new electricity investments.”

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Croatia, Davor Filipovic, claimed “When it comes to European independence of energy supplies, we need to build infrastructure. By building the infrastructure, we are building security for the country and the European Union.

Director-General for Energy, European Commission, Ditte Juul Jørgensen, positively shared: “We have managed to address the challenge together and managed to reduce the dependency on Russian gas.”

Senior Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, Benjamin Schmitt, made it clear: “We cannot return to the energy business with Putin. Period. […] We need to diversify, build energy, and find alternative sources of energy.”

Watch the full debate below.

The Franco-German working group has started working on EU institutional reforms. The candidate countries are getting ready for accession, but the EU also has to get ready to welcome new members. GLOBSEC hosted a panel, “Enlargement of the EU and Strengthening the EU´s Capacity to Act”, to outline the changes ahead.

Anna Lührmann, Minister of State for Europe and Climate of the Federal Republic of Germany, underlined the upcoming European elections as a decisive factor for the reforms, “We need to make sure that the enlargement process is credible for all the candidate countries. […] I expect the campaign for the EP to be about the future of the EU and how we prepare the EU for the enlargement.”

Laurence Boone, Minister for Europe of the French Republic, stressed the importance of unity on the final decision: “We have to find a way so that we are all in this together. […] There will be a vote, there will be a referendum, when the day of enlargement comes.”

Peter Mišík, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, highlighted the positive implications of enlargement, “For Slovakia, the enlargement is a security and economical profit.”

Global Dialogue

The past few days brought disruption and violence to Kosovo once again. Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo Albin Kurti joined GLOBSEC as a platform to amplify his call for communication and dialogue to de-conflict the region with respect to European values.

The discussion is available below.

In reaction to Ursula von der Leyen’s new initiative on Western Balkans, Albanian and North Macedonian PMs discussed what would be needed to open the EU doors for them sooner.

Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, expressed his criticism about the timing of the EU’s response to global challenges: “It is very unfortunate that the EU needed a war to wake up. […] Although geopolitical concerns are raised in a kind of routine speaking about third actors, there was nothing concretely done.

Dimitar Kovachevski, Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, drew historical parallels between the current situation in Europe and the past decisions of the EU: “I think that the EU understood, after Ukraine, the strategic mistake was made years ago when a veto was imposed on North Macedonia. When you make a strategic mistake, you cannot solve it in five minutes, because it has effects lasting from 5 to 10 years.”

Watch the full discussion below.

About GLOBEC 2023

The 18th edition of GLOBSEC’s annual Bratislava Forum takes place from 29 – 31 May, to which a record number of regional and international politicians as well as renowned opinion leaders, have confirmed their attendance. The meeting will convene 1200 leaders from over 60 countries, including 11 heads of state and government from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and beyond.

The programme of the GLOBSEC 2023 Forum calls on leaders from the CEE region and beyond to address immediate needs regarding geopolitical cooperation and security issues while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable and resilient world. It also focuses on working toward solutions while enhancing public-private cooperation on the interconnected issues of energy, innovation, infrastructure, and health. The full agenda is available here.

The GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum is the preeminent international strategic conference on the frontlines of a newly divided world. Over the 18 years of its existence, the Forum has established itself as the most distinguished platform throughout the CEE region. This year it has been organised with help from the Czech and Austrian governments.

For more information, visit and share it on social media using the hashtag #GLOBSEC2023.


GLOBSEC is a global think-tank based in Bratislava committed to enhancing security, prosperity and sustainability in Europe and throughout the world. It is an independent, non-partisan, non-governmental organisation. With its presence in Bratislava, Brussels, Kyiv, Vienna, and Washington, GLOBSEC’s mission is to influence the future by generating new ideas and solutions for a better and safer world. To this goal contributes the annual GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum, one of the leading global security conferences. GLOBSEC also organises the annual GLOBSEC Tatra Summit, a conference that provides the opportunity for experts to have fruitful political discussions on the future of Europe.