Text: Merle Andraschko, Policy Area Education Coordinator
Pictures: Ines Grabner

Workshop peace and security Photo Ines Grabner

Earlier in February, the EUSBSR Policy Area Education jointly with the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH) and the Baltic Science Network hosted a workshop on peace and security in the Baltic Sea Region. The event aimed to make different perspectives on the new security situation in the Baltic Sea region visible and draw conclusions for future research and policy.

The one-day workshop in Hamburg’s representation in Berlin was titled "Re-Thinking the Future of Peace and Security in the Baltic Sea Region – Avenues for Research and Policy." It brought together scholars and analysts from universities, research institutions, and think tanks from around the Baltic Sea to discuss current peace and security dynamics in the Baltic Sea region and build bridges for future discussion processes.

Pathways to effective cooperation in times of war

The first roundtable focused on the repercussions of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine on peace and security in the Baltic Sea region. It explored the implications for policy formulation from the perspectives of different regions, such as the Baltics and the Nordics, and delved into the roles of regional security organizations like NATO, EU, and OSCE.

Workshop peace and security Piret Pernik Photo Ines Grabner
Piret Pernik, strategy researcher, The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. Photo: Ines Grabner

Emphasizing the need for a clear understanding of 'cooperation' with or without Russia, the roundtable highlighted the essential role of such clarity in maintaining peace and security. With the acknowledgement of persisting security threats in the region, the workshop identified key issues, including the challenges of uncertainty and proper risk assessment, the identification of areas for continuing cooperation with Russia, and the significance of addressing both 'high' and 'low' politics in defining strategies. 

New challenges and their transformation of peace and security

The second roundtable shifted focus to the relevance of transnational security threats, emphasizing the interconnectedness confronting both policy and research. Discussion highlighted the need to reconceptualize peace and security not only in the Baltic Sea region but also beyond. The roundtable underlined the increasing relevance of global entanglements in various fields, ranging from overlapping policy fields like energy and security to the linkages between traditional and human security threats.

The workshop concluded that recognizing these global entanglements is crucial, leading to implications such as the inadequacy of silo thinking in responding to contemporary security dynamics and the emphasis on the linkages between private and public spheres of security. Against the backdrop of contestation of the liberal international order, the rise of alternative orders, and rivalry on regional and global levels, questions regarding achieving and maintaining sustainable peace and functioning peace and security orders have gained prominence.

Workshop summary and possible topics for future collaboration

During the final plenary session, participants identified overarching themes and questions that shaped debates and outlined topics relevant for future collaboration. Building on the premise that the Baltic Sea region is profoundly affected by the repercussions of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, discussions underscored its role as one of Europe’s most densely integrated regions.

Workshop peace and security 2 Photo Ines Grabner
The workshop brought together scholars and analysts from universities, research institutions, and think tanks from around the Baltic Sea. Photo: Ines Grabner

Key questions for future exploration include the impact of socio-economic conditions in Baltic states on regional and European security dynamics, lessons learned from studying Kaliningrad, comparative analyses of the security relevance of different maritime regions and understanding the distinct characteristics of the Baltic Sea as an object of analysis.

The ongoing Russian war of aggression in Ukraine remains a pivotal issue for the future of peace and security in Europe and the Baltic Sea region. Questions arose about designing effective European responses, the role of the US in maintaining peace and security, the contributions of Eastern and Baltic states, and pathways to achieving sustainable peace in a Europe that includes Ukraine, considering the likelihood of continuing tensions with Russia.

Peace and security in a world of global entanglements

The workshop emphasized the era of global entanglements, leading to a 'polycrisis' with new and unpredictable risks and cascading effects. Questions arose about understanding and assessing the current security situation, dealing with the normalization of crisis, implications of blurred boundaries and entanglements of security risks for policy and research, and fostering dialogue between policymakers and academics.

Central to the workshop debates was the question of how, if at all, cooperation during and after war functions. Acknowledging that old concepts like 'cooperative security' are no longer applicable, participants called for new reference systems. Future debates could focus on disentangling notions of cooperation, coordination, interaction, relationships, identifying necessary social and material infrastructures for cooperation, exploring pathways to cooperation in European or Baltic Sea security, and considering unintended consequences from both cooperation and escalation in developing responses to European and Baltic Sea security threats.

Looking ahead, the workshop has set the stage for potential follow-up initiatives that could significantly contribute to the ongoing discourse on peace and security in the Baltic Sea region. With the support of the Baltic Science Network coordinated by Hamburg’s Ministry of Science, Research, Equality and Districs, avenues for future collaboration and potential project cooperations will be explored.

About the Baltic Science Network

The Baltic Science Network is one of the flagships under Policy Area Education, bringing together representatives from various ministries, regional authorities, macro-regional organizations, funding agencies, university associations and major research institutions in the Baltic Sea region. The aims of the BSN include promoting the science policy interests of the macro-region Baltic Sea in Brussels and at national and regional level in the countries bordering the Baltic Sea to generate more synergies from the existing strengths and potentials and to provide a platform for the initiation of joint projects and ideas.