This year's Lennart Meri Conference (LMC), entitled "Darkest Before Dawn? The War on Trust and How to Win It," will consider the severe challenges facing the West and seek to identify opportunities that may arise in the bleakest of moments.
This weekend's conference will bring to Estonia High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, among others.
Conference organizer Riina Kaljurand said that 2016 will be remembered as the year of dramatic and unexpected events — Brexit, Donald Trump being elected U.S. president as well as the uncertainty accompanying these events are real tests for the democratic order of the West. "We are looking for answers on how to move on from here," said Kaljurand. "Ahead of Estonia's presidency of the Council of the European Union, the eyes of Europe will be on Tallinn more than ever before and the LMC is a good opportunity to look for solutions to the problems Europe is facing."
Among the speakers at the LMC who will help seek solutions to strategic challenges the West is facing are Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, Italian Minister of European Affairs Sandro Gozi, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek, Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis, Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller and former Indian Minister of External Affairs Kanwal Sibal.
In addition to politicians and think tank representatives, the list of participants also includes civil society activists from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Leading journalists active on social media, Michael Weiss and Ahmed Rashid, will help give meaning to the topics of post-truth era and information warfare. Stephen E. Biegun, corporate officer and vice president of International Governmental Affairs for Ford Motor Company,and writer and journalist Sarah Kendzior will be among the speakers to discuss the foreign policy of the new U.S. administration. Other topics to be discussed include the future of the EU, the impact of populism on democracy, Russia's growing militancy in the information space and cyberspace, the conflict in Syria and China's growing influence — topics that demand not only answers but also fundamental readjustmment and changes in the current world order.
The conference, which will take place at the Radisson Blu Sky Hotel in Central Tallinn, kicks off at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and run through Sunday afternoon. Conference discussions will be streamed live on the website of the event.
The LMC is organized by the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) and the Lennart Meri European Foundation. The conference's media partner is BNS. The organization of the conference is supported by the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elering, Wihuri, NATO, Milrem, BAE System, the Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Defendec and Hanwha.
The Lennart Meri Conference is named after Lennart Meri, who served as President of the Republic from 1992-2001. The first LMC was held in Tallinn in March 2007. Lennart Meri died in March 2006, aged 76.
Editor: Aili Vahtla