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“European Defense – One Goal, Many Challenges"

November 7, 2019, SOFIA, BULGARIA

Central Military Club


 Working languages: Bulgarian and English /simultaneous translation/



The European Union is facing many long-term and objective threats to security, such as the instability to its Eastern and Southern borders; terrorism and radicalization; the migration waves; returning foreign terrorist fighters; new hybrid and cyber threats, and others.

European citizens are more and more concerned about their security. Europeans expect more common actions in the security and defense, but at the same time the EU itself is at a crossroad and European defense and security will depend to a great extent on the wider debate on EU identity.

To address and cope with security challenges, the EU and individual member-states have to take further steps and reach concrete results in security and defense. By having more ambitious agenda the EU can contribute towards coping with the risks and threats and boosting European citizens’ sense of security.

The aim of this conference is to contribute to the European debate regarding the future security and stability of the Union and the continent.


November 07, 2019

09:00 - 09:30         Registration

09:30 - 09:45         Opening

Thorsten Geissler, Director, Sofia Office, Konrad Adenauer Foundation

Dr. Niklas Nováky, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies

Yordan Bozhilov, Sofia Security Forum


09:45 - 11:00         PANEL 1. Challenges for European security and defense

In this panel, the participants will discuss the main challenges for European security and defense and how they might affect the European idea. The discussion will also focus on risk assessment and the main factors behind the decisions on the future European defense.

Moderator: Monika Panayotova, SSF


  • Constantin Popov, Chairman of the Defense Committee, Bulgarian Parliament /conf./
  • Radmila Shekerinska, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Republic of North Macedonia /Confirmed/
  • Mrs. Marieke Monroy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands /confirmed/
  • Ambassador Hannu Kyröläinen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland /confirmed/
  • Dr. Werner Fasslabend, AIES President, Austria /confirmed/


11:00 - 11:30         Coffee break 


11:30 - 13:00         PANEL 2. Building a new European Defense Identity

In this panel, the participants will evaluate the role and importance of the different factors in the construction of European defense, both at European and broader international level. Among the issues for discussion will be the different concepts for the development of the European defense, the role of NATO, the impact of Brexit, the US approach to security and European defense, etc.

Moderator: Vessela Cherneva, ECFR, Sofia Office


  • Dr. Matthew Rhodes, Professor of National Security Studies, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, USA /Confirmed/
  • Dr. Niklas Nováky, Martens Center, /Confirmed/
  • Cristian Diaconescu, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Romania
  • Lyubomir Kyuchukov, Director, Economics and International relations Institute
  • Ms. Monika Hanley, NATO StratCom COE, Riga, Latvia


13:00 – 14:00         LUNCH


14:00 – 15:30         PANEL 3.  The road to creating a more resilient and secure Europe

This panel will attempt to assess what working solutions for an effective EU security and defense system are; what policies countries are willing to implement; what common structures, powers and resources are needed to enhance European defense and resilience. Participants will also discuss the developments of PESCO and other initiatives in the sphere of defense, EDA, EDIDP, EU Defense fund, creation of a common European defense market, etc. 

Moderator: Col. Dimitar Dimitrov, NATO Crises response COE, Sofia, Bulgaria


  • Vice Admiral Emil Eftimov, Deputy CHOD, Bulgarian Army /confirmed/
  • Gergely Varga, leader of European Defense project, Hungarian Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade / Confirmed/
  • Brig Gen Georgios Bikakis,  Director, Concepts and Capability, EUMS /Confirmed/
  • Elena Lazarou, European Parliament /Confirmed/
  • Representative of PISM, Poland

15:30 - 16:00          Coffee break 


16:00 – 17:30         PANEL 4.  Looking into the future. How to prepare the Union to face future security challenges.

In this panel participants will discuss risks related to the hybrid threats, risks in the cyber domain, weaponization of the space, issues related to the artificial intelligence, etc. and will try to answer the question what is needed to be better prepared to face the new challenges. Participants will also discuss how Union can cope with the risks related to the uncontrolled migration and other.

Moderator: Yordan Bozhilov, Sofia Security Forum


  • Dr. Mariana Todorova, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences,
  • Todor Tagarev, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, former minister of Defense /Confirmed/
  • Professor Panayotis Tsakonas, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, ELIAMEP - Senior Advisor in Security and Foreign Policy Issues
  • Prof. Marjan Gjurovski, University of Skopje


Closing the conference