December 28, 2020

LMC Talks with Toomas Hendrik Ilves & Kurt Volker: A Glimmer of Hope at the End of 2020?

Lennart Meri Conference Talks, a conversation with former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and US diplomat Ambassador Kurt Volker

2020 has shaken the world, but is there a glimmer of hope at the end of the year? In the transatlantic community expectations are high for some sort of renaissance in relations between Europe and the US when Joe Biden takes over the White House on January 20, 2021. Can Europe and the US create a joint front against China’s global aspirations, fight the spread of disinformation as well as support strategically important Eastern Partnership countries, especially Ukraine?

In this session of Lennart Meri Conference Talks, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and US diplomat Ambassador Kurt Volker address these and other questions on the future of US and European relations.

President Ilves:

  • With all the excess money we have borrowed here in Europe during the Covid-19 crisis, some should be put into building our own 5G networks.
  • The democracies were rich, the authoritarians were poor, but today that is not the case anymore. A big common effort on the part of Europe and the US right now would be a really good idea.
  • We must recognize that our elections, our domestic security, is easily manipulated now and dependent upon digital threats ranging from disinformation on social media to actual hacking, serious breaches, be they of electoral or government systems. All of which is so much cheaper to do that than to invade. No need to use the military when you can change governments through modern digital means.

Ambassador Volker:

  • I think it would be a mistake for some of our European friends to think: “OK, now the pressure is off on two percent of GDP or now we can go back to doing business with Russia again and forget about the sanctions.” I do not think it is going to be like that.
  • We need to be talking about China at NATO. We also need to be talking about not just traditional military types of threats at NATO, but new ones such as cyber and tech and 5G.
  • It would be quite an affront to the EU to think that some years ago they defined this concept of Eastern Partnership with these six countries, while in the decade since Russia has put troops in all of them.
  • Europe and the US have completely lost the moral clarity of helping people, stabilizing, and securing democratic market economies in the Eastern Partnership countries.

Watch the full conversation:

Share your thoughts on the discussion on Twitter using #LMC_Talks and/or on Facebook. You can find us on Twitter @ICDS_Tallinn and on Facebook @ICDS.Tallinn.

Click here to watch previous Lennart Meri Conference Talks:

  • The Different Faces of Identity and Politics Today (Toomas Hendrik Ilves & Francis Fukuyama)
  • The Era of Resentment: Causes and Solutions (Toomas Hendrik Ilves & Anne Applebaum)
  • Russia’s Place in the Evolving International Disorder (James Sherr OBE & Dmitry Suslov)
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