The 12th Lennart Meri Conference, titled "The Next Hundred Years," began with a panel discussion at the University of Tartu on Thursday. Dedicated to the Estonian centennial, this year's conference will focus on the future through the prism of the past and bring leading political thinkers and politicians from around the world to Estonia.
The opening panel discussion, titled "The World in Turmoil: Where's the Next Front?" began at the Assembly Hall of the University of Tartu at 11:00 EEST on Thursday.
"In order to better cope with changes and form the best possible future for technologically advanced humanity, we must learn from the past and apply these lessons right," conference organiser Riina Kaljurand said. "Estonia's 100th anniversary will be a suitable moment to think over the lessons of the past in both the regional and the global context."
Confirmed participants of this year's edition of the conference include Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs Timo Soini, Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, Portugal's Minister of National Defense José Alberto de Azeredo Lopes, executive director of the McCain Institute and U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker as well as retired U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, among others.
More than ever, the future stability of the EU and NATO is dependent on the cohesion of their member states, but this is constantly challenged militarily and digitally by third countries, the organisers of the conference said. Right and left wing extremism, populism, separatism, anger and political alienation have grown in Europe. Political identities are as likely to be built around shared conspiracy theories as they are around shared ideologies and values. Fake news and fake history are used by leaders and their opponents alike to write the present and rewrite the past to suit their needs and ends, and the people can depend less and less on the internal logic of democracy and the ability of citizens to hold their leaders accountable.
The main part of the invite-only conference is to begin on Friday, 1 June at 17:00 at the Radisson Blu Sky Hotel in Central Tallinn. The conference will be broadcast live on the event's homepage.
The Lennart Meri Conference is organised by the International Center for Defence and Security (ICDS) along with the Lennart Meri Foundation, with support from the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NATO, BAE Systems, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Hanwha and Nammo.
Editor: Aili Vahtla